“What does the market want?” I hear this question frequently from first-time novelists, as if there’s some secret, as if their job is to figure it out, so that they can fulfill the marketplace’s order, like they’re building widgets. We are the market — me and you, and everyone you pass on the street.
If you ask people what they want to read, the majority of them will not say, “Vampire novels,” or “Anything about wizards.” Most folks are not that specific with their tastes. Rather, you’ll likely hear, “I enjoy mysteries,” or “thrillers,” or “romance,” and mostly, “I just want to read something good.” While many readers are drawn to a particular genre, the latitude we have as novelists is enormous within our chosen genre.
Basically our job is to write something that doesn’t suck, because that’s what the market is looking for.
So, how do you do that?
By writing the novel that you’ve always wanted to write, but are afraid to put on paper.
Could anyone have predicted that first-time novelist Kathryn Stockett’s The Help was going to sell millions of copies? What about first-time novelist Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones, a novel about the aftermath of a young girl’s rape and murder?
Write the novel that you must write. Tell the story with all of the passion and heart you can muster. Write it for yourself, and let go of the notion that until it is sold it has no value. If you do that, the market might very well beat a path to your door.