I stressed a lot about what my next novel project would be. I have no shortage of ideas – actually, it’s just the opposite. My ideas run the gamut of genres, including YA, MG, historical, paranormal, women’s fiction, sci fi, and literary. And as we all know, some genres are a tougher sell than others.
Every agent and writer blog out there will warn you against writing to pursue a trend, or even to pursue publication. They all say that you should write the book that moves you and write the best version of it possible. Great advice, to be sure.
But I do think there is something to be said for picking your projects wisely. For instance, most editors and agents are saying that the vampires are played out. So would it be wise to start a vampire novel now, knowing that by the time you finish it, the market will have moved on? If that is what you are compelled to write, then do it. But don’t expect that professional success with that book will be easy (granted, nothing about this business is easy).
Maybe you’ve heard the expression, “Marry for love, not money, but have the sense to fall in love with a rich man (or woman).” I think this applies to writing, too. If you want to be a professional writer, I think you must look at your projects pragmatically. All things being equal (meaning if you have three projects in mind that you are equally passionate about), you should pursue the project that has the most commercial viability. In the end, a book is a product and you want to produce a product people want to buy.
I write because I love to, but I also want to make a career out of it. So this is where the stress came in. I went round and round trying to decide which project had the most commercial promise. (I swear I would pay an agent right now to give me career advice on this subject!) I made pro and con lists, bored my husband stupid with endless speculation, traded countless emails with a writer friend, and lost a lot of sleep before finally coming to a conclusion.
In the end, passion for the story was the first criteria, and market was the second. I hated making the decision (I always second guess myself) but I feel good about it now. I can tell you I decided to pursue the literary fiction project, but beyond that I'll not say anything else about it yet. I'm not trying to be coy, just a little bit superstitious. Once I get past the research stage and into the writing, I'll be more comfortable talking about it.
Any thoughts on choosing a project based on commercial viability? Did you consider the markets when you started on a project?