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I'm in the midst of a big batch of grading, so I only read your TL;DR ... but I'm intrigued by the metaphor of zooming in and out as a way of understanding writing to trend vs. market, and also by the idea of market-attentive writing as a necessary frame for creative hooks. The latter especially is ringing true for me, at least off the cuff. Looking forward to coming back to read the whole post after 19 more annotated bibliographies!  :eek:  :-X

1,607 Posts
kboarduser3 said:
My goal is to sell more books in genres that I enjoy. To that end, I've been trying to figure out how to write better books, and a big part of that is writing to market or trend more effectively.
I'm not sure it matters, so I wouldn't overthink it. People find success in writing to market, writing to trends, or putting their personal spin on a popular genre. The basic template that seems to work over an over for a lot of successful self-publishers is:

1. Write in a defined genre with a reasonably sized audience for ebooks.
2. Write something readers of that genre will recognize as part of the genre.
3. Put a genre appropriate cover on it.
4. Write a blurb that cements the genre, and also hints at something unique, mysterious, or different.
5. Tell a good story.
6. Write a series.
7. Promote the series.
8. Build a list of fans via email newsletter (or social media) you can contact about new releases by offering list freebies in the back of the book.
9. Don't give up after one book or one series. Persistence matters.
10. Get unbiased outside feedback on all the above if you aren't getting results because you aren't usually the best judge of which ones you aren't doing well.

3,542 Posts
I don't think you necessarily need to enjoy the books you dissect. It helps, but I don't know if it's necessary. Plenty of people succeed because they write the book they can't find. They write something that's missing from the market.

It is important to understand what readers like about a subgenre, niche, or trope. If you can understand what readers like and why, you can deliver that, even if you don't like most of the popular books in your niche.

It's much easier to do this if you also like the subgenre, niche, or trope. So I do recommend picking subject matter you like. But it's not strictly necessary.

I don't really get billionaire books or billionaire readers, but I've done really well with my billionaire books. Because I focus on what I do get or I find a way to get it. I tell everyone I found a way into my first billionaire book, a fake marriage book, via The Hunger Games. The first half of THG is also about a determined girl from a poor family thrust into the world of the rich and powerful, made over and fawned over and unable to know what's real and what's fake.

You have to find a way in.

Now, I don't really agree with your breakdown of trends and writing to market. I think you need to spend more time studying the romance market. This is knowledge that comes with time, which is where people who aren't genre readers are at a disadvantage. Looking at what is selling this month tells you what's popular now. Looking at what's selling this month, every month, for five years tells you what sells over time.

With romance, and probably with any genre, you can just... ask. People will tell you what sells on the regular. I always tell people to look at the midlisters, because they're the ones selling based on the quality of the package. Don't get me wrong. Big sellers need to entice readers too, but it's easy for new authors to see a big seller's flop as a success. I'd call myself a mid-lister, but my idea of a flop looks pretty good to a lot of people.

How you'll dissect books and tropes really depends on your temperament. I'd suggest reading at least three books in a given niche. You don't need to enjoy them. In fact, a lot of people have a hard time enjoying and dissecting at the same time. But I find I can't really do this if I actively dislike the book.

I always suggest writing evergreen when writing to market. It works better for most people. It's safer. It's a smarter way to build a career.

But there is a lot of money in writing to trend. It can work very well, but it's much riskier. If you get to a trend too late, you might totally miss the boat, and your book will be a much harder sell. Last year, reverse harem was huge, and a ton of people sold a lot. Now, very few authors are selling reverse harem. I don't really know how well people's old reverse harem books are doing, but I'm guessing 90% of the authors who jumped on the trend aren't seeing big sales.

I wouldn't recommend it unless you're a very fast writer who likes a high risk, high reward scenario.

It is hard to know how far to zoom when you're new to a genre. It takes practice and study. I'm not sure there's a shortcut. In romance, there will always be room for billionaires, bad boys, blue collar heroes, small town, romcom, erotic romance, BDSM, rock stars, mafia, sports, family saga, and dark romance (not a comprehensive list). But they might require different packaging. In 2016, there were a lot of books with "bad boy" in the subtitle. Now, there are almost none. And they will go in and out of fashion. Sometimes, they will be easier sells than others. My rocker books used to sell a ton. Now, they're a much harder sell. I still have diehard readers who want more. I could do okay with a rocker book, but it's not as big right now, so the ceiling isn't as high right now.

Right now, sports romance is huge. This is a niche that always sells, but I expect, in a year or so, it won't be as easy of a sell.

Part of this is market saturation. When there's a need, authors rush to fill it, they overfill it, it gets harder to sell. Romance authors are fast and business savvy. They will fill any hole in the market very quickly.

TL;DR As usual, I'd recommend Chris Fox's books, and especially Writing to Market for more on this.

273 Posts
The way I view market vs trend is evergreen vs immediate.

Market is the longer game. You're studying the basic things needed to stay on target. Tropes that linger longer within the stories and stick with time. Market allows for a slower writing schedule since the evergreen tropes rarely shift through time. Or if they do, they're slower moving giving the writer time to shift with them. You end up with a backlist that isn't dated but still solid.

Trend is chasing the hottest thing. It's the pop and crack and wow of a set of tropes that are garnering attention now. They're usually very specific and you can see the rise and swell of books being published under the trends very quickly. But that also means that when the trends fade much faster from reader's attention, you're stuck with a backlist that isn't current with the times and now looks out-dated, and having to transition much faster to find the newest hottest rising trend and get books out to capitalize on it. Which means you need to be a faster writer and have the ability to spot the trends much quicker than any shifts in the market.
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