But writing the book of your heart when publishing is a cold, hard (much like frozen corn dog) numbers business is as likely to give you a coronary as a contract. So what’s the desperate writer to do? Write to the market or wait for the market?
Let’s contemplate some options.
1. Go ahead and be an ambulance chaser.
What? You’re too proud to pit-bull-clamp your teeth around the tires of the NYC-bound bus and hang on for the ride? Trends change as speedily as anything on the freeway of the publishing world, so you’ll have to be quick and agile to be a trend-chaser. It’s funny how some genre writers sneer at those writing to trend with as much exposed fang as lit writers flash at genre writers. Sure, chasing a trend is likely to get you smashed into pulp — but pulp fiction, though it was never meant to last, has a long, lusty history, and that’s nothing to sneer at.
2. Don’t chase; stalk.
For some, channeling your inner songbird-killer is the way to go. Chasing implies a lot a running around. Stalking is more deliberate and thoughtful. Is there something in the trend that appeals to you? How can you tweak the trend to make it your own? Or never mind tweaking. Snare that trend, tear it apart, and find your future in its rearranged guts.
3. Refuse to pursue.
If all this trending has your creative impulses warring like cats and dogs, you could just sit this round out, flying high above it all. Trends and tastes change. Maybe from your vantage point, you’ll lead the next charge. Or the one after that.
Because the constant in all three approaches? You keep writing something. All the business discussion that goes on — trends, marketing, changes in technology, consolidation of publishing houses, yada — is irrelevant if you don’t have a story. And if it’s a good story, you’ll make all of the rest irrelevant.