Following trends is very tempting. We all know that, at the end of the day, what publishers are looking for is something marketable, some fresh idea that they can make money for them. So it is understandable that we feel inclined to write about what is trending at the moment because we believe that it will be commercially valuable.
But this is a big mistake that could doom your novel and ruin your chances to get published. Nothing really remarkable good has come to the bookshops solely based on this idea so far, you can be sure about it. And here are the reasons why:
By the time you finish it, it won’t be trending anymore
The first thing to consider here is that trends change very fast. By the time you finish your novel, they will be something else. The only exception is if you write short stories or flash fiction because their length allows you to be fast enough. But those on the novel business know that they will be just be wasting their time.
You might be thinking that trends such as wizards and vampires have been there for ages so that the argument above is wrong. If you are wondering about it, maybe you need to reconsider your understanding of trend.
Wizards and vampires stories, just to use them as an example, are a real niche, mentioned in thousands of books from several cultures over centuries – and you can include oral tradition on it. What has happened is that they have got a “new vest”, so they could appeal to a modern audience. Got the difference?
You shouldn’t force yourself to write creatively about something
Creative writing can be a business like any other, and you could be eventually commissioned to write about something that you never thought you would. But let’s face it: what are the odds that it will be properly good?
Yes, it might not be terribly bad either, but in such a competitive sector as publishing, you should aim to excel, and not to be average. Meaning that you are better off writing about what really inspires you, and not about what is trending.
And if you ask any successful creative writer, those that do it commercially as a freelancer, for example, you will notice that they don’t write about everything. They pick the gigs that they are comfortable writing about and that brings some inspiration to them in the first place.
Publishers are eager for new stories
So you go to the bookshop and is overwhelmed a sea of books about the same topic. You read a couple of pages of one of them and think: “Hey, I could do it!” Then you get back to your house and start writing compulsively, so you can go against the odds and get it done before the time when the trend has faded away. You send your story to several agents and publishers, along with your bio where you describe your leader skills in your resumé. But you only get rejection letters back. It makes you feel miserable and completely puzzled by the idea of what you have done wrong.
You might not have got much of feedback from those letters, but it is possible that some of the publishers have taken their time to give you a short explanation. And if you look at it carefully, you will certainly find words like “we need fresh ideas”, “we are looking for new stories”, “your own unique voice” on it. So then you can begin to understand your mistake.
When you got to that bookshop and saw so many books about the same topic, what should have come to your mind is that there were already too many people talking about the same topic. So why publishers would be looking forward to one more?
You aren’t a publishing marketing expert
If you are reading this post, the chances are that you aren’t a publishing marketing expert. Otherwise, you would already know everything that has been said here. You probably are an aspiring author, looking for tips on how to get published.
What you know how to do best is writing, so stick to it. Do the best you can, and if it is good enough, it will eventually get published, have no fear about it. Most of the successful writers that we know nowadays collected such a huge number of rejection letters – JK Rowling even posts some of her 12 negative feedbacks on Twitter so to encourage other budding writers.
Another famous case of long-term rejection is Stephen King, who said in his book “On Writing” that he used to hang them on the wall but, ““by the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”
So leave the marketing concerns to the marketing specialists. The truth is that nobody knows exactly what moves the publishing industry, and maybe not even they are sure about it. All you can do is to go back to your computer or to your notebook and keep writing.
Final thoughts: show your own voice
As you might have noticed, following trends isn’t the smartest thing to do when you are trying to get yourself published for the first time. You will probably fail because of one (and maybe more than one) of the following reasons:
You won’t be fast enough
Your book won’t be any good
Your book will sound like just one more of the kind
You are no specialist on the marketing side of the publishing industry
But there is something that you can do very well, and this is to write with your own voice. You are the only person that can tell your story in your way. Your point of view is unique, and this is what publishers are looking for: a new voice that stands out from the crowd.
So don’t be afraid to pour yourself on your draft and to show some personality in your writing. This is the only trend that is really effective so to get your novel published.
Norman Arvidsson is a passionate author who was born in Sweden but then moved to the United States with his family. Now his goal is to share his experience with others through blogging. He is familiar with such areas as web dev and design, marketing, blogging, freelancing, startups, small business, self-development, and eLearning. Considers personal growth as the main goal in his life.