On Writing “For The Market”

When I was looking up Neil Gaiman stuff for yesterday’s master class, and I almost posted this video, but I wanted to save it for today so I could put my two cents along with it.

So here’s the video, and Neil makes some really astute points about “writing for the market”:

I’ve mentioned before that I decided to write a YA novel long before I had any idea what that novel would be. This was an honest-to-God case of pandering to the market – because the “Manuscript Wish Lists” or “Hey, pitch me!” calls from 90% of the editors on social media were asking for YA novels.

I had written in other genres and I remember telling a friend I felt like I was pandering, but she asked me one question:

“Well, what do you read?”

You guessed it. I read YA. Lots of YA. I love YA.

So her next question was, “What makes you think you can’t write a good YA story?”

And she was right. I sat there brainstorming and realized I didn’t want to write a typical YA story. I thought post-apocalyptic stuff was getting old and tired. I didn’t want to write vampires, wolves, angels, demons or girls from witchy families (not that there aren’t good YA books on those themes – I just had no desire to write that stuff).

My story was complicated and skewed and fantastical and I honestly wondered if I was on the right track for awhile, but once I started writing and letting the story take over and getting caught up in all the twists and turns – I knew this had to be the story because it was the one I really, passionately wanted to write.

I just had to have faith that I’d write it well enough for someone to want to read it, and the rest, as they say, is history.

So write what you love, and don’t worry about fitting in. If your work is full of passion and smarts and heart and interesting quirks, people will read it. The market can bear the weight of an infinite number of stories. Yours – and mine – deserve to be heard.

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