Writing for a “Dead” Market?

I’ll admit it, I’m writing dystopian. The first step is admitting you have a problem. While many people still thoroughly enjoy this genre, the market for it from a publisher’s perspective is (as far as I can tell) pretty dead. The number of denied queries I am amassing speaks to this fact. So what does a frustrated writer do in this situation?

First of all, it’s even more frustrating because I understand the situation completely. Knowing the principles of basic supply and demand as well as the way trends go, it makes total sense that savvy literary professionals such as agents and editors are not jumping at the chance to grab more titles that boast corollaries to the wildly popular (currently) Hunger Games and Divergent. Instead agents and editors want to snatch up the next big craze, which will certainly be in a totally different and unexpected genre.

So I get it. But I don’t want to stop writing the story I am trying to tell. I didn’t decide to write about Mara and Runey because I wanted to write the next Hunger Games. Despite what the genre may suggest, I am not writing for a trend. The story came to me and clamored to be told, so I am telling it, despite its marketability with literary professionals. I have read many articles and blog posts that say “shelve your dystopian/paranormal projects,” but I disagree. Personally, I don’t like to leave work unfinished. Especially something as near to my heart and soul as my writing. It would feel like more of a failure to shove Mara and Runey in a drawer than even if they never make it to the bookshelves.

Thus, the writing goes on. So does the querying. I have nowhere near exhausted my list of possibilities for getting published. Somewhere out there is surely an agent who will be as enthusiastic about my project as I am. I just have to be persistent until I find that person. Writing novels and querying is also good practice. Should this project end up shelved once it’s finished, at least I got the great experience of writing a trilogy and getting to know the professional side of the business. It will be great experience for my next book. πŸ™‚

There is hope when writing in a “dead” genre. One of my friends that I met at the Las Vegas conference wrote a paranormal romance novel (the same genre as the supposedly played out Twilight sensation), and she just landed a book deal with publication coming in 2016. Read about her story here: http://linkis.com/www.cmmccoy.com/blog/p4Ia8 . And if you’re writing in one of these hard to sell genres, I would love to hear your story/strategy! Above all, never give up on your self as a writer or your story.

5 thoughts on “Writing for a “Dead” Market?

    • I first realized it in the back row of a breakout session at a writers conference. The agent leading the section started talking about genres and said something along the lines (and I paraphrase), “if you’re writing paranormal, dystopian, etc. you’re a lost cause.” Cue me slumping like a burst balloon in my chair. Later I pitched to that agent and she requested my work and went on to say as long as you have something different and not a Hunger Games knock off, you might have some luck.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. It’s hard when you’re writing a genre that is “over saturated,” but I think the key is to find something in that genre that makes you stand out. A concept that’s just different enough. And you know what, if all else fails, people are “crazy” about dystopian (paranormal/romance/etc) for a reason – they love it. If big publishers won’t take it, maybe you’ll have better luck self-publishing. As long as you educate yourself on how to do it, you’ll find that fan base.

    Just my two cents. πŸ™‚


    • I totally agree! Luckily, today’s publishing world presents so many opportunities beyond the traditional publishing route. While I have nowhere near exhausted myself trying to gain that traditional deal, it is nice to know that these novels could find a good home on the small press or self pub market. Thanks to followers like you for already making the tiny beginnings of (hopefully!) future readership! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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