by Jillian Hermoso, Southeast Asia Blogger jaBlog!
Artwork by Lucy Zhang
As writers, we find ourselves visiting our favourite bookstore once a week. Maybe even more! Just one step into the establishment and we are suddenly filled with the smell of books, the smell of our second home. We smile and start waltzing through the shelves. For me, it’s a habit to look through the bestsellers so I can see what’s new on the list or if my favourite author is on it; and I have started to notice some patterns.
The YA bestseller list always has a book in the dystopian genre. Right now, it’s The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. Science Fiction and Fantasy seem like they’ll never go missing either. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan are part of this week’s list. But bigger than SciFi and Fantasy is the Contemporary genre: seven out of ten bestselling books are from this genre. Some of these include The Duff by Kody Keplinger, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, and of course, a few titles by John Green.
When I compare what’s on the bestseller list to the novels I’m working on right now, I notice that I’m not writing in any of the popular genres.
Does this mean I won’t be as successful as I want to be when I get published? Will anyone be interested in my work? Should I scrap what I’ve been writing and work on a dystopian novel instead?
When I attended the Readers Who Write conference last September, the speakers talked about this very problem. They told me to write, not because you want to become popular or acknowledged, but because your intention of writing is to be able to share this wonderful new universe you have created inside your head. Write what you want to see on the bookshelves, what you want people to see, and not what you can pick up from your nearest bookstore right now. Writing trends can change in a single year, and for a writer, that’s fast.
Let’s say you are writing a novel in a genre that is trending right now. Even if you finish your first draft in the next week, it will take a year to edit until you finish your final draft, and then another year for the process of giving it to your editor and rewriting. Plus, it takes months to get the manuscript processed and ready for publishing. Maybe, by the time you’re done, you will find out the writing trends have entirely changed.
If your reason for writing the book was just for the fact it was trending, you’ll end up feeling discouraged and like everything you’ve done was for nothing, which I do not want happening to any writer. The popular novels of today were made years ago and had to go through a long process before we see them on the shelves.
So what’s the key to making your story known, popular, and loved by readers?
You need to love your story.
I’ve always kept in mind that I should be completely devoted to what I’m writing because if I don’t love it, who will read it? If the creator doesn’t love her own own story, who will?