Do you think writing a youth series would be worth one’s time, or is most youth’s attention focused on gaming and electronic devices?
Looks like a growing market, actually. Children And Young Adult Books Market Trends Include Innovative, Engaging Themes – Personalized And Video Game-Based
YA and its variants are huge and have been for a very long time. There is wide-range of what coulde be defined as ‘youth’ though (and ‘series’ for that matter). ‘Youth’ could be anything from young children all the way through young adult. ‘Series’ could be everything from coming of age to genre fiction. Harry Potter alone — despite the author’s recent troubles — should be enough to convince anyone of the viability of writing for the young. What about Anthony Horowitz and his Alex Rider series? Books for the young is a perennial market.
I would say that your question could be broadened: Is the act of writing books still relevant or is the whole of society distracted by the all the screens and devices? The answer is at once both ‘yes, people or overwhelmingly distracted’ and ‘there will always be enough of the minority who reads to make it worth your time to write.’
On a more philosophical note, I personally believe that thinking about a market for your art before you create it is to put the cart before the horse. If you have a passion, follow it!
Just write what you are good about, don’t force yourself on a specific story/genre just because it sells better. You can do the latter when you are famous and experienced like Stephen King.
This is not universally true.
Different writers can have different creative processes. Not everyone is drive by passion, and we need to stop assuming that they are (and shaming them for not being sufficiently passionate.)
Some of the best works of the written art form have been written out of the simple need to earn money and put food on the table. Some absolutely amazing award-winning commercially and critically successful novels have been written by writers who first performed an analysis of the market trends before they ever started the draft.
I was unaware of shaming anyone. If you wish to write just for money then you are free to do so. There are so many easier and effective ways to turn a buck though. Do please provide a list of these artists who “write to market”. While I’m sure they’re out there, I’m wondering at what you mean by amazing.
I do think this approach is wrong. No one mentioned shameful. I stand by what I said.
There does seem to be a lot of writing out there that suggests the work of Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” fits in to this category.
Successful market-driven artists? Well, start with pretty much the entire Italian Renaissance, paid for by various luminaries who commissioned works for their homes, churches, and public buildings. Or with Shakespeare, whose eloquent nobles, bawdy commoners, and gently airbrushed history kept both upper and lower class Elizabethan society entertained. The idea that there’s any kind of virtue in personal deprivation for the sake of art is very very new.
There’s also a significant difference between “romances sell well, so I’m going to write a romance, even though I have contempt for the genre and its readers and have never read a romance I didn’t hate,” and “I’ve got an idea for a YA series, maybe I should find out more about the market before I devote several years of my life to it.” Any writer worthy of the name can spin out a dozen ideas before breakfast, and exactly for that reason it makes sense to look a little closer before picking just one to focus on.
After starting to write them in 1887, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle grew to hate writing Sherlock Holmes stories – he considered them very basic forms of fiction that kept him for far more satisfying pursuits – and killed Holmes off in 1893 with “The Adventure of the Final Problem.” Strand magazine lost 20,000 subscribers in protest. “The Hound of the Baskervilles” was written later in 1901 but was carefully set in the timeline to be before the clash with Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls. It was first published in Strand and brought in 30,000 new subscribers as well as being a financially successful book on its own.
Sherlock Holmes was eventually brought back to life, and once again serialized to great commercial success, in 1904.
There is nothing sacred about the act of writing (or any other art) other than what the artist brings to the act themselves. In fact, the discipline of writing for mere mundane concerns like “payment” and “rent money” can teach writers things they can’t learn any other way. Declaring “one true way” or one path to legitimacy to practice one’s art merely exposes your own entitlement and lack of basic empathy with others.
I mean, heck. Writers can’t even agree on pantsing vs. plotting.
When did I say anything about personal deprivation? You seem to be saying their are only two choices. Either write for money or for passion, and those with passion are somehow doomed to penury.
To draw an important distinction: being commissioned to write something isn’t the same thing as writing to market. With a commission you have a guarantee return on your efforts. Of course someone commissioned to create has usually already proven themselves by past work. In this case, the artists isn’t going to market; the market is coming to the artist.
Shakespeare was perhaps the worst choice. Of course he wrote for money. All professionals write for money, but the person who wrote
Write till your ink be dry, and with your tears
Moist it again, and frame some feeling line
That may discover such integrity.
wasn’t writing primarily for money. On nearly every page of Shakespeare you can find true passion.
And the person who creates this, La Pietà (which can somewhat fittingly be translated as ‘compassion’)
doesn’t do so coldly, with business in mind.
The artists you reference almost bleed the very definition of passion.
Which to my mind suggests the greatest reason of all to follow your passion. Markets go up, markets go down. They go up, up, up. Then they plummet. Then they go up a little again. Trying to figure out what people are going to buy is a fool’s errand. How much better to write what you love and then figure out how to market it.
The last thing the world needs is a bunch of soggy manuscripts flooding the market written because the collective wisdom says that vampire/unicorn romances will sell.
Which you’re holding up as a model for how to live? If anything this would be a cautionary tale against the act of writing.
I still maintain that if someone intent on just getting money would be better off going into finance or something. Even there, though, if you strip away the dollar signs you’ll often find passion driving. What does Warren Buffett say on the subject?:
In an interview with Fortune magazine, Warrant Buffett was asked how other people can tap dance to work the way he does. He provided the following answer as his response: “You Find Your Passion”.
Warren Buffett holds the opinion that the people who find their passion in life are lucky. The reason he believes people are lucky when they find their passion, is because people who love what they do, end up doing that activity they love quite well.
Warren Buffet extols passion as one of the best ways to find success. Why? Because he understands that we live in very competitive times.
In our competitive society, if you don’t love what you do, you automatically place yourself at a disadvantage in the labor market and the market place as well.
As such, Warren Buffett’s advice to students who are just coming out of college, is to take the job that he/she would take if they were independently wealthy. There is power in passion.
(Emphasis mine. Taken from: BEST WARREN BUFFETT ADVICE ON SUCCESS AND LIFE)
I could quite literally spend the next 24 hours doing nothing but producing such quotes from the successful. Finding sentiment going the other direction is much harder to come by.
Au contraire, mon amis.
I don’t remember declaring one true way. I do remember saying I disagree with the advice to write to market. ‘Entitlement’ and ‘lack of basic empathy’ are so far off the mark that I barely know how to address them. As a professional musician for many decades now, I have nothing but empathy for those struggling with their art. I know from deep experience that this struggle is noble and, to use your word, sacred. I’ll let Steven Pressfield speak to the last point
When Krishna instructed Arjuna that we have a right to our labor but not to the fruits of our labor, he was counseling the warrior to act territorially, not hierarchically. We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.
(I believe, for most people. the answer to the question “pantsing or plotting” is probably “yes.”)
Actually my point is the opposite, that there’s nothing wrong with directing your passion toward works that are also welcomed by the market. Michelangelo was extremely successful in his own lifetime. Shakespeare, in his lifetime, was financially successful but was sneered at by critics because he “modernized” theater, rather than following the classical ideals of the time. (And also because he was reaching above his social station, a claim that echoes to this day in arguments that someone else wrote his plays.)
Something tells me we’re saying the same thing, or close. We might be using just different words to say it. In order to direct one’s passion, though, one has to have passion to direct. Also, none of these artists ‘timed the market’. Genius at this level bends the market to one’s will. Those currently ‘writing to market’ are playing a shell game, trying to figure out what people will be buying in a month, in a year, in five years. I maintain this is looking at things backwards.
This, I suspect, is the heart of our disagreement.
Writing doesn’t require genius, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out “hey, here are the current trends so it might be good for me to focus my effort here” as part of the creative process.
Writing doesn’t require “passion.” It requires discipline (which in turn requires motivation– to put the words on paper and (if you’re not just doing it for yourself) sell those words. Passion is nice to have, but not must have. There’s a lot of room in there for different approaches, and for some people, that means they immerse themselves in the work and then worry about selling it after the fact, while other look for a niche to fill and then ruthlessly do so, while others blend the extremes.
I do find it telling that you are making assumptions about the OP’s intentions based on a single question. I have multiple author friends who ask themselves question like that every time they sit down to work on a new project – because if they don’t, their agent certainly will. Figuring out who you think you’re going to be writing to can help shape the approach you take in creating the story, and for some people, that helps them focus their time and energy.
We’ll never agree on this. To my mind passion is that without which art doesn’t exist.
Except that by the time you notice a trend it’s waning. It’s like those that try to time the stock market.
No of course it doesn’t, but if the artists mentioned on this thread hadn’t been geniuses they couldn’t have bent the market to their will. This was my point. They were not writing to market, which is a different beast altogether.
On this we agree. Intense discipline, in fact. Art, on the other hand, requires passion. I still don’t see why someone without it would pursue such a difficult path to earning money when so many easier exist.
As a writer, I don’t find it useful to worry about whether I’m creating “art.” I write, as Flannery O’Connor once said, because I like it and I’m good at it. If other people like it too and send me money, so much the better.
For much the same reason, I don’t find it useful to think about “genius” or “talent.” I don’t control those. I control the words on the page, and whether (or when) I send them out into the world.
Financial analysts make quite a bit of money – more than most writers – doing exactly that.
This…is glib and facile and not nearly as true as you think.
I will also point out that trends can be used to tell writers what to stay away FROM.
You keep reading meaning into words that their owners aren’t putting there and then arguing against things that were not actually said. That’s not passion, friend, that’s obsession.
Maybe you need to be comfortable with things that are true for you may not be at all true for others, instead of trying to force everything into your mold.
I’m not trying to force anyone into anything. As I said earlier: If you wish to write just for money then you are free to do so.
I only responded to the words on the page.
Of course, anyone is free to write for whatever reasons they wish. No one will stop them. What I’m calling into question are the basic motivations for people pursuing writing this way. I don’t think it’s a decision without negative consequences.
It’s just an academic exercise, really — just a philosophical discussion among writers. If my conclusions offend you, then ignore them. You won’t hurt my feelings.
I would point out though that, despite many protestations to the contrary, I’ve never met or worked with a writer, a musician, or an artist of any stripe who didn’t secretly harbor passionate intent. Most radiate it almost unconsciously. I guess my final point is not that a person should find passion before writing. I’m saying, if a person is writing then the passion already exists; all that is left is to uncover it. Worrying about market trends seems to me a way of avoiding what is often an uncomfortable process of self-exploration.
If I’m wrong in your case and writing really is just a way of making ends meet and nothing more, then just ignore me. Where the energy comes from to create the self-discipline necessary to write if not from passion is a bit mystifying, though.
But isn’t this a great definition for passion, if a bit tepid?