I have mentioned before that I’m not really a fan of the “write to market” concept – in the context of pumping out numerous “same same” books that apparently feed a “hungry” genre.
So why does it annoy me so much?
Mostly it’s because there seems to be an assumption that once something “takes off” that’s the only thing that people want from that moment on.
The two main problems I’ve found as a reader after a blockbuster bursts interest into a genre are:
- any sales of similar books (like the blockbuster) for a short time afterward seem to “prove” that the market is “hungry” for that kind of book (thereby perpetuating the belief that it’s all the market wants, and so people write even more books like that), and
- there’s almost no diversity on offer in that genre afterward.
I’m not a marketing expert or a bestselling author, but I am a reader, and part of the reason that I was able to have such a long break from reading was because I was coming across a lot of “same same” books (urban fantasy was swamped with twilight wannabe stories with 18 year olds in high school and I’d turned 35).
People are hungry for escapism. Yes. So people will buy the
“same same” books. But sometimes people are only buying the “same same” books because they’re all that is available not because they actively want more of it.
To me the lack of variety is a bit like a kid saying “Gee mum, I love when you make pumpkin soup.” And then the mum makes pumpkin soup. Every. Single. Day. After a while the kid is no longer a fan of pumpkin soup.
Since I’m being so honest, I might as well share my feeling about tropes too. By the way, I get the concept of tropes, I do. But I’d challenge that certain genre tropes are essential. (I’m not fighting the Happily Ever After in a romance novel by the way – it’s as essential as a murder or theft in a crime novel or a chase or race of some kind for a thriller). The trope I find optional rather than essential is the snarky heroine. (Is it just me?). I like urban fantasy in spite of the snarky heroine and not because of it. I personally think urban fantasy is a dish better served without that ingredient.
As I write this, I’m thinking back on the books I’ve read last year and I’m wondering if one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed the indie books is because there’s a lot more diversity in story lines?
So, I’ll finish this post by saying this: if you’re a writer, I’d urge you to stop writing “same same” pumpkin soup-like books, and if you’re a reader, let your favourite authors and bookshops or libraries know what you want to read more of (if they’re not supplying it).
Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox now and get back to working on some of those stories I have in mind….