(Originally posted July 2017)
I recently attended the Writer’s League of Texas Agent & Editors Conference in Austin, TX (so fortunate to have this in my hometown). I haven’t been to a writer’s conference in forever, and I loved being back among my people. Others who attended said that WLT is one of the best conferences around. In the future, I have some recommendations about interacting with editors, but otherwise, it was a wonderful experience – especially the great group of ladies I met during our practice pitch session, who are now my new writer’s tribe.
The point of the conference was to interact with agents and editors, and hear their input about the craft of writing – I honestly enjoyed the craft breakout sessions the most. If you are at this point in your writing career, it’s a great opportunity, but it’s also a daunting one. As writer’s I’m pretty sure we are all aware of the realities of the publishing world, and the numbers involved with getting an agent or our word baby on a bookshelf at Barnes & Noble, but knowing these facts and having them presented to you first hand by agents, session after session, is a little depressing.
What I have learned during this process of trying to get published is the craft vs business ratio. We write because we love, BUT if you ever wish to see that love in print (not self-published), you must dig into and understand the publishing world. The most important lesson I’ve learned so far is: When crafting your story idea, consider it’s potential market.
What is trendy in the current market? Keep in mind if you try and write for the current trend, it may take you 3 months to a year to finish your novel, then another year (or 2!) to get published and on a bookshelf.
What is the current market lacking? As of July 2017, in my opinion, diversity characters in stories and diversity authors seem to be what the agents want.
Is the genre you are writing flooded with similar stories, if so, how will yours be unique?
Are you writing an entertaining story or one that has a message/lesson? If you can combine both, you’ve increased your market. Make sure your message is relevant.
How would you sell your story to an agent? Think about your pitch or query as your are outlining your story idea. If you are a pantser, this may be difficult, but not impossible.
I will always love the craft of writing more than the business side (as most of us do), but if you are serious about getting published by any publishing house – even the small ones, it is something I advise you to factor in. I’ve seen so many quote about not worrying about being published, and just write the story. I get it, but will I buy it? Factoring in the market doesn’t have to spoil the creative process, but being where I’m at now – just starting to query – I wish I would have thought more about it in the beginning. Just my two cents. Good luck if you are querying too and keep writing!