Ever worried that the kind of novel you’re writing will suddenly hit market saturation and you won’t have a market for it anymore?
Carrie posted this question on my “Ask A Question For My Blog” page:
I have a number of ideas snowflaked to one degree or another. While they represent a number of genres (literary, mystery, cozy, etc.), a lot of them involve conspiracies or one kind or another and most of those are set in the near future, with the government or some arm of the government being the primary conspirator.
Perhaps it’s a sign of the times, but it seems like a lot of people are doing ‘conspiracy theory’ novels, from Joel Rosenberg to Seth. Even me.
Can as broad a topic as ‘conspiracy theories’ reach the point of saturation with readers, editors and publishers?
If so, are we anywhere near that point with conspiracies?
To rephrase it, how do I know my story will not be ‘just another kook fringe story among millions’?
Randy sez: Conspiracy stories have been around for a good long while. Robert Ludlum was writing them in the 1970s. I suspect people will still be reading this kind of novel a hundred years from now — as long as people don’t trust big corporations, big governments, big media, or big whatever.
While there are ups and downs in every category, some things just don’t go out of fashion.
Romance, the last time I looked, was still in vogue. Simple reason for that. Real people still fall in love.
Ditto for thrillers. Ditto for horror. Again, a simple reason. People like to be scared.
Likewise for mysteries. People like to figure out puzzles and admire the detectives who do it better than any real person could.
Same goes for fantasy. People like to imagine other worlds. The fantasy genre goes back a long, long way, if you remember that fantasy in the 20th century was begun as an attempt to return to what people called “fairy tales” or “myths.”
Science fiction will be around as long as there are people who like to wonder what the future is going to be like, and as long as science looks like it has the capacity to make our lives amazingly better (or amazingly worse).
It’s true that certain subcategories have dipped in popularity. I gather that westerns aren’t as popular as they used to be. Chick lit had a rapid rise in the late 1990s and has taken an equally rapid dive, but the same kind of book is still being written — they just quit calling it “chick lit” when the cutesy term quit being so cutesy.
As for those pesky conspiracy thrillers, I’m pretty sure we’ll have them as long as people don’t trust the government. Of course, if They ever do actually take over, They will probably crush the authors who write conspiracy novels, and then this genre will suddenly disappear. So the existence of conspiracy thrillers is actually pretty good evidence that they’re overstating the case. (Unless They decide to allow conspiracy thrillers to still be written, as a way of keeping us in ignorance that They have already taken control. In which case, the existence of conspiracy thrillers is very subtle evidence that They are already pulling all the strings.)
If you’ve got a question you’d like me to answer in public on this blog, hop on over to my “Ask A Question For My Blog” page and submit your question. I’ll answer them in the order they come in.
Carrie L. Lewis says
Thanks for the answer. That’s pretty much been my thought, but it always helps to hear it from someone else.
I have to say, though, that the logic of your last paragraph isn’t something I’d considered. I wonder how I can fit that in somewhere….
Wow, I hadn’t realized people still remembered little old Seth with the one sentence storyline! (This will be really awkward if it turns out I’m not the one you were talking about)
It’s good to hear that the genre I’ve been working with for a year now is still going strong. For a long time I used to just think that if you wrote well enough, people would just buy your book. I now know that you also need an audience, and to be honest, a feeling of terror went through me when I read the title of this post. All I could think of was ‘Oh no. I’m doomed. I’ve got no audience.’ I then proceeded to frantically read the rest of the post, and was relieved to see your bottom line was optimistic for the genre.
Good luck with your writing journey in the world of conspiracies Carrie!
Oo-ooh. Now I’m wondering what THEY are up to!
James Thayer says
The editor-in-chief at Simon & Schuster, Michael Korda, said, “The moment you kiss a category or a genre good-bye, there it is, back again on the list, usually in some slightly new form, but always perfectly recognizable as the return of yesterday’s hot item. It’s as if buggy whips came back into fashion from time to time, and is one of the many things that makes selling books different from selling other things.”
Martha Miller says
I’d like to add one more thing to Seth’s remarks about getting people to buy your books. He suggests writing well and having an audience is critical to success. IMHO, telling a crackerjack story is the major key to success, at least in commercial fiction. Where would Dan Brown be if he wasn’t such a good storyteller?
carlos de la Parra says
They can tell from fictional conspiracy to wiki leaks.
Christophe Desmecht says
This is more a personal observation, rather than an attempt at professional advice.
If you find yourself wriging Conspiracy Theory novels, and you enjoy doing it, then don’t stop. If this is the type of story that comes natural and keeps flowing out of your pen as soon as you put it to paper, then write that story.
If you want to, I guess you could try writing a different type of story, but if it doesn’t “jive” with you, by all means go back to what you’re comfortable with. Get that first Conspiracy Theory novel finished, even if it’s just a first/second draft. Get it out of your system. Then think about what you’ll write next. If you have a new, interesting idea for another Conspiracy Theory, and you’re just itching to write that down… then that’s your thing.
There are many people out there, writers and non-writers, who want to start on something but don’t know what. You do know. Look at it from the bright side. You have a solid idea, a motivation to write the story that’s trapped inside you. Get it out! 🙂
Christophe Desmecht says
Forgive me for my typos, I need to learn to proof-read before hitting “submit comment”. 😉
Mary Potter says
I heard a similar question in a workshop at a writer’s conference regarding fantasy novels about dragons. Yes — the agents and editors thought dragons were likely overdone — but when a good dragon story crosses their desk, they’re running with it.
So — write what you want and write it the best you can — that’s the message I keep hearing.
I hate the whole genre category “box” that manuscripts get categorized under. I think that a book will always have an “audience” per se…just from the standpoint of a publisher, the question is, “How much profit can I make off of this book?” So although it seems to be true that money equals success right? I mean if you aren’t a wealthy author then you just completely suck? I know I personally don’t subscribe to this notion, there seems to be plenty that do.
Ken Meyer says
Sounds like a conspiracy to me!
Demetria Foster Gray says
Having an audience for your novel is always a concern for writers and the last thing we want is to become part of a saturated market and lost in the shuffle. But we have to learn to stay true to ourselves and write from the heart not the market.
If you get overly engrossed by what’s the “in” thing to do at the time, then by the time you finish writing your “in” novel, there’ll most likely be a new “in” thing to make yours irrelevant. You’ll be forever chasing the “in” thing and find yourself exhausted and unpublished in the end.
Listen to your heart, and write from there because there’s always going to be ups and downs in every genre. I believe if we stay persistent and determined, our novels will eventually find a home in the market.