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Another newbie question:market

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Hi all, another newbie question. I’m in the middle of writing a middle grade chapter book, but as I read about publishing, I’m reading more about the issue of “market saturation,” or certain themes or types of books being all “bought out.”  It’s still not going to stop me from writing my story, but where can I learn more about whether or not the market for my kind of story is saturated or not?    My story is not quite like the Percy Jackson type stories, but it is a middle grade adventure with some similarities.  And it seems like there are so many of those out there?
#1 - January 10, 2021, 12:48 PM
« Last Edit: January 10, 2021, 03:28 PM by JaneFan »

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I'm not a novel writer, I do PBs, but generally speaking, I wouldn't worry too much about the market. Books take 1 - 3 years from acquisitions to hit the bookshelves (at least PBs do) after months/years of querying. So writing to the market typically doesn't work very well. And if the book is unique and "un-put-down-able" and an agent or editor loves it, they might just try even if the market is saturated.

With that being said, I hope other MG writers chime in. As I said, I don't write or generally read the MG market, so I'd hate to give you bad advice.
#2 - January 10, 2021, 02:27 PM
Freaky Funky Fish ( Running Press Kids, May 2021)
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I'm a PB writer too, but agree with previous comment. Writing a MG takes time, then finding a home for it, then (if you're lucky) having it released.
But if you are simply interested in the topic...what's saturated and what's not is always changing. I hear about such things occasionally via conference sessions given by editors and agents. You may pick up some snippets if you follow some of these professionals on social media too, and read their interviews on writing blogs.
PS I've lately heard vampires are passe and direct reference to covid could be a no no, although writing about the *issues of covid* (e.g. isolation, uncertainty) is perfectly fine and universal.
#3 - January 10, 2021, 02:57 PM
« Last Edit: January 10, 2021, 03:01 PM by JulieM »
Odd Bods: The World's Unusual Animals - Millbrook Press 2021
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www.juliemurphybooks.com

He is Risen! Alleluia!!!
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JaneFan, I do my preliminary market research on Amazon and their look-inside feature is very useful to see whether your own work-in-progress or idea is too similar to what's out there. It can be so frustrating to see *your* book already out there, but it happens more than you think. Of course, given that publishing moves at a glacial pace by the time you're ready with your book, it might not be an issue.  Happy writing.
#4 - January 10, 2021, 04:54 PM
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My story is not quite like the Percy Jackson type stories, but it is a middle grade adventure with some similarities

Did you just meant you use Greek Mythology in your adventure as well? Or did you mean you have warrior groups?

For every MG I read, I compare it to one of my stories (good or bad). But even for my stories that may be somewhat Rick Riordan-similar, I don't think I've seen a story quite like mine yet -- and I think that's the important thing: differentiation. You do want comparatives, but you don't want to sound like another story.

Dave
#5 - January 10, 2021, 06:59 PM

Fair enough, and the answer is no, no mythology or warrior groups. (I guess it was a reassuring reality check for me!).

I swear, anxiety is half the battle for me!
#6 - January 10, 2021, 07:57 PM

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Write the story and then look at the market for it. The market changes and sometimes stories change as we work on them too. Also, the market is hard to predict. Professionals don't get it right. Think about how many agents and editors have turned down books that went on to become huge. And their job is to find that next big thing. They'll tell you they are only going with their guts and hearts too. Love the work you do, perfect it as best you can (with help from crit partners, of course), and then figure out where it fits or who might be willing to go slightly outside of current boxes with it. And even if it doesn't sell, the market changes and you'll improve as an author and maybe it will sell years down the road. (Maybe it will end up as the book you learned with too. Not a waste of time at all.)

And yes to writing anxiety. Keep going. It gets marginally easier.
#7 - January 10, 2021, 08:23 PM
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Thank you all! Sounds like my time is best spent not worrying and basically focusing on craft!
#8 - January 11, 2021, 07:41 PM

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I think that's true, Jane, but I'd also keep my ear to the ground a little. You might consider following some agents and editors on Twitter--and you'll see them interact with others and may follow them, too. It might be wise not to post for a while if you're new to Twitter, as it's kind of like stepping on a moving treadmill and, well, it's not a very forgiving place. But you'll pick up bits of industry news and get a feel for what they're complaining about, what they wish they saw more of, etc. You might take a look at the #MWSL (manuscript wish list), too. That's a list of things they're in the mood for. It might help you find who would be a good fit for your story.

I agree with everybody else that you should just write your story, but also there are some mistakes it's possible to avoid. For example, I wrote a MG I really love but that had an adult sidekick. The kid's proactive/solves the problem, but having an adult sidekick is a no-go now. I didn't know that. (I got this from  my agent, confirmed by an editor at a Big 5.)
 :goodluck
#9 - January 11, 2021, 09:47 PM
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Thanks dewsanddamps!  #mswl is just what I’m looking for!  Sounds like it’s a balance. What I like about #mswl is that there’s enough there to give some general ideas of what people are looking for and trying to avoid, without it being overly prescriptive.  Plus I didn’t realize that you can tweet agents directly! Definitely not doing that yet (ever)?  But it’s nice to see that agents and editors are real people. Certainly  helps with discouragement to see that there are actually people who want to help publish what authors write.  Makes it all seems (slightly) less insurmountable?
#10 - January 12, 2021, 03:45 AM

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JaneFan, I do my preliminary market research on Amazon and their look-inside feature is very useful to see whether your own work-in-progress or idea is too similar to what's out there. It can be so frustrating to see *your* book already out there, but it happens more than you think.

I had this problem with a book I worked on for a few years. As soon as it was done, and it was in the hands of my editor, a better-known author announced a new book that sounded almost identical to mine with a competing publisher.

I was completely convinced my publisher would reject the book based on that, but they didn't.

Everyone writes the same story in a different way. So I agree: write the story you want to write.
#11 - January 12, 2021, 09:51 PM

Wonderful! Thank you so much for the inspiration!
#12 - January 14, 2021, 11:13 PM

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