Ask Me Anything: On Dead Genres (continued...)

I've talked about this before, but it seems to get a lot of questions in different forms. Here's the specific question from tumblr:

I'm sorry you keep getting questions about YA dystopia genre and I'm now just adding to it, but I've had a YA dystopian idea for a bit and I've shuffled it back because of the issues with dystopia being dead. However the couple of people who have heard the basic premise have been really enthusiastic about it and pushing me to write it despite me warning them about it. Is it worth it to work on it now or wait like I've been doing because of the market?
Unfortunately I can’t answer this specific question.

I also can't answer what subgenre someone should write or what is the kind of book that would be most likely to sell. 

The truth is it's hard to sell books. A lot of people are writers and it's hard to get published. It's not easier if you're writing picture books than adult science fiction or vice versa. It isn't the genre that gets a book sold, it's the book itself.

I am of the opinion that writers should write because they love it. If you keep writing and keep trying to get published it will happen—eventually.

If you are passionate about a ms that is in a dead genre, write it. Who knows how long it will take before you finish? When you finish revising and it is ready for the eyes of agents, query. The worst thing that can happen is that no one will offer representation, but you will learn from both the writing and the querying process. It will make you a better writer.

When you finish writing this ms, WRITE SOMETHING ELSE. This is my advice no matter what a writer is working on. Writers should always write something else. The more writing you do, the better you will become. And putting all your hopes and dreams into one project is a recipe for heartbreak. (Even if it does grab and agent and get published). You should always have something else.

Also, I cannot predict the market. There are always some things that surprise us. I can say that I’m sick of dystopian novels. I can say that editors tell me “no more dystopian novels” but I can also tell you that people said that about angels right before Laini Taylor wrote Daughter of Smoke & Bone which was clearly a huge exception (albeit it’s an exception because 1. It’s Laini Taylor 2. it’s unique and 3. OMG the writing).

All of this is to say, you have to make your own decisions about what you want to write.

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Mirka Breen said...


J. Lenni Dorner said...

Good advice.

Curious question-
What would a pre-dystopia series be called? (Or is "pre-dystopia" the actual industry term?)
In other words, if there was a series that started out with the current real world (plus a few fictional embellishments), and the antagonist slowly hacked away over the next few books, and by the final one the world was in a dystopia state of existence. (And the protagonist shifts from trying to prevent that- as they failed- and instead now has to focus on helping the survivors deal with it.)
Please forgive me if the answer is obvious and I've just described a book series that everyone has heard of except for me. I've been searching, but I can't seem to find the exact match for this answer. Some close ones, but none that are just right.

Thanks :)

Suzie Townsend said...

So I don't think pre-dystopia is a thing. If it's thriller it's a thriller, if it's SF, it's SF. Same thing with romance.

The biggest problem with me telling you this is that a lot of futuristic thrillers and science fiction novels and even some fantasy novels have been lumped into the dystopian category by readers. Which is part of the reason everyone is so sick of dystopian novels. It feels like there's been so much of them and books that actually aren't dystopian are getting lost because they're forced to compete with books that are.

If I were you I would not put the words apocalypse or dystopia or even futuristic in my book description at all.

J. Lenni Dorner said...

Thanks for the answer. :)
Good to know.