So you've finished your novel and are ready to submit it. Are you sure it's something your audience wants to read? That's the burning question that will determine whether or not an agent and/or publisher is going to pick it up. How are you supposed to find out what your audience wants? First you must make sure you know your audience.
Where will your book be found in a book store? What shelf will it sit on and next to what books? These are fairly easy to answer. Take my book for example. It will sit on the young adult (or teen as some bookstores call it) shelves close to (gulp) Stephanie Meyer (no pressure). Go into the bookstore and find where yours will sit.
With the easy part over, how do you find out what your audience wants? Don't leave the book store or young adult (insert your own genre) section yet. Look at the books that are hot, look at the New York Times bestsellers. What are they about? There you go. That is how you find out what your audience wants. That doesn't mean you have to be a cookie cutter writer. Just be aware of what your audience is reading. Not just the story line, but the type of voice or mood of novels that are popular. It doesn't hurt to be one step ahead of the game either. Research what agents and editors are looking for. Your book may not be what's hot now but it could be what they're looking for to be hot tomorrow!
Check out Publisher's Weekly's pole on what teens want in a book: http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6703770.html