Saturday, October 12, 2013

Trending Now #youaretoolate

You’re already too late to join in the success of the current big thing. Sorry, but that’s how it is. Once you become aware of the current trends, they’re already on the way out. The only hope you have is to somehow be the next trend.  The problem here is that if you aren’t a current trend, you are currently unsellable. If time traveling cowboys aren’t already flying off the shelves, then your time traveling cowboy book is not representable. However, if you have written something based on the hot topic de jour, agents may want it, but by the time it’s on the shelves, readers are bored.

Maybe this is a jaded opinion (no maybe about it, it is). It makes a lot of sense that an agent wouldn’t want something that they don’t foresee making them a profit. I don’t resent this at all – it’s business.  Besides, if the agent is making money, that means the authors are making money and that seems win-win to me. The problem is that the next big thing has to come from somewhere. A book has to actually become published that is outside the proscribed mold in order for readers to make it a phenomenon. This implies that, from time to time, agents and editors take the risk of working outside the box (eitherr that or the author self-publishes successfully and all the agents who told them there was no spot on the bookshelf for them start kicking themselves).

I have to believe that if I write a good book, even if it isn’t trending now, it is worthy of attention. There are readers out there. I have to believe this to keep writing.

I admit that after three unsellable Tudor era romances I jumped ship and wrote a paranormal. Paranormals are hot, right? I had a good story to tell and didn’t feel like I was betraying my historical roots. I looked at trends and saw vampire/shifter market saturation and avoided it. Still, my paranormal wasn’t the right type of paranormal. Looking at trends now, it seems paranormal series is the hot thing. The same protagonists from book to book (Angie Fox, Karen M. Moning, Darynda Jones.) Yes, I very much enjoy these authors, but I also like my stories to end (As much as I love Sylvia Day, I may not read the fourth Crossfire book simply out of a fit of pique that the third book teased me into thinking the story was coming to a conclusion.)  Of course, even if I could bring myself to do this, I’d be too late to jump on this trend.

Do I try to predict the next trend and write to that? Or do I write the stories that demand to be written and trust that, eventually, they will end up accidentally hitting the nail on the head. Who knows? Ultimately, I will just write on, trust my instincts, and let everything unfold how it will.

Do you let trends determine your writing?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hope Springs Eternal

Nothing sparks hope like the positive response from an agent or publisher. Every time I’ve had a full manuscript requested has been golden. My writing is never better than when I feel like it’s going somewhere. I’ve had publisher responses telling me, a day after I sent the initial first three chapters, that they couldn’t put it down and to please send the full. During that time I’m a writing machine.

While waiting on my post-Romance Writers of America conference agent responses, hope held steady, petering only a little as we approach the 90 day deadline. No response is better than a bad response, right?

But what happens when hope is gone? A rejection is a sure way to kill my creative flow. Maybe my anti-depressants aren’t strong enough or I don’t get enough sunshine, but it really slays me. In fact, the generic ‘no thank you’ response is less painful than the agent that says I’m a good writer, they enjoyed my manuscript, but they can’t represent me at this time. What does that mean? What am I not doing right? Full of self doubt, it becomes impossible to write forward. I stop trusting my instincts after a really positive interaction with an industry profession doesn’t pan out. I don’t trust my writing when, obviously, readers don’t connect with it. Without knowing what I need to know different, my ability to produce it completely stymied.

It’s a shame that my sense of hope is pegged upon the response of others. I wish I could give myself my own gold star, but I must not have enough confidence. It’s upsetting and makes me wonder if I’m that singer auditioning for American Idol who sounds like a cow in labor, but thinks I’m all that.

The good news is that this too shall pass. I’ll get over myself because the story percolating in my head demands to be told. I’ll rediscover the joy of writing for the sake of writing and then the cycle will repeat. Who knows? Maybe some day I’ll have the right story and get it to the right reader.

I guess that means hope is not gone, not really. As for now, maybe today I’ll write in spite of the rejections. Or maybe I’ll give myself permission to be discouraged. Who knows? Tomorrow will be better.
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