Wednesday, November 29, 2006

We've gotten into a discussion on one of my groups about formulaic writing for the market. So, my question is; as an author, is this something that you would consider doing, simply to get your books in print and your name out there?
Personally, for me, the answer is no. I can't see the wisdom of writing for the market. Why? Look at it this way, say I finish my Vampire novel and get a contract for it. Okay, great, vampire novels are big right now. But, my contract specifically states that the release date for my book will be late summer of 2009. Okay, great, I have an almost three year wait for my book to be released.
Comes late summer of 2009 and the market has changed at least three times, and guess what, vampires are out, werewolves are in. So, I waited three years for a book to be released that most likely won't sell a sozen copies. So, why write for the market?
It's a good idea IF you can get your book out there in a timely fashion while your subject matter is still hot, but given the time frame of the NY publishing houses, timeliness is not going to be factor.
So, what do you? Self publish? Oh no, I mean why attach that stigma to your work? Why indeed. Because at least you get your book on the shelf while your subject matter is still hot, and hot generally equals sales, right? Right! Even if you go the vanity press route, you have a book out there that fits very nicely with the market and you're going to get sales, regardless of who published it.
I mean really, for the most part, readers could care less who the publisher of a book is as long as the book is a good read. So, that so called stigma that has firmly attached itself to self-publishing is really imaginary.
The only real problem with self-publishing is that ridiculous no return policy, and some of the better vanity presses have deleted their no return policy in order to generate more sales.
If you insist on being a market writer, then in order to keep up with the current trends, why wouldn't vanity presses be the chosen route? I don't get it.
For a long time I was firmly against self-publishing, because in my mind, an author who self published just wasn't good enough hot be picked up by a major house. That was my feeling, but I have since learned that is not always the case.
A couple of cases in point, Natalie R Collins and James Conroyd Martin, both vanity press published and both picked up by a major house, with the same vanity press published books! And why? Because they were that damn good.
And there are other authors of note, nameable Janet Elaine Smith, who have chosen to reject that NY contract in favor of maintaining control over their work and not signing it away to a major house.
Janet has upwards of twenty books she has self published, and been offered contracts for a few of them, but she's turned them down because she wants to hold the rights to her work, and lets face it, who among us does not?
So, having totally veered off course here, I just wonder if writing strictly for the market is the best way to go? What are your thoughts?
Have a great day!


Anonymous said...

I will tell you what I believe and you will know that it is true because you know me. You write what you feel, what you know and what you have experienced (with the exception of vampirer of course). People, the reader will know the difference. JMHO Mikey

dehanna said...

Interesting post :)

Sandy Lender said...

You know I love the vampires, and I'll be one of those freaks who buys those books when they go out of style...
But I've got two points here. Let me post the first point now and I'll do a separate comment for the formulaic thought.
I believe in the adage that you should write what you know. If you have been reading the vampire milieu for years and have Bram Stoker's Dracula committed to memory, well, you can probably pen a tale of the undead to rival any member of Anne Rice's secret society. Right? But if you've just heard about them and maybe watched half of Blackula ... well ... let's just say you're not going to impress anyone with your foray into this speculative literature realm, eh?
Same with any other genre. If you know your subject matter and live with your characters and their values long enough, you're going to create a story that others will read and "live" with you.

Which leads to my next thought...

Sandy Lender said...

I read the second book in a "fantasy" trilogy/series by an authoress recently. She's actually known as a romance novelist, come to find out, but I didn't know that when I picked up the book. I was just interested in the dragon silhouette on the front and the first paragraph.

I'll get to the point in this graph: promise! I was initially concerned that I'd miss half the story and be totally lost by picking up the second book in a series, but that fear was quickly allayed as I delved in (I was in an airport and had no choice but to get the second book or something else entirely). I found out that this book had been written with the checklist of "what formulaic items go in most fantasy novels" for the writer close at hand. She included a good vampire, a couple of bad vampires (lesbians, to boot!), a shape-shifter that could tranform into a dragon or a wolf (or anything else, for that matter, but the dragon was the all-important element, don't you know), a vampire huntress with gang-of-accompanying-hunters, some witches to assist in hunting vampires and throwing spells around, time shifting, travel between worlds, a young girl becoming a queen in another world, etc. You see my point? It had everything but the kitchen sink (pardon me: water spicket connected to the well in the village square) and it OFFENDED me. I was put off by it. Sure, the romance angle between the good vampire and the queen was cleverly done (the authoress is a romance writer, after all), and I applauded her craft there. But I was irritated by the formulaic hokum going on. I don't need to buy/read the final book. I can tell you how it'll end. I've got the formula.

And that's a shame.


Dorothy said...

I think the market means what the publishers are buying. There will always be readers. ;o)

Natalie said...

Hi Linda,

Thanks for calling my writing "damn good." Very kind of you. I did want to clarify one thing. The book I "self" published through Booklocker is NOT the same book that St. Martin's Press bought. My editor heard about my book, asked to see something that had not been published, and that is the book she bought. I held off self publishing it, because I felt like it deserved a big press. So, while I did use Booklocker and then a small press, that book was not ever picked up by a major publisher.

I am thrilled to tell you, however, that its SEQUEL, TWISTED SISTER, will be published by Five Star in October of 2007!

Sadly, they would not publish that very first book SISTERWIFE, because of the way it was originally published. Just something to keep in mind.

Schuyler Thorpe said...

If you wrote strictly for the market, you wouldn't have as much flexibility to branch out if you went and self-published.

But like I told Brenna in a recent post, I've written myself out of all the publishing markets. So what I have to do is create one which attracts authors like myself and readers who enjoy the kind of literary works which I write and others like myself--write.

LL Rucker said...

Natalie, I do apologize for the error! But, I still find your writing to be incredible and I take every opportunity to let anyone and everyone know that you were once self published and now you're a superstar! LOL!
I also take every opportunity to let everyone know that I was in a writing group with both you and Jim when you were pushing the hell out of your books. I still remember you,
Buy my book and I'll wash your car, campaign!
Congratulations on the new book. Way to go!!