Friday, April 25, 2008

Trying to read the future.

It’s funny, as I read Maureen’s post from Wednesday, I completely understood what the authors were trying to do in gathering info on each agent’s preference. A couple of years back, I probably would have been volunteering my efforts.

It seemed so much easier than doing what all the published authors suggested, which was ‘write a better book’. A couple of years later and I sort of understand what those pub'd authors meant. Know the industry as best we can. Know what new books are selling, know what the overriding trends are. Right now sexy seems to be selling across genre.

But otherwise, trying to figure out what agents are looking for is a losing proposition. It probably changes daily.

And one great book that really creates some buzz can re-invigorate a genre in the space of a few months.

Otherwise it’s like trying to read the future with some vague tea leaves at the bottom of a cup. Which is hard to accept when you really want to sell a book and the prospects seem really grim. When we get rejection after rejection and no real reasons given for why an agent or editor doesn’t like our book.

The only way to deal with those rejections is to start the next book. Really get excited about the next project, and not get bogged down with what the market wants or doesn’t want.

It’s the only thing that works for me. That and wine and chocolate..


Kimber Chin said...

Writing is an interesting business.

In most industries, you start with the end customer and the potential market size and then work backwards.

So if my ideal reader was a 50 year old divorced woman, I'd look at how many 50 year old divorced women there are reading romance. I'd compare that market to the market for an existing book and adjust sales (this is how I came to the realization that my books are niche).

In writing however, writers are trying to guess what some editor somewhere wants. Very strange and almost impossible to do.

Anonymous said...

You're so right,Kimber. It's a little backwards and really, really hard to guess what's coming up.
Because one amazing book can change so much of the industry.
Sometimes you have to sit down and ask why we inflict this on ourselves, and then I realize I just sort of love it and get back to my current WIP.

Maureen McGowan said...

It is a strange business, and the utter subjectivity makes it more difficult.

I think in my admitted craziness over this issue I ended up not expressing my main concerns as clearly as I should have. I'm not against sharing info and agent preferences. Some do like certain things more than others.

What I thought was a tad crazy, was to have people share information, like: I write character driven stories (totally subjective self-assessment) and agent X said my characterizations were weak (might be part of the agent's std form letter or indicative of the fact that the writer's characters aren't as well-drawn as she thinks.) Therefore agent X doesn't like character driven stories.

Also, the idea that this would help this chapter develop a list of editors willing to consider stories that didn't have a traditional HEA ending. To me, that's genre, not preference. Doesn't take a big survey to determine that editors of romance imprints want HEA endings for those imprints... But everyone loves the idea that there are shortcuts.

Molly O'Keefe said...

I think that's it - Maureen. Everyone wants a short cut or to come up with some logical analytical formula that will make this totally illogical business makes sense -- it's not going to happen. And frankly if the basis of the information requires writes to have perspective on thier own work ie - I write chracter driven stories or out of the ordinary heroines or dark sexzy heroes -- it's even more doomed to failure because someone's dark sexy hero is another persons church pastor.

Sinead is right -- work on the writing. Work on the writing. Agents preferences are out there -- it's not a secret.

Anonymous said...

I really do see why people are trying to pin down something concrete. Everyone wants the answer to getting published, and there are no answers and everything seems to be subjective.

And then you realize it sucks and you move on and keep writing.

Carolyn Crane said...

I've been trolling through your blog, and I just want to thank all three of you for putting this out there. The subjects you take up, and your frank discussions...I'm eating it up. I'll definitely be back!

Maureen McGowan said...

Thanks, Carolyn!

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