Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Just Stuff

This month, my idea for a PRO column (for those non-RWA members, a PRO is a person who's completed a manuscript and submitted it to an agent or editor...and been rejected) is to ask 'What do you do if your WIP falls into a genre that has fallen out of popularity?' Admittedly, I may need to trim that question up--not too catchy. Anyway, I'm hoping to offer some suggestions as to what an author (like myself) can do if the genre she's targeting (chick-lit) is now taboo. Sooooo....if anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them. And, assuming I haven't already thought of it myself, I'll happily credit you in the mini article.

In writing news, my 'Hundred Words in a Hundred Days' challenge is doing wonders for me. I'm on Day 32 today! I'm also doing a much better job of 'Writing Forward', a term I read on Erica's blog, so that's helping my throughput, which is always good. I was asked in advance to substitute at my son's Mother's Day Out program three more Tues/Thurs in May, and my son's last day is May 17, so I don't have too many full writing days left before summer...maybe one and a half. So I'm trying to really power through.

In reading, I know I said I was going to read Persuasion with The Family Fortune, but I got sucked into Persuasion and don't want to abandon it to read both piecemeal. I should have foreseen that. I also just got A Poisoned Season from the library, which I have been waiting anxiously to read. And...for all you Peter Pan fans...I'm happy to say that I checked out Finding Neverland. I realize that it's not actually Peter Pan, but it's close.


Annie said...

Is chick-lit taboo? That example kind of surprised me.

ERiCA said...

Annie: Not taboo, just not in favor any more. Once it got popular/mainstream, all sorts of writers--new and published--jumped on the bandwagon. This happened to Regency-set historicals a while back (even the greats, like Julie Garwood, turned to other genres like Romantic Suspense) and some fear Paranormal is the next to be hit.

Alyssa: Great topic! I'll see if I can add any useful insight.

I write in a genre that, although currently in favor, does not match the tone of my stories. Paranormal romances these days are full of dark, atmospheric or urban settings filled with angsty vampires and shape shifters. My paranormals are fun and silly and light-hearted. It's entirely possible that my voice will make my work harder to sell simply because the tone may not match reader expectations.

Side tangent: PRO does not necessarily mean an author has only received rejections. I know several authors who were PRO for many years until their publishers met RWA standards, and now they're considered PAN, even though their books remained the same. (Most often, this happens with e-publishers.)

Okay, so advice on what to do when your genre tanks. First, never force yourself to write a genre you don't care about, solely in an attempt to chase the money. If by some miracle that attitude isn't reflected in the work and you get picked up by an editor, you will have made a name for yourself in a genre you dislike and it will become that much harder to divorce yourself from that genre without completely reinventing yourself with a new name. (And once you do that, you're close to where you started from.)

That said, if multiple genres interest you--as both a reader and a writer--then by all means, try your hand at a more popular genre and see whether you like it.

The first story I ever wrote was a Regency-set Historical. Besides the quality of my first novel mirroring that of most first novels (*g) I also had the lackluster market interest for that time period working against me. So, I decided to try my hand at category romance. I was under the misconception that it was "easier" to write and sell category. As it turns out, not so much. Although I received an extremely positive and encouraging rejection letter for that novel, I realized that category romantic suspense just wasn't my thing.

So I went back to Regency England and added a paranormal twist. Loved it. Decided to try a contemporary paranormal. Luuuuuurved it. And that's where I've stayed. I truly believe I've found my voice.

I never would've done so if I hadn't been willing to try new things and new genres--and also to know myself well enough not to write a genre that didn't allow my voice to sing.

It may sound obvious, but in my opinion, the key is to write what you love to write and avoid writing something that would become a chore or hassle or drudgery to write, should you garner a four-book deal from an attempt to chase the market.

Never do anything that jeopardizes your love for writing! After all, isn't that why we write?

ERiCA said...

Holy wow, I didn't realize how long that was until I clicked submit. Sorry I got so long-winded, Alyssa! =)

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Ooops! My fingers hesitated over typing 'rejected', so I should have known. I totally overlooked the non-RWA recognized publishers. Thanks, Erica! And thanks for the advice.

Annie: One of my RWA chapter members just came back from a conference flooded with editors, and according to her they all said, 'No more chick-lit', or something to that effect. I'm not thrilled.