Friday, April 24, 2015

Why Contemporary And Historical Romance Remains Strong

As I was driving into work this AM, I was really thinking about why these two genres seem to always be the "go to" genres. Sure, there are a lot of other genres out there that have huge numbers in sales, but in terms of longevity, it seems to always be the contemporary and historicals that take the prize. Why? 

In simple terms, these two genres don't rely on, for lack of a better word, gimmicks to survive.

Consider genres such as paranormal. We went through a period of time with the vampires and werewolves in every book, but we got tired of those. So we shifted to angels and demons (just a variation on a theme), then off to the Urban Fantasies and then the Steam punk, but these genres just don't last, with the exception of those smaller unique groups of readers who are fans. The thing to understand though, is that these stories all relied on that unique "plot" element to keep the story alive and to support the romance.

The romantic suspenses out there are also in this same situation. To keep the story afloat requires that external plot element of the crime and mystery. Without it, the romance goes no where. 

But when it comes to the contemporary and historical romance, the focus is simply on the romance set in a time period. That's it.

So, if you want to know what I believe will be the trend to follow for the future, my answer is simple. Stick with the contemporaries and the historicals!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Reliance On The Internet May Not Be The Right Choice

We all love our computers. We love the connections we make through the Internet and social media. It's awesome. We don't have to spend countless hours as well as our hard-earned money putting together those submission packets to send out to editors and agents. Heck, we don't even need to attend conferences any more. We can get everything from the Internet and do it all from our homes sitting in our bunny slippers.

Ummm, not so fast there! While this image if kicking back with our laptop, drinking coffee and getting all of the information out there sounds great, we might not be getting everything we thought we were.

We have to remember, the power of the computer and the Internet is only as good as the person working on it. If you are not a computer genius, able to sort through all of Internet and information traveling at warp speed, the odds are you are not going to be as "in the know" as you thought you were. There's simply a lot of information out there that doesn't make it to the Internet, and, if and when it does, the opportunity may be lost.

I would also add that, although taking courses, and getting your information sounds appealing, you are also missing out on that human interaction with other authors, and yes, the editors and agents. Attending those conferences in a face-to-face setting is going to offer you so many more chances to learn and grow as an author. These settings will also provide for you opportunities that simply are not there on the Internet.

For example, can you casually be sitting next to an editor during lunch and discuss a book, which turns into an impromptu pitch session, but do this from your house? Nope.

Can you be sitting at home and "over-hear" editors or agents answering questions during a pitch session? You might IF you happen to be in that chat room at that exact time. But you still might not be getting everything.

This is not to say that gaining information and networking through the Internet is a bad thing. But you might want to consider attending those conferences, working with your local writing group and seeing people. You know, they might even say it is OK to wear your bunny slippers if that makes you comfortable!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Question From A Reader - Contradicting Information

I recently had a question from an author about contradictory information they had received. This all involved query letters and submission material. They had attended a conference and had requests from a couple of editors and agents. Each had told the author different information that was to be included in the submission material.

Now, for the author, this was not so much an issue of one person requesting a partial and the other requesting a full or a synopsis. The confusion came from the material, information and format of the query letter. What one wanted, the other said it wasn't necessary and so forth. So what does the author do?

In this case, it was very clear the author was trying to put together one packet and just send it to all of the editors and agents at one time. The problem is that there was supposedly this contradictory information. The issue though, is that this is not contradictory information, but simply different material each person needs to make a better decision.

What authors seem to forget is that sending out that submission material to an editor or agent is no different than applying for a job. Sure, your experience and the information in your resume may be the same, but how you present it will change from one employer to another. One may say education is the most important - so you move the education block to the top. Another may say they want a lot of detail of what you did in each job - so you add more of a narrative. Another may simply want a chronology of your work and the details in the cover letter - so you do that.

The point is, in a query letter, we need to see three things: We need to know the basics of the book (title, genre and word count). We need to know what the book is about (that's the blurb). And, we need to know something about you as an author and where you are going to with your career. What you do in each of those sections depends on who you are sending the project to.

Just remember, the information isn't so much contradicting information; it is simply different information and different needs.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Every Now And Then, Fine Tune The Small Stuff

I am a USA Swimming Official. This means that on many weekends, I am the guy standing on the side of the pool deck in the white shirt, disqualifying little 8 year old swimmers for one handed touches on breast stroke. To become an official, you have a training course you take, several observations and a test. But why do I bring this up? Because every 2 years, I have to go back and review the rules and re-take the test. We also, prior to every meet, take the time to go through a "stroke briefing" to review the rules and the infractions. Why? It is fine tuning.

As writers, it is crucial to, every now and then, take the time to fine tune the small stuff. Go back and take a basic level course on dialogue or on plotting. To enter contests without your name and book cover attached to the book, and get "honest"feedback.

I do honestly believe that many authors, who, when they become successful with their publishing, foolishly take on the attitude of "well now I have made it." It is, unfortunately, a thought that is a mistake. This does not mean they need to stop learning. Longevity in this business means to constantly examine how we are doing and find new things and new approaches that can make our writing better.

So, what are you doing to keep up your craft? How are you fine tuning your work?

Just a small thought to consider for a Tuesday!