Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Adapting to change

Publishing is a business that is in constant flux. Just when you think things are heading in one direction, the market shifts and suddenly we find ourselves heading in a new direction. This shift frequently has writers standing in a state of confusion screaming "Now what!"

You know what I'm talking about. You start on a project, hearing that this is the new in and BAM! The market is now going a different direction and here you are, with a manuscript that you believed was going to be perfect and no one wants it.

What you will find is that the writers that continue to succeed in the business have found a way to adapt to change. Think music for a second: MADONNA, THE ROLLING STONE, AEROSMITH, THE EAGLES, THE BEATLES. How have (or did) these groups last? The rolled with the times and made shifts to meet the needs of the current market. Now I know, some artists would say they "sold out" or "they weren't true to their craft" and you know, maybe those people are right. But remember, these groups entered the business to enjoy what they were doing AND to make money.

Now, back to writing. To succeed in this business, you have to be willing to change and to adapt. Too often, I have heard writers say the same thing. "Just write what you like and eventually the market will come back to you." Sure, they might be right, but this is a passive approach to writing and who knows when that market will swing back. Along the same lines, the odds of the market swinging back to the same style you had written the first time is slim to none.

The successful writers out there are making changes as they go. They aren't following trends but setting trends. Sure, they are making moves in a direction that the market wants, but still finding a way to keep their own personal touch with their writing.

If you really want to make it in this market, you have to really pay attention to what is going on out there. Listen, read and think. Pay attention. Even agents do this. In fact, I have been going over my notes now for the last several days and seeing significant shifts and changes in the market. Some I think are good, some I think I am going to question. Still, there are changes and I am working with my writers to make those shifts.

So, limber up writers. Get flexible!

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