Saturday, October 4, 2008

Updates from Italy

Ciao all,

The conference in Matera was great! I have to say, if you ever get a chance to attend this conference, you realy need to do so. The information you get is pretty amazing.

One thing that came up that I thought was interesting. I guess mostly because it is something I have been saying all along (as well as many other writers in the romance market). Do not attempt to write something that is not meaningful to you.

Over and over again (in both English and Italian) editors were stating that too often writers are trying to not simply follow trends, but to write in genres and styles they are really not connected with. The end result is not simply a ton of submissions that are destined to be rejected, but even worse, writers that become very dejected.

The common trend was clear. Write what you know. Write what you have the faith for.

It was also interesting to note that many of the editors were saying that they tend to be open to everything. Now, I understand that there are some guidelines (such as submitting to a house that doesn't publish that genre) but they seemed to be open to a lot of things as long as the work was done well. Now, I have to say, although this sounded appealing, I had a hard time swallowing the idea. I still think that many of the editors are being guided by "trends" instead of good writing.

One more element that came up was the decision making process of acquiring. More and more the trend is leaning toward finding books based on number crunching instead of quality. In other words, they look at the retailers the books go to, check the numbers (essentially doing comps on the books) and then make the decision. Needless to say, as all of the editors and agents stated, they tend to pass on really good books.

I'll throw out some more ideas as the time comes.

Off to a conference!



  1. I must be confused on this one.At the same time agents & editors are insisting they do not want writers to "write for the market," they are admitting privately that they indeed are buying EXACTLY what is selling right now.
    This makes perfect sense, of course, but leaves writers hung over the trench, for sure. For clarification see the JJ agent blog on the DMLA site, in which their own agent says she does not want to see some of the very topics on her own agency's "wanted" list. Again, this makes perfect sense, because many of us were tired of vampire topics after reading "Dracula," but obviously when S. Meyer holds three out of four spots on the bestseller list with her own vampire series, a lot of readers cannot get enough of the topic.
    Now what? Agents want something "fresh and different," but only if it looks just like a Stephanie Meyer vampire book ! If it really is fresh and diffferent, they won't take a chance on it, because it has no track record in the market. The human comedy rolls on!
    Thanks for the update on Italy. It must have been wonderful.

  2. I think if we really dig into this more, you will find that there really is a lot of sense to this. The comments I heard while in Matera I think drove it home. The people who really set the trends are the writers that come up with some great story ideas and approaches. Come up with something break out and dang, you can be the next S. Meyer.

    On the other hand, we do have to establish some guidelines as to what we really want to see and where we want to go.

    So, in the end, do we need to follow trends? Sure. We want stories that have a foot on what is going on right now. Even with S. Meyers, she is tapping into the common themes of teen issues that are so strong right now. We also want a foot on something new and unqiue. Again, in her case, she moved over into what was traditionally something that adults dealt with and tweaked it into something new.

    Finally, as for the references to the confusions in the agents information, I can fully understand the frustration. I think this is one of the reasons I try so hard to keep it clear to readers what I want.