Monday, January 5, 2009

Publishers are getting pickier

We've all seen this lately. Publishers such as Houghton Mifflin are tightening their belts and getting ready for a long tough hall. So, what does this mean for you as a writer?

I know I have said this in the past, but I think it is even truer now. Your stories have to be amazing. They have to be unique. They have to stand out. They have to me marketable.

It isn't a matter of finding someone that is simply a great storyteller any more. Heck, we have a ton of those people out there and single handedly, they are carrying the publishing market on their shoulders. Too often I hear editors say a writer is very good and very similar to another writer, but they already have that person. On one side, this is a great compliment, but you can see their point.

Even if you are writing for the category market, the stories have to be unique. Even the traditional heroes and heroines are not enough to make that sale. The common line we are hearing coming from editors now is that we have already seen that type of hero and heroine doing that type of thing. Find a way to tweak that hero and heroine a bit and give us something new.

Of course that something new has to be marketable. I find a lot of submissions coming across my desk that are truly unique. Will they sell? I doubt it. The problem is the story was too unique and with the market the way it is, we just can't take a chance on something that strange.

But what is my recommendation for you new authors?

Keep writing.

But, keep watching what is going on out there and find those new twists and turns to the stories you are working on. You may end up with 5, 10 and maybe even 15 books finished before one is picked up, but keep writing and keep sending in those projects. Like the economic market out there, I am confident that things will change. Not sure in what direction right now. Not sure when, but it will change.

1 comment:

  1. What can one say? truth is always in order, but once again I hear nearly contradictory comments about what editors and agents want to see, as in unique but also genre so it will sell easily. I particularly like the stipulation that "we want (only) overnight sellers!" Hey. don't we all, guys/ I dunno. If you write for yourself, it is not something already successful. Won't sell. If you write for the market that IS selling, it has already been done to death. "No more vampires!" I think I would rather be an agent right now. The phrase
    set up to fail" keeps ringing in my ear. There must be another way. Did you ever venture an opinion on self-publishing? At leeast then a person could move on to something more promising, like yelling "burger back! " Love you Scott. Happy New Year.