Monday, August 3, 2009

Styles have changed, have you?

Since I opened Greyhaus, I have seen a huge number of changes in the publishing industry. We had the rise and fall of chick lit, we had the steam of erotica and then the hot and spicy stories with an edge. We are seeing a mix of genres that provide a new twist to the old stand by. A lot has been going on. Now, here is the question, have you made changes?

I am not talking today about following the trends in the market. You know, the "romantic suspense is hot so I should write that." I'm talking about your voice as an author. Because of the every changing and ever global growing population, the voice and style of the writing we see out there does change to adapt to the reading population. What you will find is that the successful writers out there, the ones with the longevity, have found a way to keep their own voices we have come to know and love, and to adapt and tweak their stories to meet the needs of the changing reader.

I am frequently getting submissions from writers out there that were published once before, but due to any number of reasons, haven't published in a long time. When I read their writing, I feel as if I'm stuck in a time warp. The writing simply hasn't matured over time. The same goes for the writers out there that suddenly find their writing just not as exciting to their editors as it was in the beginning. In the end, the next option book just doesn't happen. Why? Because the writing hasn't matured and grown along the way. The writing is still the exact same we read in the first book. Although readers like consistency, readers do not want to read the same thing over and over again. Simply changing the names and the places isn't going to work.

Your job, as a writer, whether you are published or not, is to continually find a way to grow and adapt. We aren't talking about selling out and following trends remember, but following the voice. There is a fine line here, but I think, no I believe, if a writer does this, the publishing world will continually beg for your books.


  1. But...but...but...I agree with you in theory, but see that in actuality the same old stuff, (unless you are a fan of the stuff) is what agents and publishers are actually begging to buy. I'm talking about Cassie Edwards and Nora Robertson and James Patterson and Harlan Coban, who have a distinctive style and just keep writing the same book over and over again, in effect, and are so popular that they are now being re-released (earlier stuff) under their own names, writing with juniors, and so on. The publishers can't get enough of the same old, same old, so obviously, like McDonalds, readers want a dependable product for their money. How is one to make any sense of this?
    With Nora Roberts, for example one can just see her thumbing through a Triple A guide to a particular state, and then plugging in the names and descriptions of some of the better-known towns and local features.
    A few mentions of " the high plains of Bozeman," or the "bluegrass pastures of Lexington," and she is off and running with a generic plot, over and over. It's clear that at best she might have raced down the main highway in the state, but more likely is just paging through a Triple A guidebook in her home office. Nothing wrong with this, but it's difficult to square it up with the endless cry from agents for "fresh and different!"
    Yeah. Fresh and different might be admitting that everyone is wandering around in the dark, trying to guess what might catch on next, rather than continually blaming writers for not coming up with something unique enough, or generic enough (!) that it is immediately recognizable as the next hot ticket.
    Meanwhile, thanks for trying to make sense of all this.
    I'm off to...where WAS that page....THERE it is, pg. 49, local features..."the rolling bluegrass pastures of Lexington, dotted with...sleek Throughbred horses...the sun gleaming on their brown coats," my agent!!
    Watch what agents buy and readers pay for, not what they say for the press, as always. And good luck with all this. Poor fuddled writers. And starving agents?

  2. Dear Anonymous A,

    I don't think it's as complicated as you make it sound. Yes, Nora is a wee on the predictable side, but she's Nora. The truth is, she's going to sell regardless because she set a reputation early on and people like what she writes.

    That doesn't mean the rest of us should try to emulate her, or find a way to sound like her. Nooo, instead, we should find Our voice, find a way to make Our voice fit into what people are reading, and set our own reputation.

    And yes, we should adapt. If Ford still sold just the model T, would it have sustained? Other businesses change over time, Authors have to adapt as well.

    This is a business. If we treat it as such, research the market, do what we can to understand what the "buyer" (reader) is looking for, then we will go far.

    If we do not, we are likely writing a book that will delight our mothers and our husbands, but probably not ever see the light of day.