Wednesday, October 22, 2014

History Repeats Itself So Don't Panic

So now what do you do? You have just spent 3-4 months working on your latest project and you attend a conference only to hear the panel of editors and agents say that your genre is simply not selling. They openly say they are not even considering signing anyone who writes in that genre. You sit there in the ballroom listening to this panel go on and on about other genres and all you can think about is, "Great, and I was going to pitch to these people later today!"

Let me tell you there is no reason to panic. There is hope. In fact, I am betting that in the time it takes you to write another novel, the tide will have shifted and this same panel will be begging for your project.

The deal is that publishing does go in waves. This is a market driven business and even the editors and agents have no idea what will work or not work.

One publisher I work with told me one month they were simply not acquiring a specific genre. Their group of authors were selling like crazy, and they simply didn't need anyone else. But get this, about 5-6 months later, I get an email from the same editor asking me if I had anyone writing in that genre. It had shifted that fast.

I was listening yesterday to a segment on NPR talking about the newest line up for TV programing this season. As the specialist who was being interviewed noted, if they are lucky 50% of the shows will survive the first couple of episodes. What those shows will be is a complete guessing game. In fact, the reporter was noting that some of the shows with the best reviews were tanking it, while those with reviews that were less than favorable seemed to be doing well. Why? They could only guess it was when the show was on and what it followed or preceded, but even then that was mere speculation.

We see this all of the time. The market simply shifts and when we thought there was no hope for a genre, it suddenly spikes.

I will admit that part of it has to do with what the editors and agents have sitting on their shelves at this time. Let me use Greyhaus as an example. Right now, the historical line-up is REALLY full. I have a full house when it comes to historicals so unless you are bringing something truly unique, I will likely not be acquiring. Let me stress that it doesn't mean I am not looking, it simply means that I am pretty full up on historical authors who are doing well. In other genres, I have holes, so those are the ones I am looking for.

Agents will also start looking depending on what we see the market doing. Right now, I have had a lot of editors talking to me wanting more book club women's fiction, so I look for that.

How long with this last? It goes until the market shifts again.

So what about your story?

I would simply argue to go ahead and start working on your next project. Keep looking around and see if someone has a hole on their shelf for your project. There may be a space. Just because there isn't one at publisher X there might be one at publisher Y. Also remember that since this market is always shifting, the odds are things will open up.

The moral of the story? DON'T PANIC! You will be fine.

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