Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Dangerous Side Of Writing A Holiday Story

It is during this time of year when the publishers start pushing their holiday stories and holiday anthologies. It is also that time of year when we as agents and editors start to see a flood of new authors wanting to break into the business with those holiday stories. Before you consider doing this, I want you to take some time and think about what it will require and some of the pitfalls of taking on
 a story like this.

First of all, remember that many of the stories you are seeing are coming from established authors. These stories are, in most cases, contracted outside of existing contracts the authors have. The publishers will often contact their authors with some great name recognition and ask for a new project that will "boost sales" or simply be a great opportunity for all involved. These projects were not likely projects the author had thought about well in advance. This doesn't mean these were rushed projects. These were simply new projects.

For new authors, however, while these stories may have a lot of appeal with the build in emotion of the holidays, these become dangerous because of the timing of the story. You will spend a huge block of your time on this ONE gamble and this ONE chance. The publishers will only have one time slot to put the story out there for the public. Needless to say, your story has to be amazing. It has to compete against those authors who are already established.

I am not saying you shouldn't write the story, but this is, again, one of those situations when the author needs to think about the marketing of the story. It isn't a matter of thinking like an author, but now you have to think like the book buyer.

The holiday story may be one of those situations when an author wants to consider self-publishing. It gives the author a chance to play around in this unique genre and still get a product out there. Of course, there are some considerations here that an author MUST think about.

  • Just because you are self-publishing, the story still has to compete for that shelf-space. The market gets flooded this time of year so bring your A-Game to the story.
  • If you are already with a publisher, discuss this with the publisher. You still want to put out the best story and if the story is not well done, it will become counter-productive to the work you are doing with the publisher.
  • If you are already with a publisher, pay attention to that infamous options clause. You cannot find yourself working against the contract. Of course, the odds are your agent has already considered this.
  • Consider the timing. Is this worth the expense of time? Could you be using this time for something better? 

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