Friday, January 13, 2012

Know The Business BEFORE You Get Too Far In

I really struggled with this title this morning, so bear with me on this.

I know I have talked numerous times here on the blog about the idea that writers need to know and understand their business inside and out before they make that huge leap into finding an agent or an editor. Too often, writers have gotten slammed hard when they find themselves over-taken with all of the nuances of this business. "If only I had known." But today, I want to focus on a bit of a narrower focus.

For any writer, it is really important to know the genre they are writing in, and even more so, know and understand the components of what goes into that successful book that hits the shelf. You simply cannot just sit down and start writing a story AND THEN attempt to find a place for it. In many ways, this is analogous to someone deciding to open a business, they buy all of the items to go into the business AND THEN look for a place to put the store. Without that advance market research, the odds are the store is not going to be a success.

Understanding the genre is even more important when writing in ANY genre specific branch of publishing. This is not an issue of writing to a formula, but there are those nuances that are inherent in that particular line. If you don't have those elements, or you are doing something that falls outside of those inherent characteristics, you will find failure. For example, there are obviously strict guidelines for the Inspirational market. Why? Because they focus extensively on the CBA market. They know their clientele. So, if I add some explicit sex scenes in these stories, the books will have a difficult of impossible task of being sold. Does this mean that people reading these books don't have explicit sex? No. Does this mean these people don't read books like this? No. It simply means that the people selling the books AND the people who frequent those book stores are going there with certain expectations of what to find.

Knowing the business also extends to the general writing group as well. Understanding how books are published and sold is crucial. Even the small factor of knowing what the page count is for a standard book is key. (You would be surprised at how many people seem to believe a 300,000 - 400,000 word book is normal.

The point of all this is simple. Don't waste your time on a project that will never sell due to your lack of understanding of the business. This is like going to a really bad movie. That was 2-3 hours of your life you won't get back again. For that book, we're talking months here - wasted.

So, spend this weekend knowing and learning your genre. Determine if what you believe you are writing really is what you are writing. Then, determine if this is really where you want to be.

Have a great weekend. It's swim meet time for me!


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