Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Like ice cubes to Eskimos

In the book writing business I have heard many times over that it isn't what is hot but what is going to be. Don't go chasing trends. Blah, blah, blah.

I am not complaining. Far from it. I wish those writers who started the trends nothing but the finest. J.K. Rowling, R.L. Stine, Lemminy Snicket; they have all created things that have become bigger than the original idea. But in the publishing industry, while it seems they are looking for the next big thing, they really aren't buying right now.

We can blame the economy. It seems to be a popular scapegoat at this juncture. 'No one is buying,' is heard in quite a few circles. 'We only want sure things.' Like that ever happens.

You may wonder why I am writing this. Am I disillusioned? Mad? Crazy? Far from it. I am determined. I have hope that what I write will find a home. I received a kind rejection from an agent this morning. He is looking for the type of Middle grade books that I like to write. He flat out admitted that he hasn't been able to sell any of them at this point, so he is being twice as selective about what he takes on. (My particular writing being realistic adventures for the male child, ages 8-14). It isn't selling. Especially if it isn't funny (sorry, mine isn't).

I can't say as I blame them. We have enough to worry about with the natural disasters we hear about every day and the state of the economy. The last thing that most kids want to read about is realistic fiction. They want to escape. I wonder how many of the classics that we liked yesterday would be published in today's market. I wonder if the Hardy Boys would make it through the slush today. Tom Sawyer almost certainly wouldn't.

I dare say that, in spite of this,  The Diary of Anne Frank would and How to Eat Fried Worms would be another run-away success stories, even in today's market. I think we could potentially throw The Little Prince in this if some of the language were tweaked slightly (It reads a little stilted but is still an incredible story).

I am sorry for the ramblings. I am just looking over my library and the 'Classics' that I have enjoyed over the years and wonder where they fit into today's reading agenda. Move on now. Nothing to see.


Aaron Polson said...

I teter on the edge of trying to do the commerical thing every day. Should I try to write for money, or write because I'm a writer? The razor-thin marketplace has made writing for money crazily competitive. Competition is good in theory, but only so long until we eat our own tail.

I think about most of the schtuff I teach: would it sell today? In many cases, no. No it wouldn't. Does it still have value. Hell yes.

Sorry to hear about the rejection. You will keep writing and it will be good.

Jamie Eyberg said...

Aaron, I am glad I am not alone in the 'would it be published today?' camp. It it almost heresy to think that the classics aren't good enough for today's readers.

Cate Gardner said...

That's an excellent and yet frustrating rejection. I try not to think of the current market (or future market) when writing a book... Anyhow, we'll be the next big thing, right?

Katey said...

Yeah, that's something I think of a lot. I'm convinced that most of what I like to read best would never be bought these days, and it frustrates me not from an authorial point of view so much as from a reader point of view.

But it does bring up a lot of questions for a writer too, as you say. :/

Barry Napier said...

1 - Sucks about the MG book. Press on good sir, press on

2 - I will admit. I only even tried to start my YA attempt because it seems to be the best way to get "in" these days. Imagine my surprise when I found that I amm enjoying the hell out of writing it and it is taking on a life of its own...

Fox Lee said...

I tired to write a "marketable" horror story, before I wrote SOUL JERKY. Holy crap it was awful. The muse wants what it wants. I say be stubborn, write what you love, and keep your fingers crossed.

Jamie Eyberg said...

Cate, I predict the next big thing will involve singing frogs and talking pinkie toes.

Katey, we shall persevere, be crucified, rise again and be stronger for it. Besides, doesn't everything happen in cycles. The 90's are going to be huge again someday.

Barry, I am convinced that the YA blockbuster phenom is because of the large audience. The books translate well to the youth and the adult audience. That is a large market for a book. If it only holds dear to one segment of the population or another then it may only hold cult status if it holds a market at all. I know going in that my market is small and that is bad for my chances right there.

Nat, don't write crap. You wouldn't like yourself in the morning. You have created something that very few people can and you are a stronger writer for it.

Danielle Birch said...

I agree, it's a frustrating rejection, but keep on going with it and hopefully someone else will realise a good thing when they see it.

Jamie Eyberg said...

Danielle, oddly enough I had another agent tell me the exact same thing about the hard sell on boy fiction- but this one requested a partial. :)

K.C. Shaw said...

I've gotten several "I like this but I can't sell it" responses from agents for a light, humorous fantasy. I know how frustrating it is. I don't know how we're supposed to start a new trend (or at least not chase current trends) when apparently no one's buying anything.

I just tell myself this slump can't last forever. People still want good books, and they want books that aren't the same as everything else out there (I mean, how many YA angsty vampires can the market really bear?). We'll get there eventually, but it sure is frustrating in the meantime. Keep writing!