March 30th, 2008

View from study (sunny)

Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book? It took me years to write, will you take a look?

Thinking about what sells...

Disclaimer: I am not an expert. I have only sold 3 short stories to paying markets. One of these was not SF. You are perfectly welcome to say, "Well, if she hasn't sold a novel yet, she must be talking through her hat," and move on. However, the question of what sells has been occupying my mind lately. I've even been seriously wondering whether there's any point in me continuing to write fiction, so I'm airing my conclusions here, for my own benefit as much as anything, but I hoped someone might also find my ideas thought provoking.

I had high hopes for Moving a Mountain, but it just hasn't attracted any interest despite the fact that several of my friends seem to have genuinely enjoyed it. I conclude from this that it's not badly written but it's attracting less interest from publishers than my previous novels. This means that my intuition as to what makes a good story is functioning less well then when I was younger, despite my prose writing skills getting better. As I obviously had no clue as to what would sell and what wouldn't, I needed to give the matter some serious thought. So here is the first instalment of my conclusions, such as they are. Collapse )

I'm assuming here that we accept that the job of an editor is to find books that will sell well and make a profit for the company. If you feel that novels are purely a means of Artistic Expression, that nasty commercial considerations are beneath you and that your Work of Exquisite Genius should not be rejected in favour of all that crass commercial stuff, then please stop reading now and click on to the next post. :) Collapse )

It's up to you, of course, whether you think this post is just the ramblings of an aging failed writer or a potentially interesting avenue to explore. But I'm certainly going to adopt this approach from now on. The "write what you love" has led me nowhere in terms of success, so I have absolutely nothing to lose. At worst it's just going to be a new and different way to fail. :)

Also it's not an either or. You write what you love in terms of character, setting etc. but you ensure that your story is slanted towards modern concerns, that your themes are relevant to today's readers. Most of us have more ideas than we know what to do with. Life isn't long enough to write every idea that comes our way, so this is intended as my personal guide as to what to develop and what to leave in the ideas notebook.Collapse )
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View from study (sunny)

Eowyn Challenge -- progress

Walking to Rivendell

Miles travelled today: 9½
Miles travelled so far: 337
Miles still to go: 121
Percentage complete: 73.6%

Point reached on journey: Fifth day out from Weathertop. Still following the valley. (I'm getting tired of this valley. I need to press on and reach somewhere more interesting!)

Where I really went...

Just a cycle ride down the old railway and back (hence the larger than normal mileage!). The weather was almost spring-like and it only made a half-hearted attempt at raining. Still needed sweater and jacket and hat and gloves though.

Legs now distinctly wobbly going down stairs. Obviously not cycling fit yet. :)
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    calm calm