Tuesday, June 15, 2021

This Little Idiot Went to Market, This One Stayed Home

Publishers and agents usually ask you to compare your book to somebody else’s and want to know that you are up to date on what is popular at the moment. How much importance do you place in writing for the market?

From Frank

In case anyone feels offended by the title - I'm the idiot in both instances.

This going to be a short one this week, for a couple reasons. Here they are:

  1. I don't have a publisher (except myself) or an agent, so right out of the chute, the first sentence doesn't apply to me, and;

  2. I put virtually zero importance on writing to market.

While I definitely treat my writing career as a business, it is also a creative passion. So I write what I am passionate about, what interests me, and since I can (refer back to #1 for why), what I want to write about. It's less a choice than the only way I can do this.

You can question the marketing wisdom of that, or the business acumen, and you may have a point. Perhaps Probably Certainly, I'm limiting my scope or reach by not paying more attention to trends or not purposefully writing to market. But I am fortunate in that, while I take my writing career seriously, it isn't my primary source of income. Because of this, I can -- quite literally -- afford to proceed under this way of thinking. I may sell fewer books, but I have more fun writing them.

So why am I the idiot in both cases in this title?

I'm actually not.

But I would be if I decided to write to market. 

Not because it's a bad idea. In fact, for many it is a very good idea, and smart people are doing it quite successfully. It just isn't who I am, and I'd be an idiot to go against my nature. I'd be miserable and it would take away the joy of something that's been a big piece of my life since childhood - the love of writing (honestly, treating it like a business already provides enough ammunition for that potential danger!).

Now, I could BS you and say that instead of chasing trends, you should go your own way and create them... and that sounds real cool, doesn't it? And it's true. It can be a bit more of a lottery ticket, but it's definitely true. However, I've already told you my real truth, so this is essentially more of a happy rationalization after the fact, or a lucky additional benefit.

I say - be true to yourself. Do as you will, and I'll do the same. Write to market, or don't. And let's both just be cool with it.


My Ania series is on promotion this week. The first book in the series, Blood on Blood, is free through Thursday, and the remaining three titles in the series are all 99 cents through Saturday.

In Blood on Blood, half-brothers Mick and Jerzy Sawyer are summoned to their father’s prison deathbed, it isn’t for a tearful goodbye. The spiteful old man tells the two estranged brothers about an old diamond heist with outstanding loot, and sets them on a path of cooperation and competition to recover the jewels.

Jerzy is the quintessential career criminal, fresh out of a short bit and looking to get back into the action right away. Mick is the failed cop and tainted hero struggling to get by with a clean life that doesn’t seem to ever pay off. Both men see this score as their ticket out of Chicago.

Throw in the mysterious, blond Ania, and Blood on Blood is hardboiled Hardy Boys meets Cain and Abel. Jerzy and Mick battle each other for all of it — the diamonds, the girl, and survival — and nothing else matters…not even blood.

I wrote these books with Jim Wilsky. We took an approach you don't often see - a dual first person narrative with alternating chapters. In other words, I wrote one character and Jim wrote the other, and we go back and forth between these characters from chapter to chapter. Both are written in the first person, so you get an intimate look at each of them. At the same time, the reader knows more than either character.

The through-thread of this series is the enigmatic femme fatale, Ania. Each book has a different pair of narrators, so you see Ania mostly through their eyes... though you do get a few Ania chapters throughout the series.

If you like hard boiled, this is for you.

If you're reading this outside of the promotion, sorry... but they're quite reasonably priced at $4.99 each, and you can pick up the box set containing all four for just $9.99, and that's a bargain.


Colin Conway said...

There's some investing advice that goes something like, "If everyone is running toward the stock market, go the opposite way." The same thing applies to the real estate market. It should also apply to creative market as well.

There are many trends out there that look appealing to write toward. For years, vampires seem to be a can't miss genre. Romance also seems to be continually hot (pun intended). If I were to write in either of those genres, I'd make a mess of it and damage my brand.

That doesn't mean a writer can't experiment or try something new. But a writer should hone their voice even when their genre of choice isn't the flavor of the month. There will be readers out there. And at some point, everything comes back into style.

Frank Zafiro said...

All excellent points, for certain. Thanks to stopping by, Colin!

Josh Stallings said...

I agree, do what you do, don't judge others. And write what you're driven to write, I guess that how you buy the lottery ticket.