Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Same Old Song....

Part of the great thing about being a Scribe is I get to see a lot of impressive reads pass through this blog, awesome story recommendations, and also grasp how much talent and creativity exists among multiple genres.

I also judge several contests a year, everything from erotic, inspirational, science fiction, mainstream, mystery, thrillers to straight and sweet romance. And, though, I've never judged literary, I do enjoy literary work, too. Often, as I read some of these compelling manuscripts, many of them equal to products I find in the bookstore, I wonder why hasn't this sold?

Which got me thinking. I love so many genres, why is it when one book sells, myriad books emulating an author's style and plot seem to follow? At a conference an editor said to us, if you want to see what we're looking for in this genre, read this author. Give us something like this.

And then during the exact same conference agents on a panel said, We're looking for something new, fresh and original, or this line is dead, or this market is heating up again. Write this....

See my problem? There seems to be a pattern here. We receive so many mixed signals. As I switched radio stations the other day, I went from Oldies to Rap, Country, Jazz, Classical, Rock and beyond. Imagine someone telling a fan, you can only listen to this station. Or a band trying to break into the industry, and a producer saying, I'm looking for a group that sounds exactly like Led Zeppelin, or I like your interpretation of classical, but rap is hot right now. Or to put it really into perspective, a group that incorporates -- say classical and rap -- and a producer throwing up his hands and saying, I like it, but don't know where I'd place it.

Maybe it's exactly the same in the music industry and I'm naive. I have heard the stories of musicians waiting tables, selling shoes and nearly starving before breaking in. Maybe it is a whole lot like publishing. Anyone have his pulse on the music industry and care to do a comparison? I'd love to hear your thoughts. My only choice is to write the book that's in me and not try to sell to the market. While I'm at it, I'll shuffle through my Ipod and enjoy a whole mix of many kinds of music.


Theresa said...

I sympathize with your frustration, but as one fresh back from the Rocky Mt Fiction Writers conference, the gatekeepers to the readers (agents and editors A/E) seem to be playing a different tune these days.

Now they won't tell you what they're looking for so much as, they'll know it when they see it. And they acknowledge more and more that this industry is INCREDIBLY subjective.

One of them mentioned that it's a numbers game--what one A/E hates, another indubitably loves. So their advice was to just keep at it and find that A/E who loves your story.

That and they emphasized voice and "they-know-it-when-they-see-it" so much that I wanted to have the first 2 pgs of my story printed out to pass it out to all the A/Es there and just ask the ones that were hooked and liked the voice to raise their hands so I didn't waste either their time or mine, pitching to A/E that weren't predisposed to like my voice/story.

Sigh, but as usual, there doesn't seem to be any shortcuts in this industry. Writing the book in us and having FUN along the way is what has to sustain us until we sell--and even then we'll have frustrations--they'll simply be different ones.

It's ALL character building, right?


Donnell said...

T, as always I bow at your very wise footsteps. I may sound frustrated, by honest, I'm curious LOL. I would no more be able to write someone else's story, so what you say is true. Keep at it. That's what I'm doing, girl friend :) And having a ball doing it!

Edie said...

Donnell, I agree 100%. As a writer and as a reader. I enjoy reading ST books, and the choice is way down. My opinion is if they had more on the shelves, more might be sold. But if they have the same old on the shelves, the reader gets bored and stops buying.

Donnell said...

Thanks for stopping by, Edie, Ms. American Title V finalist ;) I suspect strongly that you don't write to the market; you have so many stories in you.