Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Road Less Traveled or the Well Traveled Path?

This issue has been circling around in my brain for a few weeks now. As most of you know, a lot of my work is loaded with humor and for those that are new to my work, I urge you to check out my website http://www.sandrasookoo.com. Add to that, I like to write in whatever genre the mood strikes: paranormal, contemporary or historical with heat but not at an erotic level.

What’s wrong with this picture?

I’m not writing for the trends.

Now I realize it’s the only way to make cash in this game but I can’t help but wonder if that’s doing things the easy way. Right now, I’m not interested in writing for the trends and have always been told to write something that interests me as a reader. I’m darned proud of the books I’ve put out, just wish more people would take a chance on them.

Funny vampires? I have 'em. (Recently got my print copies of Fang Shui in the mail and they're oh so pretty) Historicals with heat and heart? Yup those to. Contemporary books that'll make you snort your drink out of your nose? They're in stock now LOL Yes, my early work doesn't have sex in it. My 2010 work does. I've evolved, in this it was a change or die kind of thing and I'm okay with it. Pretty darned comfortable writing it, but that doesn't mean I won't go back to "sweet" romance if the urge strikes. So, take a chance on me. I've got everything you're looking for. LOL

(Yeah, shameless plug but that's what the world has come to, right?) LOL

But, they're not the trends.

Depending on which publisher you look at, you'll find the trending topics to be wolves, menages, category romance, Amish romances, dom/sub stuff or M/M stories.

None of which my books fall into. That's the sad truth. It takes a village to make the publishing industry go 'round and I'm not trashing those things, I'm merely saying I don't write in them.

Yet, I continue to write what I love, what interests me, what makes me laugh, hoping someone out there will love it, too, hoping the current trends will shift and my stuff will become popular. Please God. I can entertain the crap out of you, but first, someone needs to make the trends shift and demand different stuff. :-)

So, here’s today’s question.

1. Writers—how do you tackle this conundrum? Do you write for the trends, hoping to make it big or do you throw caution to the wind and write what you love even though it probably won’t sell well at the moment?

2. Readers—are you contend to read what everyone else is reading? Do you tend to pick up a book in the same genre over and over again, or are you willing to take a chance on something different?

Can’t wait to hear what you think. Good, bad, ugly, supportive, I wanna hear it all. :-)

20 comments:

Catherine Gayle said...

Interesting blog topic, Sandi. I write what I love to write, but what I love to write also happens to be part of a big trend at the moment. Even if it wasn't, I'd say that changing what I write to suit the trends wouldn't be a good choice for me, unless it was also something I not only love, but felt I could do well. Some writers don't have a voice or style that suits certain genres or trends. Many of the things you listed as being what is selling right now, I can't imagine you finding a way to make your voice fit. Not that you couldn't do it if you really wanted to, but you'd have to lose a lot of what I love about your voice to do that.

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever read was to do what you love and do it well, become a master of it, before moving on to try something else. Master that one thing. Become the best there is at it. Then try something else. I'm working on doing that. I've been able to narrow down my focus to what works for my voice and I can recognize ideas that will work and ideas that won't. Now I'm trying to execute it.

Another great piece of advice I've read is not to follow the trends, but to make the trends. Werewolves might be the current trend, but if they're being published today, they were written a year or more ago. So what do you want to see them publish in a year or two? Write that. Write it as well as you're capable of. And then fight for it.

Rebecca Royce said...

What i love to write tends to be the trend so I get to love writing it and have it be the popular at the moment. You write great stuff. Keep it up.

Annie Nicholas said...

Amish romances, really???

If I wrote fast enough I would alternate between trend and my own desires. Since I don't have the time, I write what I want.

Another thing you should bring up is novel vs novella? Technically novellas are fast and easy to write BUT are they profitable?

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks ladies

Penelope said...

After seeing some of the trends lately (I am a romance reviewer as well as an author), I recommend writing a zombie-cowboy-gay Amish-vampire story. If you want to follow the recent trends! :)

However, if you want to write something readers are excited about, just write a good book. Doesn't matter what the genre is. Sandra, I love the humor in your stories, and for many, many folks, reading an entertaining, witty, well-written book is a huge treat. Sweet or sassy!

C. D. Yates/C. Brayden-Thomas said...

Interesting question.

As a reader, I think it depends on where I get my books. At the bookstore, I look for any new releases by favorite "big" authors or scan for any I may have missed. (Don't you hate it when they reissue with new titles/covers???) If I'm at a ebook publisher, I guess I most often read to the trends because I grab what' on the front page (more often than not).

As a writer, I write what calls to me. Currently, I'm working on a funny vampire book, too (hey! I thought I was unique!) but the only reason I'm even playing with a vampire is because I lust Eric on True Blood and needed to create my own hunky blood sucker. (Oddly, he looks nothing like Eric...)

Personally, I eschew the trends in favor of what I like.

Oh, and regarding novellas vs. novels--good question! I'm thinking that if you can write a bunch of novellas vs. one novel, you may end up making more of a profit. People are more likely to plunk down $2.99 for an ebook vs. $11.99 for a printed novel (or even $6.99 for a novel-length ebook). And the more you publish, the more you may establish a fan following and more sales. So I'm thinking novellas are the way to go. :)

Esmerelda Bishop said...

Interesting topic. I don't see anything necessarily wrong with trends myself from a reader/TV watcher standpoint. People who write in a trend can still have a a completely original idea and that to me is what is so cool about a trend wave.

Let me take vampires for example. You have twinkling vampires (Twilight), vampires who live among the humans and drink synthetic blood (True Blood), and dark teenage vampires in high school (Vampire Diaries) and so many more vampire options out there. Each one of them are part of a trend because America has gone ga-ga over vamps. However, I love each one of these for completely different reason.

So I believe that writing in what is popular now isn't that easy because you do have to make it stand out. An editor can open up a one vampire MS and say "boring, nothing new too it" or open it up and say,"yes, exactly what I need, within the trend but a new edge"

So I think writing within a trend is just as challenging as writing outside of them.

With that said, I don't really write in trends. I have, but my novels are outside the box. I am not, however, opposed to it if an idea would hit me.
Very interesting topic, Sandra
Esme

carrie said...

morning all..

I like to write funny, and read funny. =) I read historicals, western, contemporary, etc....paranormals from Sandi and Rebecca, =) but I'm rarely with the trend. Ask my sister, she says even my clothes are hopelessly outdated!

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

I write what works for me, Sandi. I tried to do the trends and could even spin them to my brand of writing, but the heart wasn't really in it.

I write because I love to write. That's what it should be about.

Reading - I'm hopping genres, getting into new or 'different' stuff I'd never have taken before. Found out I like thrillers and mysteries with a female protagonist!

Still, there are trends and there are those storylines that are always popular. Just take a look at the HQ mainstream titles and see how much of steadiness there is in the type of stories coming out.

Vicky said...

Hi, Sandra,

I saw your Tweet today & thought the topic interesting. Then I read your blog and hesitated to comment. But I'm going to state my opinion anyway because we can always agree to disagree. :-)

You don't have to write the hottest trend in this business to be successful. And of course, every writer has different interpretations of what success means. But I think you're missing the mark with your concern about trends. When I read your post what immediately struck me is that you've written in several subgenres, basically whatever strikes your fancy. It can be beneficial for unpublished writers to experiment with different subgenres until they find one that suites their interest and voice. But if your goal is to build a readership, you have to consider their wants and needs.

Here's an illustration. Let's say I bought an entire album on iTunes from a new band. A year later, the band puts out a new album, and because I loved the first one so much, I immediately check it out. But the band decided to switch from rock music to country. And I don't like country music. I'm not just disappointed; I'm ticked off.
The band just lost a loyal fan.

If you want to build a readership, you have to meet their expectations. Granted many writers successfully write in two subgenres, but usually they build their *brand* in one subgenre before branching out into another one. One of my published friends even uses a different pen name to differentiate her two brands.

The following sentence in your blog made me pause: "Please God. I can entertain the crap out of you, but first, someone needs to make the trends shift and demand different stuff."

Trends have been shifting for years and will continue to do so. But again, I don't think that's the issue. At the risk of sounding patronizing, I'll repeat what we've all heard a thousand times before. Publishing is a business, a very competitive business. Wishing and hoping is a waste of your energy.

What is it you really want from your writing career? That's the question I asked myself, and I think it's one every author should reassess as needed. Once you know what you want, don't waste energy complaining about things you can't change. Use that energy to research the market and figure out how to get what you really want the most. In the words of Winston Churchill: Never, never, never give up.

Isobael Liu said...

*Stabs Blogger* For the THIRD time, Blogger ate my comment!

1. As a debut author, I don't have much experience in dealing with the conundrum. I've always loved to write in the paranormal romance genre, was writing little things in the genre before it became a genre. I dread the day it's kicked to the curb for some newfangled trend.

I think, when an author writes what they love, a reader can feel it. They pick it up in the plot, the character chemistry, the general feel of the story. There are times I've picked up a book, even from my fave author, and expected a good read, but found it lacking. Oh, the story was sound, editing great, nothing jarred me from the POVs...but the general feel of the book was bland. As though they wrote it to just get it out there, because it was expected of them.

2. As a reader, I never read a book because it was the trend. I've always read a book because it interested me. I have my favorite authors and genres, and sometimes, I'm tempted out of these by a trusted friend who might send me a book to try out, but typically, I'm not one of the "sheep" who reads a book because it's trendy to do so...such as the Twilight (fiasco) obsession. *shudders*

All in all, write what you love. Readers will know you enjoyed writing it, and there'll always be someone who reads that particular genre, even when it goes out of style. =)

William and Anna Patterson said...

I believe trends come and go, but what is lasting, is the ingredients which make people fall in love, and attach each other together in something enduring and satisfying. Because of that, I try to keep an open mind. Writing is like the Universe, it takes all kinds. I haven't settled down yet, I am still exploring its depths.

Diane McEntire said...

Howdy neighbor! I started off writing paranormal because it's what I love though I ready other genres. Vampire romance to me was easy because it's like Sci-Fi/Fantasy, you can create your own world. I had a new author tell me (and she was very upset) that someone picked apart her "world". My response was "Show me a vampire and I'll ask him/her what is real." Anyway, thought I'd chime in here. Guess when I see "paranormal romance" my ears perk up, lol.

iamtherobyn said...

Good post, gets you thinking.

I write what I love, regardless of what's big. It's hard to write what's big now, because what's hot now was written, edited, and produced X amount of months/years ago. By the time you try to hop on the bandwagon, it's already moved on to something else.

As a reader, I'll read anything as long as it's interesting and well written.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks for coming by everyone. I appreciate your comments.

Lilly Gayle said...

As a reader, I read whatever grabs my interest after reading a book blurb. I don't care if it's some obscure writer or Nora Roberts. If the blurb sounds good, I'll read the book.

As a writer, I usually get an idea in my head and can't sleep until I start the book. I'm not always so good at finishing a manuscript, but as long as the story line holds my interest, I'll write until I reach the end. And being trendy has nothing to do with it.

Although, my first published book-Out of the Darkness-which will be released 5/28/10 from The Wild Rose Press is a bit trendy, I wrote it because I was inspired by a Dean Koontz novel I read years ago.

OTD is a vampire romance. But in my vampire world, the hero doesn't like his dark nature and is seeking a cure.

So, does that make me a trend writer? Or a trend setter? lol!

I'd rather be the latter!

Susan Macatee said...

I write what I'm passionate about and what I like to read. Unfortunately, my interests don't run to trendy stories, at least at the moment. I write American Civil War, which seems to only appeal to a limited number of readers. And although I do mix genres, they don't seem to be popular right now either, like vampires in historical settings...

Doesn't matter how trendy a subject matter is, if I don't read it, I can't write it. The passion just wouldn't be there, so I wouldn't be able to sell it to an editor anyway.

Sandy said...

Sandi,

I grew up on mysteries and mystery romance so that's what I write.

A good thought provoking blog.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Thanks everyone for taking the time to leave a comment. I'm so glad this blog provoked some many different responses.

While I do not begrudge publishers for wanting to publish works in the popular genres as they are running a business, I feel sometimes that works which do not follow the ‘trend’ fall by the wayside and this is discouraging. It’s also a challenge for me to keep writing what I love.

However, while I do write in a few subgenres to prevent my brain from becoming bored and having this reflect in my work, I don’t think that should be considered a liability. If anything, I believe it shows an author's range when they're willing to span across borders, which in the long run, makes them more valuable.

I agree each reader is different and has specific likes and dislikes yet, at the basic level, readers want something they can sit back and enjoy. This is what I’ve accomplished in my writing and this is also why I'll keep doing what I'm doing.

Because I love it.

And who knows, maybe in six months, the doors will be wide open for a comedic, paranormal, chick-lit piece told in the first person…

Sandy said...

Sandi,

The trends change every few years so don't let it get you down. What you like to write will always come around again.

Hang tough.