Saturday, September 3, 2011

When truth hits home

Yesterday, I blogged about the consequences of 'never give up' advice, mostly given by well-meaning friends or those who have already achieved what most of us wish for. In publishing that usually means a contract with one of the big six or selling so well, that we make a living from writing. That post sparked a rather interesting discussion on facebook. One person, though, was so upset by my words, in quintessence called me an arrogant, inexperienced idiot (not her words, but my translation) and unfriended me. Fair enough, but I seriously wonder how she is going to survive in this business; is she going to pull a Hewitt once she receives a negative review? I knew my post was provocative, but I didn't address her personally, nobody in fact. It's that kind of reaction that puts agents and publishers off. I can't stress enough that they're out there, observing, and you never know when someone's watching you.
Going back to the topic of success: I see publishing as a business, I write, I edit, I proof, I publish. If I'm lucky, I sell -- a product for money. I said that if you don't sell your 'commercial' book despite all efforts to promote it, then it's perhaps one reason for being rejected, agents didn't see a market for it. Self-publishing usually is the last resort after failing to land a deal, or the way to go with beautiful niche-market writing.

Let's take my novel No Wings Attached, a romantic comedy, chick lit-style a la Cecilia Ahern, with a good measure of paranormal a la Charmed. Both very successful and one would think the book could be commercial enough. I got about 30 rejections. I knew it's neither here nor there, the readers who don't like paranormal but love chick lit won't go near it, the ones who love paranormal expect vampires and werewolves, but not comedy.  I've sold about 100 since its release in June. My conclusion: there's no market for it. Not now or never will be. Those who read it, loved it, apart from one person who wasn't a happy bunny. I pondered if I should finish the sequel, asking myself if it's worth it to put time and effort into a sequel when the first book doesn't sell. My decision is: I will finish the sequel because I've been asked by a few people who are waiting for its release and I've promised them. But if it still doesn't sell it will be the end of the series, if it flies off the shelves, I might continue. It's a simple business decision for me.
Of course it's disappointing if you put blood sweat and tears into your book and it doesn't turn out to be the next bestseller, but that's the price you pay for being independent, you have no stamp of approval and the big marketing department in your back. And even if you have, it's no guarantee for success, most of the books being accepted by publishing houses end up being dust-collectors. Only a few really make it into the bestseller lists, so we're in good company. The reader is king and if he or she rejects you, don't get upset, think about the reasons and react with a cool head.

No comments:

Post a Comment