The second book in the Wolf’s Bane series should be up soon, hopefully late this week or early next week. I’m pretty excited about it. When I started writing urban fantasy, I did the scatter gun approach. (The same brilliant idea I used for my novellas. Learn from my mistakes). The first book my agent accepted was Fabric of Life. She sent it to lots of big publishers. All of them declined it. But I learned a lot from the feedback. Fabric of Life, even though it has magic in it and a ghost or two, wasn’t urban fantasy. Most urban fantasy doesn’t have a real mortal in its plots. It’s usually a kick-ass heroine who has to team with some other supernatural (often a romantic interest) to defeat some horrible, powerful, supernatural villain. So, I sat down and wrote Fallen Angels.
She sent out Fallen Angels, too. With the same results. It wasn’t quite what publishers were looking for. Of course, I didn’t quite follow the rules this time either, because it seemed odd to me that fallen angels and vampires would dip in and out of Three Rivers and no mortal would ever know they were there or get caught in their crossfire. So, of course, I added that. And…my novel was turned down.
The third time I gave urban fantasy a stab, I decided to try to play by the rules. I have a few mortals bopping around in the plot, but mostly I focused on Reece, who owns a martial arts studio, who’s attacked by a werewolf, and wouldn’t survive except that a gargoyle rescues her. I’ve always wanted to do something with a gargoyle, and this seemed like as good a novel as any to introduce one. Of course, the werewolf scratches her, and a bloodred tattoo inks itself into her flesh, and her magic powers are awakened. She discovers that she comes from a long line of witches. I was pretty proud of myself when I finished this book. I had gargoyles, werewolves, and witches battling greedy rogues. I’d come as close to a true urban fantasy book as I can manage. And what did the publishers say? The urban fantasy market was now glutted, and this was too similar to things that were already out there. Arrrgh!
By the time I got all of the “thanks, but no thanks” replies for Wolf’s Bane, I’d already written a fourth urban fantasy–this one with Greek and Norse gods and goddesses. How’s that for unique? But it didn’t matter. The publishers weren’t jumping up and down to see a new take on urban fantasy. That’s when I decided to give online publishing a try, and that’s been a learning experience, too.
The thing to learn or take away from this is that publishers want novels that are similar to what’s already out there, but not too similar. They want it to fit the market, but be fresh and unique. And trends that are “hot” turn lukewarm or cold really fast. So you might as well write what you really want to and make it the best you can. But know your markets. Trying to swim upstream in publishing can make you just plain tired.
I finished the second book for Fallen Angels early this year and put it online in May. While I waited for that book to go up, I did rewrites on the second Wolf’s Bane book, and it should be available soon. My agent suggested I make it shorter and faster, so that I’d have a series with a lot more action. I tried, and I added touches that would keep me entertained–an evil, Egyptian pharoah who twisted his mother’s magic into something dark and dangerous and a demon who wants to go home, but the pharoah won’t let him. It was pretty fun to write. And the truth is, that’s all a writer can really do. Write the best book she can, give it a fighting chance with some marketing and promotion, and hope for the best.
By the way, a good cover makes a BIG difference, and I love the cover for Shadow Demon. It fits the story.
Whatever you’re working on, I hope you’re passionate about it. Timing is everything in writing, so good luck!