I’ve never been particularly brilliant about what I decide to write. If an idea comes to me, and it won’t leave my head, I’ll probably try to write it. Not the best market strategy. My wonderful agent, bless her heart, took me on because she liked my writing. I was working on urban fantasies back then. She liked Fabric of Life and sent it out into the world of editors and publishers. But Fabric of Life was a blend of fantasy, ghosts, and family relationships. Editors turned it down because cross-genre, especially a combo of myths, ghosts, and Fates, couldn’t be stuck in any specific genre. I read their comments and tried again.
My agent liked Fallen Angels, but sent LOTS of comments. I rewrote it–over and over again. It went from single POV to multiple POV until finally, she really liked it. Off it went, and this time, editors wrote that it wasn’t true urban fantasy because I’d included a mortal, mystery plot with fallen angels and vampires, so no deal. When I finally wrote a pure urban fantasy, Wolf’s Bane, too much time had passed. This g0-round, they wrote that they liked the book, but they’d already bought too many urban fantasies and the market was glutted. So…my agent let me put the books online. Where they faced stiff competition, because there are a LOT of urban fantasies out there. Did I learn my lesson? No. I thought I’d throw myths in the mix, and that might appeal to readers. Thus, Empty Altars and Spinners of Misfortune went online. Finally, my kind and patient agent said, “Enough’s enough already. Try a romance.” Okay, not in those exact words, but that exact sentiment. And she was right. (She’s always right). And guess what? It sold, and I got a three book deal with Kensington.
My point? Lots of people told me to write what I love. And that’s good advice. I learned a lot and became a better writer. But what I loved didn’t sell. Writers told me that if I wrote a good enough book, I’d find a publisher. I did write good books. At least, my agent thought so, and she knows her stuff. They didn’t sell. Why? Because markets do matter. I’m not telling you to write for a trend. First of all, it usually doesn’t work. By the time you notice the trend, it takes a while to write your book, and then it takes longer to market it, and by the time you do that, the trend has often passed. Secondly, I still believe you have to be attached to what you write. It has to appeal to you. If you force yourself to write something you don’t like, readers can tell. Another thing I’ve come to learn–what you love isn’t always what you’re best at. Every writer has strengths and weaknesses. You have to find your niche–the genre that makes your writing shine. Working on romances made me think about developing characters and their relationships. I added humor and found that I enjoyed it. Romances made me grow as a writer.
All that said, I should have written cookbooks. My dirty, little secret is that I sleep in every Saturday morning, then pad into the living room and watch the new, foodtv cooking shows until noon. Yes, noon. I sip coffee and eat donuts–Saturday is not about being healthy. And no, I don’t feel guilty about it. Because I love cooking, and I love trying new recipes. My husband loves to eat, and he isn’t fond of repetition:) Like me, he gets bored with the same-old, same-old. So, I scribble on every recipe I’ve ever made, tweaking it to what we like. If a recipe doesn’t have scribbles, I never used it. And I have a file full of recipes that we consider keepers.
Cookbooks sell. Every time I watch In The Kitchen With David on QVC, he has a cookbook author on his show, pitching her new book. And people buy them, LOTS of them. *Sigh* If only I’d known. Instead of worrying about plotting and pacing, word choice and characterization, I should have been fretting about which herb to use and what ingredients blend best.
Oh well, I have more fun creating my own worlds than wrestling souffles, so I think I’ll stick to shifters and love interests. Happy Writing!