A while ago, when I had extra time to write between contracts, I decided to self-publish some supernatural mysteries because I enjoy writing them so much. I knew it was a bit of a risk since urban fantasy is still pretty glutted, but I’d seen some paranormal witch mysteries that were doing well on Amazon and thought it was worth a try. I had a lot of fun writing them, but I’ve given them a decent shot, and they’re still dead in the water. I can’t get them off the ground. So I came to a crossroads. Do I keep writing them and hope the fifth or sixth one clicks, or do I admit defeat and try something new?
My agent loved the urban fantasies I wrote forever ago but got one rejection after another because no one was buying UF anymore. I spent a lot of years trying to sell stories that no matter how well done, no one wanted to buy. And I don’t want to do that again. So this time, I’m throwing the towel in early. Right or wrong, I’ve learned the hard way that some things are easier to sell than others. So I felt sorry for myself, licked my wounded pride for a day, and then sat down and started to work on something different. I don’t want to write a second cozy series. I know a lot of writers juggle two or more of them, but I’d have too much trouble trying to keep track of which is which if they were that much alike. I mean, cozies have some similarities. If I’m going to do a second series, it has to be different enough from Jazzi to help me find balance between the two.
I’m sharing this, not to garner sympathy, but because when I like writing something, that’s what I want to write. I don’t want to change or go in a different direction. But I’ve found that I need to. When my agent asked me to try to write a romance, I didn’t want to. I’d never considered it. Ever. The plot points felt weird to me–hurt feelings and misunderstandings instead of attacks and battles. The thing is, I learned a lot by writing the Mill Pond series. I had to concentrate on character more than plot, and my tacklebox of writing tools grew richer for it. I took some of those tools with me when my editor asked if I’d like to try my hand at a mystery.
This might sound crazy to you, but if you’re writing really well but your work won’t sell, maybe you should try something outside your comfort zone. There’s so much to writing that we can’t control. If editors decide a market is tight or dead, soon it will be, because they won’t buy anything in that genre. If the market really is glutted, it’s even hard to find readers if you self-publish. There are just too many things for them to choose from. Markets come and go. Literary fiction, I’m told, is a hard sell right now. Sometimes, selling comes down to a current preference. It’s harder to sell writing in present tense now because there’s a bias against it. Some editors prefer third person, single POV, over first person. Some of that depends on what genre you write in, but I’ve read reviews where readers prefer third over first. That doesn’t mean what you write won’t sell, but it means it will be harder.
For now, I’m going to try something new. A straight mystery instead of a supernatural. And I’m writing it in first person. Then I’ll see what happens. But it doesn’t hurt to flex your writing muscles and experiment a little. You can start with something short and go from there. Maybe try a one-hour read. Play with a new genre, a different style. But it’s hard to put your best into something, over and over again, know that it’s good (and I’m not just talking ego or confidence here, but comments from critique partners and editors or agents), and keep getting rejections. When that happens, it might not have anything to do with how well you write, but a lot to do with what you write. But let’s face it. In writing, there’s no one right answer, and what works for one person doesn’t work for someone else. But I’m ready to try to tilt the odds in my favor instead of against me. So wish me luck. And good luck to you and whatever you’re working on and Happy Writing!