Monday, October 26, 2009

Sell or Not to Sell?

I received a very nice reply from an agent who I sent my query to this week. But with that reply came a double whammy for me at least. He shared with me his thoughts on the current market. Most publishers want historical fiction or romance. They are full up with women's fiction--my genre. Then he shared that books about writers generally don't sell.

Ok. So his comments made me worry. And worry. And wonder what now? What do I do with the book I just wrote and the one now started? Sit on them? Hope customers' wants change fast? Rework them into romance?

It made for a not-so-fun-day.

Then I contacted a well-known writer with years of published books under her belt. She promptly wrote me back and told me something I needed to remember.

Write what God puts on your heart.

It might be a harder sell, but there's always room for a well-written book. She's writing a contempory one right now.

I stopped and took a deep breath. The market changes often and what I'm writing might just be the vogue when it's ready.

Is it all about the immediate?

I hope not. We all want to make money but if I tried to write historical today, I can tell you how much money I would make from it. $0.00

So do you let the market needs sway you in what you are writing?

42 comments:

Julie Gillies said...

I'm sorry, Terri. Rejection in any form just stinks! I can't help but nod my head here. I JUST heard back from a fantastic agent who had asked for my proposal after reading my query. She essentially said the same thing--no market for my book.

SO, after some reflection, prayer, (and a few tears) I have made the educated decision to shelve it for now. She wasn't the first "No", so it's not a knee-jerk reaction. For me, I've decided to go in a different direction. But I'm still prayerfully considering it all, trusting God to order my steps, my thoughts, and my way.

I love your friend's advice: Write what God puts on your heart. I think that's really ALL we're responsible for.

Kristen Painter said...

All you need to glean from that experience is that that agent isn't the one for you.

The market has little to do with what I write. Otherwise, I never would have written a vampire book! (I mean, who would have thought another vampire book would sell and sell in such a nice deal?)

Write what entertains you. It's sure to entertain someone else as well.

T. Anne said...

I agree whole heartedly with Kristen. Write what entertains you, that's where it will come across as the most genuine.

Greg C said...

You are so right. When I try to write what someone else tells me to write it really shows. I have to feel it.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Oh no--I write women's fiction too! That's not easy to read, especially since just a few months ago they were asking for more of it! That really does stink.

The market won't sway me, though. I write what I'm passionate about--which happens to be the stories God gives me. I'm not going to switch just for a contract. Instead, I'll keep writing and be ready with more stories when women's fiction comes back...

Stonefox said...

I think the market definitely is a voice we need to listen to...but the friend is right, we must write what God lays on our heart. ANd we also must remember that He may want us to write for some other purpose than being published. Being published is a hope, but it is not THE end, at least it shouldn't be.

Diane said...

Good advice from your friend. If God gives you a plan no one will be able to stop the outcome He has for it. It's in His timing! :O)

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

When we allow God to lead us, we can never go wrong. It is all about His timing and sometimes that is the hardest part.

Recognizing the difference between ours and His.

Robin

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Terri,

Don't panic. Not so long ago, very few wanted historical, which is all I had written. Everything spins in a cycle. Don't worry. Your work will be fine in the right season.

Susan R. Mills said...

Sorry about the rejection. I'd have to say write from the heart though. If you don't, it will show.

Chelle Sandell said...

I totally agree with all of the great advice. But I'd like to also point out that it was one agents opinion, not to belittle or try to downgrade their opinion. The agent may be hugely successful and brilliant...but what if another agent has a different view? What if an editor changes directions soon and wants to take the risk if the storyline is good? Trust your path. Hugs!

Analisa said...

You friend gave u the best advice. Go with it. We know that everyone isn't for everything but the talent and voice God gave you is no mistake. I will soon be back out in the work force due to money constraints. It will really impact my writing but I will be able one day to do it full time. It is in my heart for a reason and yours as well. You do have an audience.

Lin Floyd said...

seems we all agree, God is the best agent..

Donna M. Kohlstrom said...

Rejection is a miserable experience. So sorry that you had to receive it again.

But I do believe you need to write what God puts on your heart no matter what the market is. And the market is fickle and changes often. When it opens up for genre you'll be ready to go with several books.

Janna Qualman said...

I agree, follow your heart! And remember that was one agent's opinion. Oh, I'm sure it was steeped in field knowledge, but it doesn't mean what you have is unpublishable.

It is possible, Terri. Pray. Follow. Believe.

Natalie said...

Don't let it discourage you!

I write MG and I have discovered MG is a really good genre to write right now. There is way less competition than YA because fewer people write MG and there is a still plenty of demand for children's books. I'm pretty sure my genre is the reason I found an agent. That said, if the market turned today no one wanted books for children anymore I would probably still write MG. It's the only genre that really works for me.

There is nothing wrong with writing what the market wants as long as it's also a genre that you love writing.

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

So fascinating to read the responses. I write women's fiction. My voice comes across strongest when I write women's fiction. I will continue to write women's fiction. Getting a general theme here? :D

But I just wrote about me, me, me. You'll have to weigh your goals, your dreams, what you're willing to write...God clears through the crowdedness of it all.

I will pray for you and I thank you for your openness.
~ Wendy

Cindy said...

I totally agree, keep writing what's in your heart! If you feel led to tweak it or add in a little more romance, then do so but make sure you still love what you wrote.

It is definitely tempting sometimes to write what is "hot" and what's selling. But ultimately it feels more productive and more fulfilling to write what is in my heart.

Nancy said...

No, I wrote a childen's fantasy long before they were popular. I could market it now. Or I could be happy with what I'm doing - blogging.

Tamika: said...

Terri, I am so sorry that you didn't hear favorable news. As a writer of Women's Fiction as well it hurts.

The market is fickle though, and time changes. Our stories are the message that God has burned into our hearts. We must stay true and trust that God will open doors that no man can close.

Be encouraged friend...

Tamika: said...

Terri, I am so sorry that you didn't hear favorable news. As a writer of Women's Fiction as well it hurts.

The market is fickle though, and time changes. Our stories are the message that God has burned into our hearts. We must stay true and trust that God will open doors that no man can close.

Be encouraged friend...

KelliGirl said...

Terri,
I'm so sorry for the rejection. I know you're an excellent writer and I admire your courage to put yourself out there with an entire book!

God's taking you on this journey and maybe the plans He has in mind for your book and His timing, aren't what you have planned. But I'm confident that if you write what He places on your heart, your words will not be in vain.

Have faith and keep on keeping on. I'm praying for you.

You inspire us all.

Andrea said...

Listen to your friend! Write what GOD puts on your heart and leave it in HIS hands. He has a perfect plan.
Blessings, hugs, and prayers, andrea

Jessica said...

I write what I love to write. :-) I'm thankful it's pretty saleable, because it's romance. LOL
It was nice of the agent to share his thoughts, but he's just one agent. Stick with your manuscript. Start a new one while you query this, and write what you're passionate about. :-) I liked Kristen's reply too.

Journaling Woman said...

I love it "Write what God puts on your heart." Patience is attached to faith. I can tell you have the faith. God will find a place for it - your book.

Jody Hedlund said...

Great perspective, Terri! If you're willing to be patient for the right publisher at the right time, then I think you should go with your heart. You may have to wait many years, you may not! As you said, the market is fickle! But at some point, if the wait gets too long, then maybe you can look at the market more carefully and see how you can tailor your writing to fit what current readers desire.

Need More Words said...

Your friend's advice about writing what God gives you is what I hope I can keep following. God knows what He wants out there to be read. When we are ready, the reading audience He wants, will be ready.
Diane

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I definitely don't sway to the market. It's take me way too long to edit and revise an ms for that to work for me just yet. Plus, if my heart isn't in it, the writing stalls.

I'm with your author friend, write what you want to read and are passionate about. With prayer, when God wants it to sell, it will!

Melissa Marsh said...

Nope. I write what I want. I've had to deal with a lot of rejections because they say that this particular time period doesn't sell well. I think that if a book is GOOD, it will SELL.

Lynnette Bonner said...

That was nice of the agent to take time to let you know his thoughts. I'm sorry it didn't turn into a working relationship for you, but I agree with what everyone else has said - you can only write what you feel passionate about.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

Don't let it shake you. Readers' tastes change like the wind's direction.

I've been informed that there isn't a big market for what I'm writing either. In fact, I've been told my book is Futuristic Suspense, Sci-Fi, Suspense, and Political Suspense.

Yet, it's the story God's placed in my heart. I'll write it to the best of my ability, and the rest is up to him.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Lily Robinson said...

Pray and listen. Write what you feel meant to write. Not what some agent tells you to write. Maybe the time isn't right now for the book, but will be soon. Maybe it's just that agent. Keep sending out the queries, while you start your next project.

LisaShaw said...

I think in anything we need to do as GOD leads us to do. We don't belong to the world we just live in it. We belong to and serve THE BIG GOD -- JEHOVAH and He rules and reigns and as a follower of Jesus I (and you) are under His divine authority and guidance and so that means He will do exceedingly, abundantly above more than we could think or ask so that means write as He leads you and He'll open doors to you that no "man" could control--open or close.

Praise the Lord. I'm praying for you dear sister.

Amy Tate said...

Absolutely NOT. One of the best pieces of advice came from literary agent, Michael Sterns. I attended his seminar at Hollins University two summers ago, and he said that writers who write for the market will never make it. They will forever be three years behind. Reason number one - HarperCollins has a three year backlist! (At the time, he was the editor for HP, before he started his agency) He told us to write your story...not a story! I believe the agent who wrote you missed the mark.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Yes, that's good advice. I was at a conference recently and was told not to chase trends. Write the book of your heart and write it well. Let the publisher worry abut how to market it. :)

Tea With Tiffany said...

Wise words. "Write what God puts on your heart."

Now there's a book with passion. To write for the current market without passion or heart is worth nothing to me. Because I always look for heart.

You are on the right track.

Sorry for the no. Keep writing.

Hugs!

Heather Sunseri said...

I definitely try to write what God puts on my heart or what my mind creates w/o looking at publishing trends. BUT if you asked if I worry about what the market needs are and how they compare to what I'm writing, well that's a different question. I worry, worry, worry, despite the fact that I shouldn't.

Texas Playwright Chick said...

Uh, has someone notified JEN LANCASTER that books on writers...their own selves...don't sell? And has someone told her publisher and her agent? They may be interested to know since she's working on her 5th (I think it's the 5th) book!

You write what you know, girl! You write what your heart says to write. Everything else is just forced. Good luck, keep tapping those keys!

Galen Kindley--Author said...

You're right, the market does change. So, that's a factor. Also, why are you writing? Is it to sell, or for the joy of writing. Yes, I know it's both, but mostly, I'll bet it's the joy of writing. So, if what you write now brings you joy. Stick with it. If you changed, and wrote in a genre you didn't like...how much fun would that be? Right. None.

Best Wishes, Galen.

MichaƩle said...

If God puts it on your heart to write it, He will find a market for you to sell it!

Gina C said...

I've been there. I'm there right now, though I decided to get excited about a new project that is sellable. Problem is, who knows that when it's finished, it will be what publishers are looking for.

Keep writing and carry on!

Warren Baldwin said...

I agree with your friend - write what is on your heart. I don't write for the market - don't know enough about what it is demanding!

Of course, I only have one book, so I'm no expert! But I know you can write, and I know someone will want your books.

If you send me your address I'll send you a copy of Roaring Lions. Rather than your home address, can you send me one of your work place, po box, or even church?
wb