Monday, May 01, 2006

three reasons why good writers don't sell

1) the book doesn't work as a whole --

many amazing writers fall into this category, especially if you're in a critique group. you write a killer 10 pages every two weeks, but those pages don't work when you put them together. you are probably also writing whenever you can grab a few minutes, a method that can create a disjointed book of forgotten threads and many moods.

2) you've written the book of your heart, and nobody wants it --

unfortunately the book you really want to write might be the hardest to sell.

3) lack of mass market potential --

this is related to number 2. your writing is wonderful, editors might love your submission, but it doesn't have broad market appeal.

16 comments:

jason evans said...

I'm not saying I'm "good," but I've visited each of those territories. Easy places to get a reservation....

Hopefully, I learned some lessons in the process. I'm sure I'll learn more.

Important words of wisdom, Anne. I've never bought into the theory you write a book for you and the world will come (or not). Seems to me you write a book for an audience.

Kelly Parra said...

You know my story. I wrote a romance the way I wanted to, but it was R'd by many editors and revised like crazy with what some would give as feedback. It finally sold after a bunch of various feedbacks from 2 cps, 1 agent, and I lost count on how many editors! ;D Fortunately, it's still my voice, my characters and most of my story ideas with tweaks here and there. Oh yeah, and all my words. =D

Jeff said...

All good reasons, Anne.
#2 and #3 remind me of something Hemmingway once said, "You have to kill your darlings." A person may really like something they have written, even garnerd a few praises from fellow writers, but when it comes to broad market appeal it won't work and has to be either pitched entirely or drastically altered.
I'm sure editors and publishers do a good job gauging the market, but I do sometimes wonder what percentage of potentially good books are turned down simply because they are unwilling to take a risk with something innovative, especially with new writers. :)

stay_c said...

One way to avoid #1 is to critique larger chunks. Most of my noveling CPs use 45-50 pages as the marker. It's easier to see if something is disconnected.

Most too, have the whole first draft written. But I know that I've got a really good group, which isn't the case for everyone.

Sandra Ruttan said...

There's tremendous value in getting someone to critique your whole ms if you can.

But I also think part of the reason can be if nobody's heard of your book. Somehow, people like me have to go looking for it. I love buying books. Nowadays, I go in with lists of who I'm looking for. I will pick books off shelves and look at them, but it's been a long time since I bought a book that way without knowing something about the author or the title.

Jer said...

I've had a few good critique groups. Currently I'm without one, and I'm sad. A group always gives me a good kitp...

anne frasier said...

jason, sometimes those personal books do sell, but it's much harder to find a home for them.
and congratulations. you knew exactly what i was talking about even though my post was confusing and garbled. :D

kelly, i think that's a strong testament to the quality of your writing and storytelling. you had it from the beginning.

jeff, i agree. i'm sure amazing stories have not been published because of marketing.

stay-c: working in larger chunks would definitely help!

sandra: i see now that my post was confusing! i don't know why i started thinking about unpublished writers, but that's where this started.

anne frasier said...

jer...

kitp... kitp... kitp...

nope, still don't know what that means. :D

jason evans said...

Kick in the pants?

Jer said...

Sorry, anne. And Jason is right. KITP-kick in the pants.

anne frasier said...

ah-hah!!!

Tami said...

I was with you on that one Anne. Had no clue what kitp was! Good advice Anne, I had no trouble following it. I'm still working on my first book, rewriting/revising. I starting writing a book of my heart and realized I would be the only one interested! I decided to put that on the shelf and go for a more commericial thriller/mystery (what I like and tend to read.)

anne frasier said...

hi tami! welcome to my blog. :) I'm glad i was making a little sense. half the time when i put something up here i want to delete it a few hours later.

word verification has the word crap in it.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Oh, ooops!

Sorry Anne!

It could be I'm just obtuse.

Mark Pettus said...

Sorry I'm late to the party again, Anne, but I have a question.

Do you know the secret code that will let you know:

a) Your work falls into category 1,2, or 3

or

b) Your work just hasn't sold - Yet?

Kelly took three years, I'm coming up on a year since I started hawking Transit Gloria, and I'm tired... oh so tired...

annefrasier said...

mark, i think it's hard to know those things when you write literary fiction. i think a lot of literary fiction IS written from the heart and the boundaries aren't as defined.

i sensed you were getting bummed about it all. i guess i would look at the feedback and try to determine if any of it is valid. it's possible you chose a topic that will be a hard sell. it might take a lot longer to find the right agent and editor. many/most agents don't like to take on books that don't fall into easy categories because it means they will have to spend more time searching for a home for that book. and literary fiction very often doesn't pay very well. but i could say that about everything.