Wednesday, September 7, 2011

RIDING THE WAVE OF A TREND

The wave of mermaid books is upon us.

I had no idea mermaids would be a “big thing” when I first started writing my merfolk/selkie story back in early 2009. I wrote about my fantastical and tormented sea folk because I loved them. I have loved them since I was two years old. (I have pics to prove it.) Like any other manuscript of an aspiring author, I had no idea if my story would ever be published, but I wrote it anyway. I couldn’t not write it. I loved it too much.

When I queried agents in the spring of 2010 many told me they already had a mermaid manuscript.

Slowly, I heard about one mermaid book deal after another. More and more mer tales popped up on Goodreads. People started tweeting about mermaids being the next big thing. USA Today even published an article saying mermaids are the trend in paranormal this summer, and that yes, Stephenie Meyer is working on a mermaid story too. *sigh*

As an author of a soon-to-be-released merfolk novel, I can’t help but worry. What if Tangled Tides is too late? There are so many great mermaid books out there. Some have been out for months, a year, or even longer. More are already scheduled to release throughout the next year or two. By the time mine releases will readers be tired of reading about merfolk, selkies, sirens and such?

So many times I’ve heard the success of a book depends on many factors: timing, marketing, competition, etc. I have stayed awake many nights wondering whether my timing is bad or good. Since signing my contract for Tangled Tides, I have seen new mermaid stories popping up on a regular basis.

The wave is getting bigger. The trend is picking up strength.

How do I not end up like one of those unicorns in the above photo that you can hardly see? Or, worse yet, one of the unicorns you can’t see at all? How do I keep from being invisible in the crowded wave?

How do any of us authors not get lost in a tidal wave of books? So many great novels are out there begging to be read. With self-publishing becoming more popular, it makes that number even higher. So how does a book or author—especially a debut—stand out in the crowd?

A good friend gave me a simple answer: Have faith in your story.

Sometimes that’s easier said than done. As writers, we love our characters, our worlds, and our plots, and if we’re lucky enough to get published that means a whole team of people have faith in them. That’s a great feeling. But it’s easy to lose confidence when you realize you’re going to have A LOT of competition.

I keep trying to remind myself that strangers believed in my story, so maybe readers will believe in it too, and actually buy it. Actually read it. And maybe, if I’m really lucky, some will love it. Oh, how I hope so.

I also hope the wave of mermaid books doesn’t come crashing down anytime soon. Not just because one of the latecomer novels will be mine, but because I genuinely love sea folk. I’m excited to read all the different twists and takes that fellow writers come up with. I believe the ocean is big enough to hold all of our stories. And even though I have my moments of worry, I am happy and grateful to be part of such a fun and magical trend.

What about you?

Do you have faith in your stories?

Do you worry about trends when writing?

Would/have you ever read a mermaid book? ;)

40 comments:

  1. I have read a mermaid book and I would read another one! :)

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  2. I have been rooting for you since I first started following your blog (before you got your deal and I squee'd really loudly when I found out!) I think you HAVE to have faith in your story or no one else will. I'm so so so excited to read it :)

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  3. I worry about trends sometimes. I am concerned that my book will be too late and the market will be flooded. But your friend is right. All we can do is have faith in our story and how we tell it.

    I love mermaid books. I have read a few and have more on my TBR list.

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  4. I always worry about trends, especially with my first manuscript being about Vampires and Dhampirs. But I kept the faith and finished it. I don't know if it will ever go anywhere, but I learned from it. I have moved on and written more, but with each story I write I know I have to believe in it.

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  5. Trends can be worrisome, especially if you have a story idea and the trend already seems to be on its way out.

    I do enjoy mermaid stories, though, although so far I haven't had a chance to read too many. Yours is on my TBR list. :)

    You're completely right about having faith in a project. I've been trying to force an old novel to work in rewrites. I had no faith in it and realized I needed to work on the manuscripts I have faith in. I'm now editing my first novel, and it feels right and has brought back my love and faith in my work.

    Oh, and I'm a new follower. So glad Michelle Davidson Argyle posted about your novel. :)

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  6. I think your friend is right. I've been through a whole lotta hurricanes before seeing the rainbow. In other words, there may be several mermaid novels in circulation, but that doesn't mean they're good. Have faith in yourself and most importantly, keep writing. Good luck. Looking forward to reading your story.

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  7. I've never read a mermaid book but always loved Ariel. :-) Also, you were the first one I heard talk about writing a mermaid book ,and then yep, they were everywhere.
    I'm always paranoid when I see plots similar to mine. lol

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  8. If you are unintentionally riding a wave, just fall back on your Florida know-how and enjoy the surge. You've earned it :)

    To answer your questions:
    1. I have faith in my story, which is good since my level of available writing time is going to require a long-term commitment.

    2. I don't worry about trends, because I'm writing comic science fiction. It is my firm opinion that the sun will go nova before that genre becomes trendy.

    3. I haven't read a mermaid book before. Yours' will be my first, and my second, and my third...;)

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  9. Well said, Karen.

    I had no idea mermaids were the next new trend, but you've obviously done your research. You never know though, it could end up becoming a good thing for your novel.

    I probably wouldn't pick up a book about merfolk as my first choice if I was just browsing at my local store, but I want to read yours.

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  10. I didn't worry about trends when I wrote the story, but I find myself worrying about it now that it's done.

    I don't think I could write for trends, because I'm too slow of a writer.

    And I haven't read a mermaid book, yours will probably be the first.

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  11. I've been feeling the same way about the paranormal romance my agent is trying to sell this fall. Like it took me too long to get it right and now I've missed out on the trend.

    It's hard to have faith in my writing when I think of it that way, but last night I started thinking about all the things I like about my novel. Hopefully others will like those things too.

    For the record, your mermaid book has the best cover. ;)

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  12. CEP, Thank you for rooting for me! And for squeeing, and for being excited to read it. That means a lot to me. <3

    Monica, we'll both have faith together. :)

    Shain, I can imagine the worry that comes from writing vampires. But I think they are so well loved that people will always read about them.

    Cherie, yes, work on the ones that make you feel good. And I adore Michelle. She's been such a huge supporter and great friend.

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  13. Andrea, my story starts with a hurricane! Maybe that's a sign its release will bring rainbows. :) Thanks for the well wishes.

    Jessica, ah the paranoia of similar plot lines. I don't know how I don't have an ulcer. lol. I loved Ariel too. Though I've loved pretty much any and all mermaids.

    Scott, first second and third? Wow! I'm so flattered. :) "The sun will go nova..." lol. Hurry up and finish so I can read yours too.

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  14. Matthew, yes, the fact that they are a trend seems to hit me from somewhere at least once a day. I hope it's a good thing. And thanks, if you do read it, I hope it makes you realize how badass merfolk can be. ;)

    Patti, I couldn't write for trends either. I too am a pretty slow writer. Yay if you do read mine! :)

    Tere, Thank you! I do love my cover. The artist did an amazing job. And what's the theme of your novel going to subs? I hope it gets a deal super fast!

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  15. Karen, your book is WELL-TIMED and I think the wave right now can only help you. Ride it!! :-)

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  16. A good story is a good story, trend or not. That being said, my ego is pretty fragile, and so I am nervous about trends. Easier for me to cheer others on than myself!

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  17. this is why i set aside my vampire/werewolf story from a decade ago. BUT, the goog thing about trends is they always change and they always circle back around.

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  18. Having faith is so important. All you can do is write the best book that you can and keep the faith in it.

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  19. I don't worry about trends anymore. Mostly because I don't get to write what I want anyway. So I focus on writing the kinds of books I'd like to read, and yes, I have faith in my stories.

    I've read a wicked mermaid tale. SIREN was good, and have you heard of TANGLED TIDES?? ;)

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  20. I think readers can tell when an author's heart isn't in it, when she or he wrote it strictly for money and sales. But your heart is clearly in it, Karen. You've always loved mermaids and wanted to write about them long before even vampires were the big thing. That passion will show in your story and it'll stand out from any other mermaid stories out there.

    Super excited to read Tangled Tides!!!

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  21. I think that has to be the best advice ever. It's hard not to get caught up in the tide but with faith I'm sure your story will reach far beyond those tides!!

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  22. Great post! No matter where in the process we are, having faith in our books is so crucial. Thanks for the reminder!

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  23. Shannon, I HOPE it's well-timed. Only time will tell. :)

    Lydia, isn't it odd how positive we can be when it comes to others, yet when it comes to ourselves...not so much. lol.

    Sarah, ooh I say you pull that werewolf/vampire MS back out. By the time it gets published the trend will circle back around. :)

    Nicole, thanks! I'm trying to keep the faith!

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  24. Elana, wait, what? What do you mean you don't get to write what you want? :( And yes, Siren was good. Tangled Tides? Hmm, I think someone told me something about that one. Something about sexy and blue or something? ;)

    Laura, my heart is most definitely in my story. Thanks for the reminder of how important that is because you're right, books with heart always have such a good feel to them.

    Thanks, Jessilyn! I sure hope so. :)

    J.R., always have faith on your stories. Especially the Italian and German versions. ;)

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  25. People are going to LOVE it! No worries allowed.

    And yeah, I have faith in my stories even though they are kind of off-beat. Now I just need editors to have faith in them too. ;)

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  26. Just keep doing that voodoo that you do, all the rest is mere hoodoo.

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  27. I have a couple from the RWA conference, but I haven't read them yet.

    Hopefully the trend isn't coming to an end. A friend of mine wrote a selkie book that is awesome. I'd hate for her to miss out because the trend is considered over.

    Either way, I'm still going to buy your book, Karen. :D

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  28. I think when similar ideas come into different books the plot and the voice of each book really make the difference. I know a lot of readers enjoy reading about a single entity through different books, like vampires or witches and wizards. The differences make the books unique and interesting.

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  29. I actually have an angel story...I came up with it years before it became trendy but it's still not ready, even to this day. And I DO worry that it will never make it out there. I guess all I can do is hope that my voice makes it different and a must-read!

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  30. Nat, thank you! <3 You loved this one since the beginning so that gives me hope. Those editors better realize how awesome your stories are and snatch you up soon.

    J Griffin, *runs out to get voo doo doll* :)

    Stina, I think I know which ones you have from RWA (since I was there) and mine are very different. Yay for selkies! I'm gonna email you to find out who it is so we can be sea creature writer friends.

    Bethany, you're so right. I've read a couple mermaid books and I'm always relieved that they sound and feel nothing like mine. It's true that one concept can take on an infinite number of versions and styles.

    Julie, I love angels. The first line of my book is "I had to choose between the angel and the mermaid." It has double meaning in the book, but in reality I did choose between writing my mermaid idea or my angel idea first. The mermaid obviously won. Angels will always be well loved. Have no fear!

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  31. I was subbing a MG mermaid story back in 2009 as well. It's so funny how we think we've come up with something unique, only to find out someone beat us there. I'm so glad that yours is going to be published!

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  32. I'm still sad the mermaid story I wrote (it was the second book I wrote) didn't make it, but I wasn't a good enough writer at the time. I could have completely rewritten it, but by then it seemed like everyone was writing about mermaids! But for the ones coming out nowish, I think the trend/wave is still fresh enough that anyone who is remotely interested in mermaids will devour lots of the books :) Love your cover, btw!

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  33. This is great. Not to worry. There are many, many readers out there. And having faith in your story is essential.

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  34. Sherrie, you should self-pub yours and we can go on a mermaid book tour together. :)

    Lynn, I'm sad too. I still say you rewrite it and go for it! I love my cover too. Thanks so much. <3

    Christa, thanks! Yes, a whole sea of readers. That's what I keep telling myself.:)

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  35. I love my stories and I try to keep the faith.

    And I will read your story, fall in love with it, and brag about you to all my students.

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  36. I do worry about trends, but then I ignore them. LOL! You have to, otherwise whatever story idea you come up you'll never write. I feel like a lot of people are jumping on the YA bandwagon and just using that as an excuse to get published. So whenever I have an idea that could be YA, I immediately push it aside, because I don't want to be seen as a follower. Then I realize how silly all these thoughts are and know that we write what we love. And those who are taking advantage of the trends, well it will show in their writing. But if they've written a story with love and put everything they have into it, I hope they go very far. Keep your head up. Like all trends, they all come around again and again and again...

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  37. I've been writing my Coney Island mermaid story since college. When I first started writing it, there was only Donna Jo Napoli's Sirena. When we started pitching it, I kept seeing announcements on PM and had the same feeling as you.

    PS, I have a very similar blog post coming up!

    Thanks for sharing. There are plenty of books in the sea ;)

    ~Zoraida

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  38. Alison, aww thank you! I can't wait to hear what you and your students think of it. :)

    Fresh Garden, and a cute mermaid at that!;)

    Hannah, thanks for the encouraging words. I've always believed in following your heart--I apply it to my writing too. :)

    Zoraida, Mermaid Power! Looking forward to reading yours.

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