Friday, December 20, 2013

I Write What I Love

I see at least one tweet, FB post, or blog post a day discussing what the next big thing is in books and/or how to be a successful author. YA, NA, Contemporary, Edgy, Erotica, Horror! Write serials, write a trilogy, write a stand alone. Get an agent, self-publish, go hybrid. Write fast and produce at least 4 books a year, slow down and focus on quality over quantity.

If I followed all of the advice I'd be dizzy, frustrated, and totally confused.

Honestly, I don't give a squat about any of it.

I don't care what the next big trend is. I mean, maybe I care out of sheer curiosity, but even if Jane Austen's ghost visited me and said, "I've been to book heaven and the next big trend is space westerns with leprechauns who time travel! Be the first to write one!" I would laugh at her, decline, offer her some coffee, and then discuss Mr. Darcy.

Because here's the thing: I don't love westerns. I could probably come up with a fun leprechaun story, and I do have a cool time travel idea bouncing around my head, but I certainly don't want to write a space western featuring time traveling leprechauns. I wouldn't love it.

Short stories? I'm bad at them. And I don't enjoy writing them. Heck, it was hard for me to cut down the word count on ALL four of my 85-95k word count novels, so I'm not a candidate for the novella/serial trend. And I'm okay with that.

If, some day, an agent loves me and one (or more) of my stories, and believes strongly enough in me and a potential partnership together, then hooray. But I'm not going to shelve every manuscript that gets rejected by agents. I'm also not going to stress myself out by trying to crank out 6 books a year when I know my maximum is currently 2 books a year. I'd end up slacking on the quality and not being proud of what I produced.

Life is too short to write stories you don't love. At least for me that's true. I will keep writing my magical romances because that's what makes me feel good. Those are the kind of stories I want to read, and I write books that I would love to read.

Recently, I read this PW article where agents discuss the new trends in YA. Many said contemporary is probably going to be the next "it" thing, and that dystopian and paranormal are dying off. I still love paranormal (probably always will) and I just read a fabulous Dystopian last week--Article 5 by Kristen Simmons, so neither of those genres are dead for me.

Then there was this...
Stories about creatures of all kinds—“werewolves, shapeshifters, selkies, mermaids, or anything with a tail or wings,” is how Jaffa puts it—are simply not selling.
The irony, says Bourret, is that a lot of already published paranormal is still selling well. “But there are just too many books in the category, and because it’s overpublished, it’s a lot harder to have a hit.”
As an author who hasn't hit it big with her paranormal/supernatural/fantasy books, I have to agree that the market feels over-saturated. Many days I feel like an invisible fish in an endless ocean, but it doesn't make me give up. I love being an author way too much to stop writing just because I don't make a lot of money. Every book I release has pieces of my heart and soul in it. I wrote every book because I wanted needed to. I loved the characters and the story and I couldn't NOT write them.

That's how I will always operate--with love. I owe it to my readers to love the stories I share with them. In my opinion, that's my only hope of them genuinely loving them too.


  1. I love this. I also read that article - it practically went viral with all the retweets. But when agents say that dystopian and paranormal are dead, they mean that publishers aren't picking them up anymore - not that they don't sell. That's where self publishing is perfect b/c readers will still read them. I think it's better to stick to what you love so you actually enjoy the writing experience than to chase trends. I also don't think there's anything wrong with finding away to combine what we love to write and what might possiblty appeal to a larger number of people or what is currently selling well b/c that's the freedom we have with Indie. :)

    Loved this post!

  2. You are totally my hero right now. I was up late last night writing a very similar post, but haven't found the way to say exactly what I want to say yet. This makes me <3 you even more than I already did. This is really what it's all about. Yes, we are running a business and trying to make money, but what's it all worth if we're killing ourselves trying to write things we don't love just because it's "hot"?? It's ridiculous! We're writers because we love to write. We are all unique and individual and we should celebrate that instead of racing to compete or copy each other. Well done, Karen.

  3. Laura, I agree that it's best to enjoy the writing experience. At least that's how I operate. I love it so much that I get on a writers high. I can't imagine writing a story without feeling that joy from it. :) Yay for the freedom to write what we love.

    Sarra, wait, no, you're MY hero! :) The racing and competition stuff is just so not necessary. We're all artists and we should be encouraging and supporting each other. It's all about the LOVE! <3

  4. Well said, Karen. The best art of any kind is created with passion, a fire in the belly. And the reader knows when that is true.

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