wine on the keyboard

To Market or From your heart

by Kay~Kacey on 6/3/2005

Writing to the market, or writing the book of your heart. Okay, so I’ve been thinking a lot about this. Probably Rene’s fault when I read about the blog (Villa in Tuscany, is that not a cool name?) she started with Melissa and Olivia. About finding the Joy in writing. If you haven’t already, read the first post by Melissa. Then read the rest of the posts too, because they are all good reads :mrgreen:

So, do you write the book of your heart that you know has little chance to sell in today’s market if you’re aiming towards a New York Publisher? Does it make sense to spend months writing a book you love, but that you and your critique partners are the only one who will see it? :wallbash: I mean getting published by a New York publisher is such a long shot anyway. If that is your goal, should you decrease your odds? Can only a “book of your heart” sell? And what is a book of your heart? :confused:

I’ve had books I’ve written that have spoke to me more than others. I’ve had characters I’ve written that I love more than others. I know some blockbusters have been out of the box, like the Harry Potter series, Clan of the Cave Bear, Dragon Fly in Amber. But how many of these are there really?

Should I spend time writing a book that even if the publisher loves it, they can’t figure out how to market it, so it’s a nonsale? Wouldn’t a better time to write a book like that be after you’ve sold and already established a readership? (I honestly don’t know the answer to that question)

If I want to be a professional writer and earn real money (such that it might be), shouldn’t I approach it as the business it is? That you need to have a product that the publisher is looking for? Can you not try to write a totally amazing book that IS what the publishers are looking for?

And is writing for the Market really taking out the joy in my/your writing? Is at least knowing “the rules” even if you break them, taking the joy out? Can I not write books that have a greater chance of selling and still have the joy of writing? Do you really have to quit RWA like one of Melissa’s friends did because belonging made her focus too much on publishing, and not on the joy of writing. (and I’m NOT saying that was wrong– I’d say that anything that stiffles your creativity you should throw out of your life, whether to you that’s RWA, a negative “friend”, or nasty contest feedback) Shouldn’t your writing somewhat focus on the publishing, if it’s your goal to sell? Especially to the NY publishers that aren’t known for going out looking for out of the box books.

I wouldn’t write in a genre that I didn’t TRULY enjoy. But I don’t have to write that historical, a tough sell in today’s market, when I also know I have a contemporary idea that’s much more marketable. I love to put words on paper. Why not put them towards what’s hot and selling these days. (knowing that will change over time). What I enjoy writing has changed over time, and I’m sure it will change in the future. The market will change, they’ll be other chances for historicals or whatever that I’ve pushed aside.

But then I ask myself, isn’t that the purpose of writing? To get it published so other people will read it and maybe you’ll touch their lives in some way? I’m sure there are writers out there that write for themselves. I’m fine with that. But I write in hopes my books will someday touch a chord in someone else. . .

As an aside (like this whole blog post isn’t asides?) I loved Melissa’s remark where she said she sat down and wrote and wrote in a journal. Anything and everything that came to her. For the joy of the words. For the thrill of stringing them together. Isn’t that just a cool idea? And I can’t help but think that doing things like that will help your own writing. Freeing yourself up to let the words flow. Experiencing the pure Joy of Writing. Not trying to make the plot fit, or the character development arc, or any of that stuff. I am going to steal Melissa’s idea about “Joy Writing” and try to make a point to do that at least once a week.

So what about you? To market or from your heart? Or can these both be the same thing? Where do you find your joy?

Melissa June 3, 2005 at 11:05 am

Kacey –
You’ve hit on a lot of very key points. Rene and I discuss our frustration with this publishing world quite often. And it does tend to take over the encompassing goal and purpose of writing – to enjoy it. :typing:
The POD publishers (and I work for one) are really starting to take off. I think a lot of people are completely frustrated with the entire process – and it’s usually because either their book can’t be marketed, according to traditional publishers.
I’m so glad my article gave you some insight. 😀

Suzanne June 3, 2005 at 11:09 am

Every book I write is a book of my heart. I don’t see books of the heart and marketable books as exclusive of each other. I make marketable books INTO books of my heart. 😆 I think the key is finding hooks that readers love, high concepts publishing marketing departments love, and combining them into one saleable book YOU the writer can love. It can be done!

Amy K June 3, 2005 at 3:26 pm

I think the answers will be different for everyone. For me, I want to sell and have this as a paying career. So…I write to the market.

The other thing for me is that I’m much more of a writer than a storyteller. It’s the putting words together that moves me, much more than putting a story together (overall I enjoy that, but it’s really hard for me.) So I don’t really have a book of my heart. I get totally into the story I’m writing and try to make my characters come alive, have catchy, realistic dialogue, etc. That’s the part I love.

Now there are plenty out there who would rather write that book they need to write, even if it means not getting published as soon. And that’s okay for them. It just won’t pay the bills, or not as soon (in theory!)

Great topic to blog about!

Kelly June 3, 2005 at 3:34 pm

I would love to write a book from my heart, but unfortunately I’d probably be the only one who loved it. 😉

I think it has to be a little of both. A concept that the market would be interested in and maybe characters from your heart. Easier said than done. I’m still trying to find that balance myself!

LauraP June 3, 2005 at 3:41 pm

Different choices for different people or even different points of life. My furlough from the market emphasis has been rejuvenating. I needed the break to adjust my thinking and work out some issues in my mind. I’m hoping I’ll be able to keep the market aspects in perspective in the future and still find that old joy I experienced early on.

Rene June 3, 2005 at 5:53 pm

I never counted on writing being a paying career. Not because I don’t want to be published and make a gazillion dollars, but it is a tough business and while talent will take you far, there are so many uncertain factors. I think it is important to strive for publication, but for me, I need to have a story to love. I don’t think writing the book of your heart and writing for the market are mutually exclusive. I also think a compromise is acceptable. I don’t want the quest for publication to ruin my enjoyment of writing. I feel an analogy coming on, so I’m just going to stop now :blah:

kacey June 3, 2005 at 6:00 pm

I guess it boils down to, at least for me, that I love putting my words down on paper. So I might as well put them towards something marketable. So far, my desire to be published or focus on getting published hasn’t ruined my enjoyment of writing. But I do think, like I said, I’ll do some “joy writing” once a week or so. Stuff that doesn’t have to fit into my plot :mad2: or anything. Just whatever words come to me at the time.

Steph T. June 3, 2005 at 7:59 pm

I don’t know if I have a book of my heart so much as a genre of my heart with the whole military romance thing. I don’t know if that’s marketable today or if it’s been done to death, but for now, I’m going to chug along because I’m having fun. I want to make a career out of this, but I know I can’t just write for the market if I’ve got to do it writing something I don’t love. :typing:

Michelle June 4, 2005 at 5:56 am

For me, I think I’m conscious of both. On one hand, a medieval book set in Ireland, isn’t exactly writing for the market. But I’m aware that the Regency market is saturated right now. If I write a Regency, it had darned well better be something that makes the editor go WHOA or I’m not even getting in the front door. She has too many established authors who can get by with regular stories. That’s the hard thing.

Ultimately, though, I go with a story that grabs me by the throat and won’t let go. I’ll fire off a proposal and see what happens (hoping to get a wouldbeinterested letter). If not, if I love the story enough, I’ll write the complete anyway because I’m at a stage where I’m seeing tons of growth just from writing a book. If I like it but am not obsessed by it, I’ll just wait and see what the response is. :coffee:

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