As more and more people find out about my book deal, the question I’m usually asked (by the folks who give a tinker’s cuss, at any rate) right after “What is it about?” is “When does it come out?” To which I reply “About this time next year”.
The reaction is universal: Raised eyebrows, open mouths, and “Jesus, why does it take so long?”
And then I get to go into a long discussion about revisions and copy edits and cover design and marketing plans and advertising and blah, blah. About this time their eyes glaze over and they change the topic to something they care about like “kids” or “football” and I shortly thereafter begin to envy the dead.
But the thing about publishing a book is that is does take a long time. Like, a really long time. Which I guess is why so many industry types are fond of saying that it’s not a good idea to write to trends. Unless you’re good at spotting a trend that’s just about to pop, or can do something on a trendline that’s markedly different to everyone else (which I guess is what I did, because while Steampunk is certainly a trend, ain’t nobody done Japanese Steampunk before that I’m aware of), the truth is that by the time you’ve written the book, landed an agent, scored a book deal, done your revisions, copy proofs, reproofs, cover design blah, blah, blah, the trend you wrote to is probably dead.
To give you an illustration of the point, I just got a full request on a partial I sent out on July 21 last year. For the book I wrote before STORMDANCER. That’s how long it can take just to get an agent (and no disrespect here, these people are busier than most of us could ever dream). This business just takes a long time. To describe its pace as “glacial’ is not too far short of the mark. Being unhip isn’t a bad thing – even bellbottoms are bound to come back into fashion eventually.
So, a quiet word of advice: Write what you love. Write what you want. Certainly be conscious of the trends in the marketplace, the possible niches your book could fill, the fact that 75% of readers are women. This is all important stuff. But at the end of it all, before you spend a year of your life writing an YA dystopian urban fantasy because “YADUF is sooooo hawt right now”, ask yourself if it’s still going to be hot in two years (best case scenario, that’s the timeline you’re looking at before you hit shelves like a muthafuckin’ bomb). Then ask yourself if it’s what you want you really want to do.
If you’re not writing what you love, you’ll know it. And your reader will too.