Trendkilling

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.

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About Misterkristoff

New York Times and Internationally Bestselling SciFi/Fantasy author, and master of drunken karaoke-fu. View all posts by Misterkristoff

7 responses to “Trendkilling

  • Judd

    I think that advice fits any and all authors as well as the new template fits this site mate.

    Write what you love. Write what you know.

    If it’s good, and you don’t give up, then someday you might have a blog like this one with its fancy new templateygoodness.

    • misterkristoff

      I don’t think you should write what you know. I think that can lead to really dull stories. I think you should write stuff you *love*, write the kind of book you’d *like to read*. But I think limiting yourself to writing what you know closes you off to possibilities.

      I don’t know jack sh*t about being a sixteen year old girl, after all. Yet here we are 🙂

      • Judd

        PFFT!

        It’s not “write ONLY what you know” goofus, naturally I’d write a bunch about beer and playing Angry Birds while pooing, and nobody wants that.

        Write what you know, and make up the rest.

        And for the record, I believe you to have many of the finer qualities of a 16-yo girl. At least, this is what I imagine in my head. Don’t ruin the magic for me.

  • misterkristoff

    Are you watching through my window again?

    STOP IT

  • Daniel

    I’m pretty Japanese steampunk has been done before.
    There was a movie Steamboy, from memory. Steam powered Elizabethean forces taking over a post-feudal Japan.

    • misterkristoff

      Steamboy was set in Manchester, bud. 😛

      Katsuhiro Otomo directed it, and it was manga style anime, but the setting was entirely British. Climax happens in Crystal Palace during the Great Exhibition of 1866. Round-eyes as far as the eye could see.

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    […] So what if there are Joycean elements in his novel? There’s a whole lot of O’Brien there too. Joyce’s work is ingenious but admittedly peripatetic, big pee and little pee. Aristotle’s work is derivative of Plato’s, Plato’s is derivative of Socrates’ and so on and so on, but they each add something significant. It’s nigh on impossible to be entirely original, but if it’s inevitably the same shit from another mother, try try to add to the rhetoric. […]

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