by Cindy Sproles
I grow impatient at times. My agent has my manuscript. She’s looking for markets that might consider it, but she comes up dry.
“You write outside the box. It’s hard to find a home for your work.” I slide down in my computer chair and push my bangs out of my eyes.
“Shesh! I thought publishers wanted something new and different.”
Such are the trends of publishing. It’s a frustrating market but it’s not always the publishers fault. Chalk over half the blame to the consumer reader. Exactly what are they reading and aren’t they ready for a change?
One would think so, but the truth is, our readers are as objectionable to change as we are. They find a comfortable niche and a lot of books to fill it, so why change? They’re happy.
So what happens when you write “outside the box?” Well…you keep writing. Produce quality work. The circle of life in publishing will eventually roll around. There was the age of Chick Lit and Cozy Mysteries, Romance and Amish Fiction, but it all rolls in cycles. Consumers love what they read and their willingness to veer away is slow. Writers must continue to produce work that slowly guides the reader into a new venue of reading. Publishers will slowly slip in new types of books. Inch in the manuscripts that are beautifully written but don’t fit the normal hole. (You know the square peg in a round hole theory.) It’s a slow process. It takes time.
As authors, we grow impatient and almost unwilling to wait for the circle to roll around. Authors work hard to produce a novel and when one hits the market with something unique and different, it isn’t long until others follow. Timing plays a big part in the success of an author who’s quirkiness finally makes the mark.
It’s up to the writer to constantly keep their finger on the pulse of their readers. When authors sense a change in their followers, they up the ante. Add a twist. Make them hungry for the words you write and they will follow. As simple as this sounds…it still boils down to good writing.
I personally love to read Nicholas Sparks. As a fan and a reader, I know every story he writes will almost certainly end with someone of importance dying. Even if it’s a main character, Sparks puts a unique twist on each story that makes me want to read his work. Then he slips in a memoir. What a surprise. Who’d have thought the master of love stories actually had a childhood and a life that shaped his writing. The point is, Sparks dealt the reader an unexpected change. As a result, I saw fellow fans begin to search out other author memoirs. Was it big in the market? Couldn’t tell you. But I know the circle of readers I’m involved with suddenly found a new side interest and it was a pleasant change. They bought different books.
I’ve written outside the box for years. My work has never been an easy placement for my agent. Editors and publishers give it great reviews but the never ending line, “We just don’t have a market for it,” grows old fast. This doesn’t mean I stop writing what I write best and run to write to a market just because it’s “hot.” For me, I remain true to what I write because that is my strength.
Time spins the writing circle of life and suddenly I wake up with a contract – my outside the box gets pulled in. I can’t say this way of thought is good for everyone, but for me, I’m willing to wait. It doesn’t mean I stop writing. I don’t. I write harder than ever before and I continue to submit. Oh…and I’ll probably grow impatient again. I’m only human. But such is the writing circle of life.