I Don’t Get It. . .

Wendy Lawton

Blogger: Wendy Lawton

 

Are there any four words repeated more often at writers’ get-togethers than the phrase, “I don’t get it. . .” followed by one of the perplexing mysteries of the publishing universe? Let’s face it, there’s much in publishing that leaves us scratching our heads. For today’s post, I figured I’d tackle a handful of the questions I’ve overheard over the years. The only thing that ties these questions together is those first four words— I don’t get it.

I dont get it, why won’t publishers take a chance on something different? Often the writer who asks this question is writing in a genre that is experimental, is currently out of style or doesn’t fit one of the popular categories. The truth is, publishers are always looking for the next new thing. The problem comes in that they must be certain there is an audience for that “something different” and that if they are experimenting with something new, they need to be sure that they’ve found the breakout example of this category or genre. For instance, there was almost no regency romance in CBA until Julie Klassen came along. Her publisher recognized that she took a staple of ABA publishing and elevated it to something altogether different, something perfect for the inspirational market. Her success opened the category for others to follow but because she was one of the first, she owns that category– a nice distinction to hold. Beverly Lewis did the same for Amish fiction. Publishers are always looking for that writer who will define a whole new category. It’s a big risk for a debut author to be writing in an as-yet undefined genre, but if the book is extraordinary, who knows?

I don’t get it, there is a fresh batch of children born every year. So why is the market for children’s books so tight? There are a number of reasons. For one thing, good children’s books stay around for a very long time. We tend to buy the books we loved as a child for our own children. This means there are fewer spots for new writers. Another reason that CBA, specifically, has so few opportunities for new writers is that most people buy their children’s books in the general market. The distinction between ABA and CBA in children’s literature is much less pronounced– how much gratuitous sex and violence are we likely to encounter in a picture book? And many of the finest books in the ABA market have deeply spiritual underpinnings. Children’s books, especially illustrated books and picture books, are expensive to produce which means fewer sales and tighter margins for the publishers. Those that continue to create them often do it out of love for fine juvenile literature. Because of all these market realities, publishers are uber-selective about which books to publish. A celebrity name can often bring in the kind of sales needed for the bottom line.

I don’t get it, I write high fantasy in the style of C. S. Lewis. His books still show up on the bestseller lists and this November he’ll have been dead for fifty years. When are publishers going to publish the next C. S. Lewis? Publishers hear this all the time. Most editors say they’ve yet to see anything that would rival Lewis or Tolkien and when they hear that a writer believes he’s the next Inkling, the book is usually too derivative. In the CBA, no matter how many times publishers have tried with fantasy or science fiction, they’ve not yet been able to make it work. So far, the audience is simply not there for inspirational visionary category. Those who love this genre seem to be perfectly happy to buy in the general market.

I don’t get it, my friend’s publisher put together a wildly creative event for the launch of her new crime novel. it was held at a big city police station with donuts and coffee for all plus free books and a generous donation to the Police Athletics League. All her friends came. The police officers loved it. Even the homeless came and enjoyed the donuts. Why won’t my publisher do some of the innovative events I want to do? It’s all a matter of perspective. Every book has a set marketing budget. As an agent I cringe when the author talks the publisher into doing an “innovative event” that uses a hefty portion of the budget for what could be considered a vanity event. Take the above (fictitious) event. It drew friends, who would have purchased the book anyway unless their friend, the author, gifted them with it. The event also honored the police and a few of them might be readers but if most of the officers are men, the odds are not great that they’d become a fan of inspiration fiction. The homeless may read the book given them but as for influencing others, probably outside of their scope right now. The only way that event would return anything on the investment would be if it received local news coverage and that would not net enough to replace the normal, effective marketing done by the publisher with those dollars. Many of the innovative things we cook up can’t hold a candle to, say, getting ARCs (advance reading copies) into the hands of reviewers, librarians and influencers.

How about you? If you were to start your question with the words, “I don’t get it. . .” what would follow?

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86 Comments

  • Jill Kemerer says:

    The last scenario interested me. I like how you put it in terms of investment. A flashy local event might seem great, but if it’s using resources that don’t help sell our book, it’s just a vanity event. Nice perspective!

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      We don’t often think of a finite marketing budget and how we might be spending that resource. The publishers have tested many promotional avenues and often know how to squeeze the most value out of every dollar spent.

  • Jeanne T says:

    Hmmm, you got my mind thinking, Wendy. I haven’t thought up any “I don’t get it” questions yet. Most of them have been answered by writing friends or blogs like this one. :) I’m going to keep thinking though, and see if any come to mind.

    Just out of curiosity, how many publishers seriously consider hosting “vanity events” in the same vein as the one you described above?

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      It depends on who the author is and the marketing person. Many marketing people are delighted to try something innovative– something outside of the box and are willing to take a risk. If the event I described could have been leveraged– say an article in Guideposts (with their multi-million circulation) about the connection of a homeless man to his love of reading at the police station– then the risk would have paid off richly in terms of publicity. But it takes a media push as well as the event itself.

      We just hate to see a risk replace tried and true methods of marketing and when the budget is tight. . . Just my observation.

  • Great post, Wendy. I’ve wondered that about Medievals in the CBA. “I don’t get it” that Game of Thrones and Vikings and other Medieval series are HUGE in the real world, but the CBA won’t touch them. Finally, I got past the “I don’t get its” and just wrote another book in another genre (contemp mystery). Doesn’t mean I’ll dump my Viking books…their time just hasn’t come… yet. We can either sit around loathing how things work in the CBA or we can find other ways to get our work out there (even if it means self-pubbing one of those beloved books at some point). Still, the CBA is such a great group of friends, supporters, and encouragers, like the peeps on this blog–definitely sticking with it for a while!

    • Heather, I would LOVE to see medieval fiction in the CBA. That’s my favorite period in history! I’d like to write in that time period, but I have the same concerns you do.

      • Aww…thank you, Meghan. It’s funny, b/c word on the “reader street” seems to indicate that CBA readers WANT to read it, but trends in the CBA are sometimes years behind (look at YA dystopian). I would definitely encourage you to write something more marketable for that debut novel…then again, I don’t regret researching and writing my Viking novel. I just realize my foot might have to get in the door with something else. Just make sure you love that “something else” as much as you love your Medieval idea! Ha. And I read your comment on male readers below…I love when a female writer can get SO into a male’s head, you can’t believe it’s a woman writing the book! I just read an Anita Shreve book like that (ABA). All the best to you as you determine which debut novel to get out there first!

    • Elissa says:

      My first thought was, “Vikings weren’t Christian.” BUT, the Nordic people became Christian. The culture clashes that must have occurred as people were converting would surely make for exciting stories. I can’t see why this historical period hasn’t already been mined by CBA authors and publishers. I think, with great writing and the right characters and storyline, this could be another breakout CBA genre.

      • Elissa, I know, it’s why I feel so strongly about this. I based my story on a REAL Viking woman who became a strong Christian (and it’s written in the sagas!). I can’t understand why the CBA wouldn’t want to counter the History Channel’s portrayal of bloodthirsty Vikings who won’t accept a Christian influence. There were many stories of actual miracles that occurred when Christianity started making serious inroads w/the Vikings. Eventually, I would argue, Christianity had a major gentling effect on them and stopped many of their barbaric practices. Ah, well. I am rather passionate about this topic, and so sad to see the worldly, pagan-praising spin most history programs give it.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      But things are definitely changing all the time. We are seeing a shift across the board right now. Remember how, for a time, everyone wanted to see books set in North America? We’re now hearing that publishers are looking for interesting settings outside this continent.

      Stay tuned. . .

    • Jan Thompson says:

      You should write and finish that medieval ms, Heather. Keep the ms hot. I read medieval BUT not at the moment because there is just nothing new to read in the CBA market that’s medieval right now. I don’t understand it either. Merlin was hot. But CBA seems to be… dare I say the word… behind the renaissance curve. Oh I said it.

      Like they all say — it comes in cycles. If you have that medieval ms ready to go, when publishers look for it, you OWN THE MARKET!

    • You had better stick with it!! Or no Canadian chocolate for you!!

    • Heather, I have a philosophy as to why there’s not a CBA fantasy market. See if you agree or not.
      Women represent the vast majority of fiction readers. Fantasy/Sci-fi was a male dominated genre for most of the twentieth century. The plot lines were male, testosterone driven, chop ‘em ups. These were hardly appealing to women.
      For a woman to enjoy a series, she has to quickly feel connected to a character. I’m guessing that’s why I’ve only met 5 women who ever read Lord of the Rings. It takes forever to get into it.
      Along came Potter and the TV Series “Charmed.” Women connected with the characters an it launched an interest in magical fantasy material. Witches became intriguing CHARACTERS, with strange predicaments that seemed vaguely familiar, but with a daydreamy twist. Now we have Grimm and Game of Thrones as vampires fade to passe’. There’s a definite interest in rogue fantasy, but why not in the church?
      Answer- Because no one has created a story that will bust open the walls for women readers.k If they have, then it’s not out there yet. Women in the church have to feel connected to the character within a page. The the author has to yank them through a portal and into a world of possibilities.
      Chronicles did it, so did This Present Darkness. Maybe we need Fanny Crosby Demon Slayer to get the Christian audience with it. We better. Because the world’s yanking them away and the Christian Publishing world is irrelevant to modern youth.
      So…
      Rock on with your Vikings and I hope you kick some demon butt! :)

      • Fanny Crosby Demon Slayer? HAHAHA!! Brilliant AND true, Jim!

      • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

        Interesting analysis, P.J. I’m guessing you might be able to one day say, “I told you so.”

      • HA! PJ…I don’t have a Viking demon slayer, per se. But yes, I did try to HUMANIZE Vikings by having a female, married MC (as based on the sagas!). I have to feel connected to my MCs as I write first person POV. VERY astute observations. I loved THE HOST as a sci-fi book, and it was a female protag. Of course, I love Ender’s Game as much as the next girl (okay, or DUDE). For me, sci-fi has to reflect believable human emotions/characters. Even if it’s an alien MC (as it was for part of THE HOST), they are relatable somehow. Great thoughts today.

  • You opened my eyes about the children’s market, Wendy. What you said is so true. In our children’s library, there are some of the same books their brother read when he was their age. I honestly never considered that before.

    I try not to get too caught up in the “I don’t get it” mindset because then I probably wouldn’t write at all. I would be too discouraged. I continue to work at honing my craft and reading every night–in my genre and outside of it–and praying for God’s guidance as I seek representation. I truly believe if this is God’s plan for my life, that it will happen.

  • I don’t get it, why don’t more men read? Why did an agent tell me that my protagonist must be female to draw readers? What about having both male and female POVs in a genre other than romance? Don’t women like reading books with male characters? Why can writers like Jerry Jenkins and Chris Fabry write books with strong male leads? (Okay, maybe that last one is a ridiculous question. :) )

    Thanks, Wendy, for your insights here. The logic in your fourth scenario with the launch party makes a lot of sense to me.

    • I hear you on this and commented above!

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Ooo, good questions.

      Women will read books with male protagonists but hugely prefer females. (So why automatically cut your chances but choosing the tough sell?) Men generally won’t read books with a female protagonist.

      And men who read fiction nearly always buy ABA fiction, so the dearth of male fiction readers in the CBA is just one of those mysteries. I’m guessing that most of those men who loved Jerry Jenkins probably bought those books at Walmart or Barnes & Noble. they didn’t know it was a CBA book.

      • The Battle of the Sexes…CBA version. :)

      • Is it the chicken or the egg?

        Do men not read CBA because CBA doesn’t go after them? The same has been said of churches: more women than men in churches… but when churches deliberately go after men, they come in droves — but only if you show a long-term dedication to the cause. If you build it, will they come? Worth the try, I’d say…

      • Great questions, Bill! If more CBA books appealed to men, would they read them? Hmmm…..

      • To your analogy, Bill, I’d say that it’s not the publishef’s job necessarily to convince people who don’t buy from them that they should start buying their product. I think the issue is that publishers have identified their market, and they’re selling what they know works to that market. Going out and convincing people who’ve never shown an interest in that market–there’s a lot of money and risk there.

        In a perfect world, each publisher would go out and convince Christian men to read the new stuff they’re publishing for them. But sadly this world is far from perfect.

      • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

        Interesting discussion here. I wonder if more men will read as they get devices on which to read. I think the mobile readers are so much more friendly for those who love tools that we may see a shift.

        It’s interesting to watch.

  • All of this makes sense, Wendy. I would say “I don’t get why everything takes so long in the publishing industry,” but I think I’ve read enough about it to know that (1) there’s a lot of competition and (2) that’s just the nature of the publishing industry! :)

  • Wendy, I thought your example of Julie Klassen owning CBA Regency was very interesting. Would she have been considered a no-name since she was also an editor at the time? The fiction-reading world wouldn’t have known her. I wonder what it was that made her publisher say they’d publish her in what seemed to be a new thing at that time.

    I’m not asking for specifics–I know you can’t give those out. And you may not even know them. But I think for those of us who hope to break into the fiction market in the next couple of years, going deeper into this scenario would be very interesting. We’re told we have to be unique but the same. And maybe that’s why it worked for her. Because she was unique in the CBA market but the Regency market had already been proven in the general market.

    • Great question Sally. I’m also curious about this.

    • Wow, interesting observation, Sally! I’d read a post Julie did on this, too. I know she said she was given no special treatment and her MS was anonymously read, though.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Sally’s right. Julie submitted blindly. But what she did was identify an ABA genre she loved to read and make it her own. She has always loved the regency period– she loves Jane Austen, is a certified Anglophile, even attends regency dances– in costume yet. But the regencies in ABA have for the most part been fluffy and relatively short. Julie took the period and much that she admired in the typical regencies and crafted a much richer, layered story with more period detail than before. and a spiritual element, expertly woven in.She hit the ball out of the park on her first book and each book gets better and better.

  • This makes me want to say “charcoal is the new black”.
    The similarity/bankablity factor is a big deal, yet everyone is waiting for the Next Big Thing. BTW, I’m right here.
    KIDDING!! Joking! Just adding some levity for the heated debate!

    What I don’t get is the seemingly randomness of who hits it big and who keeps toiling while in possession of fantastic, but unpublished, work. I guess it boils down to the collective desire of the readership. When someone comes along with a story that is just what the doctor ordered, only the doctor had no idea what was needed, BOOM, a need is met and a world is opened up and set free.
    None of us knows what is around the corner, thankfully, God does.

    But I still do not get “Twilight”. Maybe the movies and their Oscar worthy acting spoiled things for me.
    Just maybe.

    • HA–Jennifer…that acting was EPIC…epically BAD!!! Hee!

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Jennifer, you said, “What I don’t get is the seemingly randomness of who hits it big and who keeps toiling while in possession of fantastic, but unpublished, work.”

      Truer words were never spoken. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a small combination of knowing the market, a tiny bit of being an original, a bigger chunk of exquisite writing, but the majority of it is God. (I know that sounds like spiritualizing things but as I observe how this works, that’s the answer that makes sense.)

      I often say that God may choose to bless you with success or bless you with failure; or he may curse you with success or curse you with failure. It’s not the outcome that matters, it’s the journey.

      • It’s interesting how you mentioned blessings and cursings. I was NOT ready 2 years ago to be successful. After spending the better part of the last year getting to know and being mentored and genuinely becoming friends with a few pubbed writers, the understanding of the whole grand scheme of things is somewhat like scaling El Capitan. One can always watch a climber leave the ground, but only from the middle on up does one see the true demands behind the climb.

        Now I can honestly say that waiting til everything is in place IS part of the joy of writing.

      • Thanks Wendy! Wow! Your response is so encouraging. I work to improve my writing and I listen to Cd’s of conference classes over and over. I want to be a professional and honor the calling and talent God has placed within me. Yet, I still feel so small and inadequate. Knowing that you agree that it all comes down to God’s will for our lives is an empowering thought. You lifted my spirits today! I guess we should strive to be a little more like the children’s song about the widow and her small offering. “Little is much when placed in the hands of God”.

  • Lori says:

    I don’t get why some movie stars (Tori Spelling comes to mind) are considered best authors. I’ve scanned one of her books in a store once and I was shocked that this was considered a best seller.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Are they considered best authors?

      I know that in children’s book circles one celebrity author is considered to be superb and that’s Jamie Lee Curtis. The rest? Celebrity authors for the most part. Their name sells the book.

      • Lori says:

        I didn’t know that Jamie Lee Curtis was a children’s author. Julie Andrews has written numerous children’s books, some under the Julie Edwards, and she is considered superb. Some of the books she co-authored with her daughter, Emma.

      • Judy Gann says:

        Please don’t get this children’s librarian started on celebrity’s books.Grr. :-) Yes, Wendy, Jamie Lee Curtis is a wonderful exception. Excellent writing. At the library when parents ask me for a celebrity’s book, I always try to be sure they go home with, ahem, a higher quality book along with the celebrity’s.

  • Lori says:

    I meant best selling authors.

  • I don’t get why I hear such differing opinions on what a fiction author’s platform should look like.
    At this point, as an unpublished author, it seems like my time is best spent learning my craft and investing energy in making my ms and proposal the best they can be.
    After I hit the send button I’ll focus on writing the next story and continue to interact with people on my Facebook author page as well Pinterest. I do need to work more on regularly posting to my blog though.

    • Yes!!! I fell into the marketing trap a few years ago while my then agent was shopping the book. And when editors said no to that one but asked to see what else I had–well, that didn’t go so well since I’d been marketing and not writing.

      So now I’m writing, writing, writing. Doing a little marketing. So the balance there is so hard. And I don’t get–there it is–what my platform is supposed to look like before I sell a book when fiction readers won’t pay any attention to you until you have fiction out there. This one does seem like a catch-22.

      • So can I use the word so any more? So so so . . .

      • Sally, I have additional ideas for Christian Gothic Romance books, and since the setting of my next story is nearby I’ve already taken some research day trips. :-)
        I find that my stories begin with setting, followed by a lesser known occupation in history, and then the characters start introducing themselves.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Someone in my class at Mount Hermon defined platform in a powerful way. He said it’s not how many people you manage to talk at– it’s the number of people who seek you out. Bingo!

      With fiction that will likely happen (if it’s going to happen at all) because they are crazy about your books.

  • Jan Thompson says:

    “Publishers are always looking for that writer who will define a whole new category. It’s a big risk for a debut author to be writing in an as-yet undefined genre, but if the book is extraordinary, who knows?”

    I agree that it’s “a big risk.” When bills depend on it, commercial fiction seems to always win out. Then again, most of the breakout categories seem to be derivatives of lesser known genres. For example, when Star Wars came out, it was nothing new. Science fiction had been around since pre-Asimov. Not to mention Harry Potter and Twilight series are derivatives of genres that are already in place for decades…

    One of the genres I write in is Colonial Fiction. That’s a hard sell right now. However, I love this genre so much I’m not going to abandon it. I will keep writing it part time, chipping away at my series, working on them like a labor of love when I’m not working on my thrillers. Some day, when colonial fiction is hot again, I’ll query those… If not, I’ll self-publish them. However the Lord leads.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      I don’t know about that. With the right book. . .

      Look for Lori Benton’s BURNING SKY, coming out soon. And there’s Laura Franz. I think we’re seeing some serious interest in that period. (Both superb authors.)

      • Jan Thompson says:

        I’m delighted at the news!! I read every novel Laura Frantz writes. She captures the colonial era very well, and I wish her great success so that she can produce more novels so that I can read more books. It’s a win-win. I’m trying to read more eBooks since they are really easy to carry around, but Laura’s books reads best in printed form… Most colonial fiction do, IMHO anyway.

        I haven’t heard of Burning Sky but now that you’ve mentioned it, I will look for it. Thanks!

  • I don’t get why publishers won’t spend a lot on publicity for new authors when the famous ones will probably sell plenty of copies anyway.

    • You bring up an interesting point, Jan.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Good question, Janet but., two things. One is that if a house is crazy about a debut book, the sky is the limit. We see auctions and huge marketing campaigns for first books. It all has to do with the book itself.

      But normally the reason the budgets are different for each book is that each book is like a little business of it’s own. The publishing team make a guesstimate of how many copies will sell in the first year and a proforma budget is set based on those parameters. marketing, advance, promotion– all of those are based on that pro forma.

  • I’m writing SF now and your third scenario really hits home with me. I am NOT trying to fit it into the tiny, way too constrictive CBA box. It sucks all the creativity right out of my worldbuilding.

    I don’t read Christian SF either. Why? You hit it on the head. It’s too derivative. It’s all the same. I live in a houseful of geeks and we read all over the place. But none of us read Christian SF, and the only Christian fantasy in the house is Lewis and Tolkien.

    We Christian SF fans are a whole ‘nother breed, and we tend not to advertise it to other Christians. We get judged and accused of being next door to pagan (not outright) for being okay with the existence of aliens. My own mother has major issues with her children being okay with the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. She’s the only non-geek in the family.

    Christian SF is bland. It tries too hard to be Christian at the cost of the science. We read it for the SCIENCE FICTION parts, the what ifs, the worldbuilding. Not to be preached at in what is all too often a thinly veiled allegory that doesn’t wrestle with any of the questions SF was created to address. It’s a vast genre with limitless possibilities. But the CBA box denies many SF writers the ability to explore those possibilities.

    I’ve no intention of ever trying to fit my SF stuff into the CBA box. It would suck the life from it and make it where I can’t put my characters on the page. I write heavily in his POV, even in a romance. It’s also what I prefer to read. ABA and SF, and even SF romance, are a lot more accepting of that.

    • Jan Thompson says:

      You have a point, Rachel, about Christian SF and Fantasy. Sort of not mainstream in the CBA market.

      I write thrillers, and even there, the CBA market is very small and limited. I also write colonial fiction in my spare time, and that has a market in CBA, even though it fluctuates.

      We are all told not to chase the market, and yet in this blog post, Wendy listed reasons some books are not selling in the CBA realm. It seems to be difficult times ahead for many of us writing in less popular CBA genres.

      The question then becomes — do we want to be published as CBA authors if we know that some genres won’t sell in the CBA world? It’s very hard for Christian writers writing Christian fiction to break into the ABA market. So we’re stuck. Or are we? Stay tuned.

      8-)

      • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

        Except, Jan, you are only stuck for a time. All of this is cyclical. You time will come.

      • I write from a Christian worldview. Is it Christian according to CBA publisher definitions? Absolutely not. But it’s still a light in the darkness, and something those who are already listening will be able to hear. We can only reach those hearts the Holy Spirit has softened, after all.

        I don’t believe in sticking my God in a box. Saying He couldn’t create aliens if He wanted to is sticking Him in a box and denying that He’s all-powerful. I don’t want to do that.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Interesting, Rachel. Of course I know a number of your literary tribe– Christians who love the tough questions good scifi raises. (You are not alone out there in the universe.)

  • Susan Roach says:

    I don’t get why Christian parents don’t want to buy sharp, exciting, Christian middle-grade fiction once their kids outgrow picture books! You mentioned, Wendy, and I’ve been told before, that it is because Christian parents are content with ABA offerings. And, they consider a child protagonist who prays too “preachy.” But why? If spiritual lessons wrapped in first-rate stories are marketable to adults, why are they not to third- and fourth-grade readers? I know they aren’t. I gave up on that genre in pursuit of something more sellable. But I still “don’t get it.” 

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Many parents do buy great MG books. Look at the sales of Nancy Rue and Melody Carlson.

      But you’re right. I also don’t get why we don’t have a vigorous children’s market, MG and teen market.

  • Coming from a marketing background, your last one made me smile. :) A lot of non-marketing people think marketing means “creatively telling people about your product.” While that is part of marketing, it will result in absolutely nothing if the appropriate strategic/analytical work has not been done up front. Marketing is not about how creative you can be. It’s about accurately segmenting the market, identifying the right segments to target, positioning your product/concept in an impactful way to reach those targets, and then – ONLY then – figuring out the right promotional messages/tactics to reach the target with.

    Your example is a great one for showing why creativity in marketing is not necessarily a means to an end!

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Preach it, Natasha!

    • Exactly!!! I joined a group on linked In for ministers/authors. Don’t want to give the person’s name – but every post made has one purpose to “shock” people and get them to respond. This person is making the most outlandish statements and most of the responses are borderline “slap down” about his opinions. Several dear friends have written me that they would never buy the books this person writes and they would never recommend this person. Yet, he keeps posting shocking items. It’s really sad to watch the destruction of this person’s “reputation” for the sake of a few hits on his personal site. It seems to me that this type of marketing couldn’t possibly work.

  • Love the conversation here today! I’ve had many of these questions rolling around in my head since delving into the publishing world–I’ve found for every question, there may be numerous answers, depending on who you talk to! And things change so quickly. Thank you for another great post, Wendy!

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Exactly, Gabrielle. I have one opinion and then there are a lot of people out there with the wrong opinions. :-)

      And yes, things change so quickly. That’s what makes this an art more than a science.

  • Laura Moe says:

    I still don’t get why good writing isn’t enough, especially when there are so many badly written books that do well.
    Is attention to craft a thing of the past?

    • Laura, with traditional pubs, not only does the editorial committee have to okay the book, the MARKETING committee does, as well. Many times the editors will say something is well-written, but they don’t feel it can be marketed (since the genre hasn’t been “broken in to” yet).

      • Laura Moe says:

        It seems such a shame, though. Getting published is a mine field.
        Thanks for your input.

      • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

        And not just the marketing people but the sales people as well. Those are the ones who go into the stores and dispassionately find out what is selling and what gets returned.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Attention to craft is definitely the number one thing, but look at all of us. Our tastes differ. “Good” is subjective.

      And ultimately success will go to the author who sells books– who captures the imagination of the biggest block of readers. the author who writes to her audience.

      In all the proposals and manuscripts I see I can pick out the writers who are trying to please their creative writing professors. They will never be a commercial success.

  • I love your input on book launch parties. I find myself planning and replanning. I want the tweens (and their parents) to have lots to do, not just eat and have me sign a book. Of course, I want the activities to tie into the books’ theme and to prompt them to want to buy the books. The teacher in me wants to make it fun, but not costly. I have my idea list a goin’. Thanks for this post, Wendy!

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      Be sure to make it a two-step punch. Do the even but make sure you leverage it and get the media attention because of it.

  • I don’t get it…why don’t writers just read about the publishing process so they aren’t surprised by it.

    (Hope this doesn’t sound obnoxious, but there are so many good books out there on this.)

    • Laura Moe says:

      Because underneath it all, each of us believes he or she has something powerful and unique that might be missed because it doesn’t neatly fit into a marketing plan.

    • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

      You’re preaching to the choir here, Beth. Our blog community devour all the info out there. That’s why I predict we’ll see a far better than average rate of success among our community here.

      And the ones who don’t avail themselves of the info? well, you should see what they submit to us. The chasm is growing ever wider.

  • Thank you for this informative blog, Wendy! Love the back and forth. Excellent points, many I would have loved to chime in on if I hadn’t been out of town.

    Grateful for all the positive input.

  • Katya says:

    What about Ted Dekker’s Circle Series? Or the Books of Mortals that he coauthored with Tosca Lee? I was under the impression that these books really made it in the CBA market, even though they are fantasy/sci-fi. Are they just an exception, or were they treated differently by publishers?

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