Blogger: Michelle Ule
Location: Washington, D. C. where it’s too muggy for me.
“I can write anything,” an eager writer emailed our office. “Just tell me what genre is selling, and I’ll write a book for you.”
The trick to success in the publishing world is to be on the forward curl of the wave, not on the back following the white foam onto the sand. Trust me, if I knew the next big idea, I’d write the book myself.
So my response was simple: write what God puts on your heart. By so doing, you’ll spend your time on a project that resonates with your soul. Using your passion to craft a story can make it more compelling. And if nothing else, at least you’ll enjoy it yourself.
Did you know an editorial assistant fished the first Harry Potter out of the slush pile when JK Rowling wrote the publishing house asking for her fancy packaging back? Do you think Rowling or the publishing house knew an orphaned wizard was the key to the next wave of best-sellers? Rowling sent that first publisher a story that had gestated in her mind for seven years. (Fortunately for her, she scribbled down the last line into her notebook and wrote the next six books toward that ending.) Seven-hundred-page children’s books were not what most publishers expected to be selling in the 21st century.
Harlequin Enterprises recently announced fourth-quarter earnings were up 32 percent over the same period a year ago. US retail sales of romances by the company climbed 9 percent in 2008. Romance consistently sells and is an excellent place for a beginner to break into the market.
But even with that knowledge, I found writing romances a specialized skill. My colleague Rachel challenged me to write one this spring. I had a wonderful time. My husband enjoyed reading what I wrote. But when all was said and done, my labor of love came in at 74,000 words–or nine thousand words more than the fattest Harlequin. No sale. And it didn’t turn out to be just a romance. I naturally gravitated toward a more complex plot (hence the excessive word count).
But at least I loved doing it.
What about you? What do you love to write? How do you balance what the market seems to want and what you are passionate about writing?