Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Recently, I got my hands on a copy of ‘Writer’s Digest’; not an easy task when you live ‘off the map’. Anyway, I was excited to have a look inside, hoping to find all kind of ‘insider information. In this particular issue I came across an article titled ‘How Much Is Enough?” excepted for the book ‘Create Your Writer Platform by Chuck Sambuchino

In this article Mr. S (I hope I will offend no one, especially Mr. Sambuchino, by using such a familiarity, but if I have to keep typing that name over and over, well, I just can’t be responsible for how it might end up.) goes on to tell us what type of Internet presence is ‘enough’ to woo an agent or publisher. He  lists all sorts of intimidating facts and figures about what is ‘notable’, ‘very notable’, and impressive by any means.

Now, no offence intended to Mr. S, because I know this article, excerpted from his book is primarily about creating a ‘Writer Platform’ and that was really all he was addressing, BUT I couldn’t help think enough already with the platform. Whatever happened to good writing, creative story line, tight plot and interesting characters?

Recently in my online writers group someone posted that a potential agent loved their work but they were afraid that ‘the market trend had passed them by and this book had lost its chance’. I had to read that over three times before it sunk into my thick skull that this agent was telling this writer that ‘although their book was very good and the agent themselves loved it the MARKET TEND dictates what will be published, not the quality of the work.

Now I realize that there are trends in reading just like any other form of entertainment, information gathering, or socializing BUT are we now supposed to be concerned about what is ‘trending’? How many people like us on Face Book? How clever we can be in 128 characters? From what I read recently, it seems more important to be popular than to perfect your craft.

So, today when I think about my insecurities with respect to my writing (let’s not even begin to consider my general insecurities) I left with the fact that all I want to do is tell good stories. Something that will make you think. Something that might tug at your heartstrings, keep you up at night with the lights on, or something that will make you laugh out loud. I want you to be involved with my characters and engaged in their struggles, hopes, fears, happily ever afters and tragedy. Even though I write primarily fiction, I want it to be relevant to what’s going on in the world today in the hopes that someone might think about taking an active part in solutions rather than complaining about problems. I want my writing to be ‘Enough’. Is that too much to ask?

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  1. "MARKET TEND dictates what will be published, not the quality of the work."

    Yep. That's how the gatekeepers control things. And yet we're not supposed to write to the trends.

  2. If I allowed myself to dwell on agent comments, I would probably just bury my head in the sand and give up.

    Writing from the heart is the only way to go, because it will make you happy, not them. And I'm of the mind set nothing will ever make them happy since every agent is looking for something different and they all give conflicting information/advice, based on that :)

  3. Love this post. The writing should ALWAYS be first. Thanks for stopping by my blog today. :)

  4. I agree that writing should come first and always should be 'enough' which is why my main goal now is to write a book that I love because, otherwise, what's the point?

  5. This is why I decided to go with a smaller publisher. They still look at the story as a whole and not just trends.

    Isn't it funny they tell us to write what's in our hearts but agents don't really mean that. They just want something they can sell, but if you write slower than the market moves (which all of us do when you take into account how long it takes to get something published) you're up that proverbial creek.

    *sigh* Just keep writing what you want to write and it will be enough. For you at least, and all those lucky enough to get to read it.

  6. I agree the writing should come first. The trend will come around again and they'll have a great book ready to go.
    Jai Visiting from IWSG

  7. Good thing I didn't read any of that when I was writing, because I wasn't even online at the time. I might've given up before I even really started.

  8. Great post, its something I definitely worry about. I really want my work to be considered on its own merit without any thought to trends but I'm not sure how feasible that will ever be.

  9. It sucks for us writers when agents are looking for not only what they like, but what they think they can sell. Often times, even if they love a book, if they are unsure if it will find an audience, they will pass. It's business. But to us it's personal. It's tough. Great post. :)

  10. Alex is the king of platform building... don't let him fool you.

    Re: trends and marketing, lest we forget, publishing is all about SELLING books. If a book is not going to SELL, it's not going to get published.

    WRITING is about craft and creation and blood and sweat and tears... and I just thank heaven that self-publishing is taking off so well now. It's possible for you to get your work out to others even if it doesn't fit the current market trend.

    Keep it up!

  11. the good news is that whatever you're writing, that trend will come around again. You just have to...wait for it.

  12. I'm too overwhelmed by all the "expert" advice on marketing, building a platform, etc. I just ignore it all. As you say, it's about writing good stories. At least, that's what it should be about.

    Be well, Farawayeyes.

  13. Well, I'll be the first to say that my opinion is suspect since I gave up "the writing dream" years ago. But...

    I believe great art should START the next trend! That's the way it used to be.

    I don't believe one should even be THINKING about trends when writing or creating any other form of art. Just work from the heart, have something worthwhile to say, and CREATE the next trend!

    I also think all this yakking about "building a platform by blogging, etc." is a bunch of B.S. It's mostly just an excuse for wannabe writers to avoid doing the really hard work of "real" writing.

    Let's see... did Nicholas Sparks have "an Internet presence" when his manuscript for 'The Notebook' sold for one million dollars within a few days after first being sent out to publishers?

    There ya go...

    If I still believed in that dream about me being a professional writer, you can be sure I wouldn't be wasting much if any of my time maintaining a blog. Pshaw!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  14. Great post!

    I am facing this very problem right now. I've been querying agents for the past several months, and so far all of my rejections (all the personalized ones anyway) have said essentially the same thing: we like the writing, but the market is too flooded. :(

    On the one hand, it's extremely frustrating. But on the other, I can see where they're coming from. It's a business. If readers aren't buying (or if, as in my case, there will be too much of that genre on the shelves b4 mine could get to print) -- then why should agents pick it up?

    BUT I can't believe that this means that I should write to trends/trend gaps. No one wants to read some half-cooked, limp manuscript that I didn't care about. ... and if I wrote that, I'd be embarrassed to let it see the world!

    However I do think that it means that next time I pick one of the *shiny new ideas* down from where they're flying over my head, I'll pick one where at least the market isn't totally flooded.

  15. Popularity; yep, I feel that is the key to getting your writing noticed. I was never into that game in school - can I tell I wasn't popular, lol - and won't buy into it here. I write what I write.

    But, unlike the clicks of high school, we writers have to be aware of trends and know when to break them by submitting something in our own style that fits enough into the norm, and when to hold back and patiently await the next (or next) trend.

    We need to be careful about falling for every hype.


  16. Market trends are ridiculous, and we have to remember that agents are just people who get things wrong from time to time also.

    You want to hear something hilarious? When we first pitched our zombie story to an agent 3 years ago, she said, "I love this story. It's funny, and well written, but zombies are out, so I can't sell it."

    Now not only are we selling a ton on our own, but zombies are the new thing. The Walking Dead. Video games. Zombie survival guides. What the hell was this lady smoking? She was absolutely dead wrong. So remember, just because an agent said it, it doesn't make it 100% fact.

  17. Writing what you love works best, always. The writing should be what matters, not the trending.

  18. First, I want to say thanks for the great comments and encouragement.

    Second, I want you guys to know that I sat down this morning and had all the best intentions of replying to these comments and visiting a few more blogs when…The Internet on my entire island went down. It just came back up a little while ago, so let’s try this again.

    Donna -
    Gatekeepers, trends and conflicting advice. Ya gotta love it.

    Jaybird –
    More conflicting advice. Makes me kind of angry. Writing from the heart – Yes, but then that’s what makes it so hard to send it out into the world.

    Linda –

    Good point, about what’s the point. I figure at least I’ll enjoy telling and reading my own story.

    Charity –
    A smaller publisher may be the answer. I’m not too sure I could ever master self-publishing; I do intend to keep writing from my heart and hope for the best.

    Jai –
    If the writing doesn’t come first, why bother?

    Alex –
    Ha, ha, ha.

    Lonestarsky –
    Yes, business is business. Too bad writing isn’t really a business.

    Elizabeth –
    An important point to make. Publishing and Writing are two different animals and not really about the same thing. One is all about $$$, while the other is more about passion, or at least it should be. I just keep hoping that ‘the ‘twain shall meet’.

    Robyn –
    I agree about being overwhelmed by the ‘expert’ advice. Probably best if I ignore it too.

    STMc –
    Yes, Yes and YES. ‘Great art should start the next trend.’ I can only hope. Maybe you haven’t noticed but I did take someone’s advice back in November, when I opted out of Nano and started working diligently on my edits for ‘Not Quite Right’. I have also cut my blog back to once a week, same reason. I’m not so sure about the dream of becoming a professional writer, but I do want to tell these stories.

    Carissa –
    How could you possibly know if the market was flooded with your ‘shiny new idea’ or not? After responding to all these comments and thinking more and more about it, I’m back to that old ‘to thine own self be true’, thing.

    Donna –
    Yeah, I was one of those ‘popular’ girls in H.S. too. Ha, ha, ha! Actually, I was the geek more involved with ‘drama club’ that flirting and fashion. Knowing when to be ahead of the curve and break the trends is the place to be. I’ve never been a good ‘follower’ in most things and I’m not about to start here. I guess.

    Beer Boys –
    I love it. That story made my day. I can only hope.

    Tyrean –
    ‘Write what you love’, sound a whole lot better than ‘write what you know’ and if we love it, we’ll probably know quite a bit about it.

  19. Certainly that's reasonable to ask, but marketing plays to important a roll in publication to keep a blinds eye to everything else. :)

  20. If you chase trends, it's hard to keep up AND you won't love what you are doing. Keep the faith that you should write good stories. Maybe you will set the next trend with YOUR book. :)

  21. The writing should definitely be enough. But I do understand a publisher's point of view with wanting something that will sell. That's the great thing about being a writer in this day and age. We can tell the stories that are in our heart and then publish them in many different ways. :)

  22. FAE ~
    When you have a chance, check out the latest installment on Arlee Bird's 'A Faraway View' blog about dreams.

    He has a post by a guest blogger who describes "one of her weirdest dreams ever". I had to laugh because the dream she describes would be just like some common, every-night kinda dream for you and me (and probably Arlee).

    I was reading it, waiting for it to suddenly get really weird and then... The End. WHA'?! That's IT?!

    A dream like that would put me to sleep. Ha! Heck, I had a dream just a few hours ago that was weirder than the one she described, but it's so low on my Weird-O-Meter that I won't even bother telling anyone about it.

    I didn't comment because I didn't want to appear rude, but if I were the smart-ass I'm rumored to be...

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  23. All of the elements of quality writing are still what matter to some, but I think we have to be prepared to write for a schlockier market than ever. So much crap out there! And marketing is the main force to consider because books are in big competition with each other and all other media. I think platform is the customer base the author needs to establish to prove their marketability. I keep trying to broaden my own platform just in case I ever do finish something and try to get published.

    I had to laugh about Stephen Mc's last comment since in a sense I'd say Nicole's guest post on my site was not so much about the content as it was about the marketing ploy at work. She's building platform for her film making reputation. Nicole is following the example suggested by many experts of doing guest posts as much as she can. I admire her ambition and don't mind giving her some space to build her platform.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

  24. Fantastic post. Good writing should always be first. I've seen too many badly written books out there because they're the trend.

  25. I think this is the primary reason self-publishing has taken off. There's a market for good storytelling, and people get sick of trends.

  26. Thankfully, self-publishing seems to be changing this a bit.