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Monday, August 28, 2006

An interesting question

I'm a member of Charlotte Dillon's RWC Yahoo loop. Last week (yeah, I'm a little slow reading Yahoo messages) someone posted an interesting question for the weekly talk prompt regarding whether it was easier writing saleable books after being published, and whether it became easier to sell future books.

First, you see there are two different issues here: writing and selling.

Let's look at writing first:

The overwhelming response on Charlotte's loop was no, it didn't get any easier to write books.

Some folks mentioned an author's drive to always write a better book, the pressures they put on themselves to improve. They labor over their projects, worried it won't be as well received as their last book.

I know this feeling well. Personally, in order to finish a book, I must feel it's better than the last one I've written. If not, I'm likely to abandon it and move onto something else.

Charlotte mentioned some other, more concrete reasons why it is in some respects harder to write--like time constraints and the need to balance promoting, editing, proofing and writing. With all those other obligations, it's more difficult to find the time to write. I agree with this, oh yes, I do!

But, in other ways, I believe it DOES get easier to write saleable books. As a published author, I've had the experience of working with an editor and thus I have a bit of an advantage over an unpublished writer. I've learned what sells and doesn't sell within my house. I've learned through edits what my weaknesses are as a writer. I no longer make "newbie" mistakes.

Bottom line: the answer in respect to writing and whether it gets easier is Yes and No. LOL

Let's look at the second part of that question now. Is it easier to sell once you've sold?

Possibly. And then again, maybe not.

A lot of factors come into play here.

*How were the sales of your last book? Your second book? (in NY, this is HUGE--each should do better than the last one)

*Are you writing for an epub (epubs *tend* to accept future submissions from in-house authors faster. Note, I said "tend" not "do".)

*Have you established a name for yourself? (ex: Jaid Black and Lora Leigh)

*Are you trying to "break out" and launch a BIG book, or move into a new genre? (How many series romance authors can I name as examples here? More recent examples: look at Julie Kenner. LA Banks.)

*Are you writing a genre that is over-bought, tired or "unpopular" with publishers right now? (current ex: chick lit or Regency romance, and in some houses vampires)

*If submitting to NY houses, do you have a well-respected agent submitting on your behalf? (I've posted about agents in the past, take a look at my archives for more info here.)

*Do you have clever, REALLY outside-the-box ideas for promoting your books? (this can help a lot if the potential is big--will lead to national media coverage)

The past few months have been interesting. A lot of "established" epubbed erotica authors have been pursued by larger houses, sought to fill slots in new erotica lines. They have a slight advantage over new authors in gaining contracts. But they still must submit outstanding work. And they must also realize that the market is cyclical and what was once all the rage (take chick lit a few years back) will eventually become yesterday's news. Readers will get tired of reading the "same old thing". Authors and publishers will need to react to the fickle marketplace. Authors whose sales do not continue to rise will be dropped. Lines will close. Both authors and publishers must adapt to a market that is like a living, breathing being to survive.

So again, in respect to sales, my answer is Yes and No. An author who has made a name for herself, is writing within a "hot" genre, is seeing gains in sales, and is able to adapt to the demands of the market, as well as being creative in promoting her books will have an easier time selling once she's sold. An author writing in an over-crowded genre, has a less-than-helpful agent (or no agent at all), or is unwilling or unable to adapt to the market or do any kind of promotions, is bound to have a harder time.

My two cents. I'm sure others will disagree.

posted by Tawny Taylor at 11:20 AM |


Commented by Blogger Eva Gale:

Lot's of food for thought here. Thanks for the info!

11:19 PM 
Commented by Blogger Bernita:

I certainly agree with your paragraph about what one learns about editing and self-editing.
Those lessons are invaluable.

10:29 AM 

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