Wednesday, May 18, 2011
I’m having an identity crisis. This wasn’t apparent to me until I caught myself listening to a successful author at a book signing talking to a fan. The fan told the author that she planned on writing a novel – and like many, just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.
When the author asked what genre the fan hoped to write, the woman’s lips puckered and she answered, “It’s, well, if I had to characterize it…it’s a historical science fiction mystery with a little bit of romance thrown in. I think.”
The author’s hand swept out across the bookstore’s shelves. “So, where are they going to put it?”
"Your novel, when you try to sell it.”
Let’s face it, sometimes it feels premature to consider for those of us who haven’t landed that first fiction contract (kudos to our very own Beth...check out Monday’s post!). But it’s a relevant question to be asking yourself as you write and rewrite. Where do you see yourself on a bookshelf?
Some authors are able to successfully cross multiple genres as they publish novels. But most don’t.
Then what’s my identity crisis? I write contemporary romance. I read historicals. If I want to write what I love, love, love to read, as my bookshelf reflects, I might need to rethink what I’m writing.
So have I wasted 70,000 words on a contemporary romance? Of course not. There’s nothing as crummy as your first attempt at a first draft. I have characters wandering aimlessly through scenes. My plot has a terrible case of scoliosis because I’m still learning how to build a straight spine and write a tight story full of tension. But my efforts have not been wasted. I learned how to craft a novel.
But as I start thinking about the next one, the question the author asked her fan has me pondering marketing. Where do I want to be put?
Where do you see your self on the bookshelves? Why did you choose that genre? Do you write what you love to read?
CONTEST WINNER: gypmar, who is writing writing the personal essay on the working/stay-at-home mom dilemma, won the red Moleskin journal!! Email Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address!