There are books, without question, that have fought the mainstream current and traveled to commercial success on the other side of it, that have forced publishers to change course, forced booksellers to free up space on shelves for new categories. One could argue that E.L. James, J.K. Rowling, and Stephanie Meyer rank high on the list of such modern trailblazing authors.
But for those of us at the beginning of our traditional-publishing journey, should we be striving for novel novels or aiming instead for something at the intersection of originality and what’s already selling?
“As a reader, you look for a story that takes you on a journey from somewhere you haven’t been to a place you know not where. But as a literary agent, I’m looking for something slightly different. I’m looking for a story that takes you on a journey, but from somewhere familiar on a bridge to somewhere new . . . because publishers find original material very difficult to market. By its nature, it changes everything from what’s preceded it. It’s hard to compare anything to it.”
And if publishers can’t project a sales path based on similar titles that came before the novel in question, they’re less likely to take a gamble on it.
Author Christina Hoag’s agent once told her, “Publishers do want original stuff, but at the same time they want the same stuff. The same, but different.” Read the full post here.
Author Juliet E. McKenna, who wrote a great post that explores how to write, “…original but not too original,” once heard a publisher say, “Every editor is looking for the same but different.”
If your goal is traditional publishing, before expending brain waves on something that breaks every mold, take a walk into a bookstore and see if there’s a bookshelf with titles comparable to your own idea, a place where your book would fit rather nicely.
I wrote this post for the monthly Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop. To continue hopping or to join the hop, click here. (There are more than 200 of us, and it’s fun!)
I’d love to hear about your project. Do you have a title or two in mind booksellers could shelve your book with? Are you writing the next it-book that will add a new genre to the mix, or change a genre as we know it? Let me know in the comments.