19 July 2011

Thinking outside the box

We've all been there. As writers, we're trying to find the "new" thing. The innovative thing. The super-awesome-spectacular-ZOMG IT'S THE BEST THING EVAR!!!!! We write, rewrite, write some more, add, take away, polish polish polish until the manuscript shines like the Maseratti of a man in a mid-life crisis. We slave over query and synopsis. Practice our pitches. Polish polish polish until WE shine.

And no one wants it.

But how can that be? we think. I've thought so far outside the box I can't even remember where the box is!

<-------Well, my friends, here's the painful truth.

The book world wants something fresh and new and awesome. Readers want something fresh and new and awesome. But the problem is that the Big Six aren't always ready to jump at the opportunity, and neither are agents. And no, this isn't because I've gotten rejections. And honestly, it's not necessarily a bad thing.

Publishing is evolving now like the music industry did a few years ago. Smaller music houses and indie rock groups started flooding mainstream because listeners were tired of hearing the same crap all the time and actively sought out bands that weren't overexposed. They traded the Britneys of the world for bands like Death Cab for Cutie, Muse, Sick Puppies, and Radiohead, all of whom had been flying under radar for years. All of a sudden, they're EVERYWHERE, and not just being played on HBO promos. Muse songs have been used in promos for ABC and just recently the movie Crazy, Stupid Love which comes out sometime soon. In the same way, indie presses are taking over the world.

For instance, Jennifer L. Armentrout's Half-Blood is already selling like crazy, and it doesn't even release until October. But there's already foreign rights being discussed and a lot of people buzzing on the blogsophere. And the last time I checked, Jen doesn't even have an agent yet. Jennifer is one of the Radioheads of the world. She'll build up a super-awesome, super-loyal following, and then rock everybody's socks off with her debut. And her follow-up. And the third book...and...yeah. It just keeps going. She went through Spencer Hill Press, which is a smaller publication house with a STELLAR staff who have all worked their butts off. If you want to check out more about Jennifer and Half-Blood and the awesomeness going on with her, you can check out her blog here.

And no, this isn't my way of namedropping. Jen's story is a great example of how we sometimes need to think outside the box not just with our stories, but with our approach to publication. Indie pubs are growing in force and popularity, which is great. Gives the Big Six some much-needed competition (no offense Big Six, I love you). Even self-pubbing is growing in popularity (and gaining more respectability) as pubbing through Nook, Kindle and other assorted formats becomes more accessible. A lot of people fear self-pubbing, and there's a lot of books that don't make the grade, yes. But for me, there are a lot of books published by a Big Six publisher that don't make my cut (Twilight, for one). The subjectivity of this business is far-reaching, so don't let that discourage you.

All it takes is one yes.


Jennifer L. Armentrout said...

Thanks Cate! Being compared to Radiohead is pretty awesome.

I hope aspiring writers know there are a lot of avenues to success. =)

lexcade said...

Me too, especially since *ahem* someone *cough* you *cough* is taking over the world ;)

Claire Merle said...

Nice post!