Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Write what you want or worry about marketing?

I was speaking with an editor at one of the big publishing houses today about the business. It seems book publishing is becoming more and more like the movie business. Mid-range authors are out. You are either established or brand new. Your book must be easy to market (I'm talking about commercial fiction but even literary fiction has changed).

When I was talking to the editor she did say it is going to be tough to sell my book. It's multiracial but the protangonist is black. So is it a black book? Is it Chick Lit? Is it Travel Lit ala EAT, PRAY, LOVE (I have heard from more than one book agent/editor that everyone and their mother is trying to sell manuscripts that are the next EPL). That is just great.

I was a little down but what is done is done. I like the characters in my book. It never occured to me to make them all one race. That is not the world I live in. What about all the women who watch GREY'S ANATOMY? Will they not read a book set in Rome with a group of expats from different backgrounds? Would a guy who likes to travel or Italy not read a book set there because a woman wrote it?

I was on the treadmill thinking about my next project. It would make more sense to write it as a script. I have no idea if I can do it. It's in a different genre for me. I want the script to be well written. These are the things I worry about. Maybe I should try the opposite (ala George Constanza). Pick a topic I think the studios would want (like some really stupid comedy for Dane Cook) "write" the script in two weeks, use a guy's name, send out after the strike. I kid. I have no idea how to write for Dane Cook which is why my ass will probably be broke forever. ha.


Lisa said...

I don't even know who Dane Cook is. I would guess maybe someone that is popular with the 20-something crowd...

There's nothing wrong with doing a marketable project. We all have to deal with things that are not quite what we want in order to do what we love.

I'm with you on the race. Why would it be normal to have everyone be the same? As a reader, it wouldn't occur to me that it should be that way.

J.Doe said...

You could always change some of the characters to yellow, green, acqua, orange and magenta and say to another editor "This book is marketed towards the Crayola Crayon crowd' and see what she says. Maybe she'll be embarassed by her stupidity. A book about American expats in Italy should be about that...American expats in Italy, not about race,gender or economic status. I also think a poor white man interested in Italy will read it.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

lisa - he is a very popular comic who has been in a few movies (most of them have bombed). I don't get his appeal at all. I tried to watch his HBO Special and didn't laugh once.

The funny thing is I thought my book was marketable. I still think it is. We'll see what happens.

j. doe - ha. I can't even begin to tell you some of the things studio execs have said to me regarding marketing. It's depressing.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I have to sort of shut my ears to the marketing thing and keep plugging away. I have this gut feeling that the publishing world is going to be completely different two years or so from now (due to e-publishing, etc.) but I'm still hitting the agent trail. I'll bet your book is marketable. Have you thought about a Canadian agent? Canadian houses?

FWIW, my characters are multiracial, too. It's just how I see the world, I guess.

Have I ever tweaked things for agent sells? Yes. But do I think ultimately that was a good idea? Heck, I don't know. I think my YA ended up far less "clean" (in the writing, not the moral sense) than it started out before I started monkeying around with it.

And there I go, I've written another novel in your comments section. You're just always raising points that make me think! ;-)

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

jen - it's okay!

It will be interesting to see how publishing will change during the next few years. I spoke to an agent to today (she is not a book agent) who recommended a British agent.

Speaking of books, I see John Grisham has a new novel out. Wasn't "Playing for Pizza" released less than six months ago? He is one fast writer.

Claudia said...

I think it sounds interesting. It's got to be frustrating that the book industry wants something that fits into a certain label, when real life just isn't like that. I hope it does get published. I'd read it.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Claudia - thank you. I am feeling more upbeat today. I need to start writing again instead of obsessing. ha