Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Writing Outside the Marketing Box

I've admitted to stalking sites, and one of my favorites is the hashtag #YALITCHAT on twitter run by the incomparable Georgia McBride. I subscribe to her blog via email, and I always smile when I see her name in the topic line. Her new post "Balancing your creative vision with market conditions" is passionate, honest, and a little disturbing.

If you haven't read Georgia's post, I suggest you go up and click on the title. I'll try as best I can to sum it up, but long story short, her novel PRAEFATIO (you can read the first chapter here) is her baby, and it seems that the powers that be enjoy it, admire it, even compliment its unique qualities, but it doesn't fit the mold. It's not what they project that the market wants, and they're not willing to take a chance. She either needs to conform, write something else, or keep fighting for her baby's originality. 

 Now those of you who know me completely get why I stood in front of the monitor this morning and ranted.   To me, the gatekeepers of the standard publishing world are just like the administrators of our education system. They've studied for years, they've crunched numbers, they've made charts and graphs and gone to endless meetings, and they can spout out soundbites like candy on Fat Tuesday, but they've never been in a classroom, and they're not where the rubber meets the road.

There was a time, not too long ago, when the choices mentioned above were Georgia's only options. Not any more ... if you're willing to risk it.

Take my twitter friend Lorna Suzuki, author of the Imago series. In her blog, she writes ... 

"...when you think about it, does a Tolkienesque fantasy with an Asian flavour fit in any traditional publishing house’s line?

I even had the good fortune of having the president of a Canadian publishing company pursue me for two years to acquire rights to the Imago series, and if not this, then my new YA series.

And having Jessie Finklestein, editor of Raincoast books (yes, the publisher of Harry Potter in Canada) ask if I’d be willing to rewrite the Imago series to appeal to  YA audience was a huge boost to my confidence as a writer. It gave me the sense that there really is an audience for my fantasy, if I’m willing to seek them out.

The thing is, self-publishing is perfect for some authors and many resort to self-publishing because they couldn’t acquire an agent, but still firmly believe in their manuscript, enough that they would turn to self-publishing.

"Legally Blonde', 'Eragon' and 'The Celestine Prophecy' were self-published before being picked up by traditional publishing houses. Even international bestselling authors and authors of American classics like Mark Twain & Edgar Allen Poe self-published. John Grisham, the author of courtroom thrillers, was turned down by at least twenty literary agents. He resorted to selling his self-published books from the trunk of his car in  parking lots before being offered a book deal with a traditional publishing company

I'm proud to say that I'm an indie writer, but I also understand the stigma that still lingers in literary corners, and the roof over my head doesn't depend on a royalty check.

Georgia has already said she will continue to fight, and I glory in her spunk. Teens today are savvy, smart and seek originality. Take heart, Georgia, we're all cheering for you, but please know your work will succeed no matter whose name is on the copyright page.