Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chasing the Fame Train

A lot of writers think that chasing the latest fads in the literary field is the way to a publishing contract. The misunderstood vampire, the wild-eyed zombie, the child-wizard, the gin-soaked, smart-mouthed private investigator—you know the ones—the tired, clich├ęd, overused characters.

Well, I used to be one of those writers. I was ready and willing to jump on that fame train.

But I have learned that if your writing doesn’t come from the heart and is instead motivated by the hope of an expanding wallet, you are headed down a rocky path and toward a perpetually empty bank account. Literary agents’ in-boxes are filled with queries from would-be authors following the latest trends or trying to copy the styles of famous writers. But those authors are traveling a dead-end street and they don’t even realize it.

I read blogs—lots and lots of blogs—by literary agents that receive anywhere from 30 to 100 queries a day and one theme that occurs throughout these blogs is this: Write in your own voice and don’t follow trends. So why try to be someone you’re not? Write what you love. Write what you would like to read, but use your own words and ideas, not someone else’s. Yeah, vampire stories are the schizzle right now, but that market could soon fizzle and you’re left standing with manuscript in hand and nowhere to turn.

Instead of trying to figure out what agents and publishers are looking for and writing for the market, write for yourself and try to find a niche—something that no one else is writing about. Make it unique and interesting, make your characters jump off the page, make your story crackle with excitement!

My latest manuscript has been requested by no less than five literary agents and I’m still waiting to hear back from several more because I chose not to follow trends. I read the latest books by authors who write in my field, not because I want to copy them, but to make sure I DON’T copy them. I try to keep an eye on the latest trends to make sure I DON’T follow them. My characters and my stories are unique because I dare to be different, and hopefully it will pay off in a big way.

But if not, I have the satisfaction of knowing that I have integrity and will continue to have integrity because I write stories that come from my own heart and mind and no one else’s. If the fame train leaves the station without me, then so be it. I'll take the bus.