by Laura Anne Gilman
We’re going to make this one short and bittersweet.
There are things that are popular, trendy. You hear people – writers, agents, editors – talking about them all the time. “This is what’s hot. This is what’s selling really well right now. This is what publishers/agents/readers/Hollywood wants.”
And sometimes you think “yay, I’ve got that!” and sometimes you think “oh god, I can’t write that.”
And sometimes you think “I could write that… but it’s not what I’m writing now. I need to put everything aside and write that!”
Cue the White Rabbit, wringing its paws and checking the time, and so utterly flustered that he’s running behind…
“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”
Yeah, you might. So what?
Here’s the bitter part: while “don’t chase the market” is advice that’s handed out freely, at the same time, we’re told by example and inference that if you want to make Real Money, you have to hit the hot markets.
And the hard truth is – that IS how you make Real Money.
And some people can do it. They can look at a trend, analyze it, take it apart and put it back together in a way that works for them, and then sit down and write it fast enough that the trend hasn’t already moved on.
Those people? Not common. And the ability to do it WELL is even less common. No matter what the White Rabbit did, he was still late.
So here’s some sweetness, to leaven things. Eventually, the probability is high that the trend will turn to something you love. Something that you’re writing. You might even have THAT BOOK coming out just when the trend hits (or better yet, be second out the gate, so you catch the swell perfectly).
But you can’t predict it. You can’t anticipate it. And a book written to catch a trend? Generally, it not only doesn’t sell, but you’ve just taken time out of your life to, basically, do something you don’t love.
If you need the money, working at Macy’s might be less painful, and leave you with the creative space to still write the story that’s in you, waiting to get out.
And that story, the one you pour your passion and excitement into? May not be the Hottest Trend. But it could also be the story that changes everything, for you.
Coming up in Week 49: Blame the Right Messenger
Laura Anne Gilman is a former editor with Penguin/Putnam, and the author of more than a dozen novels, including the THE SHATTERED VINE, Book 3 of the Nebula-nominated Vineart War trilogy,, and TRICKS OF THE TRADE both IN STORES NOW! (ahem). Her SF collection, DRAGON VIRUS, which SF Signal called “amazingly evocative….a potent ride through a changing future,” was published by Fairwood Press in June 2011. For more info check her website, her BookView Cafe bookshelf, or follow her on Twitter (@LAGilman)
She also runs d.y.m.k. productions, an editorial services company (www.dymkproductions.com).
And yes, her nickname really is meerkat.