Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Is Publishing all about Trends? By Jannine Gallant

This month we're talking about new beginnings. Today my almost sixteen year old is taking her first driving lesson and my younger daughter is getting braces. The beginning of something new for both of them in this new year. Reflecting back on the holidays, the old and new combine and morph into something just a little different with the passage of time. The same familiar faces keep getting a little older. The same regret for the family members no longer with us is sharper during the holidays but also eases with the passing of the years. Apparently, we can't stop time from marching on and giving us new challenges and joys to face.


And what about trends in books? What does the new year have in store for those of us in the business of writing. Heaven knows we've seen changes galore in the publishing industry, but do those changes reflect what people are reading? I ask because I have a book that needs a home. Season of the Witch is a historical romance, a sweeping saga that takes the reader from England across the sea to the new world. My heroine has the sight and sees glimpses of the future, none of which are reassuring when she finds herself in Salem, Massachusetts during the witchcraft trials. My hero is torn between love and duty. There's lots of action, adventure, and angst. A small press didn't feel like the right fit for this book, nor did a dive into self-publishing. I had a sneaking suspicion this story wasn't trendy enough to garner any attention in either venue, which would mean dismal sales. So, I sent it off to one medium sized press and a bunch of agents with long lists of successful clients. (Might as well think big, right? LOL) I received feedback from both the publisher and one agent, and they both said the same thing. They thought my writing was great, but they felt the book would be a hard sell. Early American history isn't a hot commodity.


Does this mean, as authors, we should write what's trendy if we want any chance of making money? I've heard over and over that you should follow your heart and write a great book. Well, I feel I've done that only to be told it isn't timely. Do I hold onto this manuscript for a few more years and hope the trends change? As readers, have your tastes in fiction changed over time, or do you simply read what's out there? Do you ever find yourself saying, "Why don't people write books like that anymore?" Would Kathleen Woodiwiss be a flop in today's market? What about Margaret Mitchell or James Michener?

So, does beginning a new year mean there's no place for something with a flavor of the past? Tell me your thoughts, and by all means, suggestions are welcome. If anyone knows the perfect home for Season of the Witch, speak up!

Have a happy new year!

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29 comments:

Anna Bowling said...

What a wonderful topic to start the new year. I, for one, would love to see more diversity in historical settings, as a writer and reader. Early American? I am *there.* I like to mix current and classic romance reads; I think there's room enough for everybody.

Jerri Hines said...

Jannine,
Feel your pain with America history. I absolutely love it, but granted readers seemed to drawn across the ocean to England for historical romances. When I first sent Patriot Secrets out, Katy Duffy (The Other Bolyen Sister editor)told me basically the same thing I suspect you heard. Kings and Queens sell. You're right too about trends. Contemporary Romance seems to the ticket these days.
But don't lose hope. Doesn't mean it won't turn. Maybe it will be us who will draw readers to the romance and adventure of America history. It has so much to offer...good luck!

Juli said...

Considering that answer's a typical answer from agents, I say ignore it. If you want to self-publish the thing self-publish it. Why not? You just might find some luck with it!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Having read Season of the Witch before it became Season of the Witch, I can attest to the fact that it is one fabulous story. And written in the fabulous style of Kathleen Woodiwiss. I wonder how many people told her she was a tough sell. She obviously didn't listen. Keep sending out and sending out and sending out. You only need ONE yes, don'tcha think?

Jannine Gallant said...

Anna, It's good to hear I'm not the only one who wants diversity in settings. Thanks for voicing your opinion!

Jannine Gallant said...

Jerri, you're right. We can be the leaders of the next book revolution!

Jannine Gallant said...

Juli, I have another project scheduled for self publishing. With this book, I was hoping to find an agent and try for one of the big boy publishers. May have to change my plans, though. Thanks for stopping by.

Jannine Gallant said...

Margo, I won't give up. This may take longer than expected, though. Thanks for your support!

Alison Henderson said...

Timely post, Jannine. This "trend" business is such a conumdrum for writers these days, and the turmoil in the publishing industry only magnifies it. I'm switching subgenres in 2013 and giving very serious thought to taking the plunge into self publishing.

Jana Richards said...

There was a time when agents and publishers wouldn't look at books set during World War Two. But that has changed, and I suspect that eventually books set during your favorite time period will also gain popularity. It only takes one popular book to start a trend. Maybe it will be yours! Don't give up!

Jana

Heidi Vanlandingham said...

Having had those same responses to my own writing, I, too, feel your pain. That said, I don't believe in "trends" per se. People are going to read whatever is out there, and if the publishing industry puts out a huge amount of contemporary romances, then that's what the readers are going to read. Marketing also plays a huge role in what the readers perceive as the next big "read": Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, etc. Just my humble opinion though...

Regina Duke said...

Jannine, you are a splendid writer! If there were "justice" in the world, traditional publishing would actually seek out excellent writers and innovative stories, but they are the ones who are terrified of deviating from the current trend. Take your book public. The special group of fans who will adore your historical setting are probably surfing the internet looking for what they cannot find on the bookshelves! :-)

Jannine Gallant said...

Alison, I can't wait to see what your new direction will be. I also fully intend to self publish this year.

Jannine Gallant said...

Jana, good news about the WWII books. It's a super interesting period. And thanks for the encouraging words!

Jannine Gallant said...

Heidi, great points! The public can only read what's available. I'd like to see the publishing industry offer up more choices. They can't know when something different will be popular if they won't put it out there.

Susan Macatee said...

I love American history and wish there was more diversity in choices with book publishers. I write Civil War and just after in the American Victorian era. Love the period, but am thinking of moving into contemporary romance just to pick up some sales. I'm with a small e-publisher who does all periods in history, including American, but sales just seem to be slacking.

Jannine Gallant said...

Regina, I love your positive outlook. If I can't get a bite from a big publisher, I will definitely go indie with this book. I may wait until I self-publish my contemporary suspense series, though, which IS more trendy, and try to piggyback off the momentum! At least I hope I can gather some momentum. LOL

Jannine Gallant said...

Susan, your time period is terrific (and probably an easier sell than Puritan New England!) I haven't approached small presses for the very reason you mention. I fear lack of sales with something out of the mainstream. I write both contemporary and historical, and it's fun to switch it up. Best of luck if you do try something new!

Sandra Dailey said...

I would LOVE to read 'Season of the Witch'. I'm so tired of the trends I could scream. I won't be unspecific, in order not to offend my author friends who may write some of them, but so often I see a new book and say, "What? Another one of those?" Please don't give up Jannine. I'm counting on original writers like you.

Sandra Dailey said...

Darn that auto correct. I meant specific.

Jannine Gallant said...

Sandra, now that's what I want to hear! Variety is the spice of life - isn't it? So why are the same old themes and settings being regurgitated so often? And why, when we do see something new, are the sales dismal? It's a conundrum! Thanks for sharing your opinion.

Diana said...

I believe in trends - just wander through the shelves at a bookstore. In the romance section, I see contemporary, paranormal and regency foor my choices (and limited erotica). If I want any broader choices, I go online to find my material. Even the SF/fantasy options are getting smaller.

I think Margaret Mitchell would have been published, but with a lot of editing.

Jannine Gallant said...

Interesting, Diana, sounds like bookstores are growing even more narrow in their offerings. Maybe the competition of ebooks means the big publishers won't take a chance on anything but a sure winner in the paperback market. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

Septori noplasti said...

Well worth the time to download and try. This is what I have been waiting for.
Septorinoplasti

Mariposa Cruz said...

Jannine,
Since you have established a following with your previous work, now might be the time to go indie with this one and start your own trend :).

Jannine Gallant said...

Septori, thanks for stopping by and commenting!

Jannine Gallant said...

Mariposa, I'd like to think I have a following, but the numbers aren't there yet. Will keep working on that! Thanks for your support!

Calisa Rhose said...

Hi Jannine. Your new story sounds like a wonderful book. I wonder if you aren't expecting too much from it though? Maybe a small press is exactly what it needs to soar. :) Just saying, don't close your eyes too tight. :)

Jannine Gallant said...

Calisa, I'm open to any and all possibilities at this point. I've seen authors have much success with small presses. I just don't know if it's the right venue for this project. If those trends in popular fiction take a turn toward historical, it may very well be.