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Publishing Trends
Saturday, November 30, 2019 by Cindy Sproles

I grow impatient at times. My agent has my manuscript looking for markets that might consider it, but he comes up dry.

“You write outside the box. It’s hard to find a home for your work.” I slide down in my computer chair and sigh.

“Shesh! I thought publishers wanted something new and different.”

This has been me a zillion times. Publishing trends kick me out in the street. It’s a frustrating market, but it’s not always the publisher's fault. Chalk over half the blame to the consumer. Exactly what are they reading and aren’t they ready for a change?

One would think so, but the truth is, our readers are as objectionable to change as we are. They find a comfortable niche and a lot of books to fill it, so why change? They’re happy.

What happens when you’re like me and you write “outside the box?” Well, you keep writing. Produce quality work. The publishing circle of life will eventually roll back around. When I began writing, chick lit, cozy mysteries, romance, and Amish fiction, were all the rage. Now suddenly, my Appalachian stories are coming to light.  Publishing trends are like a giant wheel. They roll. Sometimes very slowly, but things roll in cycles. What is hot today in the consumer's eye, is nothing in six months. Writers must continue to produce work that slowly guides the reader into a new venue of reading. Publishers will slowly slip in new types of books. Inch in the manuscripts that are beautifully written but don’t fit the normal hole. (You know the square peg in a round hole theory.) It’s a slow process. It takes time.

As authors, we grow impatient and almost unwilling to wait for the circle to roll around.  Authors work hard to produce a novel and when one hits the market with something unique and different, it isn’t long until others follow. Timing plays a big part in the success of an author whose quirkiness finally makes the mark.

It’s up to the writer to constantly keep their finger on the pulse of their readers. When authors sense a change in their followers, they up the ante. Add a twist. Make them hungry for the words you write and they will follow. As simple as this sounds…it still boils down to good writing.

I personally love to read Nicholas Sparks. As a reader, I know every story he writes will almost certainly end with someone of importance dying. Even if it’s the main character and I know their death is certain, Sparks manages to put a unique twist on each story that makes me want to read his work. Then one day, he slips in a memoir. What a surprise. Who’d have thought the master of love stories actually had a childhood and a life that shaped his writing. The point is, Sparks dealt the reader an unexpected change. As a result, I saw fellow fans begin to search out other author memoirs. Was it big in the market? Couldn’t tell you. But I know the circle of readers I’m involved with suddenly found a new side interest and it was a pleasant change. They bought different books.

I’ve written outside the box for years. My work has never been an easy placement for my agent. Editors and publishers give it great reviews but the never-ending line is, “We just don’t have a market for it,” grows old fast. Still, persistence paid off and once a publisher gave my work a try...once they stepped out into unknown territory, my books hit and soon became best sellers. 

Just because the market isn’t in your favor, doesn’t mean you stop writing what you write best. I’m not one to write to the newest trending market, just because it’s “hot.” By the time I’d get a book completed the trend would be different. For me, I remain true to what I write because that is my strength.

Time spins and the writing circle of life continues. Suddenly you wake up with a contract – your outside the box gets pulled in. I can’t say this way of thought is good for everyone, but for me, I’m willing to wait. It doesn’t mean I stop writing. I don’t. I write harder than ever before and continue to submit. Oh…and I’ll probably grow impatient again. I’m only human.  Who doesn’t but as the 70’s saying goes, “Hang in there.” Your time will come. It really will.

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