We had a dog. She was a good dog. She loved hunting, slept most of the day and was fabulous with the kids. Then said dog got old. She no longer hunts, still sleeps most of the day and remains fabulous with the kids.
So, as many of you know, DH bought Dog Number Two. She hunts, she sleeps (sometimes) and she’s great with kids. She is a Labrador, after all, and labs are famous for these abilities. It’s why they have a long history in Dear Hubby’s family.
But just because she’s a lab doesn’t mean she’s a replica of our first dog. In fact, Kallie is a black lab and Bailey is buff. While she doesn’t work out in the gym, her hair is very different than Kallie’s. She sheds more in one day than Kallie does in an entire week. (If I would have known that pre-purchase, I would have mutinied.)
She also drools more, barks more and jumps all the freakin’ time. Her world is run by her belly, and therefore, so is ours. Kallie used to leave food in her bowl for days, nibbling a kibble here and there. Bailey starts whining by 5:15 in the morning. Yet, she’s a bit endearing in that she plays constantly and will roll a ball back and forth with her humans. Kallie has never fetched a ball in her life.
They’re the same, but different. Slight variations of each other. Each better at some things than the other, and each far more annoying in their own ways. They have one purpose: fetch pheasants. They are the same, but different.
And that’s the thing to remember about marketability in the publishing world. Just because a genre is hot doesn’t mean we should all write Hot Genre Novels and they will sell. In fact, it could mean the opposite. By the time the shelves are filled with one genre, it is likely that agents and editors are no longer looking for those types of novels.
To even be considered for purchase, a novel must truly stand out and stand on its own merits. It must be different enough from what has come to warrant hard-earned marketing dollars by a publishing company. It must be unique–in tone, in voice, in style, not just in characterization or setting. Yet, it can be done.
“Dystopian is out.” Or so I’ve heard–we’ve all heard it. Then my wonderfully, talented writing friend, Mindy McGinnis, sold her dystop in a majorly good deal. This tells me that dystopian–as a gravy train genre–may be heading through the tunnel and out of town, but stellar dystopian novels are alive and kickin’.
It also gives me hope, because I have a chapter book manuscript I love dearly. (My agent loves it, too, so I know I’m not completely biased.) And while Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean are hogging the seven seas, I believe the pirate ship hasn’t sailed altogether. I believe that somewhere in the vast ocean of publishing is a home port with room for a tiny vessel carrying my beloved pirate family. I believe that my tone, style and voice, along with my characters and plot, are truly unique and not just a slight variation of what’s already out there.
I will never give up on this project, but I’m smart enough to know I can’t sail aimlessly in saturated waters. It’s why I write nearly every day. It’s why I have nearly a dozen completed manuscripts–some ready for submission and some not quite. It’s why I keep my eye on the hunt and why I’m not afraid to buy a new dog.
How about you, dear writers, do you chase publishing trends or stay well away from hot markets? Why or why not? Do you let the fate of one novel dictate the fate of all your novels? How and why?
As a reader, what do you believe is more important in setting a novel apart from the masses already lining the book store shelves: a unique voice, a unique story idea or unique characters? Do you read exclusively within specific genres? If so, does this ever get tiresome? Do the stories run together after a while? What truly sets one novel apart from another?
Curious minds want to know.