Thursday, November 6, 2008

Choosing a direction

I have always been, for better or worse, a writer in diverse genres. My first trilogy was science fantasy. My next four books were social science fiction (my first choice, somewhat out of favor with the buying public these days). Next came a young adult science fantasy in the world of my first trilogy. My next three books were pure fantasy, the Toby Bishop Horsemistress Saga. My story collection, Absalom's Mother, followed. Now I've turned in what I suppose could be called a dark historical. And I have to decide what's next.

This variety of genres might seem like a good thing, but it has its problems. The biggest issue, of course, is marketing. Will readers follow me as I tread these various paths? Some do. But readers, and book buyers, famously want "more of the same". My first trilogy, The Singers of Nevya, had a solid following among people who like musical fantasy. They were delighted when Singer in the Snow appeared. My tragedy, The Terrorists of Irustan, had a following, too, and made a nice ripple in the publishing pond when it came out. But it's a unique story, and can't be followed by anything similar.

So here I am with this checkered publishing past, and I don't know . . . fantasy? SF? (No. Not selling today.) Another musical, historical book? Oh, I do hope so. But as a working writer, this decision has to be made with practical considerations in mind. I do need to get paid!

All input properly appreciated and processed, my friends!


Kate said...

I don't really have any good advice unfortunately, but I hope you figure it out soon!

I wanted to let you know I nominated this blog as a whole for an "I Love Your Blog" award. The info is on my blog - it's a pass-around award. I've really been enjoying the Mad Genius Club, thanks for starting it up!

Pati Nagle said...

What's selling best for you? If you love writing that, I'd stick with it as long as possible.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Hi Louise,

Have you had lots of emails from readers on one particular series? Did it strike a chord with people? Was it a series that, as you wrote, you fell in love with the world and characters?

Could you spend another (?) years living in that world with those people, going through what they go through as you write another series set there?

Cheers, R

Dave Freer said...

I must admit it's a relief for me to change genre-tropes (I do hard-sf/social satire, social-satire/humor/space opera, Alternate history/fantasy, space opera, and now some zelazny-ish fantasy/with sf cross-over. As you can gather I just don't stick within well defined lines too well). I invest so intensely in the one I'm busy with that I need to change to avoid burnout on it. They all sell OK, although the alt-history/fantasy best (inevitable. It's the hardest, longest, and least well-paying per word for me). If this affects you the same way then I'd suggest as big a change as possible. There IS a surprisingly large crossover of readers, IMO. And trend guessing (everyone tries) is a waste of time - the lag with writing and publishing makes you after it, mostly.

Louise Marley said...

I couldn't agree more that trend guessing is pointless. Also not very satisfying from an artistic standpoint.

I think we have a general consensus here that we need to enjoy what we write! Sales are great, and they affect our decisions, but fortunately, they're not the only determinate.

I'll be pondering this in the weeks to come. And probably indulging in the story that most lights my fire!