Palatable Writing-to-the-Market Advice

Recently I joined a book group to read about the craft of writing and have discussion. Two of the four books we’ve read so far did not inspire me. They told me things I feel I’m already good at, that I’ve refined over the writing of five books, written as though the reader could not have started writing yet. I’m not sure what bugs me about that; partly that it feels like advice that can’t be given and really absorbed. One has to hone the feel of sustaining tension, creating the right kind of conflict, character development and deep motivation. One book that I valued very much I already posted about. Now, just in the Foreword of the fourth, the author is achieving something appealing. It probably helps that she’s Canadian *grin*. She’s had many best sellers, apparently. I don’t think her genre would be to my taste–military hunks and the like–but her down-to-earth tone in this how-to book is. It’s about “Building a Marketable Genre Fiction Series.” Normally I steer clear of words like marketable. But I admit the title “Romance Your Brand” intrigued me.

Zoe York is going to explain how she plans a series; she’s planned ten. Words like “Write the most commercial story of your heart” (attributed to Bree Bridges) kind of speaks to me (in case I ever want to retire from teaching). I’ve pursued online classes providing this type of advice and couldn’t relate. I can’t think of my writing that way, as commercial, marketable. I just want people to like it, enjoy it. However, if someone can really get through to me, helping with painful aspects of publishing, such as blurb writing, I might sign up.

I like York’s honesty. “Publishing is a brutal business … it’s not a meritocracy.” You need to be tough to survive, believe in yourself, trust your gut, see through smoke and mirrors, find your own path.

Here’s a nice tid bit: “The best book you’ll write is way down the road.” That thought, as York says, gives forward momentum. And series of five or more books do well, which I didn’t know, though I like them myself; if I’m going to commit heart and soul to characters, and worlds, I want them to go on. York also says a series does better over time. That’d be good.

Zoe says, “I don’t believe in trying to write hits. I believe in writing about the characters that clamour loud in my head, the stories that make me zing with excitement.” She has me there. I may check in with another blog post about this book down the road, as I continue reading. We’ll see! Though I shared her advice here, what made me write about this book curiosity to parse out how she achieved approachability.

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