Sunday, April 26, 2009

Storymaker Conference and Me

Just got back from the Storymaker Conference in Provo where I met with an editor from Tor. She said my writing was original, and encouraged me to keep it up. She also said that she thought I could make a living at it.
Now that's what I like to hear.
The only thing that didn't really make sense was when she said I shouldn't worry about getting published right now. When I asked why not? She said it could put me in a niche that would be hard to break out of. I don't really get it. Why would I want to break out of a niche doing something I love to do?
I'm sure she meant well.


  1. I think she was talking about "branding" and "marketing". When you publish a book, like, say, Bone Warriors, it fits into a genre category. Your readers immediately identify you with that genre. Would you trust a romance written by John Grisham? Or a fantasy written by Jane Austen? Probably not. So when you decide to switch from the Bone Warriors genre to another genre, you will turn off a lot of your readers. They expected another Bone Warrior genre novel and you gave them Pride and Prejudice. Your publisher will resist the move. They'll warn you sales will go down. They'll try to convince you not to do it. They may even reject the manuscript because they fear turning off their readers. What they're telling you is that they've invested some money in your name. And, just like Jane Austen or John Grisham, that name comes with some quantifiably important market analyzed risks and returns. You're essentially bucking the system and your publisher will freak out. So, just because you decide you can write anything, or you have many interests in multiple topics, or genres or cool stories, doesn't mean the publisher-reader-retail-market-complex is going to support your whims.

    What Ms. Tor is really telling you, is if you publish now and create a growing genre-specific audience with expectations on your reading, you'll have to move heaven and hell to re-market your work and YOUR NAME. Making the switch isn't as easy as having an inventive idea for a story. It requires capital investment of which you, likely, have very little and which your publisher will likely not be willing to invest unless they believe the risk will bring them a good return.

    Ms. Tor was also likely telling you that you're young enough, with all sorts of experiences ahead of you that will shape your ideas about politics, society, heaven, faith, love, hope, adventure, war, peace, romance, x-games, height, shortness, time-travel, spirituality, kindness, anger, evil, good, among other things, that you don't want to write yourself into a marketing corner, only to find out that you thought you were a "coming of age" youth odessy storyteller, only to find out that what you really want to write are mystery suspence dramas with a political overtone.

    Or you could just start over with a pen name.

    Good luck.

  2. Ohhhh, now I see! Thanks for taking the time to explain it!