Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Pitfalls of Writing To Market

I’ll admit to feeling rather bummed about writing today.

It’s not from of a lack of writing progress. I was pretty darn productive this weekend, making significantly more progress than I expected. And if that wasn’t enough reason to be happy, I’ve attended two critique groups and one SCBWI meeting during the last two weeks, all of which usually psych me up for writing.

No, I’m down because I came across the website of a book marketing guru, one of those people who make their money telling us how to market our books. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but this guy was explaining the concept of writing to market, which basically means picking a hot genre and writing stories in that genre as quickly as you can,.

So he set himself a challenge to write (and supposedly edit) a book in a ridiculously short amount of time—I won’t say how long, but it’s shorter than the time it takes me to finish a chapter for my critique group—and then launch it using his marketing techniques. Needless to say, his book is doing pretty well. I was shocked that anyone could write and edit a book so quickly, so I peeked at his first chapter on Amazon.

OMG! It read like fan fiction written by a high school student. (Not that there’s anything wrong with being a high school student) The sentences were overly simplistic, the dialogue was cringe-worthy, and the characters (supposedly trained military personnel) acted like a bunch of squabbling kindergartners. I don’t consider my prose to be particularly good, but even I would have been embarrassed to show these words to my critique group, let alone the public.

And yet the book seems to be doing quite well, which means either the readers of this genre are scarily desperate for anything they can get their hands on, or this guy’s book marketing tricks are capable of selling anything. Has the bar really been set that low? Makes me wonder if I’m wasting my time trying to create a well-crafted story. Maybe I should jump into a hot genre and write as fast as I can too. Heck I wouldn’t even have to attend critique group meetings any more.

The money’s tempting, but that’s not why I got into writing in the first place. I want to write words that make me proud to be a writer, not something I threw together during NaNo and uploaded the next day.

Oh well.  Perhaps I just need to read a few well written books and all will be well again with the world.

ChemistKen


17 comments:

  1. Some genres and trends don't require as much quality I guess. (Look at Fifty Shades of Gray.) I still rather write what I enjoy and am good at than trying to cash in by writing something just to sell.

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  2. Sadly some people do make money that way. Look at John Locke's books. He massed produced a lot of average books, paid for reviews, and hooked a lot of people. It's good to be aware of the market, but for most, writing to it means you'll miss the boat by the time your manuscript is ready.

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  3. I've heard of people doing that, writing in the popular genre. Marketing will get a person a long way. I suppose I'm an odd duck. I didn't get into writing to sell books, nor have I ever strove to be successful. I just want to freaking finish my series with Derek and maybe share it with a few people.

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  4. You touched on one of my sorest spots, Ken. I started to read a "best selling" book the other day and wound up hurling it across the room. In the first chapter there were two run-on sentences, a typo, and three verbs used incorrectly--splice to mean cut in two pieces was one. Then the prose reminded me of middle school poor writers. I'm sorry, but please don't pass off #!$!! as best selling material.

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  5. I often feel this way when I see what sells. "There's no accounting for taste" as the saying goes. Some genres do seem to have avid readers who will pick up almost anything. And in many cases the reading public simply isn't all that discerning. I'm learning in a lot of cases they want plot rather than craft or character. Too bad I'm a character writer... Maybe this explains why my work hasn't done better. I honestly don't know.

    Then again, as you say, it could all come down to marketing. You can write something really great but if you can't find the audience and/or they can't find you... So far I've struck out where marketing is concerned. Or maybe I really am a bad writer! :/

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  6. I agree. I have several books I have recently purchased and They are New York Times best seller books. Sigh. I can't get into them. The characters don't pop off the page. Do what you want the world to see :)

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  7. I never write to market. I just write what I want to write. The market changes with trends anyway. Most of the books that get big hype are huge downers for me. I don't like them. At all.

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  8. Yikes! I'm with you. I'd much rather be proud that rich off something that makes me cringe. I'm willing to take the time I need until I feel good about what I'm putting out there. So far that means I haven't pubbed yet, but I'm okay with that too!

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  9. Don't get suckered in. He may be great at marketing, BUT if the book is as bad as you say his reputation is in the toilet. Write what you love and your fans will never get enough of you. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  10. Books like that get me down, too. I can't say my first novels have perfect prose - I made plenty of mistakes - but I've read plenty of books that seem to have higher sales rates than mine that are much worse in grammar, character development, and plot arc. My youngest daughter has brought home books from the library that led her to announce to me that my writing is way better - which is a sweet ego boost and a heartbreak at the same time. My next fiction book is going directly to an agent or a small press with a good reputation. Even my one novella through a tiny, no-name press is selling better than my self-pubbed titles. I really suck at self-promotion and even if the publishers don't do a lot in that area, ideas and backing could help.
    BTW - write what you want to write. Write the best book you can. Enjoy the process. Think Tolkien. (Remember, LOTR took 10 years and it's been beloved ever since.) You're the next Tolkien not the next "get-rich-quick" guy.

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  11. I think quality matters. It also tells readers they can trust you to deliver on the promise the story. In my mind a book in some ways represents the authors. The ones I keep reading are the ones that give care about their stories and you can tell in the writing. IMHO, lol.
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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  12. And you thought readers were picky? LOL. Nah, they definitely aren't always picky, depending on the genre. I have to deal with this regularly as I write YA fantasy, etc. and every other book is a re-telling of Twilight. Those readers simply don't notice how low the quality of the writing and story are, or don't care. They want to be tantalized and that's enough for them. Other readers do care, so you just have to know your audience.

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  13. I totally get that. See, I view my books as not only my work, but a legacy for my kidlets. I don't want them to ever be embarrassed about something their Mom put out, and yes, they do read my stuff, so...

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  14. I agree with Crystal - I'd never want to put out something that my friends and family would cringe to know I'd written.

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  15. I don't know. Maybe I could do that kind of rush job, and do it in whatever genre happens to be hot at the moment, but that sounds like an easy way to burn yourself out. Not worth doing, in my opinion, even if it is profitable in the short-term.

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  16. For the time being, writing is a passion for me and not something I see myself doing professionally. Would it be fun? Absolutely, but not something for me for the time being.

    www.ficklemillennial.com

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