Friday, December 27, 2013

Why I Don't Hate the Market, Even After it Ruined My Dreams

I'm not going to pretend that my shelved book SACRED FIRE is flawless. However, the reason it didn't take off wasn't due to a flaw. Agents and betas all told me the same thing; the writing is strong, but the market isn't buying Ancient Rome.

On the one hand, it's totally unfair. You would think that every quality book should have the chance to be successful. If it's well written, people will read it, right?

On the other hand, I can't blame the market for not reading Ancient Rome. I don't read Ancient Rome either. Part of the reason I wrote Sacred Fire was that I wanted to do something from that time period that was fresh and original, something that focused on religion instead of war and politics. I've read books in that time period I really liked, but it's exhausting to read about a culture so different from our own, so I can only read so many of them.

I can't be mad at the market for not reading books I don't read, I can't be mad at editors for not publishing books that don't get read, and I can't be mad at agents for not taking on books that don't interest editors.

(Of course, if there were more Ancient Roman books I like such as Stephanie Dray and Kate Quinn, I'd probably read that time period more. Now we're getting into a chicken-or-the-egg argument.)

A friend of mine had to shelve a book that I thought was fantastic for the same reason; it was Dystopian, and people have lost interest in dystopian stories. She was able to get her next book published because it was sci-fi. 

At first I was irritated that people have lost interest in such a fascinating genre so quickly. Then I realized, I've lost interest too. I took a Utopian/Dystopian literature class in college, I read Hunger Games, and I read Matched. I might read Divergent because everyone says it's great, but for the most part, I'm not likely to pick up another Dystopian book unless it's extremely original and popular.

To sum up, it certainly sucks for writers that they need to keep up with a mass of ever-changing tastes. It takes years to write and publish a novel and much less time for a fad to go out of style. Shouldn't art speak for itself? Shouldn't quality be the only thing that matters? Isn't it cruel to turn your nose up at a good book?

But you can't force readers to buy something they don't want to read, and I can't be mad at readers for not buying something I probably wouldn't read either.

It is what it is.


  1. Sorry to hear about your book. It's always disappointing when you realize you have to shelve a book for one reason or another. I have one I loathe the idea of going through mainly because my MC needs a lot of re-tooling and I'm just not sure how to do it.

    One thing did jump out at me in your post. If you have no interest in reading books about Ancient Rome, then what prompted you to write about that time period? I love certain time periods and those are the ones I read and write in.

    1. Like I said, I planned on doing something different with the time period. The Vestal Virgins was a topic I liked. There are ancient Roman books I enjoy, but not a ton of them.

  2. This is very interesting to read! I have to admit, dystopias are my absolute, swing back that way and bring me more dystopias! :)

  3. Personally, I will read any genre as long as it's good and gripping and doesn't have totally annoying characters. I admit that I'm not really into the whole vampire thing - at least not vampire romance/etc. Because I don't find dead guys attractive, and with a romance I like to be attracted to the main guy or at least some guy in the book. :P But still, if somebody told me there was this vampire story that would blow my mind and I really had to read it, I'd be tempted to give it a go.

    In short, I'll read almost anything.

    Also, I think that if a book isn't desirable on the traditional market, self publishing should always be a viable option.

  4. How many queries did you send out? Have you considered publishing with a small press? They'll often take on books they love regardless of "market." I'm a reader who'd love to pick up a book like Sacred Fire!

  5. Thanks for the compliment! I don't plan on pursuing small presses or self publishing since the market isn't right for my book currently. I'd rather put that effort into my next book, which is set in a more popular time period. Hopefully there will be a time for Sacred Fire to shine in the future.

    1. I hope you do. That's so frustrating about the market! I like books about ancient Rome. :( But I haven't read very many, come to think of it, because I don't see them very often. Well, I'll read yours if you publish it one way or another. :) But I also think the Voodoo Queen sounds pretty sweet, and there's something to be said for keeping a book on the shelf until it comes back into style... I mean, ancient Rome. It's friggin' classical. It will become trendy again sometime.

  6. I guess the only thing to hope is that the market will swing back, and in a few years you can dust Sacred Fire off and try again. In the meantime, we all just have to keep writing, right? :)

  7. Sorry to hear you had to shelve that beautiful book. I beta read it perhaps two years ago? I really enjoyed reading it--it's one of my favorite beta reads to date. But I'm sure your current WiP will be just as compelling.

  8. The book market is a crazy thing. I'm always interested in seeing what is and isn't selling. Some of the books in genres or about places and times that I'm super interested in just don't do that well and it's completely puzzling to me!


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