Nathan Bransford, Author


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Harry Potter is Not Walking Through That Door

Digression. A few years back, the Boston Celtics were really bad. Their star trio Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish had retired, former Kentucky coach Rick Pitino had taken over as coach/GM, and... they were really really bad. But people in Boston still had all these high expectations for the team, and Pitino was fed up with people thinking the Celtics were going to be as good as the old glory days. So at a press conference he blew up on the media and gave a famous rant about how "Larry Bird is not walking through that door, fans. Kevin McHale is not walking through that door and Robert Parish is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through the door they're going to be gray and old." (clip below in all its awesomeness)

Well, I have something to say to aspiring authors out there: Harry Potter is not walking through that door.

I've been getting SO many queries lately talking about the "void" left by the end of the HARRY POTTER series. Inevitably these are queries from children's fantasy writers with varying degrees of similarity to Harry Potter, who feel that people who are no longer buying HARRY POTTER books are pooling their money to spend on the next children's fantasy book featuring wizards.

Yes, to be sure, in the publishing industry we're all wondering and placing bets on what the next "next big thing" is going to be. But when has the "next big thing" ever been like the last big thing?

Aspiring authors do themselves such a disservice by trying to follow the publishing trends or trying to model their book on the ones that have been successful in the past. Trust me -- Harry Potter is not walking through that door, THE DA VINCI CODE is not walking through that door and THE LOVELY BONES is not walking through that door. The next huge hit is not going to resemble the hits of the past.

The best thing to do is what J.K. Rowling did: she wrote a great book that was fresh and original and not at all trying to mimic what was popular at the time.







61 comments:

Erik said...

There are many things I simply don't understand about the publishing industry, but the most bizarre thing in my mind are people who appear to want nothing more than to be rich and/or famous.

There are many far better ways to earn a living, and far more likely ways to become rich. I can't imagine why anyone would want to be "famous". But more than anything, I can't see for the life of me why anyone would want to write something that's already been written.

While I gradually grew tired of the overt Anglicanism in Potter, at least he setting was original. I'll give her that. I don't expect a book to be particularly enlightening or deep, but it should something I haven't thought of before at a minimum.

I dunno. I can only imagine what it's like to get bazillions of queries along the lines of "This is the next ...", which can only be described as an attempt at running a con on you. Might as well believe you have a previously unknown wealthy relative in Nigeria who just kicked the bucket.

LurkerMonkey said...

Agreed ... BUT isn't there undeniably a void left in the YA market? And it's not just HP; it's also Artemis Fowl and Lemony Snicket and Cornelius Funke and even Christopher Paolini. The last decade or so of YA has been great, but it seems there is a lull at the moment of commanding series, other than the Stephanie Meyers series. And all due respect to the awesomeness of her books, I don't know any boys who are reading them. So while I agree that the next big thing in kid's books probably won't be a boy wizard, don't you think there's a "next big thing" gap going on?

Nathan Bransford said...

LurkerMonkey-

I don't know -- the Stephenie Meyer series is pretty huge, I wouldn't downplay that as the current "next big thing" of the moment. But these types of smash hits also don't come along in predictable intervals. They're pretty random, and what strikes people in the new NBT isn't usually what struck them in the last one.

Anonymous said...

Um, Stephenie Meyer just walked through that door. Her fourth in the series will have a midnight release on August 2. It's all the kids talk about. Her books have been #1 on the NYT bestseller list and have sold in over 30 countries. The movie will be released in December -- and she's coming out with an adult novel this spring. Sigh...

While I agree that it's wholly inappropriate (read, creepy) for writers to pitch themselves as the next big thing, the truth is there will always be a Next Big Thing. It's okay to silently hope you're it.

Nathan Bransford said...

anon-

Agreed. Believe it or not, very, very few queriers compare their books to Stephenie Meyer's. I give them six months before the comparisons start.

Adaora A. said...

Everyone wants to tout themselves as the next best in the void of a widespread phenomenon that is the worldwide bestseller.

I remember watching a documentary on the actors who are in the movies (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson), and they mentioned how her book constantly kept being put in the 'slush pile." I'm not so sure you have one since you use only email and you reply so quickly. Your good for our nerves.

Nathan it is definetly only a matter of time. I think The Twilight books are number on the list and Deathly Hallows (last HP book) is number two.

By the way, have you read Oprahs Next book club selection A NEW EARTH by Eckhart Tolle. It's a version of "The Secret?" Perhaps you should dream up your dream client who will come along and knock you socks off.

Luc2 said...

There's a cycle to everything. Look at the Celtics now. No Bird, Parish and McHale, but they're going strong with a new threesome.

In writing, the same will occur. Trends will shift, but some things will come back, or keep going strong (like romance). Just write what you like, not what you think will fit the market.

And to stick with the NBA simile, i don't have to be a Larry Bird of writing, I'd be content as a Scott Wedman (one 'perfect' book) or Rick Carlisle.

LurkerMonkey said...

I'm definitely not trying to downplay the Twilight series ... Meyer is the NBT of the moment. No question. My only point with her is that boys generally don't read them, unlike the other series I mentioned. I know, I know. By seventh grade, most boys aren't reading anyway, but still ... Also, I guess it's the difference between the actual NBT and publishers' desperately hoping to find the NBT. No one really knows when/where/whatever it will be, but I can only imagine that publishers are looking like mad to hit the YA sweet spot right now because there's some room up there, and the last decade showed there's real money to be made with good YA books.

Anyway, I totally think you're right in the end. The only thing to do as a writer is to plunk your butt in a chair, write the book you are moved to write, then work it over endlessly, endlessly, endlessly. There's just no quarter in trying to game the market. Frankly, I think even most editors have a pretty lousy track record at that--the publishing industry seems continually surprised by its own success stories.

colbymarshall said...

And let's face it...the Harry Potter phenomenon was (and is) a craze of the type that hadn't come along in a LONG time (if ever), so we shouldn't expect another like it any time soon. There will be always big books, but Harry Potter was bigger than most big books ever think about being. Who could've known?

Mark Terry said...

Amen, brother.

I have a theory. This theory has nothing to do with publishing, per se, although it maybe says a lot about publishing. But the theory is that every few years--10?--a book comes along that captures the public's imagination and/or attention in a way that has only so much to do with the book and a hell of a lot to do with whatever subterranean currents are going on in society at the time. Word of mouth builds and the book and/or books become supernovas that have little or nothing to do with day-in-and-day-out publishing.

For instance:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. (If this had been a one-up, would her next book have been as successful? Hmmm.)

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (Frankly, I like all his books okay, but I liked Angels & Demons better).

In The Garden of Good and Evil by ????

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

The Firm by John Grisham

I'm sure if you scoured old PWs or NYTBS lists, you'd fine one every few years, that bestselling book that nobody in publishing expected to do well but did something completely unexpected and rode the bestseller lists for weeks and weeks and months and months.

Sure, you can ride their coattails--God knows there's a whole stable of Da Vinci Clones and a whole racetrack filled with bestselling thriller authors whose thrillers suddenly started adding elements of historical religious mythology to their books with varying results, but nobody's going to be predicting "the next Harry Potter."

If they could, they would, right?

Dave F. said...

I've been buying books for a 12 (now 13) year old, an 8 year old and a 6 year old. The market for kids books is rich and varied and FLOODED. I haven't even touched half of the available books for those three age groups. Nor have I explored the "late teen" YA group. I never even touched Lemony Snickert or anything supernatural.

So what's the next Harry Potter? I don't know but I can tell you that I haven't seen it yet.

Another thing I know, is that I am not good enough to write a story that long or that involved. I just not that good. So I am not going to try. I will write what I enjoy and what I write well. That's the job of an author, isn't it? Write what you enjoy?

Dave F. said...

In The Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt.

And it's one book. His second book was nowhere near as good or interesting. (City of Falling Angels).

Tom Burchfield said...

While I'm striving to write a book that I hope will be some kind of bestseller, I never forget that I'm also striving to write a book that *I* would want to read if I saw it on the shelf. In my case, this is a supernatural thriller with (I believe) a setting and approach I haven't seen anywhere else in my wide reading of the genre. But it could be a YA novel, an international espionage thriller, or a realistic social novel . . . but it's still the kind of book I want to read, and, once it's out there in the world (and completely out of my control), the kind of book thatlots and lots of people also want to read. Even those who may not normally read that kind of book.

I'm not gaming the marketplace--the Ultimate Fool's Errand; JK Rowling's success was likely as stunning to her as it was to everyone else; she may have been only hoping to ease the poverty she was living in at the time. In the end, my own effort may make it no further than a fine small press (like Night Shade Books in San Francisco), but it won't be because I didn't try my level best for the readers--which is *not* the same thing as writing for the marketplace.

I follow my muse, respect my readers, work hard and pray for luck. The same luck I wish to all of you.

Paprikapink said...

That is a great clip! I'd just add that Elvis Presley isn't gonna come walking through that door, and if he did, ewww, he would look bad!

Bija Andrew said...

I find it a little weird when readers and especially writers act like the entire publishing industry is about Harry Potter. As in most fields, blockbusters are the exception, not the norm. Even if there isn't one book right now that has everyone running for the Borders, there still are plenty of books out there for readers of all ages. If someone thinks there's a void left by Harry Potter, I almost have to ask... have you been to a bookstore in the last six months? There are still lots of books there.

Anonymous said...

Okay,okay, I humbly volunteer to be the NBT if everyone will please be patient. Give me a year or two to get my First. Book. Published. and then I'll be happy to offer myself up to the madding hordes of adoring fans.
thankyouverymuch.

Susan

benwah said...

I can't comment on the YA market so much, since I think the last such series I read were "The Great Brain" books by John Fitzgerald. (Which I'm sure my folks regret buying for me, since they brought my school-skipping to a new level.)

But my current fiction work in progress takes place in Boston. Plenty of readers have said to me, "That's great! Boston's so hot right now" with Lehane, "The Departed," etc. etc.

Except.

That's not at all why my MS takes place in Boston. It's where I live. I like the city and it's part of the story. That's it. I'm not at all trying to catch a wave of popularity. I think trying to cash in on TNBT (an acronym frightfully similar to a regretable Boston export, TNKTB), is a fool's errand. Write what you love. It's easier than trying to predict the market.

Nathan, great Pitino clip. I'll offer another quote of his, which might suit the anonymi recently disgruntled by the contest results.

"All the negativity in this town sucks."

Redzilla said...

Great post, Nathan. Plenty of people are even tired (gasp!) of all the HP hoopla and truly ready for the next new thing.

Erik said...

adora sed:
>Everyone wants to tout themselves as
>the next best in the void of a
>widespread phenomenon that is the
>worldwide bestseller.

I don't.

I really don't see why people would do that unless they are seeking fame or fortune through this particular industry.

If you're into the material aspects, well, there are better ways to do it. If you're into fame, well, I'm never going to understand why people would voluntarily chum the waters and then swim with sharks.

So no, not everyone wants to do that. Some of us enjoy writing and do it only because we think we have something to say. Whether or not it's "popular" is utterly beside the point.

Chro said...

Bija - From what I've heard on agents' blogs, the publishing industry IS focused on the bestsellers. Supposedly a book needs to sell 20,000 copies for the publisher to break even, and most books don't even sell a tenth of that. Publishers make their money off the blockbusters and the bestsellers, while the mid-list authors are lucky to break even. The publishing industry is one massive search for the next big thing, which is why so many authors pitch that they are exactly that. They're usually deluded of course, but that's another matter entirely.

brian_ohio said...

Sounds like a contest. "Who's going to be walking through the door?"

You're do, Nathan. It's been a while since your last one...

Go Yau-Man!!!!

r.c. said...

I agree with Dave f., as I too buy a ton of books for kids in that age range - there is an abundance of fantastic stuff there.

Rewriting or incorporating Greek Mythology, Fairy Tales, etc., has been big for a while. Rick Riordan's Lightening Thief series is hugely popular with boys, but it doesn't really carry over to adults like the HP books did.

My boys love humor and it's harder to find than adventure and fantasy. As a consumer, that's an area I'd like to see more of - quality humor. Is there such a thing for MG readers?

"When has the NBT ever been like that last big thing." - you nailed it there.

Anonymous said...

I don't care about fantasy books and have never read HP, but I'd settle for being the next John Green.

Or does being the Next Big Thing only count for Fantasy, Sci Fi?

Why do the Fantasy books always get all the acclaim and cash? Do you ever picture an author of comtemporary YA books having a chance at being the Next Big Thing?

Roxan said...

I don't write because I plan on it making me rich. I write because I like to write. If I ever get published-great, if not, I'll survive and keep doing what I love.

I refuse to acknowledge any sports team that doesn't know how to pronounce its own name. :P

JaxPop said...

Another thought provoking post Nathan. I would like to know what motivated many of your loyal blog followers to begin writing in the first place - (published or unpublished). Was the goal to be rich & famous? Looking to find & cash in on the NBT? What was the jumping off point? I think it might be a good topic for a future post (no offense - not trying to tell you your business). It would be great if there was some elaboration on the why, when & where. You have some very insightful participants here. If you've already done this - my bad. I discovered your blog last summer. Thanks

Nadine said...

Great post Nathan.

I find it interesting when authors are always trying to fill a niche or void they see in the market.

I write because I love to write. And I write the type of books that I would like to read.

Vinnie Sorce said...

Is being inspired by an author and her characters the same as mimicing?

Adaora A. said...

@Erik- Neither do I. It's an expression of speech. I suppose if I wanted to make it clearer I would have said "many books coming out these days are touting themselves as the next big thing in their genre. A sort of tip of the hat to their predicessor. The Next DaVinci Code, the next Harry Potter, The Next Generation of Chicklit following Sophie Kinsella's Shoppaholic series (my fav is the first, I also love 'Can You Keep a Secret?')." That is what I mean. I don't understand how you would think I meant myself. Considering I tend to not want to write what everyone is writing, and considering I'm not even published yet. Humblest apologies if I offended your upright moral fibre.

Adaora A. said...

@erik- I actually do have a Nigerian relative who has died. Several. Cause I'm Nigerian American Canadian. Ibgo to be exact.

Kedu!

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jessica said...

I will miss the Harry Potter stories! Though I'm sure it would have felt over stretched if she kept going. JK Rowling!

Jessica said...

For some reason most of my comment disappeared.

Tammie said...

I have to admit, I don't read YA, but I have to say with the incredibly SLOW process this industry can take (okay maybe a few over nighters) I would think you wouldn't know your work was the next big thing until you'd moved onto something else?

On a side note: Nathan did you read Kristen Nelson's blog post the other day about using the Kindle to help read partials and manuscripts? Couldn't help but think of you and wonder if you'd do the same?

Tammie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nathan Bransford said...

Tammie-

I did see her post, and I'd definitely like to get on board with an e-reader, but I just can't get over the idea of paying to read my own files! Even if it is just 10 cents a pop. Doesn't seem right. Meanwhile, the Sony Reader isn't Mac compatible.

I'm in watch and wait mode.

Tammie said...

wanda bontheshelves - great point on the state of the nation playing into the creative process.

Didn't we see super hereo movies after 9/11? You're right, people want to escape trama and war.

Not sure I agree with you on the seizmic shift of the white house though :o)

lynne said...

Probably the scariest thing about all the query letters from the writers who say that their book is filling the Harry Potter void, is that it shows that those writers aren't reading anything about writing. Just doing a little research about how to query an agent would tell a person that trying to promote themselves as The Next J.K. Rowling or The Next Dr. Seuss will just annoy an agent enough to toss their manuscript into the trash can.

Erik said...

adora:

It's not a matter of morality, especially since I don't believe in morality. It's a rather practical matter as far as I'm concerned.

I came here to understand more about the publishing industry, and I've come to appreciate what agents do greatly. I have Nathan to thank for that. But what I can't understand is why people accept the same, old same-old from our own culture. Do people honestly think that fortune comes from following the instructions or trends, or indeed that happiness comes from fame?

There is a general belief in our North American lands (I'll include Canada in this, call me wrong if you want) that the things I question so strongly are in fact true. Yet I see no evidence that they are.

That gets us back to why people write. To be the next JK Rowling? What is the point of that, especially in light of the obvious fact that JK Rowling never saw herself in the place she is now?

Somewhere in here is the basic question of why people read, and that's a bit more essential to those who are chasing these mass audiences. I would hope they would understand the need to at least ask the question periodically if they hope to have many readers.

Sadly, little of this is ever asked in the jostle of daily life as people go through the script that they think will get them what they need. Yet, as writers, if we can't get the bigger picture of it I have to wonder why anyone would bother to read what we have to say - if we're just swimming along the same as anyone else it seems unlikely we'll have much to say that illuminates anyone's life. There's always entertainment, but that's about it.

Do you see what I mean? This isn't a moral issue, it's a very practical one. A strong half-step back from all the noise might make the tune a little easier to hear.

Adrienne said...

Well put, Nathan.

Hmm . . . usually I have much more to say than that. . .

Nope.

Well put.

Adaora A. said...

Some people to believe the same old works just fine. In many cases it does. Look at the current adminstration. It's like Painting bright colours over a burnt, decrepid building instead of tearing it down and rebuilding to make it better.

People do believe things blindly in both US (where I was born BTW) and Canada. It's sickness that has no anecdote unfortunately.

That reminds me, Nathan I wanted to ask what you thought of New York Times Book Reviewer, Dave Itzkoff review of Un Lun Dun by China MiƩville and Neil Gaiman's Interworld. Excerpt:


"As someone whose subway rides tend to resemble scenes from an “Evil Dead” movie, in which I am Bruce Campbell dodging zombies who have had all traces of their humanity sucked out of them by a sinister book — not the “Necronomicon,” but “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” — I sometimes wonder how any self-respecting author of speculative fiction can find fulfillment in writing novels for young readers. I suppose J. K. Rowling could give me 1.12 billion reasons in favor of it: get your formula just right and you can enjoy worldwide sales, film and television options, vibrating-toy-broom licensing fees, Chinese-language bootlegs of your work, a kind of limited immortality (L. Frank Baum who?) and — finally — genuine grown-up readers. But where’s the artistic satisfaction? Where’s the dignity?"

Thoughts?

I think I almost fell off my chair and laughed out loud - right in the middle of uni lecture.

Stella said...

Man, I'd just like to write a really good novel. I don't care about being famous. Fame is a double-edged sword.

Heidi the Hick said...

I am not the next big thing. I have no illusions. Also I'm 5'1" and even being big metaphorically makes sense to me...

Do I want to make money from writing books? Damn right I do. No lying there. I'd like to be financially compensated for all these hours I've sat and typed and thunk and read and edited and circled and scribbled and typed... and cried... and worked away at this thing I call a book.

Do I want fame? Not really. Just enough for people to recognize my name as a writer and wonder when I'm putting another book out. I'd love that. I think anybody who intends to make a living from writing fiction needs to have at least that much visibility.

I'd like to make just enough money to feed my kids and my critters and to take some stress of my husband. Wouldn't that be nice?

I know I'm not the next big thing because my book(s) are not to everybody's taste. In fact, a fellow blog commenter here did a review of my first page, from that little contest we had. He read the whole page, but it wasn't his thing. No surprise to me! It's rare that a book appeals to such a wide variety of readers. Rowling did it. Not all of us will.

Heidi the Hick said...

whoops-

"I am not the next big thing. I have no illusions. Also I'm 5'1" and even being big metaphorically makes sense to me..."

I meant to say, being big makes NO sense to me!

Also, I agree with Stella's comment!

Steph Leite said...

Nathan - do you have an iPod? You can make reader files on there, depending on which generation yours is.

Linda said...

Great post, Nathan (for one so young you have such wisdom)... Write what you love, love what you write. If nothing else, it brings you joy. Peace...

NotHarryPotter said...

Nathan, of course the next Harry Potter isn't going to walk through the door. Why would he do that, when he can FLY?! ;)

I think a lot of the writers are just saying they're the next Harry Potter because they think that's what you want to hear (some of them, at least). Don't be too hard on them!

I like reading your blog, and all the passionate discussions in the comments section. :)

Adaora A. said...

Heidi we're the total opposite. We both live in the Ontario area but you're 5'1 and I'm 5'9 and 3/4!
How lovely.

Rebekah said...

Writers always have believed their finished product is fantastic--or I hope they would before trying to submit it. Now they include that their work is the next Potter. I can't help but wonder if the "The Next Harry Potter" is a product of a widespread perception of the publishing business.

There's a huge perception out there that agents/publishers don't want excellent books--they want a product that will sell. Harry Potter is the pinnacle of literary financial success. Perhaps many young authors include it because they think that's what the receiver wants?

And if so, how do you think we can fix this? (Although I meant fixing the perception, I realized the statement could be interpreted as true about publishing. I've decided to leave it subjective ^^)

Anonymous said...

"Chro said...
Bija - From what I've heard on agents' blogs, the publishing industry IS focused on the bestsellers. Supposedly a book needs to sell 20,000 copies for the publisher to break even, and most books don't even sell a tenth of that. Publishers make their money off the blockbusters and the bestsellers, while the mid-list authors are lucky to break even..."

Of course publishers are focused on the next bestseller. This is, after all, a business. The point is to make money.

Jay Montville said...

I guess it never occured to me to market my book as the NBT. Obviously, I care about the market and I want to know what's out there so I know which agents to pitch and what books mine might be comparable to, but the publishing industry isn't McDonald's. The reader doesn't go into a bookstore and say, "let's see ... today I want a boy wizard with a side of evil and a sprinkling of really cool gadgets, but hold the animal sidekick, please."

I mean, even if someone right now wanted exactly my book, by the time my book was (a) done, (b) agented, (c) published, and (d) actually read by someone other than my critique group and my mother, my reader would have settled for a Vampire with a Side of Sexual Frustration and wouldn't be hungry anymore.

Long post short - I write what I write. I want it to sell, and I wouldn't say no to money and fame, but I can't control that. I write what I write.

benwah said...

rebekah said: "There's a huge perception out there that agents/publishers don't want excellent books--they want a product that will sell."

Sometimes those are the same thing, sometimes not. But as a recent anonymous said, it is a business. Of course publishers want a product that will sell. Thye're out to make money, not run a charity. And not every literary masterpiece is going to appeal to the masses.

The tales of writers who toil in oblivion because publishers didn't want their literary gems probably go back as far as scratchings on wax tablets.

But nowadays, if what you really want to do is write and you think you've got an excellent book that you want the public to read, there are other options if Knopf and Viking turn you down. Websites, blogs, e-publishing are cheaper, more accessible and reach a wider audience than simple vanity presses.

Personally, I look at the struggle to get my MS picked up for publication as part of the challenge, but it's separate from the writing. WHAT I write isn't going to change.

Taylor K. said...

I'd like to totally agree with Nathan that selling your book as a clone of a best seller will not get you published, but I think the opposite can apply as well. I've read often that when someone says in their query letter something to the effect of "nothing like my book has ever been published," then that raises red flags. It's hard to sell a book to an editorial department that can't be compared to anything else.

On another note, I'm glad that many of the commenter's don't care about making money, but not caring about that is unrealistic for some writers like me. I'm a married man with bills to pay. If my wife is letting me stay at home during the day to write while she goes off to work then I better find a way to make money, or I can't really justify spending as much time writing as I do. I write because I enjoy it, but I can't keep doing it so much just based on that alone. I lack that luxury.

Marva said...

I wrote an intro to my query, which I s-canned quickly, but it sure felt good:

Most agents who handle juvenile fantasy receive hundreds of queries of the same old Harry Potter retreads, girls who discover they're really princesses, and epics indistinguishable from Tolkein. (my title)'s world is far away from Hogwarts, Euro-centric fantasy, and Middle Earth. However, it contains the themes of friendship, sacrifice, and the age-old conflict between good and evil--common characteristics of all good juvenile fiction.

What do you think, Nathan? Would this offend your average agent?

Ulysses said...

For the record: I'd like to be the next big thing. I'd also like to be famous. Rich would be nice too, and I'll throw in irresistably handsome while I'm at it.

Of course, the odds of my becoming any of those things are so small I'd have to be nuts to waste time worrying about them. (I'm reasonably tall, known to my immediate family (whether or not they choose to acknowledge it), and have enough shekels to take myself to lunch every other Friday. I am also visually unpleasant, but what are you going to do?).

As for the writing: My uncle always said, "Don't follow. Followers never see anything but the leader's a**. Find your own direction." Wise man. Crude, but wise. Followed his own advice too. Went for a walk six years ago, and nobody's seen him since.

Linda said...

In response to Taylor K... yeah, it is important in your pitch to note comps, especially those repped by your prospective agent, or published by the prospective house. And, some of us do both the 'day job' AND write; count me in as one of those fortunates who have a position than provides much of the fodder that feeds my stories. Peace...

jan said...

Well said Nathan!

I taught in the Community College system for 10 years - and I loved seeing my students go out into the world and do well for themselves. I didn't do it for fame or to make a name for myself... I did it to see them shine.

I learned that I enjoyed the curriculum development and writing aspects of the job - and really wanted to write.

I'd love to write a good novel. Not for the fame or to get rich and famous but for the satisfaction of seeing my creativity take shape.

I'm not trying to be the next anybody - just writing what comes to me. And it would make me really satisfied to see it published and have others read what I have to say.

rllgthunder said...

For what it's worth, I don't really see the influence of the HP books wearing thin with readers though. Kids, especially, like stories about magic and characters they can daydream about being like.

It's an age old formula that has worked well through the ages. As long as the idea is a fresh take, a writer can make it work. Just don't expect it to be as big, of course. But if it's a good salable story...

whatever trevor. said...

i suppose it would only seem ridiculous to assume that i have the next "big thing" but i think what kids are looking for these days, especially through personally experience of my own friends, is something realistic and not something entirely insulting, which we're getting with the fluffy YA novels of gossip girl, etc., and the epic fantasies such as eragon. kids are looking for things that they can feel, understand, comprehend, know about. but i think a lot of people are lost in this harry potter dreamworld of dragons and sorcery, a genre which i think is almost dead in its on sense. i just think people should focus on reality because it's all over with hocus pocus.

CarBeyond said...

I just read 13 Moons. I was astounded.

The writer's voice went back in time and, as archaic as it seemed at first, it took me on a journey.

I, personally, want an author to find their own path and lead me on it.

Then, my husband, who has been reading a Pynchon novel forever, read me the first line of the book (on my request). It went on for a full paragraph. I was delighted.

Run on and run away with me.

I am probably not your ordinary,
go-with-the-masses reader (although I also did read and enjoyed Harry Potter too).
I wouldn't follow my artistic inclinations for any best seller, get rich quick themes, or rules-savvy formulas.

Ah, but my inclinations do lead me down a lovely, unexpected path, and I marvel at the unique capacity for human expression.

CarBeyond said...

Of all the books our daughter read, that we read together too, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline D'Engle is possible the most enduring.
It took her a lot of rejections to get an audience.
She believed in her own words and stories.
And now, so many of us do too.
That kind of conviction makes a storyteller.

Anonymous said...

Marva,

I checked out your profile pic, and you are NOT "visually unpleasant," although that is a funny-as-hell term!

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