Sunday, April 26, 2009

Write What You Want

Two posts over the last week or so have me thinking about my writing. I'm worried about how it will sell. Not worried in a hand wringing sort of fashion, but concerned.

First, there was a post on Karen Knows Best about whether traditional romance readers were ready for lesbian romances. The other post, over at The Galaxy Express, posed the question about publishers being "ashamed" of the science fiction romance subgenre. Can you guess why I'm a little concerned? Yep, Bad Girl, the manuscript I'm currently peddling, is a science fiction romance (or SF with romantic elements, depending on how you see these things) that has a relationship between two women. If the commentary/information regarding the desire for and treatment of F/F romances and SFR are any indication, I may be out of luck.

Marketing for the subgenres separately is tough. I know. It's very possible I'm setting myself up for a lot of rejection and frustration. I know. Publishing for a newbie in ANY genre is tough. I know.

But you know what? It's the story I wanted to write. It's the story that made me think about love and sacrifice. About who we are, who we're meant to be, and who we're meant to be with. There are good guys who aren't really all that good, and bad guys who aren't all bad. There's betrayal and emotional abandonment, forgiveness and redemption. While I was writing, the setting on another planet, in a future time, made it fun. As the relationship between my two heroines began to develop, it made me think. Not about how I'd market this story, but how I could make it the best possible story I could write.

Now that Bad Girl is seeking a home, I do consider the marketability of a F/F SFR (I take my career, such as it is, as seriously as the next writer.). One of my crit partners has warned me that it will be a tough sell. She kindly recommends that my next WIP be more marketable because she wants to see me published. I love her and appreciate her concern, and the current WIP is more "traditional". But even if Bad Girl doesn't get any further than my hard drive, it's a book that wanted to be written, and I'm really glad I wrote it.



At 10:16 AM, Blogger Heather Massey said...

That's why God invented Samhain Publishing.

I think it's worth testing the NY waters with your story (goodness knows *I'd* like to read it) but yeah, it might be a tough sell. If an agent like Deidre Knight can't sell her m/m to a mainstream print publisher, then other agents might not be able to, either.

But you might have better luck with SF imprints than romance publishers. How you present the query letter and how much SF elements are in the story might make a difference in that respect.

Best of luck and fingers crossed for you! (And thanks for the linkage).

At 10:44 AM, Blogger Cathy in AK said...

Hi Heather. Yes, Samhain is one of the houses high on my list, but even they are saying F/F isn't moving much. Oh well. And yes, I'll hit NY too, even if it gets me nowhere. Might as well try, right?

Right now, Bad Girl is subbed at agents. I'm hoping to get picked up and have THEM decide how to couch the SF/SFR aspect. When/if it all happens, I'll send you a copy : )

Thanks for stopping by!

At 9:01 AM, Blogger Sierra Donovan said...


Oh, I hear you on this one! My third book was the "book of my heart" and it still hasn't sold. I wrote it knowing there wasn't a clearly defined market for it at the time ... but I'm still glad I wrote it.

I also agree with your crit partner on Step 2: making the next project something a little more marketable. Bucking the odds is fine if it's really a matter of the heart, but I'm not a glutton for punishment!

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Cathy in AK said...

Hi Sierra,

Yeah, I'm following my crit partner's advice. Well, at least I'm trying. My WIP is a SFR, but has a M/F relationship this time ; ) I can't seem to write a straight, contemporary romance. There just has to be something...other worldly or some such tossed in there. Which is fine, but I still have to find the right elements to sell it.

While I've never been one to "write to the market" I don't want to keep beating my head against the wall either. And as with any book, I have to *want* to write it, whether it's a bit off the beaten track or more mainstream.

I hope your third book finds a home!

At 10:35 AM, Blogger Writer and Cat said...

If Sierra's third book is the one I'm thinking about, I love it as much as I love Bad Girl :). Seems like the ones we love best (like my Bad Apple) are the ones that nobody wants--but that people we con into actually reading it love.

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Cathy in AK said...

Gotta love our mutal admiration society. All we have to do now is con other people into our elite little clique : )

At 9:43 AM, Blogger Brenda ND said...

I think there are lots of books that don't quite fit and then they become huge sellers like Lovely Bones or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. For myself, I try to write more than I worry. Which reminds me, I'd best be getting back to the writing.

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Cathy in AK said...

That's what gives me hope, Brenda, that at some point publishers and readers will have their lightbulb moment and glom onto books like mine :)

Thanks for stopping by!


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