In case you don’t remember my post from about a month ago, my favorite author is Shannon Hale. I follow her blog, squeetus, and occasionally she posts some really helpful and insightful posts about being a writer. The other posts are usually updates about her work and life (she has twin daughters who have been quite the handful over the past few years).
Recently she wrote a post called Advice to a new novelist: be hardcore. It talks about someone who sent their manuscript into several agencies, but because the market is oversaturated with dystopian fiction, it isn’t in the agency’s best interest to publish another one. While most enjoyed reading The Hunger Games, Divergent, etc. and the movie adaptations are still popular, the overwhelming amount of modern dystopian literature has filled the average desire to read that genre.
Then it goes on to talk about how before that, the swell of paranormal romance overwhelmed the markets after Twilight came out.
And even before that, Harry Potter caused a huge swell of fantasy writing in the market. She tells a personal experience that came when she submitted her first novel, The Goose Girl. In case you don’t remember, that is the first book in the Books of Bayern, my absolute favorite series. She says her book missed the swell of fantasy brought about by Harry Potter, so she struggled to find a publisher. Here’s what she had to say.
“I’ve heard from agents and editors that they will take up any book that really, really sings to them, even if in the current marketplace it’s far from a sure thing. The Goose Girl eventually found a home, for example. The key, the challenge, is finding just the right person who falls in love with your writing, even if dystopian is past its prime.
A few things you can do to help that happen:
1. make sure your book is amazing. No problem there, right? Easy peasy.
2. keep submitting until you find that one agent who just can’t resist your voice, your characters, your style, what you’ve done to make sure your book is unique among all the others. Which means not giving up, querying everybody, attending conferences where you can meet an agent in person and hope that you click somehow with this one. To just keep trying.
3. write a new book
Because chances are, your first book will never sell. Even if it isn’t dystopian. Most first books don’t sell. Ask most published writers and you’ll hear war stories of all the books we wrote that will never see the light of day.
Your goal as a writer isn’t to get a book published. It’s to make yourself a writer. Sometimes writers must write a lot of books as practice before our brains are good enough to write something new, original, exciting, interesting, unputtdownable. Sometimes you have to chalk this one up to a rehearsal and get moving on the next thing.