Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Creativity versus Marketing?

I've read a lot of blogs over the past year, and very recently, about marketing books. Many seem to be of the opinion that you shouldn't submit to a publisher without having researched your market for your book and without a foolproof marketing plan. Some say you shouldn't even WRITE the darn book without having researched it. What?! What happened to writing for the joy of it?! What happened to writing the book you want to read?! What happened to art for art's own sake?

The truth of it is that it depends entirely on why you decided to write and, more to the point, why you want to be published. A lot of people might say that I've gone about the whole process the wrong way. I wrote the story that I had exploding in my head, the kind of book I'd love to read but that no other author had quite gotten around to writing. I wrote the story that haunted my dreams, that consumed every waking moment, that had me scribbling frantically for six weeks as though my very life depended on it. In some ways my sanity certainly did.

Only then did I look at it and think 'Hmmm, now what? Maybe I could get this published?' I split the two stories I seemed to have, and concentrated on editing and polishing the first one. At the same time I started looking at the whole process of publishing and researched a (very short) list of agents in the UK that accepted scifi. I read blogs, books and articles on the whole writing and submitting process. I spent a year working at it and submitting with mixed results, and then hit a dead end.(As stats, I had one request for the full, two agents say it was well written, and various forms of rejection.)

At the same time I got to meet and friend a few writers on Facebook, all with differing views on the whole publishing system. One had just had her fantasy series accepted for publication, and encouraged me to submit to US publishers. Another opened my eyes to the potential of self-publishing. I had my view point adjusted rather severely on several subjects, and all to the good! I re-edited my book to US spellings and conventions and researched a handful of independent publishers that appealed to me and that I hoped would see my book likewise. I also researched the various aspects of self-publishing - you can see the results of my experiments by clicking the tags for POD, self-publishing and creativity. But I was very quickly offered a contract for my MS. The US clearly has a bigger appetite for scifirom than the UK!

So now I have the task of promoting myself and my work (or rather continuing to do so). I'm no expert in marketing, but I'm willing to learn and work hard. But I've gone from worrying about whether anyone would want to publish my work to worrying if anyone will buy it. :-/

I don't have any issue with those who write to the market with the intention of making at least a living out of it. I would love to be able to write full time, but I won't know if that's achievable until my book is released and I start to see some stats. But I don't think I'm the kind of author who could ever write solely to please the market. For me that would be a passionless pursuit.

Is there a way to be creative AND marketable? Absolutely. I believe it should be possible and I guess I'm going to find out.

So why do you write and why are you seeking publication? :)

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