MAJOR CRUSH is my 10th book. Well-Meaning People Who Don’t Understand ask me why I can’t sell the other nine now that I’ve broken down the door. What could be more simple? *eye roll*
In truth, I’ve just finished revising #9 because my agent is planning to send it out again. I’m confident we’ll find a home for it sooner or later. It may have had its problems before, but it did get me an agent.
The other eight? I don’t think they’ll ever see the light of day. I’ll admit a lot of fondness for #8, but it’s based on an American Idol-type show. Though you still see books with reality show settings, they’re a tougher sell than they used to be.
Come to think of it, I’m rather fond of #5. But now we’re going back to the mid-1990s, and I think the longer ago you wrote a book, the harder it may be to sell in the current market. Mass market books are all about what’s in, what’s hip, what’s current right now. Even a historical is a product of the time in which it was written, and it has to make sense culturally to its readers. For this reason, revolutionary and influential as THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER was in its time, I don't think it would be published today.
On the other hand, didn’t Paula come up with the idea for FORBIDDEN TERRITORY ten years ago? And you’ll see fragments of my discarded books pop up in my new books. To some extent, I think we all tend to write different angles of the same story over and over; Julie Rowe’s “Identifying Your Core Story” in the August issue of Romance Writers Report is just one discussion of the phenomenon.
But there’s also a lot to be said for moving on. I’m sure my book #11 has similarities to the rest of my writing, yet it felt like it came completely out of the blue and wrote itself. It was a very freeing experience.
So I do not mourn books 1 through 8. And when people do mourn their Books That Wouldn’t Die, I want to remind them of this: the precious object you possess is not the work you’ve already produced, but your ability to produce more, and better.