Wednesday, August 23, 2006

THE BOOK THAT WOULDN’T DIE

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.

5 comments:

Carla Swafford said...

You're so right, Jennifer. I see time and time again in my books issues about family and how you have to take care of those that you're related to.

Two of my books will not see the light of day again. Two more need a big overhaul. And the last one I've completed hopefully will be the one to get me published or an agent. OR maybe the next one I finish. I have to keep trying.

For sure, you have to keep writing. I know my writing becomes better and better each time...really...I swear....I'm not kidding...quit laughing, Debbie and Christy!

MaryF said...

You're right!

I'm revising (for my agent) a book I started writing in 2000. I think it may be my tenth ms - hard to remember. I have 17 complete (don't be looking for them on any bookshelves though - sigh). I seriously believe in this book, and my agent says she does, too, but honestly, ready to move on here.

jennifer echols said...

That is awesome! Good luck with this. Maybe it will be The One. Of course, when you sell it, you probably will have to revise it for them again and then proof it twice more--so you'll NEVER be rid of it! Happy problems. :)

Deborah Matthews said...

I'm not laughing, Carla. I think you will be published.

Good luck, Mary. Jennifer is right. Even if your agent sells it, that isn't the end. The editor may ask you to make extensive revisions. Then, you'll have to go over it twice more for edit copies and galley proofs. You can really get tired of them!

Paula said...

I didn't just come up with FORBIDDEN TERRITORY eleven years ago, I WROTE it eleven years ago.

Now, granted, I revised the stew out of it before I sold. I came up with a new mastermind villain and beefed up the mystery to make it fit Intrigue better. And I did have to modernize it a bit--cellphones weren't really around as much when I first wrote this book, so I had to take that into consideration.

I wrote the book around the time when paranormals were falling out of fashion, though, which may be why it took a decade to sell--it took that long for paranormals to be hot again.

Paula