Pub Rants

Knowledge is Power?

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STATUS: Spring in Denver. It’s Friday! I should pop out early. On Monday, it’s going to be 70 degrees. How could I possibly work? Time to take the laptop and hit the park.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? LOVE IS STRANGE By Mickey & Sylvia
(and yes, that’s from the DIRTY DANCING soundtrack)

So this morning, Sara and I got into a big discussion about why it might be important for authors to know where their books fit in the market.

Certainly it’s the agent’s job to understand that (and some would argue—more so than the writers) but why are we, as agents, adamant that writers should to?

Well, we had a lively discussion because we wanted to tackle the concept from all angles. Should that responsibility be lifted from the writers’ shoulders? But then we delved into our query letters and what a difference it makes when writers do demonstrate that knowledge.

I hate to harp on all the queries we receive because isn’t that a dead horse. No need to keep beating it, but ultimately we decided that when writers have that market knowledge and use it correctly, it makes a difference in terms of helping your query letter stand out.

So, here’s our list of why writers should know where their books fit in the market.

1. Knowing clearly demonstrates your publishing professionalism

Right or wrong, we are suckers for that. I want to work with writers who are savvy about the world they want to be a part of. Call me crazy but the more you know as a writer, the easier my job is to help you get published.

2. Here’s a surprise that came up in our discussion. This might be a big assumption and a strange bias but we both agreed with it. Knowing shows that you are a reader and we naturally assume that folks who are good readers will potentially be good writers.

You’d be amazed at how many people I talk to who are “dying” to write a novel and yet don’t read on a regular basis. I’m not certain I get the disconnect there.

3. Not knowing shows your ignorance (and I don’t mean these people are stupid—just that they are lacking in knowledge).

Now, we understand that there will always be people who don’t know what they don’t know and that’s not a reason to dismiss the query letter. We will still read and consider it but right there, we now expect the writing in the query to rise above the standard to compensate.

Is that fair? Probably not but I’m just trying to tell you how it is. If a writer doesn’t know the genre or the book’s place in the market, it would be better to not even try and label it rather than mislabeling or doing so with a strange genre assortment.

Let the story speak for itself by writing a darn good query letter.

37 Responses

  1. Kimber An said:

    Here’s another good reason I’ve learned: Knowing where your novel fits in helps you grow as a writer because you can study the careers of those who’ve gone before you.

  2. Anonymous said:

    Hi Kristin,

    Thanks for your timely comments on this whole issue. Question: What if we’ve written something some folks might consider an apple and some folks might consider an orange? Eee gads, what’s a writer to do there? We can research you agents to some extent before querying, yes, but to that detail? Difficult if not impossible. So we guess and /. Heaven help us all (you good folks included). And then there’s trying to figure out what the work is versus where it would actually end up on the shelf at B&N. I feel another “/” coming on. Oh dear.


  3. B. B. Kristopher said:

    When you say ‘know where their book fits in the market’, do you mean what little cubbyhole it fits into (space opera, chick lit, YA Romance, etc.) or do you mean what publishers might be a good fit for the piece?

  4. Anonymous said:

    Um… What the heck is an “I” Anonymous? I read your post 3x trying to figure out what you were saying.

  5. David said:

    But aren’t they all breakout novels with immense cross-genre appeal?

    At least, in their authors’ minds.


  6. Anonymous said:

    What it sounds like you are saying is that a writer who knows her market niche is displaying knowledge of publishing.
    That’s fine, only, why does it matter?
    She’s finished the book, it’s the agents job to know where it fits. It’s no longer her job to do anything with it except for rewrites and possibly going on tours.
    What difference does it make if she calls it fantasy when you want to call it literature?
    In the end, I fail to see how this implies that the work will be good, unless you’re inferring that it also reflects intelligence, and a desire to produce something “publishable”.

  7. Anonymous said:

    “Um… What the heck is an “I” Anonymous? I read your post 3x trying to figure out what you were saying.”

    It’s a slash, actually, as in say, “fantasy/romance,” or some other combo. But I can see how it might look like an italicized “I,” due to the font. Sorry for the confusion.

  8. Maprilynne said:

    I think that sometimes as new authors we lean to the old adage that bigger is better. So a fantasy is good, but a fantasy that would also appeal to romance readers is better, right?

    The logic works when you don’t really understand how book sellers buy books and bookstores stock them. You can always tell a query letter is from a brand new author if it says something like, “I would like you to consider my fantasy-romance techno-thriller with elements of sci-fi and mystery.”

    But hey, we were all there once, right?


  9. Anonymous said:

    “She’s finished the book, it’s the agents job to know where it fits. It’s no longer her job to do anything with it except for rewrites and possibly going on tours.”

    If you think this is where your job ends, you’re either an incredibly lucky veteran, one in King or Grisham’s realm of “got it like that,” or unpublished and unawrae that a writer’s job really gets going after she gets an agent.

    I have questions for this imaginary writer:

    How does she know which agents to query? It’s a waste of everyone’s time to query an agent who doesn’t work that market.

    If the starts align and she gets the interest of an approrpiate agent, one who wants to rep her career and not just one book, and the agent asks what else she writes, how she’d like to position future books/career, what will she say?

    If she’s lucky enough that her agent can figure out the market for the book and finds an interested editor, and the editor wants to chat before making an offer, how will she answer similar questions? The editor will want to hear from her, not her agent.

    When she gets an editor, what will she say when the editor says “how do you see us positioning this book? Who did you write it for?”

    When her editor tells her to solicit blurbs, how will she know which authors to approach, because she’s supposed to seek blurbs from writers with a like audience in a similar market.

    If she’s lucky enough to be asked for cover art input, will she have a vision that fits her genre/niche that makes the editor go, “wow, I like that idea.”

    Wait, no – she won’t be able to answer any of these questions because she didn’t think it her job to know enough about her book or her market.

  10. CM said:

    Heh, anonymous.

    You’re operating under a fundamental misapprehension. An author’s job is to sell books. Writing those books is . . . a necessary, but hardly sufficient, component of that job.

    If you’re a primadonna, and if you don’t think about the market, and if you don’t want to get involved in promotion, why would an agent want to waste time on you? You may write well, but to succeed, you have to sell well, too.

  11. Anonymous said:

    I have not read a book in the last two years. I find my brain stealing from others in the middle of the night.
    I stopped watching movies.
    I was a literature major once, so I pretty much read every other book under the Sun.
    Now that my novel is almost finished, I cannot wait to start reading again.

    And my novel fits in your beach bag. Right along with your cream, I Pod, an apple and water. Enjoy.

  12. Eva Gale said:

    Here’s another one: if you know your market, you’ll know what NOT to write because the agent has seen it a bazillion times already this week.

    It’s not writing TO market, it’s knowing your voice and story well enough to know which slot it fits into.

    Sigh. Give them a break, they apparently haven’t been writing long enough to realize that it doesn’t end with writing the book. It begins.

  13. carrot said:

    I’ve met people who seriously told me that they’re “not really a reader,” but they sure hope their book makes it big. Well, I sure like having teeth, but it doesn’t make me a dentist.

    I agree on all your points, Kristin (and Sara)–if your business is books but you don’t know anything about them, it’s hard to take your writing seriously. Coming at it from the POV of a writer looking for an agent, I think it goes the other way, too. I know I’m looking for someone who not only chats with editors, who not only looks at the numbers and is good at negotiating $$, but who reads my genre and knows where I fit in as a writer. I know a number of people who have parted ways with their agents lately after a single book. It makes me wonder if the matches were made over a single book that seemed hot at the time, without being intimately familiar with the genre, and without a clear view of the full range of that writer and how their work would fit into the market as a whole. (And yes, I know the expectations go both ways here–I’m not trying to blame or exonerate anyone.)

    So, more reading all around, I say!

  14. Tammie said:

    When writing a query letter most books on writing and publishing state that one should include a few books that your book may be similar to, which is the same as stating where on the shelf you’d most likey find your book.

    Even simply saying “books similar are blah-blah-blah or the female version of A Spot of Bother” would let the agent know you have some sort of clue as to what you are doing.

  15. Diana Peterfreund said:

    Question: What if we’ve written something some folks might consider an apple and some folks might consider an orange? Eee gads, what’s a writer to do there?

    Just do your best. You may have a slightly different idea than they do, but they aren’t going to take off points. If you query and call it science fiction but they think it’s got a literary bent (cf. The Sparrow) then they’ll be able to market it that way. You aren’t trapped into the genre you refer to your book as in the query letter.

    When I last submitted to Ms. Nelson, I called the manuscript in question a paranormal romance. When she rejected the full, she called it a romantic suspense. Not too far off. It would still be in the same section at B&N.

    When I queried my now-agent, I called my book a YA. Savvy woman that she is, she saw that it had appeal in the adult market and sold it that way.

    This isn’t cut and dry, but it doesn’t mean that you need to include every possible genre under the sun. Call it one thing, and if the agent think it has potential as something else, they will not be shy in letting you know.

  16. Patrick McNamara said:

    The problem with some genres is that there are certain connotations. For instance, fantasy often brings up the notion of sword and sorcery and the middle ages, so a story with little of that and set in a modern day might be called paranormal instead. Other genres are too close to call. Another blogger wrote about the difference between romance and love stories, which can also be confusing. So a writer might still mislabel a work even after making an effort to get it right. It’s also possible that a person might set out to write a book which they believe is suited to one genre and find it’s better suited to another.

    I don’t think an avid reader necissarily makes for a good writer. Both do need a good basis in English (or whatever language they’re using). Although an avid reader would be able to focus their material more on the market, they run the risk of just repeating what others have done.

    And not everyone has the skill to read heavily. Both accountants and physicists need math, yet they are two completely different jobs. Just because someone watches a lot of movies doesn’t mean they can act.
    I’m not saying that writers don’t need to read, but one needs to be able see to see beyond the words. Without that ability, it doesn’t matter how much one reads.

  17. Robin L. said:

    This would be a lot easier if there weren’t new subgenres popping up. I’m pretty widely read, especially in my genre, but I just discovered the “romantic suspense” section of the bookstore. Hm… so does a mystery with romantic subplots belong here now? So confusing.

  18. the other rick... said:

    Knowing the market/business helps. Being savvy is something else. When professionals in the industry argue over genres, sub-genres, book placements, and the search for fresh approaches, it seems incongruous to expect a new writer to be “spot on” about slotting their novel in a query letter. Should they give the agent a clue? Have a clue? Absolutely. Be savvy? An unfair expectation from an agent, but who said life was fair.

    I get the disconnect. People who don’t read, romance writing a novel, being their own boss, living the party life of the twenty or so famous and fabulous authors that the “average joe” on the street might be able to name when tied to the rack.

    At the end of the day; however, it’s still all about the writing regardless of the genre or cross-genre slot in which the novel is or should be slotted.

    -the other rick

  19. Anonymous said:

    I like to deliberately pick the wrong genre just to piss off the agent, and prove my book is so good she has to represent it even if she’s annoyed by the genre I pretended to select. Just Kidding. I mean, no one is going to deliberately list the wrong genre, so what’s the point of getting mad about it? My guess is if the book is good enough, the agent will explain why you picked the wrong genre. It should take about five seconds.

  20. Anonymous said:

    The reason you need to know what category you’re writing is so you know what the book has to deliver. What does the reader expect? A murder mystery, for example, can’t end in a unsolved crime, though a literary nonfiction piece might. Chick lit can’t end with the death of the heroine.

    The House of Mirth is about finding Mr.Right, but isn’t chick lit.
    Anna Karenina starts like romance, but isn’t.
    Zodiac is a murder mystery, but isn’t a cozy.

    You get the idea. What is the reader expecting? If you don’t know, your book might be doomed from step one.

  21. Kanani said:

    Here’s another advantage:
    Often there’s a struggle to make your book into what you want it to be over how it actually reads. Knowing will help you with your writing, and also get you to read the pantheon of writers you’d like to in the same circle with.

  22. Diana Peterfreund said:

    If you call it a mystery but your pitch is talking about the romantic tension between Mr. Detective, and Ms. Sister-of-the-Victim, then the agent might say, “hmmm, there’s a chance I can pitch this to Berkley Prime Crime *or* Ballantine’s romantic suspense dept.!”


  23. Lee said:

    I agree with Kimber…It is soooo important to know what is out there. What is selling and where your voice will fit in. Buttt…. Don’t attempt to write a story in a genre just because that genre is selling well. It shows in my writing. A writer has to love their story, characters and genre…

  24. irritated said:

    A writer not knowing what genre he/she is writing in seems insane. Likewise a writer who correctly names their genre in a query letter certainly doesn’t rise very high above the wannabee clutter, I wouldn’t think.

    Check out “The Case for Cognitive Critters” in “Read It and Weep” at
    if you want to see a writer who knows exactly where he belongs.

  25. Troy Bierkortte said:

    qylI read a lot, a lot , I really mean a whole friggin’ lot more than I write. I always select a certain kind of book that is known as “literary fiction”. At least I guess so. The bookstores sure as hell don’t know what I’m buying. I found Alcie Sebold’s memoir, Lucky in the fiction section of Barnes and Noble, Borders, and an independent. Fortunately, I don’t read many memoirs, but I make exceptions for writers I already like. So, Lucky was plainly visible on the shelves I normally browse.
    A fan of Lit Fic, such as I, would be stunned to find that every single copy of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, is stocked in the SciFi section.
    Anything still in print more than a year or two after it was published ends up in the “literature” section, right between last year’s best-sellers and the freshman required reading.
    My point is that sellers don’t know what they are selling, so why should I?
    I read one kind of book. I write in that style. I would be embarassed to say that anything I wrote is even remotely similar to works as beautiful and lasting as the ones I read.
    I could never presume to compare anything I wrote to the works of such masters. Maybe I’d call it “commercial” or “mainstream” rather than “literary”, which is an honor to which I aspire, but would never attribute to my own product.
    Don’t know the market? How about totally clusless? That’s me. I just don’t care what people are buying in the romance, SF, fantasy, sports lit., YA, Chick Lit., Adventure, Military, … ad nauseum genres. I know what I read. I write in the same style, and hopefully someday at the same level of artistry. But, nine out of ten books I find on the shelves next to the ones I buy are totally unlike them.
    Yes, I am keenly aware of the difference between We Were The Mulvaneys and The Devil Wears Prada. It is as vast as the galaxy. But the shelf space where they are both sold could be six feet apart.
    If I send you a query someday for a literary work, and mislabel it as mainstream, please do not mistake my humility for ignorance.

  26. Anonymous said:

    This is what I heard:

    Have an idea of the category of your novel. Don’t call it a Fantasy/SF/horror story with paranormal romantic chick lit novel with literary overtones/kitchen sink. (ie, don’t cover all bases. This shows you either don’t know what you are doing or you think you’re fooling someone)

    Also, in having an idea of the category of the novel you have written, you can better select an agent who represents that sort of thing. I am sure there is wiggle room. I read a comment on one of Linnae Sinclair’s books on Amazon. Some poor guy bought it and SCREAMED: This isn’t SF, it’s romance!!

    Well, structurally, it was, but it was also SFish enough for me. (I love her work. Just got the new one.)

    It shouldn’t be too difficult to know your category, even if you can’t fine tune it. Even if the agent decides it is best marketed as a close relative.

  27. Janny said:

    Actually, I can sympathize with the anonymous poster who said “It’s the agent’s job to figure out where this fits.” In many ways, it IS the agent’s job…in that knowing which specific editors like my specific kind of book, not to mention my voice, is something I can’t possibly know, but I sure as heck hope an agent knows it!

    And it’s frustrating as the devil to have an agent’s first reader call and say, “This is a great book, but where would we sell it?” I’ve actually had to fill in first readers at agencies about potential markets for books…markets they weren’t aware of. (!) In one sense, I guess it’s “fortunate” that I knew the market well enough to suggest those publishers…but then one has to wonder what the agency’s job is at that point.

    I think where we err as writers is not in not knowing where our books “fit” in the market–but trying to cut it too fine. I think that’s actually where the “chick lit with a touch of cozy paranormal mystery/suspense fantasy” kinds of labels come in. Pity the poor writer who likes a little bit of everything in her reading tastes, writes a little bit of this and that in a novel; it turns into a horking good story, but it doesn’t fit in a “box.” What’s she supposed to do? Calling it “mainstream” connotes something she may not be doing, but trying to wedge what she’s done into a genre box might not work, either.

    I have one particular manuscript that falls into an odd category: everyone seems to like the story, but it’s been called four different things. I just call it paranormal romantic suspense, for lack of a better term, but it’s been called inspy romantic suspense, straight romantic suspense with a paranormal element, and “single title.” I’ve also labeled it each of these things in contests, only to have the judges say, “No, it’s not ____, it’s ______(the other label).” 🙂

    As far as saying, “My book is like _______ (other titles in same genre)”…no way am I doing that. It’s not humility that prompts this; I just consider comparisons of any kind to be a minefield I don’t even want to step in. The last thing I want to say is, “This book is like Jan Karon’s AT HOME IN MITFORD,” and have an agent say, “No, it’s not. What kind of fool are you?” What have I accomplished in that exercise?

    So I don’t go there, and in fact I develop somewhat of a nervous tic when someone tells writers to do that. 🙂

    I might love your work, if I don’t have any preset idea of someone else’s you’re comparing it to; but if you tell me you’re “just like” some authors, and I don’t LIKE those authors…

    Enough said on that one.

    As far as those people who are “dying” to write, but who don’t read? The good news is, they don’t write, either. They just want to “be writers.” That’s good news for the rest of us, who are actually paying our dues!

    My take,

  28. David Sinclair said:

    Notice how many people have come out to discuss this topic? It’s a hot button issue; agents and publishers are the ones who care about where the book will sit on the shelves- writers should not. If they do, they are writing to the market, a good little cog in the corporate machine of bookselling. Cogs do not write anything good, they create adequate work that is quantifiable and easy to sell.

    “Know your market”? What an absurd load of crap that is. That is telling the “Make-a-fast-buck” agent that you are someone who can write to the market, someone who knows what sells and can create tidy little ripoffs.

    Research some successful agents (and keep in mind that some of the best remain almost completely anonymous); Russell Galen from Scovil Chichak Galen Literary Agency (who reps writers like Terry Goodkind, Harry Turtledove, Norman Spinrad, SM Stirling, and the estates of Philip K Dick and Marion Zimmer Bradley) talks about repping stories- big stories with engrossing characters, who drag him in and make him care… and he never mentions genre. He wants to be taken somewhere he doesn’t go, he doesn’t need a definition of where that is.

    In a previous post, someone mentioned Dan Simmons, who shares an agent with Harlan Ellison; Simmons made a deal with his agent, decades ago, and made his agent promise one thing– to sell anything that he writes. Period. End of story. If Simmons feels a story and creates it, whether it’s horror, sci fi, fantasy, literary, his agent will go out and sell it.

    Maybe these agents should be placed in categories and fitted with special nametags or identifying tattoos. The ones who insist on all this genre-fying can be called “Commercial agents” or maybe “QBs” for quick buck. The others can be called “Literary agents”, since they actually seem to be on the lookout for things with merit, that defy all this “know your market” trash.

  29. CM said:


    I think you can “know your market” without “writing to market.” I don’t think you become a “cog” just because you say, “I’m writing a thriller” or “I’m writing space opera.”

    Russ Galen says he wants to represent big stories regardless of genre. How, exactly, does this differ from others? I mean, I challenge you to find an agent who says, “I only represent genre X, but I take all stories in that genre.” All agents are looking for stories they love, and few agents restrict themselves to one particular genre. Likewise, find me one place where Russ Galen says, “When pitching a manuscript, I never identify it by genre.”

  30. david sinclair said:


    Okay. I see your point. My point is just that when you pitch your story using popular books that are selling well already as reference points (“My book’s like the DaVinci Code!”), you are appealing to the concept of the quick sell. Admittedly, these kinds of sales have a limited lifespan, as markets saturate, but you have to admit that there is always going to be the next “hot market”– and there are always going to be agents and editors who specialize in exploiting the next hot market.

    In mentioning Russ Galen (without going into a well researched thesis paper on the man’s work), I merely pointed out that there are agents who are not strictly bound by the allure of the “hot markets”, and are willing to take on projects that are more of a difficult sell… whatever the genre. The tale of Terry Goodkind’s first book (Wizard’s First Rule) is extremely interesting, if you compare the process to normal agent behavior. Terry Goodkind was never published before WFR, supposedly not even as a short story writer. His first fantasy book is over 285K words, which is well beyond what agents recommend (Agent Kristin says a new writer can go to about 115K). Galen accepted this book, and got Goodkind something in the high six figure range for an advance.

    The funny thing is, it ain’t that great a book. It’s too long, the bad guy takes sinister evil way over the top, and the main character seems schizophrenic- not only that, but he develops talents too quickly, in a completely unrealistic fashion. Yet… Galen saw something in this work, and more importantly in this writer, that made him take a chance (and convince a major publishing house to take a chance) on an unknown quantity– the result is basically the empire of Terry Goodkind.

    If Goodkind had queried those that I have dubbed “commercial agents” (and I’m sure he did, and was rejected), he would have been rejected for a laundry list of quick, standard reasons— it’s too long, nothing happens in the first chapter, the character starts out boring, you have no publishing history, this is standard medieval European fantasy (and there’s already too much on the shelves; how’s it going to stand out?).

  31. zildjian said:

    a lot of this seems like the old “business versus art” thing. not too many agents brag about how many literature pieces they’ve had published with backwoods, off-the-beaten-path publishing houses.

  32. CM said:

    I take your point as well, David. I think nearly everyone agrees that you should write the best book that you possibly can, without worrying about whether the market will be “hot” or not when you finish.

    My only worry is that you seem to be attacking a straw man. “Know your audience” and “know your market” are very different commands than “write a book like ‘The Da Vinci Code.'” One says to think about where your book fits. The other says to slavishly imitate. Doing one is good. Doing the other . . . are there any reputable agents that really want slavish imitators?

    In fact, I think that one of the points of “know your market” is precisely because originality and knowledge are linked. If you don’t know that you’re writing a thriller, it shows you haven’t read a lot of thrillers. What you think of as an “original twist” may have been done a million times.

    Nothing is new under the sun, but some things are fresher than others. And if you have never smapled what’s under the sun, how will you know if you’re fresh?

  33. CM said:

    Uh, yeah. That should be “sampled” not “smapled.” Smapled is a special kind of syrup that is served with spancakesd and swafflesd.

  34. david sinclair said:


    I think part of my problem is that I read Stephen King’s “On Writing” a while ago, and it sort of speaks directly to the writer part of my brain, rather than to the business portion. King says that he basically writes to one reader (partially his wife, partially himself)- that reader happens to be a wonderful reflection of what sells.

    When I hear “know your market” and “know your audience”, I hear the same thing- the audience isn’t the audience until after they’re the market, when they buy the book.

    Gack and blech. I’d say we’ve driven this topic fairly deep into the ground.

  35. B. B. Kristopher said:

    David, I’m about to be just a bit snippy here. Please forgive me, but I just can’t let this pass.

    If they do, they are writing to the market, a good little cog in the corporate machine of bookselling.

    This, frankly, is the purest kind of elitist crap.

    My first novel is a Military SF. It has problems, but those problems are the problems of a first novel. The voice isn’t as well developed as it could be, the pacing is a bit off. It’s not a bad novel. It’s actually a pretty darn good novel. It just needs the kind of polishing that I couldn’t give it until I’d gotten another novel under my belt.

    My second novel is a Space Opera. Like my first, it was ‘written to market’. It’s about a thousand times better than my first book ever will be, no matter how much the first one gets polished. It’s fast paced, light, fun and yeah, if you spend fifteen minutes reading it, you’ll be able to see exactly where I stole almost everything in it from.

    My first short story sale was something I wrote in about two hours and was most definitely ‘written to market’. I just read the proofs for the ‘Best of’ anthology the story is being reprinted it, and couldn’t stop grinning, because it’s good, fun story

    I know other writers, ones I read on a regular basis, who ‘write to market’. Writers who sell tons and tons of books. Not because they’re ‘Cogs’, but because they write books that are entertaining to a lot of people.

    The problem here, and the reason statements like yours get bandied about like they are gospel truth in some circles, is that people have a twisted view of what writing is.

    Writing is a skill. Like any other skill, some people are naturally gifted and others are hopelessly inept, but it is a *skill*. And if you, or anyone else, wants to make a living as a writer, they need to stop thinking of themselves as “artists” and start thinking of themselves as what they are, which is skilled tradesmen.

    Yes, your million word experimental literary novel written in free verse might indeed be the most brilliant thing ever written, but as a reader, I don’t flipping care. I was something I can sit down and enjoy. If I can’t get through the first page without three trips to the dictionary, I’m not gonna buy it, because I can pretty much promise you, someone I read regularly does have a new novel out that I’m not going to have to read with a dictionary, a thesaurus and a copy of Bartlett’s just to understand it.

    As a writer, I keep that in mind. As a writer, it’s my job to tell stories that readers will engage with and enjoy and that will leave them with a desire for more. The trick is, finding ways to tell the stories I want to tell in a manner that the audience can connect with and can relate to. If I don’t do that, it’s not because I’m an “artist” who is writing “above the heads” of my audience. It’s because I suck at my freaking job and am dressing it up in pretense.

    A writer. A skilled writer. A writer who is good at his/her job is one who can 1). tell the stories that he/she wants to tell, 2). do it in a manner that an audience can relate to, and 3). SELL BOOKS.

    Because if you can’t sell books, no one is going to give a flip what you write, because no one is going to read it. Simple as that.

    So, if you want to work in this business, you might, maybe, want to reconsider the disdain for ‘writing to market’.

  36. ~Nancy said:

    Knowing shows that you are a reader and we naturally assume that folks who are good readers will potentially be good writers.

    You’d be amazed at how many people I talk to who are “dying” to write a novel and yet don’t read on a regular basis. I’m not certain I get the disconnect there.

    I have to admit that I don’t understand this at all. I’ve been a voracious reader all of my life (something I think I picked up from my mother :-)), moreso now. I can’t tell you how many fantasy books I’ve picked up in the last few weeks. I also read outside of my chosen genre; mysteries, particularly the Stephanie Plum books (yum!). Mysteries were my first love, bookwise.


  37. Anonymous said:

    ‘Flogging a dead horse’ means you’re trying to ‘sell’ it… not ‘beat’ it, as in bash its brains out.

    Flogging a dead horse means you’re trying to sell something that is fundamentally absolutely useless… Not bashing out the brains of something that is already dead.. although both meanings do kinda work.