Time once again to dive into the Hi Susan e-mail pile. I picked this question from Marc who wrote…
I’m just starting out as an author and researching the type of book I want to write. Should I go with similar books that I see on the bestseller lists?
An easy answer, no.
Sounds counterproductive to getting published and making lots of money but it’s the last thing you want to do and here’s why.
If you’re going the traditional publishing route, that is you’re going to submit to an publishing house or agent, it could be a long time before they read your submission or even request your manuscript. It could take a year or so for them to make a decision. And should they say yes and offer you a contract, I have known manuscripts take up to two years to finally hit the bookstores. In that time, tastes change, genres once in favor are suddenly out…think boy wizards and vampires!
Next reason, if you think you’re the only one who’s submitting these types of stories, you’d be wrong. It seems like it’s human nature to see what’s working for other people and do the very same thing without giving it some thought. That editor or agent is going to see identical stories to yours. First of all, you’re setting yourself up to be compared to other manuscripts they’re seeing. Okay, that’s going to happen anyway but when they’re presented with two stories about vampires, once again, it’s human nature to compare. One other problem is when you see the same thing over and over again, you get sick of it. Remember they probably read hundreds of stories every month so the chances of them returning yours with a no increases if you can’t offer them something different.
My suggestion is always to write the type of book you love reading. You’re more likely to enjoy the process and stick with it. Plus, you have an insider’s view of that genre. You’re a fan of those stories and you know what you like and don’t like. Each genre has a certain set of ‘givens’ as I call them. Elements that all have to be met to please the reader or in the first instance, an editor or agent.
Bottom line, don’t follow trends, offer them something new, and write the book that’s in your heart.