June 27, 2010

"X" Marks the Spot

I’d like to present a point/counter point edition for Groundwire: Should you follow a fad?

Reasons you should not follow a fad in an elegant, but very simple, bulleted list:

  1. Fads will fade
  2. You are an idiot.

And now, I’d like to prove this using the universally supreme logic of mathematics.

Take your current age and subtract 10 years from it. Were you smart back then? Of course you were, you were an idiot! The fact of the matter is, you’re just as big of an idiot today, it’s just going to take you 10 more years to realize it.

Now, if you’d written a book 10 years ago about the one thing you thought was the most awesome thing in the world at the time, would you be happy with it today? Chances are you wouldn’t be, unless it was something really cool—like a fad, right?

Looking at this graph of Supply and Demand, we see that the more the market is saturated with a particular theme, the less demand there is for it, as well as the decrease in quality of that product. If you’re still in doubt, look at the big red X.

It says, “Don’t do it.”

Still think it’s a good idea? Okay, so maybe following a fad might not be such a bad idea if you get in early and avoid these  mistakes:

Young Adult Themes: When the price of an item is calculated by the equivalence of hours worked flipping burgers at the local fast food chain per dollar, your book had better have at least 3 hours and six minutes of satisfaction. Wait, I forgot about sales tax. 3 hours and 18 minutes... You’d do well to ensure your book has appeal to the adult/parent with the actual paycheck, since chances are they’re the one who will decide if they like the premise enough to buy the book for the intended reader. Most of the negative reviews for YA books I’ve read, come from…an adult. Their number one complaint seems to be stereotypical cardboard cut-out characters without any authority figure to give guidance and censure to the main character.

References to bands, popular songs, TV series, and celebrities: Because of the internet, the way we listen to music and watch TV has been revolutionized. People can be picky in their choices of what to listen to and watch, because it’s all at their fingertips. If you like Indie Rock, you can find a music channel totally dedicated to Indie Rock. So out of the songs currently on your play list how, how many were on your list last year? 2 years ago (since publishing a book can take that long). 5 years (given the curve for it to increase in popularity. 10 years (you wrote a series didn’t you?). Over 10 years? Let’s face it, the only music stars to have over 20 years of music publishing credentials are Madonna and Michael Jackson, and you’re not fooling anyone playing “Like a Virgin” for your character’s first dance at her wedding. 

Lastly and most importantly, Steampunk: No one gets it. Let’s be honest, you had to have someone explain it to you, and you don’t even know if they’re telling the truth.

If in doubt, ask yourself this: Would you wear what you wore to your prom at a formal even tomorrow? Since fashion has similar market patterns for trends and cycles as the publishing industry, your answer might reveal more about your susceptibility to fads than you think.

June 25, 2010

Do you believe in fairies?

It started out as a homework assignment to write an eight page short story with a focus on visual and descriptive sensory imagery. Eight pages, because I was in the eighth grade. Around page 6, I realized at the rate I was stringing my pulchritudinous purple prose together, it would be at least another hundred pages before I could get around to telling the end of my “short story”.

One page at a time. Since that’s all the clip art publishing program (think: Microsoft Publisher) would allow me to write before making me create a new poster. 132 pages, 6 months, and 2 Hewlett-Packard ink cartridges later, my first novel was finished. Now all that my 60,000 word “children’s book” needed was illustrations!

So, the next Sunday, I brought out my colored pencils during church and began sketching. After the meeting, a woman wearing a purple cloak came and sat next to me, curious to see the drawing I’d been working on. I showed her my artwork *cough* chicken scratches *cough* of my main character—a fairy in a purple dress. When she asked what it was for, I explained I’d written a book and was illustrating it. I held up the 2” binder with each of my precious pages carefully preserved in clear sheet protectors—my magnum opus.
If any doubt the existence of God, I testify: He is real, and He put a woman who is a published author for children’s books, a lover of fairies and the color purple, directly in the pew behind me. Because she saw potential in my book and put the crazy idea into my head that I could get it published, I haven’t stopped writing.

Just like fairies and the one literary agent who’s going to fall in love with your book—how can you ever expect to see one, if you don’t believe they exist?