In Which Emmie Plots a Murder

If I had to make a theme for 2012 at this stage in its fledgling development, I would say that it has been difficult choices.

Right out of the New Year’s Gate, fresh on my celebratory phlegm and spat with bronchitis, I realized that Spouse and I couldn’t make it to Scotland this year. I’ve already written about that decision, so I won’t rehash it here. I’ve started the query process and thought long and hard about my professional goals for this year.

Something an told me at the Writer’s Digest Conference sobered me up about my books. She told me that four years ago, she could have sold my trilogy in a hot minute, but now editors bristle at the v-word. My book was finished in 2008 — four years ago. I sat on it. It’s now a hard sell in a changing market.

Yep. It was one of those moments. Image via MeBitches at deviantart.

Yep. Gentle viewers, this is for real.

For the last month, I’ve been taking a long, hard look at my book series. Do I think it is ultimately salable? Yes. Do I think it’s salable now? Not really. It’s a disturbing bit of reality that wriggled in through her words. I don’t think she meant to be discouraging — and I still need to submit her requested partial now that I’ve karate-chopped 20,000 words from it — but she knows the markets better than I do.

While I still want to sell this trilogy, I don’t know if it’s feasible at the moment. That’s terrifying to think and even more frightening to admit publicly. I have two completed books that I’m thinking I might have to murder. At least temporarily.

In order to feel like I’m doing my job and not giving up, I’ve begun to formulate a plan for this year. I’m going to continue to query this trilogy, but while I’m doing that, I am going to bang out the last book by April. After that, I am going to start a new project, which I want to finish by June. By the end of July, I want to have a revised draft of the new project to query and get the ball rolling there. If something transpires for either, it can only help the other.

While I’m not exactly killing my darlings, I’m operating on the assumption that it might become necessary. I realized yesterday that the reason I haven’t gone back to working on book three is because I’m afraid I won’t be able to sell something with vampires — even if they’re outside the fangy norm.

I think that this awareness is a sign of maturity if nothing else — to recognize that I might have something good that won’t sell in the current market. That’s okay. It might also be the big ole stinky fear talking. I’m not sure yet. I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

Until then, I’m going to keep writing.

What do you think, gentle viewers? Have you ever had a major goal or project (writing or otherwise) that you had to put on hold for the sake of pragmatism? 


About Emmie Mears

Saving the world from brooding, one self-actualized vampire at a time.

Posted on February 24, 2012, in urban fantasy, Writer's Digest Conference 2012, writing business, writing progress and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Kristin McFarland

    Yeah. Yep. Ohhh, yes.

    In the current state it’s in, my first book is… well, it’s still a rough draft, but the story as is couldn’t be sold if I offered free puppies with it. The book I’m about to start querying is actually my second book. The first one is getting put in the trunk for now.

    And we’re not killing our darlings… we’re just keeping them home with the people who love them until the world is ready to meet them. 🙂

  2. Oh, Emmie, what hard words to hear. 😦 But, that begs the question–have you thought about going indie or selling to a smaller press? You can still get your book in print, and into the hands of readers looking for books like yours. ((Hugs)) You have a great plan!

    • My plan is to set it aside and work on something else for a time. See what comes of it. I also want to increase my productivity — if I’m to be a career author, I need to be able to turn out at least a book a year and maybe more. So this year will be me testing my limits and attempting to make something new that resonates in the current market.

  3. Yes, my first novel is too different for a first publication attempt. I learned that the hard way. So while I do some revisions on it, I’m focusing on my second story, which should be a much more straightforward pitch for me to an agent — and for an agent to an acquisitions editor. Definitely hard. That first work is always nearest and dearest to our hearts in some way.

    But I’m working on the hope that another book can open the door for it. And that might work for you, too, if you need to hold the first books back for a bit.

    • That’s kind of what I’m thinking too. If my first book sells well, or if they think it has enough potential to offer me a contract, they might want to buy the trilogy as well. Especially because my platform is growing steadily and by the time I find an agent, I think there will be a lot to offer in the way of a publicity plan for my books. Plus, with WANA, I am learning how to make sure my book doesn’t tank.

  4. I know exactly how you feel. I just finished my first novel (which includes the now-frowned upon v-word) and am ready to start querying. I expect this to be like throwing it against a wall repeatedly, ad naseum. Maybe I’ll get lucky, probably I won’t, but I’ll learn from the experience and will be working on a second novel in the meantime. If this one can’t be sold now, I’ll tuck it in a drawer and hold onto it until the market is ready for them again.

    The important thing is to keep moving forward and never give up.

    Thankfully, cocktails help maintain that perspective. 🙂

  5. A sobering decision, to be sure. But honestly, I don’t think you’re pulling the trigger on anything yet–like you said, you plan to continue querying while you get started on a new book. If, by the time you’ve finished it, the trilogy hasn’t sold, then maybe you should consider letting it collect dust for a few years. But no one knows which way the winds of fate will blow!

    Do you have any specific plans for your new book? If you want to bounce any ideas around I’d love to help!

    • I have a couple plans, actually. Two ideas for standalone novels and then a series idea. I think I will tackle one of the standalones first. I might shoot you an email this week with some of it!

  6. Tough to hear but impressive that you have a thought-out plan. And remember, even if the trilogy isn’t marketable now, if you publish another book and develop a following, they may be very interested in reading what other books you’ve written. Then you’ll have works in the ready, something many first-time authors do not have.

  7. “Until then, I’m going to keep writing.”

    Never stop.

    Sobering though such things may be–and I am sorry you’re facing such a market at present Emmie–it’s good to hear you’re still breathing it all in and hitting the ground running with some quality planning. These things go in cycles anyhow…murder nothing. If the vampires must remain in their coffins a little longer (I’m presuming publishers are looking at it as, “Once the world can breathe again following these horrible twilight movies”), you can always unleash them on the world later, and give us a taste of what GOOD vampire fiction can be like.

    it sucks to stub toes and to face delays but…ours is a fickle realm indeed. Keep pushing forward as ever, my friend!

    • Thanks for the comment, Chris!

      Yeah, I am still going to finish off the trilogy and then write something else for a while. I think that’s a decent game plan so that while I’m querying I’m also building more material.

      Out of context, but it’s like Eddie Izzard said about the game of Risk:

      “You could never hold Austral-Asia! Indonesia! All the purples! Put everything on Papua New Guinea and just build up, build up!”

      ikkkkkkkkkkkkk;;;;;;;;;kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkz <– Willow's thoughts on the matter. She wanted me to let her type.

  8. Self-publish! I know that’s a dirty word, but it gets your “unpublishable” novels out there to start getting a wider audience. I hate how traditional publishing blocks legit novels because they either have the wrong buzz word, or not the correct buzz word.

  9. Oh…my dear…the worse thing you can do is write for the market. Ask any editor, ask any agent, they will tell you *not* to write for the market.

    Yes, keep the market in mind when querying, but you have to write from the heart the stories that touch you because those are the ones that will touch readers.

    I know you already do that, so I don’t fear you’ll try to write about sparkly vampires or what not, but the market changes quickly, and the publishing world is slow. They respond to trends. Sometimes they can influence them and even create them, but more often than not, they are playing catch up because publishing is just a slow process. Nothing wrong with that, but it make it incredibly difficult to write for a specific market that could change by the time you are finished with your work.

    I think you are doing exactly the right thing. Keep querying for your vampire stories, and continuing writing other stories. One or the other will hit the mark.

    I know you don’t like the idea of self-publishing, but consider swapping services with an editor friend and self-publish a few short stories. That will get your name out there and start building some readership, as well as give you something to put in your query letter (alternatively, submitted to magazines and contests is a good idea for that, too).

    That’s just a fellow newbie’s advice.

    I think you’ve got it right: KEEP WRITING.

    Good luck.

    • You are right — and the stories that I plan to move on to are ones that have been lurking around my muse’s cluttered desk for some time now. I don’t want to try and formulate books based on what I think the market will do, but I do want to write something a bit different than what I have in hopes that having a couple different things going for me will create a greater chance of hooking some agents. 🙂

      Great advice though…I really want to pen a few shorts and submit them in the next few months as well. If I get any accepted, it’s a pub cred, and if not I can self-publish them. We shall see.

  10. Ummm, typos free of charge… 😮

    (editors are a must if you self-publish…)

  11. When finishing my first novel, I figured the Young Adult, vampire world was dying down. I wondered if I would ever find a publisher since my world deals with the supernatural. But I just shrugged my shoulders and said, “If I don’t, I’ll self-publish.”

    I know this decision wasn’t easy to make, and I’m sure the words from the agent didn’t help. Just know that you’re a talented writer and you have the skills to make it.


  12. I think all writers face similar dilemmas, Emmie. As you say, focus on writing something new and even better. Must say, your timeline goals are impressive! Good luck.

  13. Emmie, this is the hardest thing to face. I have a YA I’ve been trying to sell for a few years. I put it aside and wrote my adult manuscript. Now I alternate between the two. Revising and querying. It’s not giving up, it’s just putting aside and trying something new. I came back to my YA and I will keep coming back to it. Because I believe in the story. But the business sided of me understands that great story also need great timing and luck. Keep writing!

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