Today, I’d like to post this piece from someone I greatly admire, Julia Robb. She’s a really good writer; she has that indefinable thing called ‘voice.’
But just let me say from the outset: I don’t agree with what Julia says here.
I’m not saying I’m right; I’m just saying I don’t agree, but I still think what she says is vitally important – and anyway, Julia and I have disagreed before and that’s never done either of us any harm.
She talks here about a dilemma that troubles most writers at some time or other and we all have to come up with our own answers.
So think about what she’s saying: what is your position on this?
Do we stay with one genre – because that’s what sells – or do we follow our own creative heart?
Julia: “I’m publishing Saint of the Burning Heart on Amazon next week while kicking wise input by other authors, mentors and marketing folks down the road.
I’ve been told to market Saint of the Burning Heart as an historical novel because my first book is an historical novel.
Scalp Mountain, published last February, is set in 1876, on the Texas frontier.
Readers demand the same kind of book over and over, with a little twist here, a little twist there, mentors say.
So make them think that’s what they’re getting.
Stay in the same genre or sink on Amazon never to be heard from again.
Forget originality and honesty.
Authors tend to listen to anybody who thinks they know anything as about 700,000 novels are now available on Amazon, for Kindle, and more writers are posting their books every day.
Publishing your own book is like raining into the ocean and hoping someone notices fresh water.
Even authors published by a traditional company have a hard time because bookstore traffic has plunged and bookstores are closing all over the nation.
Moreover, many best-selling authors have already mastered the technique of writing echoes and that crowds out the rest of us.
Isn’t there a sameness to James Patterson, to Mary Higgins Clark, to Tom Clancy, among many others?
Saint is mainstream fiction about a woman who will not accept the end of a love affair with her adopted uncle.
To some extent, calling Saint an historical novel would be correct, as it’s set in the midst of a racial power struggle that really took place in West Texas.
Towns like Carrizo Springs, Cotulla and Crystal City are famous for holding local elections which tipped the balance of power between the two races.
Before the 1960s, many Texans scorned Hispanics as “Mexican,” the inferior race.
Local elections helped change the state’s racial climate.
But it was never my intention, in Saint, to explain events that happened fifty years ago, but to explore what obsessive love and obsessive hate do to people; to show and tell how racial prejudice warps into self-hatred.
I wanted to talk about one woman’s courageous fight to make a man admit he loves her.
I could be wrong about everything.
Maybe I should call Saint an historical novel and the heck with it.
I wrote a reviewer and asked her to take on Saint.
I told her a little about the book.
She wrote back: “Unfortunately this isn’t a genre I would read. I am into modern, NA, YA or erotic romance.”
Finally, all this has made me question why we writers actually write.
Is it for money, is it for fame, is it for the glory of seeing our book in The New York Times book review?
Yeah, all that.
I’ll stick with my imagination, I’ll call Saint mainstream fiction, and James Patterson can have the sales.”
That’s Julia’s impassioned argument and she puts it well. So what do you think – do you stick with one genre – or write what you feel?
Julia has a unique voice. Take a look for yourself; you can read an excerpt from ‘Scalp Mountain’ here at Venture Galleries.
Also find Julia here on Facebook.