Monday, November 23, 2009

Aprilynne Pike on Firsts

Debut novelist Aprilynne Pike - and I can say that for another couple of months, since the sequel to the wonderful Wings hasn't hit the stores yet - has written an important post recently on the subject of first novels and the goals of a writer.

I had dinner with another friend the other night and about halfway through the conversation, I realized that her goals are not the same as mine were when I was in her position. She falls into the, I would like to see this book in stores, category. And the next realization struck me rather hard. It was that that's okay.

Sure, you can have any goal you want for your writing. Aprilynne lists quite a few she's heard recently. But she also suggests that maybe you want to plan your publication strategies based on that goal.

Most authors tend to spend their careers in the genre they first break out in, and at the level at which they break out at. Bestsellers tend to continue being bestsellers (whether or not it's justified), mid-listers often talk about how hard it is to break out of the mid-list range, and it is surprisingly difficult to move from a small publisher to a big one.

I'd point out those words I italicized above - the genre they first break out in, and at the level at which they break out at. Given the various definitions of "break out", that's almost a tautalogy. When you have built enough of a loyal following at one level, then produce a work so good that it gets them proselytizing on the street, then you break out to the next level.

Obviously, once you're at that level, if you change genres, you've abandoned your audience and have to earn your level again.

It's a great post. Go read it.

Hat tip, Editorial Ass.

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