Speaking strictly commercially, I did everything wrong with my writing. I don’t have an identifiable genre or sub-genre. It’s a literary noir-styled fantasy thriller romance and an allegory about globalization and growing up. There’s no shelf for that. Crossing genres and styles is gaining popularity, but it’s still a hard sell to make cold.
Perhaps I could have written odd short stories and gained a following, but my novel had too strong a pull. And of course I had to write it five times over. And it’s still a big book.
So. There it is. Nothing to do about it now but change course.
I recently attended CapClave, a convention devoted to science-fiction and fantasy writing. There were vendors, of course, and the occasional costume, and at night much beer was drunk. The program however was mostly panel discussions, five every hour with dozens of attendees in each, and remarkably nerdy — discussions of craft, genre plotting, the state of the market, and new publishing models like Kickstarter. I came away mightily impressed at the seriousness of my hoped-for audience, and, for a while, greatly daunted by the possibilities of getting published.
I now have a plan. While I start querying agents I am going to devote the fall to developing a quiver of short stories – at least five by New Year’s, with luck seven – that I can keep sending out. The only way this will work is if the lessons I learned from editing 90,000 words OUT of my novel’s first draft will let me write lean quick work from the start. Wish me luck.
My first test case is to rewrite a story I wrote fifteen years ago — retell it, really, since it’s a terrible piece but a good idea, and a potential fit for an anthology that is taking submissions until Halloween. After that, I had a bit of a notion that I played with in a recent political post, and a short-short horror in a setting I stole from a fellow writer. (Yes, she knows.)
Time to see what kind of writer I can be.