I found out today that I made it into the Pirates of the Blue Kingdoms anthology. I was very excited to hear from the editor that I made the cut. I loved writing my story, The Pirate Witch, and have thought about turning it into a full-length novel. A fellow writer friend, Elizabeth Vaughn, made a comment to me that "pirates are the new dragons." I guess they're quite marketable right now. Perhaps once I finish Medusa's Daughter, my fantasy love story set in ancient Greece, I'll write a novel about the pirate witch, using the short story as chapter one. Who knows?
Anyway, having a marketable idea is a key thing. Take Kelly McCullough who wrote WebMage. It’s an amazing idea and he sold the book to a major publisher, ACE. Visit him at http://www.kellymccullough.com/ to learn more. Kelly made the point in an earlier blog posting on my blog that you don’t have to know people to get published, but you do have to have good writing.
The point being, that if you have a great idea and are a good enough writer, you can get published, even if you don’t know people—though I would argue your chances go up if you know them.
Still, some great writers with ideas that are too overdone have trouble selling their books. Pick an idea that you’re passionate about and go for it, but hopefully that idea is marketable.
Write what you love, certainly, but I hope that what you love has a market. If there is no market, then getting it published is going to be tough. When I started out I didn’t understand much about markets, but the more I delve into the publishing industry the more I realize that the market is a major issue we writers need to be aware of. If you love writing westerns, just know that there is a tiny market out there. On the flip-side, romance has a huge market. Being aware of what sells and what doesn’t is important for a writer.
Still, write what you love, but just in case no one is buying UFO novels set in the wild west, you might want to write it as a short story—rather than dedicating so much time to a novel that probably won’t sell. Figuring out the market and writing a book with that in mind is tough, but having a broad knowledge of what editors are buying is a good idea.
Urban fantasy has taken off in the last few years. Holly Black’s Tithe: A Modern Fairy Tale is a good example. I think the key to any writing is being passionate about it. Throw yourself into the work keep making it better. Re-dream the dream if the novel you imagined is not working. Rewrite it. If it’s still not that great, maybe rewrite it again.
At some point you’ve got to move on, but if you truly believe in the work you won’t give up on it. You’ll finish it and then improve it. Getting outside feedback is key. Writers shouldn’t live alone. Share your drafts with other writers and get your work critiqued. I believe that we writers must strive to always improve our work and get better.
Good luck with your writing and keep at it.