Traditional Publishing, Flooded Markets and What to Write Next


It’s September! Where did the summer go? Soon we’re going to be knee-deep in the arctic express here in Saskatchewan where I live. We have a long, miserably cold and dark winter here in the Great White North – I generally spend it writing. Actually my production increases during the winter months and so I’m going to start something new, I just have to decide what.

You know, we all keep hearing about the importance of original work from agents and editors on Twitter. How it’s important to write what matters to you,  to write a good story. An excellent story. The best story you could ever hope to produce. We are warned against writing for what the market wants yet  if you hit the hashtag #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) you’re going to see a lot of editors and agents posting about what they’d like in their inboxes. I often scratch my head at that one because it flies in the face of what many other agents and editors suggest you should be doing – like writing original stuff.

We’ve seen a lot of trends come and go over the past few years. One such trend that apparently is on the outs is a genre that affects me and that’s urban fantasy. I’ve lost track of how many tweets I read from Book Expo of America or the London Book Fair – urban fantasy is dead! Zombies are dead! Dystopian is dead! Post-apocalyptic fiction is dead! What everyone wants now is YA contemporary! Send us your stories about sick and dying teens in love that tear at the heart and you might have a shot of grabbing someone’s attention!

There are days when I wonder if publishing knows what the hell it’s doing anymore. A lot of contradictory advice. A big herd mentality. A lot of rumors about what’s selling and what isn’t selling. A lot of this, that and the other thing.

Which makes you wonder when you’re thinking about starting a new project whether you should. Whether it will see the light of day via traditional publishing.

I often wonder whether traditional publishing takes into consideration the sales of self-published books or even if anyone can ascertain the true sales numbers. God knows traditional publishers are very guarded with their sales figures and Amazon sure as hell is. I think we tend to ball park it.

As you know, I self-published an urban fantasy/superhero story called MARSHALL CONRAD this summer. I can tell you that it has sold about fifteen to twenty copies a day since June 26th. Let’s be conservative and say fifteen copies. So fifteen times sixty five days equals 975. So I’ve sold nearly a thousand copies of a reprint that I self published in slightly over two months. Wow.

I repeat. Wow.

I’ve never sold that many books in two months before.

Does this mean that the experts at big publishing houses in their marketing departments are on crack when they say, for example, that urban fantasy is dead? Or is it just the urban fantasy coming out of the major publishing houses?

In short, a lot of unqualified pronouncements about this being “dead” or that “not selling” or the marketing being flooded with “this”.

I’m not sure what I’m going to write next. I’ve got a brand new work that is going to be available on October 6th in a genre that apparently is a hard sell right now – zombies and post apocalyptic.  I’ve got strong sales from Marshall Conrad so I’m wondering whether I should finish that second book. And I’m shopping an urban fantasy via traditional publishing that is quite frankly, the best thing I’ve ever written and all I’m hearing is “great voice, market flooded, no thanks.”

Decisions, decisions. Maybe I’ll self-publish that one as well.

Damned decisions. What do you think?


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