Just a quick reminder for those of you interested in exploring the New Adult literature category, we're nearly a week into Camp New Adult--a month-long exercise in exploring the New Adult basics. It's free, open to all at any time, and really a great chance to meet some NA peeps and talk writing. Not to mention you might actually end up with a story out of it. :)
This week's camp session is all about taking that story spark or concept and building it into a fully fleshed-out idea. (I shared one for a story I'm working on in the forums...) We'll kick off the second week of camp with #NALitChat over on the Twitter this Thursday night (9 PM Eastern) by talking to several NA authors about how they brainstorm their story ideas into an actual book.
Some use Tumblr, some use mind mapping software like FreeMind or Coggle, and some use pictures and other media collection sites like Pinterest or Instagram. Whatever you use, it's likely an important part of your creative process--so come share it with others at Camp NA!
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Posting is first Wednesday of every month. For all the details on the IWSG, to read more posts, & to join in the fun, click HERE!
Is It Okay To Have A Few "Turkeys"?
He's an actor who has been around the block a few times, so he's got some perspective. I thought this comment was particularly revealing:
"For me it was amazing because four big things are coming out all at once: Game of Thrones, Broadchurch, the Doctor Who movie and the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost/Edgar Wright movie The World's End. Happily they're all good, because for any actor of a certain age you've had your share of what you call Turkeys over here. So it's a real pleasure when you've got something good on your hands." ~ You can read the entire article over on IGN HERE.
Traditionally, authors have been under an immense amount of pressure to perform well right out of the gates. There's many a tale of the debut author who didn't meet her (often unknown) sales quota, and was unceremoniously dropped by her publisher. Or worse yet, said author found her name on a list of 'unpublishables', and would need to write in a new genre or under a new name to continue her writing career.
It was just a numbers game. If you didn't earn out your first advance, it was difficult to justify another investment on the publisher's end of things. Had nothing to do with talent or the quality of the book necessarily, just business.
Now, more and more authors are asked to prove themselves on their own before a publisher will commit. Furthermore, many authors simply want to go it on their own--sail their own vessel, so to speak. So in many in cases, it's now up to us to decide how well a book should do, or if we want to publish another one.
But I'm not sure that's alleviated the pressure, or at least the perceived pressure, much at all. A lot of authors still nervously watch their sales on Amazon, almost trying to will their books into the top 100. We get depressed when our latest--the one we were certain was going to take off--fails to perform even as well as the previous.
I guess I'm thinking we need to have more of Mr. Bradley's mindset. A career mindset if you will.
Look, I've said many times on this blog that writers need to be able to put all the "it's art" talk in the drawer once a story is published. It's a business, and if you want to survive longterm, you need to treat it as a business.
You've created a product. Like your favorite fabric softener or brand of shoe, people are going to buy your book as a product, they are going to consume your book as a product, and lastly judge your book as a product. (This sounds bleak and overly consumeristic, but trust me, it'll help you cope when the reviews do or don't start coming in...)
If you're very, very lucky and talented, a literature class fifty years from now may examine your words with collected awe and admiration. But for now, you should feel really blessed to have someone tweet, "OMG this book is #AMAZEBALLS!!!! Totally read it on my potty breaks this week!"
But that doesn't mean that creativity and exploration doesn't still burn at the heart of what we do, because it does.
We can't be afraid to explore a cool concept just because there isn't a market for it. We can't shy away from trying a new writing technique or twisting a genre trope just to see what happens.
Why? Because I think that's how the really exceptional stories come about. In that way, I think we have to push the art to create the killer product, if that makes sense.
The byproduct of this, unfortunately, is the occasional turkey. Sometimes the vision is there, but the little ingredient that makes it shareable with others, isn't. Sometimes the writing is fine, the bones are all in place, but it just kind of sits there. You took a chance, and it just didn't go.
That's not advocating that you try to publish every story you churn out hoping that one of them eventually doesn't suck. That's how agent's are driven to the drink, and why some readers will pull a knife on you if you tell them you're a self-published author.
But you'll know the difference between something that sucks and a turkey.
A turkey is your best effort, something you've worked and reworked, but it just doesn't fly when you turn it loose. Suck is when your writing group threatens mass suicide if you don't rewrite it with ONLY "six POV characters and three epilogues" before they're forced to read another chapter. :)
In short, Mr. Bradley's statement has me feeling like it's okay to have a few turkey projects out there. That it'll just make me more appreciative of the things that do flourish.
What do you think? Does every story that you see through to completion need to have bestseller potential, or are you okay having a few that miss the mark? Do you feel any pressure to achieve external success (lots of readers, money, etc.) with everything you write, or is the writing enough?