Jay Gets Hopeful

I've been working on the TNP for a while now, and this week a sudden and horrible thought came to me -- what if this book is unsaleable?


I don't write with an eye toward selling necessarily. I don't make character choices or plot choices or language choices with an eye toward "the market" or "trends" or what have you, especially not in first drafts. I write what I would like to read. But still, since I'm in the middle of the query process with The Book, the question crossed my mind. See, The Book fits squarely into a precise genre and subgenre. It's a fairly original idea (in my mind, anyway) and excellently executed, OF COURSE :) , but there's no question where it would go in the book store.

But the TNP is not of a type that I've seen before. It's ... less specified. And so, as a result of the query process, I started getting concerned that the TNP--which I am writing, you may recall, as a hedge against The Book not selling thereby rendering The Book's sequel, Electric Boogaloo, useless--may be equally useless, and that sent me into a bit of a tailspin.

But, it turns out, I was wrong.

Because this week, in a divine coincidence, I picked up Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (whose last name I always spell "leviathan" like he's some deep sea monster or something). And there I found a kissing cousin for the TNP. Obviously, the TNP has a totally different plot and characters and setting and all that blah blah blah, but the attitude, the frankness, the focus...these things are all similar enough to let me know that TNP could possibly get bought. Of course, my writing group was all "um, Jay, you are not Rachel Cohn and David Levithan," which is fair enough -- they always bring me back to reality -- but the point is that TNP isn't useless. It isn't pointless. There is a market out there for the type of book it is and someone could want it. To quote the motto of my home state: FORWARD!

Anyway, I highly recommend Nick and Norah's if you haven't read it. It's not a heavy story - boy meets girl, boy asks girl to be his five minute girlfriend, girl thinks boy's an idiot, but ends up liking him anyway - but the characters are very well drawn and it's overall a charming story. Also, the authors have thus far resisted audience pressure to do a sequel, which resistance I admire and respect. Because it's the story of One Perfect Night, the book has a sort of fairy tale/fable feeling about it despite its grounding in reality, and I think knowing what happens next would remove some of that sheen.


Now, as much as I respect any good writer group, how do they KNOW you're not as good as these other writers? For all we know, you really are that good and it's just a matter of time before the world knows it. See, it's that kind of group mentality that sort of bugs me: how dare you even put yourself in that league! I say "dare, dare!"

To me, it's not even a question of selling. Sure, having one's skills reflected by number of copies sold would be quite fun but we must remember that awful writers like John Grisham and He-Who-Wrote-The-Da-Vinci-Code-But-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named also enjoy sales and popularity incommensurate with their writing skills.

Perhaps, not only are you not those two writers but maybe you are BETTER than those two writers. It doesn't really matter, really, but it's premature to say that you're not.

You know who I am: a friend who refuses to register with a certain company who claims to do no evil even as they sell all my data to those who would annoy me.

Saturday, April 26, 2008 at 4:39:00 PM EDT  

Hi Person I Know!

The group was actually not saying that I wasn't in their league, but that I didn't have their track records. Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, when they wrote Nick & Norah, had each independently had big successes and were known quantities in the YA world whereas I am not. My writing group's comment was about "known authors with track records can sell stuff that new people can't" not "you are not as good as them."

But I appreciate the sentiment. As my mother used to say - "there's plenty of crap in the sea." :)

Sunday, April 27, 2008 at 8:26:00 AM EDT  

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