How do you write a "breakout" novel? How do you hit the market just right? How do you know if you're writing a novel that everyone will be excited about and want to read? How to you know if you're writing something publishers will want to buy?
HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW???
Allow me to let you in on a little secret about Paranormalcy.
I didn't write it to sell.
I didn't write it with the market in mind, or with editors in mind. I didn't craft it to be a "breakout" novel. I wrote it for FUN.
Yup. FUN. It's something we writers occasionally overlook in our passionate pursuit of publication. (Say that ten times fast! No, seriously. Say it ten times fast. I'll wait.)
When I started Paranormalcy, I had another book on sub. And of course that book was going to sell, and it was the planned first book in a series, so even if I did eventually get around to Para, it was years down the road. I was not thinking of it in terms of selling it. My exact process was this:
1. I am bored.
2. When I am bored, things get dangerous.
3. I should write another book.
4. I should write a book with fantasy elements.
5. While I'm at it, I should try out first person.
6. Hey, look, my son is napping and BAM THERE IS THE IDEA guess I'll start writing it now.
When I finished I thought, "Hey, this is pretty good. Maybe it's even really good, or at least it will be after I edit it. Fun! Now, back to stressing out about being on submission." And after a couple of minor edits, I shelved it.
Then my first book didn't sell, which, at the time, seriously sucked. And I had a dilemma. Did I edit the first book and have my agent go back out with it, or did I focus on Paranormalcy and get it ready? There were pros and cons to both. First and foremost, I was scared of Para. Especially that my agent would hate it. (She's not exactly a fan of anything with "creatures," as she puts it.) So I talked with friends who had read all my stuff, and I considered the market. I'd always thought that Para was special, and it seemed to me an ideal time for it. (See, this is where writing a funny, atypical paranormal romance comes in handy! I can ask you if you love Twilight and similar books, and if you say yes, I can say, "Then Paranormalcy is for you!" And if you say no, I can say, "Then Paranormalcy is for you!")
I edited it (and edited and edited and edited it) and then sent it to my agent with my stomach all twisted into knots. When Michelle loved it, I knew for sure I had something.
But did I know that when I was writing it? Nope. All I knew when I was writing it was that it was fun. So write for fun, and let the market work itself out. Does writing for fun guarantee your book will sell? Nope. But NOTHING guarantees your book will sell, so you might as well be having fun in the meantime, right?
Stay tuned tomorrow for a Very Big Contest of Awesome Announcement! And now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go figure out what, exactly, a Very Big Contest of Awesome should include. I'm leaning toward car chases and explosions. Or maybe just pictures and prizes.