Just because you’re screaming in a vacuum doesn’t mean you’ve lost your voice.

This post goes out to all my thinking-about-it or struggling-to-make-it-happen writers out there.

No one will write your story but you.

Oh my goddess in tights, there are a lot of books coming out right now. And that’s probably because everyone and their sister’s half-cousin’s neighbor’s babysitter is suddenly an author. And that’s…. great. Really, I mean that. Language is what separates us from the beasties, my poppets, and the written form of it, the ability to export and make static that which would otherwise be just a passing thought and existent solely unto itself, is a superb gift and opportunity I wish more people would embrace.

And yet, writing is more than an artistic expression for me; it’s also a source of income.  So the steep, steep, STEEP increase over the last year of competition in the marketplace is more than a little alarming. More frustrating still, is looking at some of the titles that are coming out of nowhere and shooting up the charts. Don’t get me wrong, I know myself well enough to know I’m a contrary sort. What I like isn’t usually what everyone is going gaga over. Still, I can usually look at these titles with large followings and at least understand what the appeal may be. But lately? Lately I see a cascade of books with cookie cutter plots and more typos than a bad English translation on a box of Chinese shampoo, and I just have to stare and shrug and wonder what the hell I’m doing by not following the trend.

I’m not Tolstoy or Hugo. I think we can all agree on that. I don’t want to be a literary giant. (Cue the heckler shouting, “Then you have nothing to worry about!”) But in the genres in which I write – primarily romance and speculative fiction – I do long for respect and enough visibility for readers to see and form a fair opinion of my work. In the current environment, however, I question how one does that while still holding themselves to a higher standard.  You see, I refuse to cheapen my stories, characters, or the quality of my writing just to fit the mold of what is the hot plot du jour.

But I remind myself, I am doing this as a business. If this is what the market expects, it seems a really bad business decision to ignore that, doesn’t it?

Well, yes, and no. See, there’s something that cannot be forgotten in all this. No one can write your story but you. And likewise, you can’t write someone else’s story. I can’t write the type of stories that are burning up the book world these days. So, my only options are quit, or persevere doing what I know I can do, writing what I know I can (and love to) write. So, yes, even though my sales are small and the type of success so many out-of-the-blue authors are experiencing is beyond me, I’ll keep yelling into that vacuum and hoping. There’s one thing I know for certain: nature hates a vacuum. And maybe, just maybe, someday I’ll be the one who fills it.

13 Comments  to  Just because you’re screaming in a vacuum doesn’t mean you’ve lost your voice.

  1. My agent shared your blog in our facebook group. I’m so glad she did. Thank you for this. I think there are a lot of authors who need to hear it. I certainly did. But I suspect you know that. lol I’m an author just starting out. I’ve got three books out so far, and like you, I don’t write what’s hot these days and my sales are showing it. But I’ve always felt the need to stay true to myself and my stories, because, again, like you, I can’t write those stories that are so hot right now, and frankly, some days, I feel like I’m beating my head against the wall. lol It’s very nice to know I’m not alone in this.

  2. Clista Seals says:

    Killian, I LOVED your book, Love by Any Measure. I have told many people, it is a MUST READ! I have read hundreds of books, in this genre over the past 18 months. I agree with what you said in your post. There are far too many with the same old story, and the mistakes are obvious and upsetting. Thank You for your words and work. I am a big fan and will continue to support you and your books. This post is important for many to read.

    • Killian says:

      Clista, I thank you profusely. With so many books, there will always be similarities in plots. That doesn’t mean we as writers shouldn’t challenge ourselves to create something unpredictable, something bold. My favorite reads are ones with brave plots. Even if I don’t end up liking the story as a whole, the writer always has my respect.

  3. Thank you Killian for saying what I feel inside and have for several years now. My agent is trying to find a publisher for my books with the thought in mind that women’s fiction is a much harder sell than, say, romance. I don’t write romance and won’t try and there’s nothing wrong with romance or thrillers or mysteries but I don’t know how to write them. So, I don’t write to the market and am not going to start now. It’s sad that the gatekeepers are those who decide who gets published and “makes it” on the NYT Bestsellers List. I think all that is slowly changing but I may be dead before it makes a difference for me.

  4. Betsy says:

    Just shared your blog entry on FB. All of us who are writers can feel your pain. I read what I want. I write what I want. I’m lucky enough that some people plunk down money to buy a book or an e-book. I don’t care which. I love reading the reviews, because I know who I touched with my humble efforts and who didn’t like what I wrote. I continue to write because I cannot stop. Thanks for such a great post. And thanks for the giggles in it. Loved typos compared with instructions on Chinese shampoo. Think I tried to read an indie book written in Chinglish over the weekend. I had to work too hard to make sense of it, so I quit…

  5. WOW this is really good and so on target. I am surprised at some of the books I am reading. They don’t seem to be what I expect to find. I am with you on doing the absolute best you can do and then when you finally find a large audience of readers you can enjoy your overnight success. I do wish the new authors would take more time and, for their sake, at least have someone critique them and check for misspelled words and maybe upgrade some of those covers.

  6. Nice article Killian, well said and so true…I guess we just have to keep on keeping on 🙂
    E

  7. I understand exactly what you’re saying! But you also said it just right here–“See, there’s something that cannot be forgotten in all this. No one can write your story but you.”

    I write what I like and what I want to read. Whether that’s what’s hot in the market or not, I will still write it!

    Excellent post!

  8. Jen says:

    I’d say that youre doing well. I picked up Pure for free on Amazon and liked it enough that I immediately purchased Demon. I hope this turns into a five or six book series, to be honest.

    • Killian says:

      I so delighted to hear you liked it, Jen. I do have firm plans for three books in that series, possibly four. We’ll just see where the muse takes me (and what time allows).

  9. Excellent post. I will be going through a few of these issues as well..

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