Who am I?

I am a writing and publishing guru. What I dont know about the market just isn't worth knowing. So what if I'm unpublished? I choose to give other writers the gift of my wisdom and experience* that the other 500,000 writing blogs out there fail to give.
* No actual experience

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

When your narrative is out of date

The piece of writing advice one hears constantly is “write what you know/ are interested in”. The other point that always springs up is “know your market”. Experience has shown that these useful hints can be incompatible.

I’ve recently finished a short MG story told from the POV of the family cat. I’ve been interested in how our companion animals perceive us and negotiate the human world for a long time, so this clearly fits the “write what you’re interested in” school of thought. 

To summarise:  Jack’s human gets married and he acquires two unwanted housemates: his new stepmother’s (step-human’s?) cat and a hyperactive puppy. The animals can understand human-talk, and communicate with one another, but cannot speak to the humans. The story describes the upheaval associated with step-siblings and parental re-partnering, and their journey (literally, they get lost and have to find their way home) towards acceptance. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but it’s close to the stage of query/ submission.

Now for the research part of my tale: I came across a tip-sheet on a writers’ association web-page said the following about writing for the children’s market:

What’s not hot? The ‘granny topics’ - anything with talking animals, old-fashioned language or heavy topics.

Great! It looks like two strikes there already – talking animals dealing with parental re-partnering. (Granny topics? Humph! My children are under 10, I’m nowhere near being a granny).

So, do I query and submit and risk looking completely out of touch/ too slack to have researched the market, or shelve the project, roll up my sleeves, and get stuck into the next one?

Opinions, please!


  1. Weird because I was at a workshop a couple of weeks ago where "talking animals" was specifically something that was "never out of style." It was an editor from Simon & Schuster. But those were picture books she was referring to.

    I was in RWA when everyone was saying paranormal/vampire books were out. Several members of my local chapter insisted on writing them anyway and one of them was Sherrilyn Kenyon, who broke BIG because she was there when the vampire boom started. Usually if you chase a trend, by the time it's a trend you're already too late, since books come out 2 years or so after they're bought. In other words, it's not what's popular today but what WILL be popular in a few years that we have to worry about.

  2. What Stephanie said. If it's hot in the marketplace right now, you don't want to be querying it because it takes just that much more to stand out from what everyone else is submitting.

    Send your query. If it really is a granny trend, who's going to remember it when you send out the query for your next book anyway? No harm, no foul. And there's always the promise of a reward in the end...

  3. Here's your chance to make talking pets cool. Give the characters plenty of attitude and you won't have a problem.

  4. Thanks for the boost, people. I'll aim to query this at the start of next month. In the meantime, my other WIPs have no anthropomorphised creatures in them at all.

    I'm not a one trick pony!

  5. Well, you know, so long as the pony doesn't talk...

    :o) Go you!

  6. A talking pony? Genius! There's my next story.