How to find what is right for you as a creator?

edited January 2015 in The Toolbox
Ganked from another discussion:
Certain genres are the hot flavors today, which might get you some money with the right publisher & audience, but is that right for you as a creator?  How can you balance what you might really want to do versus staying viable in the industry?  What if you want to do a romance book?  A sports-based book?  A simple drama?  An all-ages book? An ethnic-based book?


  • I'm somewhere between having shit for commercial instincts and also just not caring if that's the case or not, so I've usually just gone the "pitch three publishers, then digitally-self-publish it anyway" route, and waited for the tens upon tens of Fat Comics Dollars to come flowing in. 

    I mean, I'd like a hit, and god knows I wish I had an editor sometimes, but I absolutely love the creative freedom of just having it be me and my collaborator controlling everything. 
  • I have the advantage that most of the stuff I want to do is pretty commercially viable, but who knows if that will last. I do move stuff around in the order I pitch it based on how well I feel it will do.

    But I'm pitching a pseudo fantasy, sci fi Hercules and a cosmic horror western soon, so you know...

  • @JustinJordan Are you concerned with whether or not a similarly-genred book is currently coming out from a publisher you're pitching to? Have you ever moved something to the end of the line because it was kind of similar to something else?
  • Genre? No. But if the story is too similar, yeah.

    Genre would only matter if I though it was specific enough it might matter - if there were a bunch of horror westerns at Image, for instance, I might kick it to the back.
  • I don't think this is thread-hijacking (but I'll move this if it is)...but I'm in a bit of a situation now where a story I'm just about ready to pitch is similar-ish to something that's been announced (in broad strokes). I'm thinking I'll just go ahead and pitch anyway, because I like the story and I'm pleased with the way it's come out...not to mention all the hard work the team has put into it. 

    Y'think there's a benefit to waiting?
  • @DinoCaruso
    I would not wait. I admit, I have held back before when I read that someone else has a similar idea. However, after a few experiences like this I've come to the conclusion that whoever is first is FIRST. It doesn't mean the first will succeed, but I've found that it doesn't really matter.
  • My stories start with ideas, with characters and scenes... And then I try to paste them into the genre that works. For example, WILL was a story about a battle of wills in a prison camp. We made it sci if because it fit better than a realistic setting. Likewise, CALYPSO was a story about a mythical woman at heart.... And we set it in World War II France because the scenery fit.
  • If I had to ascribe a theme to the writing I've done so far, which isn't much in the grand scheme of a career, I'd say that it's all about systems of control (which was, not coincidentally, the title of the first chapter/issue of ORPHANS). 

    Police. Sex. Economics. Religion. I like exploring the ways in which people in power influence the behavior of the people who are not (perhaps because I'm part of that latter group).

    But the thing is, I can explore that theme within the confines of whatever genre. Space cops. Unicorn sex. Superhero economics. Fairy religion. Whatever. It's not really a matter of stapling that theme onto the back of what's popular, so much as I've always dug sf/fantasy/horror (Mom an' Dad probably regret showing me Star Wars when I was six and thus dooming me to life as a genre writer), and being able to put to things that interest me together like chocolate and peanut butter.
  • This is yet again, a reason why I simply self-publish. I like to do a wide variety of genres which is admittedly a bit of a detriment when it comes to trying to brand myself.
    But I don't want to have to play the game of deciding what stories that I'm going to work on based on what is hot in the market.
  • Ditto on the self-publishing. I made a decision years ago to not bother trying to chase publication or otherwise try to join the industry. I'd rather keep my day job and tell whatever stories I want without the pressure. 

  • I think half my trouble is that I *DO* get to do whatever I want (almost anything), and my publisher (Shadowline / Image) supports it.  But that puts me firmly in the middle because I have the potential to reach more people... but at the same time I'm playing in a much bigger sandbox.

    It rattles my brain.
  • Over the last two years I've had enough people telling me that I should produce work in a particular subgenre that's quite popular at present that I've decided to give it a try, although I was scornful of the idea at first.

    I could really use a bit of commercial success and that means playing to the market a bit (Justin does this particularly well, I think). So I thought about it and came up with an angle that interests me, and evades all the shit that usually annoys me about the genre. I hope that means I can hit on all the stuff people want out of the genre but still produce something original and unusual.

    For this project, genre was just a starting point. Once I found characters and a story I wanted to tell about the genre ceased to be a concern. 
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