Commentary: Dare to Be Different
YOU’RE AN aspiring author with dreams to break into the world of literature. You have an idea in your head, ready to write or type it out, sending it to an editor, obtaining a copyright for your idea all the way to publication. You find out your book – the baby you’ve been working on so diligently – is the same as Barbara the Bookseller’s in genre, characters and plot. Yet, you plan on jumping the ‘Imitation Lit’ bandwagon so you took a chance and now you have to face the fact readers would rather prefer Barbara’s book to yours. You decided to ‘write for the market’ and wound up with lower book sells than Barbara, who is making a killing.
This is one example of aspiring authors who dared ‘write to the market’ or ‘write to the trend’. Remember when vampires were the big rage? Charlaine Harris was the talk of the literary world around 2008 when the HBO series ‘True Blood’ aired, based on her Sookie Stackhouse novels. Alan Ball, the producer of the show according to the story, browsed through the bookstacks of Barnes and Noble, found Ms. Harris’s Dead Until Dark (the first installment of the Stackhouse series) and from that, True Blood began to take shape. Of course the success of the show prompted other aspiring authors to take a bite of the vampire genre (as well as regular television networks) and added their own spin to it. Eight years later, no one is really talking or writing much about vampires any longer. While the attention has shifted to dystopian societies under the Young Adult genre which spawned the Hunger Games and Divergent series in both print and movies, no one is for sure where the next big genre will be. This is where you, the aspiring author can take advantage.
Perhaps you have a manuscript languishing inside your hard drive or laptop. Maybe it’s buried under a mountain of notes or hidden in a folder. Whatever the reason aspiring author, this is the moment, this is the time for you to revisit your project and write. It may take time and although you may or may not reach the status you desire in the literary world, taking the first steps to create that first, different masterpiece is within your reach should you decide to take it.
It’s easy to write “Imitation Lit’ novels or stories. Consider the number of books flooding the market with the same plot, characters and writing styles of a J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Zane, Omar Tyree and others. If you go to any bookstore, you’ll see Imitation Lit in full display with titles that identify close with the genre. For example, we had an Authors N Focus Facebook group page where we had so many authors writing in the same genre with the same style of book covers posted on our photo gallery, with links that described the same ‘cautionary’ tales……do you begin to understand our decision to abruptly end the group. There was no one who dared to be different, no one who offered a genre different than the one we observed on our timeline daily. If you want to stand out, write a novel or non-fiction book that has a different slant on a familiar story. Otherwise aspiring author, your hard work will be part of a market already saturated with sameness, which is what you need to avoid at all costs.
Readers will reward you if you have a fictional tale or non-fiction subject that is interesting, funny, and makes them feel it was well worth it to spend their hard earned money on your book. Not only will they support you, but the possibility they will share your work with friends, family and other book lovers or book club is high. No one can really tell whether or not your first work will be a success, only you aspiring author can ensure it by putting in the work, trusting only your voice, seeing your vision in your manuscript and all within it. You cannot write like Barbara the Bestseller, but you can write like yourself, so now is the time to stand out, make your literary dreams a reality and be different. Dare and trust yourself to be that way.
Charles L. Chatmon
Authors N Focus Extra