Thursday, June 9, 2005

See the changes

...and it gets harder
as you get older
And farther away
as you get closer
- CSN, "See the Changes"

I've been ruminating (with a good deal of depression) over a conversation I had yesterday with the senior editor at NCP. She was kind enough to talk to me on the phone and give me suggestions as to what I might write to improve my sales.

I told her up front that I'm trying to build a reputation as a romantic comedy writer (actually my aim is to write "light" contemporary romance along the lines of Rachel Gibson, Susan Andersen, and Susan Donovan). She said my sales weren't bad, considering, but that NCP's readers simply aren't fond of romantic comedy in general, the reason being that it's something they can get in large quantities from New York publishers. She also said that my heroines tend to be so strong they overshadow the heroes (who are generally beta). I don't necessarily agree with that, but her point was that NCP's readers prefer alpha heroes, which I usually don't write (I've written a couple, but they're not my favorites).

The problem is that my work is slightly outside the box as far as New York is concerned, too. Part of it is those darned beta heroes... they don't tend to sell well (except for Vicki Lewis Thompson, maybe!). You'll recall that Kate Duffy rejected In the Mood because of the sexually inexperienced hero. I've written more than one of those. So maybe I'm just slightly too out of the box for either NCP or New York. I need to find a box I can fit into.

Of course, I do write other things. I've written futuristics and fantasies, too. But what I really want out of my career is to write light contemporary romance. It's what I love best. It's what I read and what I write most often. I *think* it's still selling in New York... Lori Foster, Marianne Stillings, and many others come to mind. But is it too tough a sell for an author new (or almost new) to New York? Chick lit sells... but I'm not sure I really have a chick lit sensibility in my stories. I'm just not that cool.

Sigh. I can't figure out what I should do or where I should go with my career. Switch to futuristics? Keep plugging away at light contemporaries and hope someone, somewhere will want to read them? Kill "Ellen Fisher" entirely and start writing something totally different under a different name?

I think I'll hide under my desk for a while and think about this:-).


  1. I've been struggling with this same thing. Trying to find the box I can write in, love it, and still sell. I don't think there are any easy answers--if you find one, please share! :-)

    I guess the most important thing is to keep writing. Since I was frozen up on my other wip, I went back to my first ms which needs serious revisions until I figure things out.

    You've obviously got great experience and great stories! I can't wait to pick up Stranger when it comes out at Waldenbooks--Mrs. Giggles loved it!

    Hugs, keep writing, and believe.

  2. Ellen,

    I'm in the same position, and I'm embracing it. I love light contemporary romance and romantic comedy. I tried forcing myself away from it for a project or two, in the name of selling. It didn't work; I didn't sell, anyway.

    Keep plugging away! Someone has to discover us soon!