First, there was Twilight, the sparkly vampire phenomenon that seemed to come from nowhere. Now there’s Fifty Shades of Grey, the “erotic” novel that has the nation gripped. Once in a while, these literary fads appear. Which leaves writers like me, writers who have spent years developing voice and style, wondering why it comes so easily to others.
The issue at hand is that some things just seem to gain momentum. Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey were both “black swans”—exceptions to a general rule. But that probably doesn’t make you feel any better. Instead, here are some points that may actually work to help you remember that it’s better to be in it for the long haul than a quick buck.
1. One Hit Wonders.
Like the music business, writing can have its single hits. If you’ve spent years crafting your writing, then chances are you want to have a long, successful career, not just one hit and then be forgotten. Remember this.
2. Substance Over Style.
No names mentioned, but some of these instant hits can be, well, poorly written. Quick reads that transport the reader to another place and are then discarded are all well and good, but the pride in producing something with cadence, plot and beauty has to be slightly larger.
3. Know Yourself.
I’m sure I’ve said this before, but that’s because, as far as I can see, it’s the most important thing to keep in mind. Do you want to write a series of erotic novels whose cleverest aspect is a pun on the color grey? No. Then don’t worry that someone else does. Maybe your book won’t be the core of Facebook statuses around the world, but it may be loved, enjoyed and remembered.
New hits appear all the time. Part of the beauty of the publishing industry is its diversity. There’s room for Twilight, but there’s room for you, too.
Helen Dring is a fiction writer from Liverpool, England. She is studying for an MA in Creative Writing and is currently writing her first novel. She likes fairy tales, ghost stories and modern history.