Do you have a question about your fantasy novel, short story, or spot of flash fiction that’s burning for an answer (or even just a question about writing or the column in general)? If so, please email in your questions to: me “at” susanjmorris “dot” com.
I read your post in response to the question concerning the importance of genre. When writing nonfiction, a memoir to be precise, how critical is the author's celebrity and platform to the success of the work? Without platform or celebrity, is the project worth the effort?
I’m glad you saw my column! And thanks so much for sending in the question. Though, I’m going to take it and stretch it out a bit, since this column is focused on fantasy and science fiction, and fantasy memoires have yet to prove numerous enough to birth a genre (Darth Vader: Behind the Mask!). So I’m going to take your question to be: how important is a topic’s popularity to the success of the work, and without a popular topic, is the project worth the effort? (And to translate into fantasy terms: how important is [writing about vampires] to the success of the work, and without [writing about vampires], is the project worth the effort?)
To answer this revised question, I’m going to attack it from three angles: the impact of a topic on the marketability of a book, what makes a book something I want to read, and figuring out what makes a book “worth it” for you as an individual. Each piece should help to answer the question in a slightly different way, and by the end, between them, hopefully you’ll be able to come to your own conclusions.
Writing About [Vampires]
Oh man. I know it can get frustrating when it seems like the market is blowing up for books that you just don’t want to write. Sometimes, it can be tempting to think that if you just wrote about [vampires], or whatever’s popular at the moment, you could for sure sell your book, since people are clearly snapping them up like cakepops. And there may be something to that! When I was a kid, there was one unicorn book in the whole elementary school’s library. I really wanted another book on unicorns. I would have probably read any book on unicorns. But tragically, there were no other books on unicorns. So you totally could have monopolized my market, right there.