I'm one of the fortunate ones in the eyes of many aspiring writers. I have two published books to my credit. I write in the genre of historical fiction because that is where my passion lies, and I've been lucky to find a niche that--along with hard work and sheer determination--has gotten me a big publisher.
But it's not all a smooth ride from book to book from there, as I know all my author friends know. You have to have sales too. Publishing is a business, and people depend upon it for their livelihood. I was horrified at the low sales figures of the recent Booker Prize nominees, only Ian McEwan among them approaching mass-market status, some selling in the hundreds of copies only. What vision their editors must have had to bring them out despite knowing that such a thing might happen.
And for those of us who are what is called "midlist" in the industry--well, there's always that pressure to write the "breakout book."
Question is, how? I think trying is not a fruitful endeavor. And no one can actually predict what's going to capture the public's imagination anyway, and it's much too hard to do unless you're passionate about what you're writing.
Where's this going? I hear my patient reader ask. Only to say that with the encouragement of my agent, and a burst of passion while writing that was a surprise to myself, I have taken a little detour off what I thought would be my writing and publishing path and gone into the YA world. I had some trepidation about the saleability of YA historical fiction about classical music, but things are going well-- more on the details in the future.
My point is that there's nothing truly linear about a writing career, or if there is, it's as much a matter of chance and a combination of the right circumstances as anything else. Will my YA be my breakout book? There's no way to predict. But I believe in it, and that's the best I can do for now.
Causes Susanne Dunlap Supports
New York Public Radio, WFCR, Connecticut Opera, Neuroblastoma Foundation