Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Blog Chain: Suffering from comparison

Michelle McLean brought us this month's blog-chain topic.

Do you write for the market or for yourself? Why? Are there times you do both? Or times when you've written something specifically because it was "hot" at the moment? If so, how did it turn out?

I thought of poor Maggie Stiefvater when I read Michelle's question.

Several weeks ago, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton made the film adaptation of Stiefvater's book "Shiver" the topic of a blog post.
Insinuating the story/author/movie adaptation was riding the coattails of "Twilight" fame, Hilton -- who obviously hadn't read the book -- said "...(Shiver) sounds like it might be even stoopider than a sparkling vampire."

While many of Stiefvater's fans ripped him a new one for making the unqualified comparison, several more accepted Hilton's classification and dismissed "Shiver" as a Johnny-Come-Lately.

Not cool, Perez. Not.Cool.At.All.

I'm not going to mince words: Unqualified comparisons piss me off. But in this case it provided valuable lessons on how easily things can be labeled as a trend and how risky it could be if someone chose to follow one.

Don't get me wrong. It definitely pays for authors to be mindful of what's hot. Two of Jodi Picoult's books -- "19 Minutes" and "Perfect Match" -- gave a fictional face to a hot-button (read: trendy) political or social issue and put her on the best-seller list.

But authors need to be aware that it doesn't take much to saturate (and flood) the market with comparable stories.

Personally, I like Picoult's approach, putting characters in unique situations using popular (read: trendy) issues. I don't, however, consciously try to follow a literary market trend. That's too scary...scarier than vampires, werewolves and celebrity bloggers combined.

The Blog Chain has some new voices. Links to all of the Blog Chain members' blogs can be found beneath "The Chain Gang" heading on this page.

Be sure to check out what the marvelous Michelle Hickman had to say before me. And don't miss what the awesome Abby Annis has to say tomorrow.


Aubrie said...

Very interesting post on this topic. I, myself, cringe at the thought of writing about vampires. especially after all that's been done with them. I want to write about something new.

Eric said...

Awesome post, Kat. I had no idea about that mixup by Perez Hilton (though honestly I don't follow him either). That just goes to show how little attention I pay to trends. What I'm hoping is that I'll write something as trendy as Jody Picoult but be the one to start a new trend. You know, big bucks, lots of groupies (okay, maybe not since my wife wouldn't agree with that one), and the beginning of an awesome career. Sounds good, huh? Oh, and I'm loving the chain gang listing. That's so cool.

Christine Fonseca said...

great post KAT!!!

lbdiamond said...

Well said! A misinformed opinion really irks me...yeah. So, go you!

Great post! :)

Michelle H. said...

I hadn't heard what Perez said either. But this post describes exactly what my feelings are concerning trends. There always has to be a saturation point reached with too many similar novels fighting for attention and the public slowly becoming tired of the trend topic. Great post!

Rebecca Talley said...

Perez Hilton irritates me. I think it's ridiculous when someone spouts off an opinion of something he hasn't even read and even more ridiculous for people to believe it.

Great post.

lynnrush said...

Write on, Kat.

I just write what I write and that's all I can do. I don't watch the market too much, but do read a bit in my genre to see what's out there.

But you're right. Can't chase trends.

KM Wilsher said...

Great thoughts, Kat.

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
"Look! This is something new"?

That is soo hard for me. I have had ideas and suddenly I've found its already out there.

Great post. I like what you said.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

I have no interest in Perez. However, if he were a werewolf or a vampire, that would be more interesting than a mere celebrity blogger. Perhaps we could come up with a story about a vampire who blogs about the celebrities he bites. Or maybe a celebrity who blogs about her encounters with werewolves.... you get the idea. It's a lot more interesting to combine several ideas than to follow one trendy one. Enjoyed your post!

Mandy said...

Great post, Kat! It's so sad that subject matter can become pigeonholed like that. I've heard good things about Shiver, and from what I understand, there's no comparison to Twilight. But one opinion can easily sway hundreds. It's always important to keep an open mind!

Lydia Kang said...

I am always tired of seeing YA get bashed in one way or another. The simple comparisons and belittling of subgenres drive me crazy.
Thanks for the post, but I need to calm down now!

Robin McCormack said...

Perez Hilton? Is he the pink haired weird guy? Since when does anything he has to say have any merit. Sorry if that sounds snarky but he annoys me. I have yet to read "shiver" but its on my list. It's hard to follow literary trends when they change more quickly than some folks can write such as me. I admire the ones who do write quickly enough or well enough to set the trends. However, I'd still rather write to the story as Michelle so succinctly put it yesterday.

Kat Harris said...

For the record, the only reason I knew Perez Hilton had said this is because Maggie Stiefvater had a link to it on her Facebook page.

I'm not one of his followers. :-)

Nisa said...

Very nice thoughts on the matter. And a new approach to it as well.

Abby Annis said...

I agree that following trends can be very risky. At least if you write what you love, you can enjoy the process. And that passion will definitely come through in your words. Great post!

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Good topic, Kat. By the time we would try to follow a trend, it's probably already peaking. So I think it's better to follow your passion as a writer and let the trends fall where they may. Eventually, your stuff will fit the trends, because the genres and subjects cycle in and out regularly.

Michelle McLean said...

very true about market saturation - you might have an awesome book and be told "sorry" because there are just too many similar books out there. And if you write only for a specific trend, by the time your book is ready, the trend may have passed.

Cole Gibsen said...

Ohmigosh! I had no idea that happened to poor Maggie. That's terrible. And I couldn't agree with you more - comparisons suck!

Shaun Hutchinson said...

That's an awesome take on it! I am NOT a Perez fan. But about the comparisons, you're right. People should judge books based on their own merits.

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

UGH - I really hate Perez Hilton - I don't know why anyone gives him the time of day. And I agree that comparisons can be really unfair sometimes. Really great post!

B.J. Anderson said...

I love this post! And I hate Perez Hilton. I think he's pretty much a joke.