A long time ago I talked about how it felt like the group of writers I’d come up with were more like my graduating class than random strangers cast adrift on the sea of creativity. We all seemed to get published within a few years of each other. We acted as sounding boards, cheering squads, and avenging angels. Some of my ‘class’ have been fortunate enough to have released a ton of books and even make a few lists. Others have worked hard, but haven’t caught the same breaks. Whether that was due to skill, timing, the market, or all the above really doesn’t matter.
I thought that once we were published that would be the end of our ‘graduation’ ceremony. (Note: I didn’t say the hard work.) But that hasn’t been the case. Lately, I’ve looked around and seen most of my friends struggling. Some are trying to hold onto their book deals and their agents. Others haven’t been so fortunate.
The one thing they all seem to have in common is that they ALL are looking for a change. The writers that I know are re-evaluating their entire careers. Some are thinking about leaving publishing, while others are deciding to start for scratch. (ie new names, new genres, new outlooks) They are venturing out. Very few are doing this because of the changing marketplace. Oh sure, the market (or lack thereof) has influenced everyone in publishing. But it seems to be more than that with the writers I know. Everyone seems to be at a crossroads. And more than ever before, they are looking at each direction carefully. It was easy to take the first road you came to in the beginning. But we’re all wiser now. Most are taking the long view of things.
Like many of my fellow ‘graduates’, I never thought I’d wander away from romance. That particular genre was everything I loved about books and reading. But as I’ve journeyed down this very crooked road with its bevy of switch-backs, I’ve found myself questioning the path I chose. I have spoken to many writers and it was readily apparent that I was far from alone.
I think over the next year readers are going to see several of their favorite authors leave the safety of what they’ve built behind. With publishers tightening their belts, many of them have nothing to lose. And that’s not a bad thing.