“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” ~ Winston Churchill
I learned some new management-speak today. In a culture that thrives on keywords, catch-phrases and some really incomprehensible assaults on the English language, this one stood out in a good way.
Lead. Align. Follow.
I immediately thought of how this applies to writers. We are a constantly moving organism with a million individual writers and artists, each of us working in isolation for the most part. We read widely, we write furiously.
We join email and Facebook groups and face-to-face groups for support, advice and critique. We follow the latest trends in marketing and push ourselves to find a new way to get our heads above the turbulent seas to hopefully be rescued from drowning in mediocrity by a passing readership.
LEAD – A writer produces something new. Sure it is the same as every other book. A hero goes on a journey and experiences or encounters all the same archetypes as in every other book. The uniqueness comes from when it strikes a chord with the reading public. You get breakout hits like Harry Potter, Twilight, 50 Shades of Grey. They become part of popular culture and writers and publishers and anyone else connected to the marketing of new entertainment rushes to align.
ALIGN – Zombies are so hot right now. TV shows like, The Walking Dead, iZombie, Z-Nation, and the thousand zombie novels that publishers like Permuted Press release each year (including all of mine). This is when everyone moves to align themselves with what has the reading public’s attention right now. We ride the crest of the wave, sure we don’t achieve the breakout success of the original, but we tap into the market for those who want more of the same. Zombies, vampires, paranormal romance, abusive relationships thinly veiled as BDSM, mainstream porn, alien invasion, private eye novels… pick something and there is an entire genre or industry aligned to re-creating the same stories to the same audience.
FOLLOW – You might think that following is a bad idea. Treading the same ground as thousands of other creators who came before you. Following has a lot of merit however, you can develop your skills, sell to a ready made market, apply your own customisation and always have something that you are familiar with.
New and experienced writers will always find times and stories where they write to one of these aspects. We all strive to lead, but we can do that while aligning and providing our own style and voice to our chosen genres. Following is always an option if you want to take an idea and develop it further. 50 Shades of Grey started out as Twilight fan-fiction after all.