If I could've slammed the book against my head, I would've.
After coming back from Book Expo of America, launching Blaze a few days later, and signing the contract for the sequel, I decided to take a brief break and read several of the books I had taken home from the large New York conference.
Although I didn't want to teeter close to that 50 pound limit for a checked bag, I did manage to snag 8-10 YA and MG ARCS (advance reader copies) from the conference so I could know what teens want to read right this upcoming fall and winter.
Two books (which shall remain nameless) skirted to the top of my pile.
One page into each, and I already wanted to tear them apart.
Without trying to give too many details away, and thus release the identity of the books, both were clearly cash grabs. The author of one latched onto a huge trend in publishing right now: STEM (mainly, young females engaging with it). The other was a book based on a franchise that may or may not hit theaters soon.
Problem with the STEM book: It beat readers over the head with the concept of STEM, had stilted dialogue, and contained a loose and unresolved plot.
Problem with the franchise book: It had enough plot holes to fill a Swiss cheese block, lacked character depth, and carried some psychological implications that book never addressed.
But two large publishers picked these up.
Why? Because they had a) a celebrity or high-end author write the content and b) because the concepts within are trending.
I have no doubt both will sell well. Both contained valuable messages, and they have Big Five publishers to back sales.
But will they last and make their way into the hands of teens five, ten years from now?
However, the third book on my TBR caught me by surprise. The Woods by R.L. Toalson carried such a classical tone and latched onto none of the trends they'd spoken about at the conference. Yet, this book has the greatest emotional impact on me than a novel has in a long time.
Albeit a bit weird and inconclusive at times, the novel contains such character depth and emotional agony that you can't help but empathize with the protagonist the whole way through. I don't know what sort of Hell-and-back journey the author had to go through to write such a poignant book, but it shows in the writing.
It likely won't sell as well as the aforementioned two.
But of the books read so far, I can only picture The Woods making it into the hands of future generations 20 years down the road.
1) Because it's authentic and raw
2) Because it doesn't hold back
3) Because it discusses universal truths instead of present trends
4) Because the writing can and will withstand time
Writers, I encourage you to write what's on your heart instead of what's selling the most. I know as an agent I can't technically say that, because in the publishing business we do have to pay attention to what sells.
Nevertheless, ten times out of ten I will take on a client because I fell in love with the writing, not the platform or trend the book seems to exude.
Because although, yes, money does come from writing something that sells, we should write because we want to change the world, not our bank accounts.