Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Spinning of JK Rowling - From YA Fantasy to Sister in Crime

Dear Fellow Writer,
I think I finally understand.

Remember I said I was at a publishing conference recently where all the major publishers said that crime fiction was the next big thing?

All the big publishing houses were saying (with uncanny confidence) they predicted the demand for fantasy would subside in favor of a upswing in interest in crime thrillers.

At the time I just took this curious stance at face value. 

Didn't really question the logic.

Just assumed these publishers had their finger on the pulse.

But now that JK Rowling has just been outed as the true author of the Robert Galbraith crime novel, The Cuckoo's Calling, it all makes sense...

Who else but Joanne could possibly start a tsunami of interest in the crime fiction genre?

For many years, publishers have tried to tap into what is known in the trade as "The Emergent Reader" - a nice way of referring to people who don't normally read - or rather buy - books, either because they're just not regular readers or that they find reading literary fiction rather heavy going. 

Actually like most of us!

James Patterson has said he deliberately targeted these "emergent" readers with his gritty no nonsense prose and graphically violent thrillers - with impressive results.

That was twenty years ago - before Dan Brown and Twilight

And then Stieg Larsson. And then 50 Shades...

But what of the future?

What is the NEXT big thing?

My guess is that Little, Brown and Co is counting on soon securing a whole new swathe of fiction readers who are more likely to buy an adult thriller written by Joanne Rowling - than they are to buy any other kind of book at all.

Bear in mind that before Joanne was outed, her new novel had sold less than 500 copies (less than 1500 according to some more recent sources - the figure is no doubt being spun.) 

This was despite being well reviewed and given lots of promotion. 

500 copies may not seem a lot but actually, when most new authors apparently sell less than 200, it is fairly impressive.

But with a potential readership of 500 million (the number of copies sold in the Harry Potter series) Joanne's 'Galbraith' novel is probably now set to break all records for crime fiction sales...
It's humbling for us mere mortal authors when writers achieve astronomical sales after a $25 billion dollar film franchise gets on board.

But it's also quite illuminating that JKR's new book sold so few copies when it didn't have her name on it.

In a way it's heartening that she can't sell more than the rest of us based on the story - and hearty publisher promotion - alone.
I'm sure The Cuckoo's Calling is a fabulous read. People say it's engaging if a little old fashioned - but surprisingly well written.

I think any writer who gets people reading is great for our calling.

Because the more people reading, the more demand there will be for books generally.
And my guess is that single-handedly, Joanne Rowling could potentially start an avalanche of demand for crime fiction novels.
As you know, I predicted there would be an upsurge in interest in the crime thriller recently - and even crafted a writing course on the subject, which you can view HERE.

Now, one of the effects of the success of the Harry Potter series was to create a huge amount of interest in writing fantasy novels. 

All good, you'd think.

But many publishers in the Noughties complained daily that they were inundated with juvenile and YA fantasy manuscripts from writers overwhelmingly inspired by Harry Potter's appeal.

The same publishers also complained that the majority of these manuscripts were either too derivative of Harry or just not written well enough to be publishable.
However, my guess is that this time around, publishers may actually want to read - and publish - new crime fiction manuscripts because, overall, the demand for crime fiction is already fairly high!

So if JKR's crime novel appeals to a wide audience of these new "emergent readers" (many of whom, I assume, have only ever bought a Harry Potter novel) then everybody wins.

Including every other crime fiction novelist...

Including, my friend, potentially, you.
So if you want to get in quick and learn how to easily write your own crime thriller, click on this link.

The genre is fascinating, fun and rewarding - but there are, like all genres, certain conventions that you must know before you jump right in and start writing.

Actually even before you start planning your next crime fiction novel, there's crucial information, tips and tricks you need to know. 
Even Joanne apparently studied the genre a few years ago before she launched herself into The Cuckoo's Calling.

So get on the inside track right now.

Be one of the first to ride the inevitable crime fiction wave with:

from me, your friendly, neighborhood writing tutor!
Keep Writing!
 rob at home


"Don't compromise yourself; you're all you've got." Janis Joplin
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The Writing Academy

Welcome to the official blog of Rob Parnell's Writing Academy, updated weekly - sometimes more often!