Writing the Commercial Bestseller
‘Sandra Rutton : Recently, there was an exhaustive discussion about whether or not the mystery genre is stagnate. You stated:“If you write something different, REALLY different, you get punished for it in reader confusion and poor sales.
“Some years ago, I wrote what I think of as my best book, GRAVITY. A thriller without any villains. A thriller set in orbit. It got the best reviews of my life and yet it sold the fewest copies. And it took me years for my career to recover from that disastrous experience.“Some of us long to write the truly creative, truly off-beat book. But we must do so with the full realization that for the most part, the reading public wants plain old-fashioned vanilla. “How hard do you find it to balance the scales between the idea calling to you, the thing you’d love to try, and the idea you know can sell?
Tess Gerritsen: Oh, it’s really hard! When you take on a risky and starkly different project, you’ll face resistance from just about everyone.
I’d like to believe that my readers are open-minded enough to stay with me, to follow me in a new and different direction, but I know many of them won’t. T
I think the only way one can survive as both an artist and a working writer is to limit the number of risks you take.
For me this interview frames the very real decision making dilemma writers face;
there are storylines and fiction scenarios which the author is passionate about and wants to communicate to the readers;
*she has to frame those stories into a format and tell them the best way she can
*she has studied the market and recognised the framework of crime fiction tropes which seem to be common to the bestselling work by popular authors – but they may not be in the style she writes in.
*she want to be a contracted, working, professional author. She also wants to express her personal voice.
*she knows that literary agents and publishers run a business to make money and to do that they need to sell consumers something they need and want/ or will want.