The Rules that Bind us All
Most often than not, writers write because they have an inner need to do so. Some go delusional thinking that once a book has been published, its a sure thing to make a living.
Yet look at the statistics of how many books get published vs. how many published books give writers enough to make decent living, or how many published books remain published for more than 2 years.
As a professional writer, you must realize that the publication machinery is under the economic pressure to pay its bills.
Nothing to do with Art.
Nothing to do with Craft.
Everything to do with Business and Economics.
A book needs a "market,” and existing markets are already filled with titles.
Agents and Editors cannot predict trends (I was told this by an editor), they can only hope that a book will be read by enough people to create a new trend ... or fall into the path of an existing trend. If editors think this what do writers think?
Writing is a subjective art (as all art) yet a not-so-subjective craft (as most craft).
In today’s world, literacy has been mistaken with “the ability to tell a written story" and best-selling with "being a great writer,” when in fact what we are up against, as professional writers, is a warped system of values based on market economy, which in itself is utterly dependent on an even more warped system called "monetary economy.”
The rules that bind us all come from something that has absolutely nothing to do with the art and craft of writing.
However, if we don’t know what these rules are in the publishing industry—whether we go Indie or commercial—how do we expect to make a living with our writing?
Bringing something Novel to the table
When I used to visit the Frankfurt Book Fair, I was always appalled at the number of books on display. Literally hundreds of thousands. And I asked myself why one more book, if there are already so many.
That's perhaps what drove me to try to bring something more to the table, something I hoped people had not seen before, or that I thought was something that they need to know in order to understand our world better.
In other words, I sort of had to rethink my career. I was publishing with the big ones (C. Bertelsmann, Carlsen, Fischer) but they expected me to produce about two titles per year.
Not only were they going to publish in a language I wasn't writing in (I wrote in English, they published in German), and the rights were not being sold "up the line" into the English market, but I realized that it was sort of madness to continue pumping out stuff simply to meet a quota.
It took me many years to reconsider what it was I wanted to do, to make my writing matter, not just for the sake of standing out, but in some way to make a difference to someone.
So now I do a lot of research, and not just that, but also try to find something in that research that will bring something "novel" to the table. The actual definition of writing a novel, applied literally.
I write non-fiction, too, but much fewer people read non-fiction, usually those who are already interested in a topic. With fiction, you can weave it into a story (which is actually really difficult if you don't want to simply engage in massive info-dumps).
So I thought that fiction—especially thrillers, due to the definition of the genre—can help me share these insights and discoveries in an amenable and entertaining way.
Making a Difference makes a difference
“Entertaining” is a key word when writing fiction that we hope will sell. A good story, well written, cannot help but be entertaining. However, making a difference isn’t only about telling a story better than most, entertaining the living daylights out of your readers, but giving them something more.
A bone to gnaw on.
After they finished reading.
Something that will stand out, not only for its entertainment value, but for the content included in the story.
What the story is really about.
It is said that a book is a door into a world that readers will have difficulty visiting or traveling to in their real lives.
That’s why many read.
Not only to be “entertained.”
Not only to “escape” from their day-to-day (mundane or not) reality.
But because they are searching.
For something more.
For something that will hopefully “make a difference” in their lives.
When I asked myself “What can I write that will make a difference?” searching for a reason to write “one more book” to fit into the already saturated bookshelves, I realized I had to dig deep into the world of my own experiences, experiences perhaps unique to me and my circumstances. I had to ask questions like:
“What makes me different?” (Not better.)
“What have I experienced and come to understand, that I wish to share with the world?” Simply because, like in the film Slumdog Millionaire (2008), I can answer questions because the answers have been an integral part of my life. Not because I’m smarter.
“What can I write about that can “make a difference” to people’s lives?
Dig deep enough and you’ll most likely find something
I had been writing books in various categories and genres—a murder mystery, some science fiction, two YA adventure novels, a YA Fantasy novel, a non-fiction book on Ecology, a non-fiction book on South American Native Indian legends, a scientific thriller that could become reality … Basically, all over the board.
Searching for stories that interested me.
I remembered how I’d learned to type—f f f, j j j, f f f, j j j, d d d, k k k, f j d j k—and realized that each genre is like a magnifying glass that warps reality focusing on specific aspects of reality.
I’d set myself to try out different genres, to learn what made them tick, exploring their tricks-of-the-trade.
Then the question came: Which is the genre that most allows to touch upon the big subjects of our world, the ones that make a difference, the ones that affect most lives?
In our times, maybe thrillers.
Just look at how many people like to read them. “To escape reality,” many claim. However, there’s something more to thrillers that escapes the eye of many a fan, and perhaps agent and editor as well.
It isn’t about “escaping reality,” but rather about “living the awful realities of our world from a safe place.”
So I dug deep into my own experience the result of a not-so-usual life.
And I realized that I’d been living on the edge. That I’d been exposed since very young to that threshold where the regular view on life—as related to education, to health, to economy, and more.
Why not share these in my writing?
Why not turn them into entertaining yarns?
Why not present those paradigms (that I’d seen shattered in my own life) in a way that would enable people—readers, yes—to walk into worlds that they themselves would hardly be able to visit?
I had already been doing this, thought not in a completely conscious way.
So what if I came up with a series of novels that would allow me to share my unique experiences and research in a way that would carry my readers into a world—their world, really—with a particular magnifying glass that allowed them to see what was right in front of them, but most likely not been explored from my particular perspective?
Stories don’t change, it’s our understanding of what they mean that changes.
Looking at “the truth of our existence” scares us so much, that we rather read it in the form of “escapist” fiction.
From a safe vantage point.
But deep inside, if we dig deep enough, we know, “Hey, this is really going on! This is really the way the world works! This is really happening!”
I invite you to visit your world, but with a pair of special glasses (like when you go into a 3D cinema) that I’ve prepared especially for you, so you can see past veils you didn’t even know where there, and come to understand why things are happening the way they are.
I’ve dug deep enough, so you will most likely find something.
Something you didn’t know was there all along.
Open the door to: The Birth of Paradigm Shift Thrillers.
Open the door to: THE GALAPAGOS AGENDA.