Other Writers’ Success

Someone else may open your genre.Andy Scheer May 26 2015 CU 72 dpi

by Andy Scheer

How do you view other writers in your genre: competitors? colleagues? supporters?

Would you view them the same way if your own publication and sales depended on their success?

Steve had been writing for a dozen years while holding down a fulltime job. After one unpublished legal thriller, he moved to a genre he loved: an international thriller that blended action, history, secrets, and conspiracy.

But since the end of the Cold War, publishers considered the genre dead. “If you were John Le Carre, Ken Follett, Robert Ludlum, or Clive Cussler, you were fine,” Steve says. “But if you were … trying to break into that genre, you could forget it.”

Then another writer, a few years ahead of Steve, got lucky. Dan had been published three times, but without spectacular results. But for book number four, he proposed something usual. Doubleday bought it—and thought it had the potential to go far.

Steve says, “Everyone looked at it and said, ‘You know, this is a little different. It’s action, history, secrets, conspiracy, international settings.’ Guess what I was writing? That’s exactly what I’d been writing all those years.”

With the hope that Dan’s book might open a new niche, Ballantine took a chance.

With the hope that Dan’s book might open a new niche, Ballantine took a chance and offered Steve Berry a contract for The Amber Room—after his previous novels had received more than eighty rejections.

Dan’s book didn’t disappoint. “When The Da Vinci Code was published,” Berry says, “it just went through the roof. … It brought the international suspense thriller genre back to life. And I got a break. I was in the right place at the right time at the right moment on the 86th time—when Mark Tavanti, senior editor of Ballantine Books, was looking for something to go with The Da Vinci Code.”

The Da Vinci Code “brought a genre back to life,” Berry says, “and introduced readers to a lot of writers they would otherwise never have seen or gotten a chance to read.”

What about you? If you keep hearing that nobody is interested in your genre, consider praying for another writer’s success.


About Andy Scheer

With more than 30 years in publishing, Andy Scheer has provided freelance editorial services since 2010. He has edited fiction and nonfiction for publishers including Moody, WinePress, and BelieversPress, as well as for clients including Dirk Cussler, McNair Wilson, DiAnn Mills, Heather Day Gilbert, and Sammy Tippit.

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