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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Do Authors Sell Out?

***Please Note: It is not my intention to open up an author bashing session with this post. This is something I've thought about several times over the last few years and am genuinely curious about. I am not looking for snarky reader comments that disparage authors. I am not looking for malicious remarks about the authors themselves. This post is strictly my opinion and something I'd like feedback about from readers (and writers as well, if they happen to notice this post and feel so inclined). Thank you.***

Daniela at Where's My Hero has an interesting topic up today. The jist of it? Basically, fans have been begging Julia Quinn to write Violet Bridgerton's story. If you've read the series, you know that shortly after her last child was born, her husband died from a freak bee sting accident. JQ has said many times that she wouldn't ever write Violet's story, and personally, I wouldn't want her to. As I commented on Daniela's site, I read romance for the Love Story and the Happily Ever After. I wouldn't want to read a romance novel knowing that the hero is going to die in the end..Especially at such a young age.

But this got me thinking. Do authors sell out? After writing for so long, do they lose site of their original goal and start writing just to please their readers, rather than themselves?

Let me give you a few examples:

Julie Garwood. She started writing historicals in 1985 and quickly became a household name. Women the world over found solace and escapism in her novels. Then, a few years ago, she decided to try her hand at contemps. In my not so humble opinion, she never should have. Though her writing has never been what classics are made of, she had a unique style all her own that really worked. Though her contemps - at least in the beginning - had the potential to be great reads, they seem to have fell flat. At least with her loyal historical fans. If I've heard it once, I've heard it a thousand times, "I'm giving up on Julie Garwood. If she goes back to writing historicals I'll buy her again, but until then, I'm done with her."

According to JG herself, she's under contract to write five contemps, and as soon as she's gotten them out of the way, she's going to write more historicals. But I wonder if this is true. She's opened herself up to a whole new market. Men and women alike can read her contemps, because rather than being geared towards women and women alone, there's an element of suspense included in them for men. I have a good friend who's read Murder List, one of JG's contemps, and really enjoyed it. The same friend read one of her historicals, however, and laughed himself silly, saying it was, "Chick Porn."

So, has she sold out? Did she sell her historical readers out to gain a new audience?

How about Jude Deveraux? In an interview she did several years ago, she made this comment in response to a question about a rumor the interviewer had heard that she was considering writing a contemporary romance between the American Montgomerys and the English branch:

You saw my attempt at contemorarty fiction in Casa Grande and you still ask me for more?!
It seems that when God so kindly gave me the ability to write, He didn't extend it very far. All I want to do is write the very best historical romances that I possibly can-and historicals seem to be all I'm capable of. I don't want to write family sagas or occult books, and I have no intention of again trying to ruin the contempory market.

Anyone familiar with JD knows she obviously, at some point, changed her mind. She now has how many Montgomery/Taggert novels published? Isn't that a family saga? What about her paranormal Forever series? Or the standalone paranormal Wild Orchids? Hasn't she also, aside from the Montgomery/Taggert brood, published several standalone contemps?

So, I'm asking you, loyal readers, did they sell out? If JQ decides to write Violet Bridgerton's story, will she have sold out to the demands of her fans? If Julie Garwood doesn't go back to historicals after her contemp contract is up, does that mean she sold out? How about Jude Deveraux? Did she sell out, after clearly stating she had no intention of ever writing anything other than historicals? Or is it simply freedom of creativity?

I can tell you that personally, there are a lot of stories I'd like to write. I'd love to write a suspense or horror novel. No romance involved. I'd also love to write a historical romance and I have written several contempory romances. I'd love to write a paranormal. However, I don't ever want my work published. I write for myself and myself alone, not for other people to read. Of course, that may change in the future, so would I be selling out then?

What's the word from all of you readers out there?




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