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Question...? What should I write next?

Pete Sherrard

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Hi @AgentPete et Al,
Hi,

So, I'm about to start writing query letters to agents for my novel set in ww1 and I'm itching to start a new project while all that's going on.
I've loved every minute of the research and writing. So I'm happy to continue within that genre.
But I've also got an idea for something set in ww2 and much more specific ideas for a modern horror and a sci-fi about clones.

I've heard that agents and publishers will find you more commercially attractive if you can be pigeon holed into a specific genre. So it makes more commercial sense to stick with ww1.

But is that true? As a new writer, should I set myself up as a ww1 author or is it ok to write about something completely different, especially as I have no idea yet how this first book will be received?
Should I write whatever I get excited about or be a bit more disciplined and find the next book within ww1?
Thanks.
 

CageSage

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Military topics have a wide range [it's like romance with the plethora of subcategories that may still fit the name associated with what you've written], but so do pseudonyms - it's just harder to get a following for each name/genre. However, I'm not an agent or a publisher, so could easily be talking out of a lower blowhole [no offence meant; an attempt at humour, for which I have no talent].
 
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Katie-Ellen

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Wait, and don't force the rhubarb. Scratch the itch with new reading while the back brain works on it.

WW1 novel - different/strange/love between 2 men in the horror of the trenches. Strange Meeting by Susan Hill.

Her earlier book are not so well known but IMO far stronger than her later work, like The Woman In Black. I think that's piffle in comparison with her earlier novels.

I'm The King of The Castle, truly terrifying, a battle to the death between 2 little boys, all happening under the nose of the grownups.
 
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Barbara

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If this is your first book, then agents can't pigeon hole you yet because you have nothing else to offer to them. So in a way, you can still write anything and be any author you want to be. And I agree with CageSage about pseudonyms. Also, some authors have 'breakaway' novels. Adrian McKinty wrote mainly Irish crime fic. Then he wrote The Chain and it was so super successful, he seems to continue along that line now.

Whatever happens with your WW1 novel now, it's not lost if you decide to write something completely different. You've learnt from it and you can always use it later as your breakaway novel.

But .... I think, maybe, you should ask yourself what kind of author you would like to be in the long run. Of all the works you like to read and of all the things you like to write, what's the commonality?

Is this your first book?

It took me 3 to figure out what I really like to write, and what my strengths are. All 4 (I'm on my 4th) have a common thing to them.
But I've also got an idea for something set in ww2 and much more specific ideas for a modern horror and a sci-fi about clones.
How about you write it as a short story for now and see where it takes you? If nothing else you're flexing your writing muscles while you wait to see what happens with the WW1 book. Writing it as a short, may make you realise you son't want to spend your writing life in WWs, or it may confirm that this is your genre. Actually, slight correction, don't wait to see what happens with your WW1 novel, submit it and let it go, and get stuck into something new, like that WW2.

Personally, if I'm grabbed by something, feel the passion for it, then I explore it and write it. I don't mind if it's completely different from anything I've done before. I don't mind if it never sells (although I would love it to sell). It's a discovery. Something new to learn on and improve with. And if the new one does sell, then I'll continue along that line like Adrian McKinty did. But for now, I don't want to pigeon hole myself yet, but explore.

Not sure this helps.
 
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Jonny

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Another vote for go with whatever interests you at this point.

I think there are many good reasons for going with another WW book. But you might find the change of tack refreshing and that could inspire you even more.

I too am not an expert, but I know that once one has a success in any of the arts, then the pressure intensifies for more of the same to keep the machine fed.

Genre fiction is worth considering and the general consensus seems to be if you're good at it then there's a seam to be mined. Adrian McKinty's Sean Duffy novels set in Northern Ireland (as mentioned above by Barbara with 6 previously published and three more in the pipeline) are quite niche. But then he had a massive global success with The Chain (a standalone) and his new soon to be released is another standalone. I am sure his 'people' will have advised him to go down that route again.

But for now I'd follow your own instinct. Don't tie yourself down if you feel you've got something to say in another genre.
 
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Pamela Jo

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Wait, and don't force the rhubarb. Scratch the itch with new reading while the back brain works on it.

WW1 novel - different/strange/love between 2 men in the horror of the trenches. Strange Meeting by Susan Hill.

Her earlier book are not so well known but IMO far stronger than her later work, like The Woman In Black. I think that's piffle in comparison with her earlier novels.

I'm The King of The Castle, truly terrifying, a battle to the death between 2 little boys, all happening under the nose of the grownups.
Now I have to go look those up. Love Susan Hill.
 
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Pamela Jo

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There was an article in the Guardian, that cited research indicating that before successful artists and writers etc... break through commercially they go through a crazy creative phase where they are trying all kinds of things. John Steinbeck has a werewolf novel that was left in the bottom drawer of his desk. It's contemporary with Lon Chaney. I think it's a bit of a crap-shoot what the market will pick up. If you are left with some novels in the bottom drawer to be published posthumously-that's not the worst that could happen.
 
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