I recently read an article about how it’s better to write a ‘big’ first novel, then to write a little one. I don’t mean big as in 500,000-word wise, I mean one that is destined to do well with all the markets because it’s aimed at the markets. This writer actually says to stay away from writing a book that has a limited readership – meaning religion, gaming, fanfiction, etcetera – and to try to ‘launch big’ – get a high advance, sell hardcover books, and take the current literature tastes into account. If you don’t ‘launch big,’ you might become pigeonholed as a ‘small’ author.
While the article does bring up some good points about how the ‘bigger’ authors will get better slots (think J.K. Rowling back in the Harry Potter days or Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games), it got me thinking about the ‘smaller’ authors in the picture. Honestly, I’ve have to (respectfully) disagree with what the writer is saying.
Now, while I do agree that you should expand your writing styles and try new things, I think it’s equally important to write the story you want to write and not what’s popular right now with the ‘big’ novelists. If you are good at writing fanfiction, stick with fanfiction. You can command that audience. Plus, “restricted audiences” (a term the writer uses) sometimes are the most loyal, too.
Case in Point: My friend, Michelle Magly, wrote for fanfiction.net and fictionpress.com – gaining a hardcore fanbase for her stories. When she decided to co-write a book with another fanfiction/fictionpress writer, the fans supported her every move. All The Pretty Things came out a few months ago and is doing incredibly well. (You can buy it on Amazon.com – All The Pretty Things – by the way.) Now, of course it’s doing well because it’s a good book. But it’s also doing well because of the fanbase generated by the ‘little’ fanfictions, too.
My point? You can make it big by writing for little guys. Don’t rule out the smaller genres or markets.
Write what you want to write, whatever niche it may be.