So it was recently announced that Abigail Gibbs, an 18 year old, has received a six-figure deal for her Vampire romance series Dark Heroine.
Ugh. News like this can certainly be frustrating and demotivating to emerging and even established authors who have worked long and hard on their craft to little or modest success. And between this and 50 Shades, I expect to see a ton of
panels, blog posts, and discussions about whether fan fiction and online serial publishing is the new path to success. However, while there are these anecdotal success stories, I think that working on being a good writer and creating a well-crafted story are still the best way to go. I can’t imagine a young woman will be saving 50 Shades or Dark Heroine on their bookshelf until they are a mother and handing it down to their daughters, or going back and reading that well-worn paperback each year with the feeling of visiting an old friend. And for every one success story like this, there are hundreds of thousands of folks who get nothing but a couple of “ZOMG! kewl storey!” comments. So please, don’t aspire to write the next Dark Heroine. Aspire to be the next Le Guin, Butler, or even Anne Rice. I mean, I enjoy a light read as much as the next person, but I don’t aspire to, or chase after, the lukewarm leftovers of crappy snackfood novels past. And really, I doubt that agents and editors will now be scouring fan sites and online forums for their next big success. They are already overwhelmed sifting through the submissions of authors who have proven themselves serious by submitting a well thought out and correctly formatted query or manuscript. Which is not to say that online serial publishing and other online methods don’t offer the chance to grow as a writer through reader feedback (including the feedback of nobody wanting to read your stuff). But in quality of output, odds of meaningful success, and for the respect of your peers, I think the more traditional paths of the serious writer still win out.