Mark Terry

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What's Your Franchise?

November 1, 2006
I had a conversation with my brother last week, and somewhere in talking about THE DEVIL'S PITCHFORK I commented that I was fairly aware of what my franchise was.

Is it Derek Stillwater?

It might be. I prefer to think that my franchise is both broader and perhaps narrower all at the same time. That is, my franchise is thrillers of a certain type.

What type?

Well, as of today, I would say action-oriented with tight timeframes (typically less than 48 hours), dealing with terrorism. Some people call this espionage, others call it action thrillers and I think more broadly and possibly more accurately, political thrillers.

That said, I'm working on a medical thriller with a broader timeframe and in what at this point doesn't have anything to do with politics, espionage, action or terrorism.

What does it have in common with the Derek Stillwater novels? Well, biotechnology and medicine.

My agent is still marketing a novel I wrote under a pseudonym, and I note that it actually has a lot more to do with the Derek Stillwater novels than this medical thriller I'm screwing around with. It has a tight timeframe of about 36 hours, it is very action-oriented and although it doesn't actually deal with terrorism, it very much deals with politics. It also, come to think of it, is a type of tech thriller, although probably not biotech, and actually it does deal in a sort of peripheral way with espionage.

Should I be concerned about this? Should you?

Well, I should be.

If you're a published novelist, I think there's a good reason to think about your franchise. If you're writing hard-boiled private eye novels, it's going to be a little tough to try and sell a light-hearted comedic cozy... or a romance novel... at least, under your own name.

Considering what type of book is associated with your name is important, not just for readers, but for the publishing industry.

On the other hand, if you're an unpublished novelist, I'm not sure you need to really consider this from a practical point of view, except this:

What you get published first will influence what you continue to get published.

That's just the nature of the business.

Does it mean that if you're really in love with an idea that you shouldn't write the novel (or proposal) because it doesn't quite fit into your franchise?

Well, no. We're artists as well as business people, and sometimes the muse speaks loudly (Freddie the Flake or Donny the Debt Collector or Bruno the Barbarian, in my case) and we just need to write something because it occurs to us to write it. And some writers prefer to choose to write what they want to and not worry about being pidgeon-holed into a specific type of writing. (But trust me, the marketplace, editors, agents, publishers and readers, apply pressure for a writer offering a TYPE of book, and ignore that pressure at their writing career's peril).

And on the other hand (lot of hands), I find that I often need to stretch a bit and try different things (just to see if I can, sometimes), and for me that's a very artistic point of view, rather than the commercial point of view.

How about you?

Best,
Mark Terry

12 Comments:

Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Tough question. Mary and I write historicals I guess. We're both former sf/fantasy enthusiasts so we both like the "other reality" and "exotic setting" aspects of historicals. I don't think I have quite the right attitude or style or something to write the kind of sf/fantasy that's done today. Historicals covers a lot of ground though so that's OK.

I would like to delve into humor though. (There is a fair amount of humor in our mysteries but one's hands are sort of tied writing humor set in another era.) Most of my amateur writing over the years has been humor, believe it or not.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

I'm overly influenced by writers I read. I read a Janet Evanovich or Jeff Cohen novel and I think, "I want to write a FUN novel that's funny."

Then I read some Young Adult novel by JK Rowling (who?) or Rick Riordan, and I think, "I'd like to write something like that. That sounds like fun."

I rarely have an urge to write historical fiction--no feel for it--but within suspense or mysteries there's this huge range of books and subgenres that interest me and I'm sure I could write inside that area, but...

Well, maybe someday.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Christian said...

My "franchise" (if an as-of-yet-unpublished writer can actually lay claim to a franchise) would be "supernatural." Though I do write in other genres, that's the one that most influences my work, the element that creeps into every storyline, into every character's life. My writing pals compare my work to Koontz or Octavia Butler (without the theme of overt oppression). I like to call my stuff "literary horror." :~)

4:48 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

Hey, Mark-
Just wanted to say thanks! This post inspired me to start blogging. I've been struggling recently with this same question. I've switched from a sort of literary science fiction (first book) to the more marketable science thriller for WIP. Not sure I want to get stuck there, though. It helps to know it's a dilemma shared by other writers.

7:10 AM  
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Anonymous JANSEN said...

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Anonymous franchise said...

A "medical thriller"? Sounds really interesting, when will it be finished?

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