April 4, 2011
Posted In: Rejection | Trends | WIP

The Princess Bride, Part I

William Goldman, author of The Princess Bride, 1973, famously said “Nobody knows anything.” This quote is often mistaken to mean Hollywood executives are stupid, but Goldman actually meant to imply that Hollywood has no real idea how well a film will do before it’s released.
As writers we often receive rejections from agents whom we were sure would love our novel and find ourselves thinking, “Nobody knows anything.” I have sent queries to agents I was certain would be offering representation, and to agents I didn’t think would give me the decency of a rejection letter. In the end, I got a form rejection from my hopeful agent, and a request to read more from the agent I didn’t think would be interested.
In the end, I guess the moral is: I don’t know anything. Query broadly, polish, polish, polish, and keep writing.
No one knows which books are going to be a hit, no one knows what type of marketing dollars pay off, and no one knows exactly where the publishing industry is headed.
EX: Disney spent an estimated $170,000,000 on “Tron:Legacy” and even went as far as to repaint one of Disneyworld’s monorails to help market the release of the film. In the end, the movie received mixed reviews from critics and viewers.
In contrast, “Tangled” (which actually had a higher budget due to shortfalls in the animation process) was received by audiences with a much higher approval rating even though the film was given far less promotional attention.
In the fashion industry I’ve discovered that one of the most common misconceptionsis about designers is that they decide what the next styles will be. Fashion designers have some hand in determining what the next “black” will be, but actually, it’s the consumer who steers the direction of the market.
Sick of the cigarette pants/skinny jeans? Well tough, until people quit buying them, they’re not going away. Same thing with mod clothing and bulky jewelry. Designers can introduce new styles, but what sells in stores is what the clothing buyers demand more of and so that’s what designers will work on giving them.
Several years back there was the “peasant blouse” revolution. Although the clothing designers were sick of trying to reinvent ways to make the bohemian look, they had to because no one would buy anything else for a period and that’s how they make money. 
Unfortunately, novel writing has a slower production turn around time than clothing. As writers, we need to write the book we think is going to seem “fresh” 2-3 years from now. Thankfully, novels don’t go out of fashion as quickly as that parka from your winter wardrobe when spring rolls in.
A quick tip I’d suggest is to check out what movies are in line for production in 2012 and 2013. If you’ve got a good marketable eye, you can spot the next Alice in Wonderland or Inception and then have a better chance of being the start of a new trend with your next book.
Coming up: The Princess Bride, Part II— quotes from the classic movie and how they apply to publishing.

1 Comment

  1. Eliza Tilton

    That's so true. I read on an agent twitter feed that there is a huge trend in fairytale re-telling stories, which coincides with all the faiytale movies.

Who is Kimberlee Turley?

Kimberlee Turley grew up in California where she earned a degree in Fashion Design from FIDM in 2005. Soon after, she married her husband, who was neither Mr. Darcy nor Edward Cullen, but he’d read her atrocious first novel and said it was “good” with a straight face.

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