A few people have asked what genre I was referring to in my most recent blog (“Which Is It: A or B?”) when I was told by a well-respected agent in NYC that a genre I wanted to publish in was dead.
I love old movies. TCM is one TV channel I cannot do without. I don’t, however, care much for contemporary movies. I’m not sure I can remember the last movie I saw in a theater. I suppose we go maybe once or twice a year.
Part of my fascination with old movies extends to the history of movie-making in what many call Hollywood’s Golden Age: mostly the 1930s, 40s and 50s. So, on my bucket list for some time now has been the hope of helping a movie star from that era tell his or her story. Preferably a person whose story has a strong faith element.
Some of you know that I had a great shot at this a few years ago. I worked for a year with a well-known actress from that era on her autobiography. It was one of the most exciting projects I’ve ever worked on. She not only had a fantastic story, but an inspirational angle that the market I write for would find rewarding. But alas, we couldn’t find a publisher and eventually the actress called off the project and paid me a “kill fee.”
I’ve not given up on the idea though. I have several other people in mind who have stories I think are worth telling. But this time, before I invest in all that work, I want to find an agent who is confident we’ll find a publisher for the book.
The agent I mentioned in my previous blog told me in his response to my query that I was wasting my time. He said, “My advice is to drop the golden age star book project ideas. The whole category has been killed off by the internet, and the proliferation of fan sites on any and every personality and phenomenon. One of my clients is one of the leading music and film star biographers in the business, and I’ve watched his sales decline from millions of copies (literally) to tens of thousands.”
But despite this agent’s advice, I remain hopeful. I still have my short-list of possibilities and will see what happens as I move forward, well aware of the risks of continued failure—and as I said previously, not putting all my eggs in this one basket. I have many projects in several genres that I’d like to write. I’m not dependent on any one genre.
Some of you are probably asking, “But Nick, don’t agents and publishers want to ‘brand’ you as a writer? How does writing in several genres help brand you?”
That’s a great question. Here’s my answer. Because I have varied interests, I’m pursuing the doors that open for me and if that results in branding, it will be because God has opened the right doors for that branding to happen. In fact, I think I may be finally finding out the “branding” that God may want to occur in my writing. My new book (coming out in January), Power in the Promises is very much in keeping with my previous well-acclaimed books Magnificent Prayer and His Victorious Indwelling. And I just turned in a draft of a proposal to my agent that’s also in keeping with this “brand” and she loves it. Maybe this, then, is my brand. If pressed, I would describe it as helping Christians return to some of the deep truths of the faith by writing in a way that makes those truths more accessible to the modern reader.
Maybe nothing will ever happen with my desire to help someone write their story. And, by the way, although I’ve mentioned the Hollywood thing, please note that my desire to work in this genre extends beyond Hollywood. There are any number of people I’d enjoy helping write their story. Or even work on a bio of a past person—hopefully a hero of the faith. I would love to have written Bonhoeffer, but that nice assignment from God went to Eric Metaxas.
God knows my writing desires. And I have no reason to complain with the doors He’s both opened and closed. But until I know for sure that helping a person whose story I resonate with is never going to happen, I’m going to keep knocking on those doors.