Is Graphic violence becoming a modern day trend in thriller and mystery writing?

I read Writing Mysteries, A handbook by the mystery writers of America and I would like to have opinions on Jeremiah Healy's rules of violence in a private investigator stories. Though my books are not private investigator types nor are they hard boiled mysteries, I believe  most of the advice in that book pertains to mysteries and thrillers as well.

 

What do you think that "...there must be some violence but no graphic scenes of child abuse, rape and animal cruelty." Even though these things exist in real life and mystey and thriller writting emulates reality.

 

As of late, I've read plenty of stories that violate this rule and quite frankly, thought they were more realistic and I disagree with Jessica Mann and Jeremiah Healy.

 

My novel INSTANT MESSENGER for instance is a fiction based on real life serial killers, and I believe I owe it to my audience, the true crime lovers, to give them a front row seat of what happens to victims of serial murder, violence and rape behind closed doors.

 

I quote one article bellow.

 

·  Amelia Hill

·  The Observer, Sunday 25 October 2009

·  Article history

"Jessica Mann, an award-winning author who reviews crime fiction for the Literary Review, has said that an increasing proportion of the books she is sent to review feature male perpetrators and female victims in situations of "sadistic misogyny". "Each psychopath is more sadistic than the last and his victims' sufferings are described in detail that becomes ever more explicit, as young women are imprisoned, bound, gagged, strung up or tied down, raped, sliced, burned, blinded, beaten, eaten, starved, suffocated, stabbed, boiled or buried alive," she said."

 

What do you think? Is mystery becoming more realistic and the meek should either cope with it or, exercise their right to freedom and simply not read what is quickly becoming a trend—realism?

 

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I'm reluctant to start setting up rules for writers, or making pronouncements about what sorts of action, plot elements or character information is or isn't acceptable in fiction. It's all fair game, IMO, including violence that some people might consider gratuitous. If you can make it work and it sells books for you, go cat go.
In the best spirit of tight, concise writing, I say this, "What he said."
I'm reluctant to start setting up rules for writers, or making pronouncements about what sorts of action, plot elements or character information is or isn't acceptable in fiction

Well, of course, don't have to. Some writers set rules for themselves---and that's fine, if it's a personal choice---- or their publishers do (by approving or not approving). If your editors or your publishers think anything goes, and it works for you, then of course, you are free to write it. I do believe in the freedom of expression, after all.

If it's really about selling, then you don't even need to worry whether the people who buy your books will actually read them; you will have gotten your royalty. Because readers have their own rules, too, with regard to excesses of violence, sex, or just plain bad writing. That you can't control. But of course if one reader doesn't care for what you write, another will. Cheers!
I'm getting a tad depressed about all this business of selling. We're supposed to be motivated only by what will sell. All out efforts at research should go to identifying the audience most likely to buy a lot of books. And then we're supposed to write for them.

I know this works, because Dan Brown and Janet Evanovich both proceeded along those lines and were madly successful. But do I want to be either writer? No. I have no respect for that or for them. Period.
And that may be my own foolishness, but if I'm going to devote the rest of my life to something, I'd like to enjoy it.
Like I said earlier, “The Cardinal rule of modern day fiction writing is to research your market as part of an over all marketing plan before you set out to write the first words. Know your target audience, their tolerable price range, befriend folks in the media, befriend independent booksellers etc etc. Because Unlike in the earlier days, with the advent of technology, today’s book market is flooded with over 500k books a year by some accounts, and that is in the US alone.
With no business plan, no marketing ability, and over a million authors all screaming “Pick me! Pick me!”, you might as well write manuscripts for your own pleasure to be stowed in a drawer.
Publishers have always been in it for the money. I've spoken to many agents who all said the unspoken rule is that an author with no platform, one who is not marketable and has no business plan is no good to them regardless of their book’s content. Period!

A solid business plan has become the unmentioned requirement of the submission process
I've spoken to many agents who all said the unspoken rule is that an author with no platform, one who is not marketable and has no business plan is no good to them regardless of their book’s content. Period!

Note to self: never sign with an agent who holds these opinions. She will expect me to do her job for her.

A solid business plan has become the unmentioned requirement of the submission process

I have no business plan other than to write books that interest and amuse me, and to write them as well as I possibly can. I'm not getting rich, but I do actually get paid to write, and that ain't bad.
Note to self: never sign with an agent who holds these opinions. She will expect me to do her job for her.

The agents doing this will not tell you thats what they are looking for. They simply turn you down and consider you a little naive.


I have no business plan other than to write books that interest and amuse me, and to write them as well as I possibly can. I'm not getting rich, but I do actually get paid to write, and that ain't bad.

I am simply mentioning trends and not my personal opinion.

It has become of late that because of the competitive nature of the publishing industry, the trend has become to sign authors a who are “easier sells”. ( note I said UNMENTIONED AND UNSPOKEN trend)

You are also reaffirming a common myth believed by most authors. That
“All I have to do is write books and the agents and publishers will do the rest”

Truth, you will have to do as much foot work as the self published author. And if you cannot, the publisher will simply shift marketing funds over to market the author that does do marketing work and your book will linger and gather dust.

Publishers are looking for ways to maximize profits in a tough economy. Keep in mind that they now compete with:
1)Lower book prices,
2)Kindle and so on,
3)Easy access to becoming self published and doing it well and more cost effectively,
4)The shear number of books published each year alone commands strong marketing from all parties involved.

You can no longer be a seclude. These days, anyone can publish a book and make some sales.

Successful publishing houses are not interested in marginal sales.
No offense, but you're basically repeating all the self-marketing truisms we've been reading about here since Daniel created the site. I'm the first to admit that I don't know everything there is to know about making lots of money in the publishing biz, but let me recount a conversation I had with my editor at Minotaur when my first novel was about to come out (she's now executive editor there, on her way to VP).

Me: So, my first book's coming out and I'm really excited. What should I do to help promote it? Throw a bunch of books in the trunk of my car and drive around doing readings and signings and stuff?

Her: You could do that, sure. But you probably won't sell enough books to justify the expense.

Me: So are you saying it's a bad idea?

Her: Not if that's your idea of a good time, I guess. People do it, but they usually end up losing money.

Me: Okay, what about social networking sites and blogs and stuff?

Her: Sure, you can do that. It won't hurt, probably. But don't spend too much time on it--you owe us another book.

What my editor/publisher want is for me to write faster--their whole marketing scheme is based on a book or more per year. What my agent wants is for me to write stuff that makes her a little bit richer than she already is. Neither of them give a good goddam about my ability to market myself online or in the meat-o-sphere: what they want is the best possible book I can write, which from their point of view means a book that's going to sell a shit-ton of copies--and they want it now. Seriously. Every time I've brought up the idea of self-marketing with my editor, she's said, "Whatever. How's the new book coming?" Results may vary, and no doubt some editors/agents think otherwise, but I'm just saying--if an agent or editor had some goofy unspoken rule about business plans that caused them to pass on my book, I'm pretty sure I'd be better off without them.
"No offense, but you're basically repeating all the self-marketing truisms we've been reading about here since Daniel created the site. . . "


Quite frankly you are not even getting my point. Peddling books from your trunk is and all that stuff you mentioned is truly poor marketing and has proven over and over that it does not work, at all. They are right and that is exactly what someone with no Marketing or PR knowledge would do and they fail.

What does marketability mean? What is marketing? Basically it is all about positioning yourself to be more visible than your competition. Book signings? Good crap! (Excuse my French) that’s nothing but a way for small bookstore to get eager authors to advertise for them. Social websites and blogging may have a validity of you have a decent fan base.

If you read my earlier threads maybe you would be in tune with me and I thought you were. I am noticing you are simply trying to hammer in your opinion and trying to contradict mine even though I sense we are saying the same thing.
There is a difference between marginal sales, and that is seeming to be the norm and some are contempt with it. Nothing wrong with that at all.
And I agree, you almost have to write what you are passionate about or else it will not work. You also have to make money or else you are a naïve romantic and this industry will chew you up and spit you out poor.
Where we do not seem to agree is where we started mentioning the difference between Dan Brown and other writers not so much talented than most are reaping in the big bucks, and that is by expensive and intensive marketing strategies. No peddling books or signings but proper PR and advertisement.
I did mention somewhere to befriend your local written and other media, not a bad idea. They are the ones that can make a difference between a marginal check and a big check. But TV will not want you as a “nobody” if you have not worked on you and made yourself TV material, they may, but you would have to work harder, look for news worthy angles to get in etc. There are things out there that you could be doing to get the right PR and bookstores want to stock “you”.
And its not peddling and book signing or Face book or Blogging.
Benoit--I hope you're making a ton of money with your book, truly. But what I'm saying is that in the real world decisions about a book's saleability are made sitting around conference tables in New York mid-rises and have little or nothing to do with the author unless it's a memoir or some kind of gimmick book (The Nanny Diaries, or whatever) in which the author's life story plays an obvious role in marketing the product. I'm a middle-aged college prof with a wife and two kids--from a marketing standpoint there's nothing that compelling about me as a person, and nothing particularly compelling about my connection to the setting or subject of my books.

Yes, I happily do local (and national) publicity stuff when I get the chance, and I've done a fair amount considering I'm only two books in. I've also been reviewed widely and generously, for which I'm very grateful. But there's nothing I could have done personally to make those national radio appearances and NYT/WaPo reviews happen--no amount of jumping up and down saying "look at me" would have done it. Every bit of publicity I've ever gotten has been generated entirely by the books themselves, with a bit of help along the way from Minotaur's fine publicity staff.

As I say, results may vary--and I have no doubt that many people have managed to help their book sales along significantly through a variety of self-marketing strategies, including but not limited to selling books out of the trunk of their cars. I'm not saying it never works, I'm saying that I object to the notion that it's the only way to succeed, or that agents and editors commonly think of the book as secondary to the writer's business plan, or whatever. I had no business plan, still don't, and neither my agent nor my editor seem to give a damn as long as I continue to write stuff they can sell. I remain committed to the notion that good writing is the best marketing tool writers have at their disposal.
I'm getting a tad depressed about all this business of selling. We're supposed to be motivated only by what will sell. All out efforts at research should go to identifying the audience most likely to buy a lot of books. And then we're supposed to write for them.

Agreed, but then we can't complain if publishers pigeonhole us immediately as midlist grunts who write niche books for small audiences. You can't have it both ways, I don't think.
And thank you for wishing me well in my sale number and I hope you sell tons of books too.

And what you said is exactly what I meant, by the big dogs being capable of doing what the small man with no revenue and big budget behind him/her cannot do, like going to the big shows and the massive PR campaigns. That is where the "Marginality of revenue" comes into play. You did what you were capable of doing and I bet a book on a book shelf a lone does not guarantee a sale.

And you agree with me that revues for example are excellent PR tools, but not just revues, but revues by the right reviewers, reviews read by the target audience. How do you find those, research done before hand, before you finish the book you know who reviews what.

I have a bit of testimony of my own concerning PR. I did do quit a bit of it and considered that my “book tour” and “book signing”, after all, I do have a day job and a family, Icannot afford to be away from home too long.

I also have to admit that working my local media (I am in a small town and a state of 1.2 million, Maine they were more than excited to have a local author on their shows. Locals are always very supportive) This gave me the experience and opened a door to big city, press and talk radio. But I worked and targeted small presses and radio stations with committed audiences that were relevant to my book. And by the way not being a popular writer I went on there to talk about issues they hold dear and in the process of talking as the expert, they mentioned my book. No the numbers soared, even for my small state, Maine. That opened doors to the state next door, MA and it helped a lot. I have to admit, I was selling before but after that I did experience a huge spike in numbers.

That’s an example of what I am saying makes or breaks the difference in sales. I did all the above and other PR and marketing stuff upon advice from agent friends who said that’s what they encourage their authors to do.

Not only does having the above ties and experience make it easier for me to go back to those sources for "free" publicity for my new book, keeping those ties is also a sure source of for advance reviews for my next book coming out. And those ties and references are in my marketing plan for that book. Hopefully my next stop is a decent talk show in NY that I am already talking to and trying to get in the door with. Of course, using my small town references is helping.

Having that stuff in my marketing and submission plan to agents made me go from 35 agent submissions and all rejections that I experienced with my last and first book, to 5 submissions and one offer with an unfinished manuscript that I submitted to an agent who said he only accepted finished works.

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