Not so long ago, I scoured publisher’s websites for guidelines to see what they were looking for in a book. I kept all the advice in mind as I wrote. Were they looking for young adult stories about specific sports? Did they need books for teenaged girls who battled with self-image? Or books geared towards reluctant readers? What about the adults? Were they reading more romance or mystery or western?
Many publishers dictated structure. Books need to be between this word count and that. They couldn’t contain content about this or the other thing, and definitely no rhyming books for kids. Many times I felt confined by these regulations, that I couldn’t write the story I really wanted to tell.
I wrote books for all ages, always thinking about what an editor wanted to read. After all, my job was to hook the editor, write what they wanted to see.
Then I discovered self-publishing.
The first book I published was written with the publisher in mind. It conformed to what they were looking for in a book because I had planned to submit it to a publisher. My second book followed most of the guidelines, but I tossed all of them aside and follow my own intuition when I wrote my first romance novel Pockets of Wildflowers this past summer. I wrote to hook the reader, hoping what interested me would also intrigue them.
I began thinking about stories a reader, not an editor, might want to read.
This was a new concept for me because for years, my goal was to entice the editor, not the reader. It’s a different way of thinking, a different attitude to approach a project. Now I can see a need and try to fill it without thinking of the middlewoman: the editor/publisher.
What do you do? Do you write to entertain the reader or hook the editor?