Your Book Isn’t For Everyone

            It’s a simple yet painful truth. Your book isn’t for everyone. And that’s okay. You’re not pizza. You can’t please everyone.

            If you’ve decided to give the traditional publishing route a go, like I have, you’ll have gotten some rejections. Going through my submission list I’ve reviewed it and found myself asking “Whyyyyy did you do thaaaat?” I’ll admit it. Sometimes I pitch my works to the wrong market. Like, why would I submit War and Chess to a publisher whose niche is horror? (Because I was 15 years old and still learning, thankyaverymuch!). Now, more commonly I’ll pitch my vividly raw poetry to a press or magazine that likes poetry with a lot of allusion. Then, of course I get the polite “This is good but not what we’re looking for.” bit.

            Now the really painful part for me is when it’s published. Not all of my friends read fantasy. Most just don’t! But I have some amazing people in my life and they always try to be supportive of me and my dreams. Although I love honesty it stings a little when I hear “I’m sorry Helen, it just wasn’t for me.” And that’s still okay! It’s important to have a diverse group of friends with different interests.

            And truth be told, having a diverse group of friends I don’t like every book they’re into! “Oh Helen! You simply must read this romance novel!” I can’t help but wrinkle my nose… Romance isn’t inherently a bad genre. It’s just that Princess Bride is the only “kissing book” I’ll fess up to enjoying. That, and maybe Racheal Leone Gibson’s Highland Peace. I’m patiently waiting for her second book.

            So, the moral of the story is you can’t please everyone. You don’t write for everyone. Truthfully, I write for myself and then I edit for my audience. Not every review is going to be a five star review. (Not every review should be a five star review. I get suspicious of books with five five star reviews because it usually means the author begged their friends and family for dishonest ratings). Not every publishing house will like your book, not every friend will like your book, not every reader will like your book! And that’s exactly how it should be.

Edit: My friend Olivia Adams is the one who coined the term "Your book isn't for everyone." She gave me some good advice when I was having a rough day.

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The Importance of Finding the Right Editor

          I recently had a friend of mine ask me to edit his manuscript. Although I know him well enough I’m not sure what genre he likes to write. Being both a librarian and an author I do like to read. But, like every other human being I have types of books I like and others that just aren’t for me. As an author I do try to branch out and read things outside of my comfort zone. (Westerns, romance novels, mainstream fiction.) But I’d rather dislike something that’s about to be adapted into a movie than be the first person to read a good but rough manuscript and say it was “Eh.”

            Editors are like you and I. They have specific genres they like to read and they do a better job at editing books they’re geared to like than to tell you to completely change your manuscript to better suit their needs. It would be like me saying “Yeah, the plot’s good but all the kissing junk is really distracting from the main flow of the book.”
            “Helen. It’s a romance novel.”

            I once had a friend write a children’s book about a unicorn and turn it into her editor. Chiefly this author friend wrote westerns, and chiefly her editor who had worked with her for many years read westerns. “I don’t like it.” The editor declared.

            “Well why?”
            “I just don’t!”
            “But why?!”
            “…I just don’t like unicorns, okay!”

            The editor, who had been reading and enjoying this authors western novels for years upon years simply didn’t like children’s books, especially children’s books about unicorns, and as a result, my author friend never pushed to have her children’s book published. It’s not the end of the world, but if my author friend were to find another editor who liked children’s books, particularly ones about unicorns, that editor might have said something like “This story has good bones but we need a different illustrator.” Or “The language is too lofty. Please remember most of your audience is under five.” Or “What if instead of Sparkle Mountain we call it Sprinkle Mountain? That way the chocolate river makes sense. Because the mountains in this story are actually made of ice cream, right?”

            An editor can make or break a book. They’re the first line of defense from not only type-os but also obscure blunders like “Yeah, that law in Canada changed back in 2012 so here’s an updated statute of limitations. I only spent an hour trying to find that. No biggie.” Or worse. They keep you from breaking your own laws like “You said your vampires couldn’t go out in the sunlight. Yet Damaris gets overly excited when he meets Michelle’s dog and he runs outside without his umbrella. Yet, he comes back to the porch unscathed… Hurt him.” Editors are hugely important. But not every editor is going to like your book just like not every reader is going to like your book once it hits the market. You have to find one that’s going to see your manuscript for the diamond in the rough that it is and then help you polish it until it sparkles.

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NaNoWriMo Is Ending but Your Writing Doesn’t Have to

            No really. You don’t have to only write during National Novel Writing Month. All of your followers on social media are invested in the story you’re trying to tell! Every person you’ve been excitedly telling about your book wants to see you finish your book! So finish it!

            As much as I hate to admit it I thrive off of attention. I just came to terms with that this November. Actually tracking my daily word count has really helped me write more. When I can I try to beat my record! It’s been a lot of fun! And it’s even more fun for the people who are really invested in War and Chess to follow along as write the third in the series. (Book two is currently being edited at the publishing house.) Book three has been my NaNoWriMo project for two, maybe three years now. The working title is Emerald, First Queen of Gishlan but that title could very well change! This is by far the longest book I have ever written in my life and someday soon I’d like to see it finished!

            Because I was deep in despair over December 1st coming way too early, and all third party accountability ending I checked up on NaNoWriMo’s website and… You can make little word goals for yourself all year long! Here is the link to that. Don’t forget to sign in! I have set the impossible goal of 1,000 words per day (30,000 words spanning from December 1st through December 31st) and I am excited to fail miserably trying my best!

            Your friends want you to finish your book. Your readers want you to finish your book. [And if you’re like me] your Instagram followers want you to finish your book! So finish it! And if you have, edit it! The world wants your book! And I find, since writing is just show business for shy people, the more people you can get invested in your work the more you yourself will want to write! You don’t have to quit writing just because NaNoWriMo is over!

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