Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
You all know certain publishing “rules” exist. Part of the reason you read blogs is to figure out those rules since no one has deigned to put them all together in one place. Not to mention that they’re unofficial, and while understood by industry professionals, not always articulated.
As with every industry, rogues exist who think they don’t need to follow the rules. Sometimes that works exceedingly well. Most times it results in the writer’s career being stunted. Not because the industry is punishing that writer but rather because the rules evolved as insiders observed what didn’t tend to work.
Even in today’s much more open market, where a writer can turn to indy publishing, the rules almost always still hold true.
Which leaves me with a furrowed brow whenever I see a rogue writer ignore the rules. Here are a few examples of how these individuals flaunt the don’t-try-this-at-home warnings:
I can write anything I want.
This is the classic “don’t box me in” mentality. I’ve been involved in publishing since the days of Noah (slight exaggeration), which has given me a long-view of a number of authors who insisted they would not be fenced in as they worked to develop their careers. To a person, they are very hard workers, and their output is mind-boggling, but their efforts are unfocused and look haphazard to the observer. Nonfiction, fiction, historical, contemporary, children’s books, adult books…some of these writers have a simple plan: Produce the next idea that appeals to them. Despite their hard work, their careers muddle along. That’s because, when the writer has no focus, the reader doesn’t become a fan. How can I look forward to the next Civil War novel from that author when the next five books have no connection to the Civil War? I can’t anticipate what the next release will be because it might be a nonfiction book on parenting teens or a children’s Bible.
How does that person define him or herself online? Most of these authors try to be everything to everyone on their websites, which are dizzying affairs to visit. The same goes for their social media. They have to create Twitter and Facebook offerings to an array of audiences, which means their output must be mammoth to create sufficient offerings to eventually appeal to every reader-base. They generally write numerous blogs to focus each on a core audience.
Some of these multi-faceted authors are making a living, but it’s through the sheer volume of what they publish. You can succeed only by offering a firehose onslaught of books because you have so many audiences to serve. No sweet-sounding trickle from a fount of fiction for this author.
As I consider this I’m-the-exception mode, I find myself pondering what that person’s career would look like if that energy and creativity were focused. A Karen-Kingsbury kind of focus. When you can write as fast and as passionately as Karen and create books for one audience…well, the sky’s the limit.
I can create genre-bending books.
Most readers don’t realize this, but they come to a book, be it fiction or nonfiction, wanting to know what category the books fits into. They ask themselves, before even deciding to buy a book, In what era does this novel take place? Is it sci fi? a romance? a book club type of read? Is this nonfiction book a memoir? self-help? biography?
Rogue writers find themselves bored with the tried-and-true. Why not combine a novel with a Bible study? Or alternate chapters between narrative nonfiction and didactic self-help?
While this Wild West mentality on how to construct a book can work once in a blue moon, for the most part the book’s schizophrenic construction serves only to confuse readers who can’t quite figure out what breed of book this is.
Readers innately understand certain boundaries that exist for books and need those boundaries to decide if they’ll buy a book let alone read it.
I don’t need to know my reader; I can just write what I like.
While writers do their best work when they write what they’re passionate about, if you truly want to develop a band of readers who are eager to dip into your next offering, you must understand what it is they loved about your last book. You’d be surprised how often, when I talk to established authors and ask them who their readers are, the writers respond by pausing and then saying, “I don’t really know.” Or making up an answer on the spot. I’m not advocating that a writer churn out lookalike books, one after the other. But if you don’t understand what elements are innately true of your writing that your readers connect with, how will you provide them with a satisfying reading experience with your next book?
Do you suspect you’re a rogue writer? In what way?
What rogue writers have you read? What did you like about their writing? What did you dislike?
What happens when writers think they’re the exception to the rules? Click to tweet.
Can rogue writers succeed in publishing? Click to tweet.
Oooh, great post, Janet! All of these rules point to giving readers what they want. Defining genre can be so tricky, so I’m glad you addressed this.
If I, as a writer, can’t tell someone what genre my book is, I should probably be reading current novels and making an effort to figure this out. As a reader, I have definite expectations about the genre I read!
I hadn’t seen the reader connection to each point I was making; so thanks for pointing that out. Duh. I was just thinking about common “exceptions.”
Yes, if a writer doesn’t know what genre she’s writing in, how will she know what reader expectations to meet?
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
I like order. I like parameters. I cannot STAND 1970’s free verse poetry, un-symmetrical gardens or, heavens to Murgatroyd, plaid mixed with sequins. I could wear two different shoes, but they’d HAVE TO BE the same style. Like, a red Vans and a blue Vans. Leopard prints give me hives.
This is also why je deteste heavy metal music. Shocked, aren’t you?
Therefore,it’s sorta safe to say I’ll never be a rogue writer. Ever. That would mean I willingly brought disorder and calamity to a person’s mind. Nope. Ain’t gonna happen.
Nor will I willingly read something that takes “the rules” and fires at will.
And yes, I totally did too colour outside the lines. That’s what you call “drawing the background”. Which means, I finished the picture to make it look right.
Jennifer, thanks for your definition of coloring outside the lines. Hm, methinks that bespeaks of a teensy bit of rogue…
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
Okay, an ITTY BITTY nth of rogue.
I really like how you put the focus on the readers, Janet–so often I think of these parameters as relating to the publishers, but it makes sense that they have those because they are constantly thinking of readers, as should we. I’m learning that more and more…and I like how it can help me focus on how to best serve and reach people, rather than just on myself. Anyway, good food for thought, as always!
It’s easy to think the publishers made the rules, but in actuality, the rules are based on long-term observations about what tends to sell books. And that’s ultimately dictated by readers, isn’t it?
David A. Todd
I prefer to think of myself as afflicted with Genre Identity Disorder rather than as a rogue writer. To me rogue is a very negative word. I hear almost no positive uses of it.
Stories had built up inside of me for decades and I had to get them out, as water flows along the paths of least resistance when a dam bursts. Now that those are done and published, I’m working on logical follow-ups and will hopefully see my G.I.D. greatly reduced.
David, you touch on an important issue. When an individual starts writing manuscripts, he or she will try a hand at several different genres. It’s a matter of looking for what’s a good fit long-term for you as well as seeking what readers connect to. One of Karen Kingsbury’s first books was a diet book. Uh-huh.
The authors whom I would label rogue have been in the biz for years and are choosing to flaunt the rules because they think they’re the exception. Ain’t necessarily so.
Also, should you be so inclined to take this as a positive use of the word “rogue,” consider the title of Sarah Palin’s first book.
A military analogy may apply – candidates for ‘unconventional forces’ (Force Recon, SEAL, and Delta) are chosen from the best ‘conventional’ troops.
It’s a matter of understanding doctrine – to be able to work outside the box, you have to first understand the limits of the box, and where those limits can profitably be exceeded.
Recruiting rogues doesn’t work, because being on one’s own ‘in the wild’ requires more discipline and consideration – not less.
I would guess that the same holds true in publishing, that a writer who wants to be unconventional should first thoroughly understand ‘the rules’, and then break them in a systematic and well-thought-out manner.
Andrew, precisely. Whenever I teach writing classes, I point out that you can’t break a rule well if you don’t understand why the rule exists. And to come to that understanding usually takes following the rule for awhile. I appreciate your military analogy; it’s a good one.
Andrew, your excellent point applies to other arts, as well. Picasso had a solid foundation in traditional painting before his style evolved into cubism.
Rogue Writer….hmmm! A lot of this post involved rules that only really matter if fame and fortune is sought by the writer. Just by reading some of the rules, I gather that the “rogue writer” can make a lasting impact on a reader(s) just as the straight arrow writer can. Not that this wasn’t covered already in the post. Thanks Janet. Very informative. Rogue Writer, sounds so much like me in the making. I believe if I stick to GOD’ s Rules, he will touch even a rogue writer like myself. Keeping in mind my saying” If I can reach only one reader for the kingdom of GOD, to me, that’s being a successful writer.~ Bless you Janet….
Terrance, I think most readers of this blog would agree with you that the point is to ask God if he will bless your work by touching one person’s life, and if He would be so gracious as to touch more, that would be a humbling honor for you.
But if following the rules allows you to touch thousands, or tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, how much more of a humbling honor that is.
Not to mention that if you touch only a handful, it’s the indy road for you because traditional publishing will close its doors to you. In that sense, I’m not thinking only of those authors who are financially successful in their writing careers. I’m thinking about how a writer builds his career as best he can. And that would bring us to the parable of the talents.
Discipline is the price you pay for freedom – that kind of sums up what I was trying to say.
Well stated, Andrew.
That applies to more than books and military service, Andrew. I wish I’d stenciled that over my sons’ bedroom doors!
I’m definitely a parameters-loving girl. When I know the parameters, be it in writing, or anything else, I know the expectations, so I am more successful. Because of that love for boundaries, I don’t think I could truly be a “rogue” writer, even if I wanted to. 🙂
From the examples you gave, it seems like most rogue writers are not looking at long term writing success. As Andrew mentioned, even being “a little bit rogue” and still successful would require one to know the rules to begin with.
Appreciate this post, Janet. It makes a lot of sense. 🙂
Thanks, Jeane, for your comments. You’d be surprised if you knew how many writers blithely ignore the rules. If that weren’t the case, I wouldn’t need to write this blog, would I? 🙂
LOL. No, I guess you wouldn’t. 😉
I think I may be a rogue writer. I write one way because as a technical writer that’s how I earn my living. You most likely will never see what I write technically but it is extensive, not always limited to one project, and it can be tiring when I try to write anything else that I would like to have publish someday whether it is a novel (traditional not indie), a potential blog, or anything else. I really do try to keep my focus but one has to eat and pay the bills.
Lori, there’s a big difference between technical writing as a day job and creative writing in the off-hours. I wouldn’t label you as a rogue writer. It’s like saying that, because you’re an attorney who writes briefs during the day and a novel at night, you’ve gone rogue. A rogue writer is one who has a choice about what she is writing and goes with her whims or current passion, paying no mind to the affect that has on her writing career. See the difference?
Yes! Thank you!
Thanks Janet. Inspired and humbled by your response. It’s good to learn from those who actually care for beginning writers such as myself. Bless you
What an important topic that you have addressed. Thank you. I meet writers all the time who are rogue and “starting a new genre.” These “authors” have no idea how challenging their projects will be to sell into the bookstore. In fact, they aren’t even thinking about the bookstore or target audience.
Terrific and valuable insight for every writer.
Terry, thanks for adding your experienced voice to the conversation, Terry.
Okay, this post freaks me out a bit. I have basically three audiences — does that make me a rogue? I write biographies for middle grades, contemporary fiction and historical fiction. Can one do three consistent genres? Or no?
Karla, the question is, can you care well for three audiences? There’s no crossover between your middle grade books and your adult novels, and limited crossover between historical and contemporary. Often, if a reader likes historical, contemporary isn’t of that much interest and vice versa. By caring for each audience, I’m referring to creating enough product to keep them thinking about your books as ones they want to read; engaging with each of audience online and/or in person, and being consistent in how you present yourself to each audience rather than muddling them together. With your adult fiction, how can you create an expectation among your readers as to what they’ll get, when you’re writing in two genres? I’d never say you CAN’T do it, but in essence, you’ve created three separate businesses with three separate markets. Can you pay adequate attention to all three?
Wow, the best kind of post for the beginning of the week, Janet! Different topic for sure. I so appreciate writing–specifically yours in this instance–that gets to the heart of an issue and laser focuses on the important points.
I’m interested in non-fiction, memoir, self-help, and fiction. Seems the possibility of being a rogue could be written all over this, pun intended. :)Yet I take great solace in your comment “when an individual starts writing manuscripts, he or she will try a hand at several different genres.”
I’m also realizing that if one does move in and out a couple of genres, that best be attempted later rather than sooner in the (published) writing journey. By then you may have an established readership that will be more comfortable going with you into a new place, so to speak.
Micky, your last comment reminds me of an author I know who is multi published in he CBA. After proposing her fictional work in progress to the traditional publisher she’s worked with in the past, she took their rejection and decided to turn her attention to self publishing. Because she has a committed readership already, and because the new series she’s writing appeals to her current readers, I see success written all over the process. To her benefit, she attempted this transition later in her career.
Thank you, Jenni, for sharing this author’s process. Brave one she is, with the venture into self publishing, but does seem committed readership will be the key success. 🙂
Micky, yeah, you have the potential to be a rogue. But if you understand the inherent dangers, that will help you to select a category and stick to it. As with every selection, you sometimes get there by trying out your options. But once you find it, don’t veer from it. Then, as you say, after you’ve become so established that your name is a brand, you have some wiggle room.
Appreciate the counsel, Janet. Seems “understanding” is the antidote to keeping “potential” from becoming an unfortunate “reality”. 🙂
Hi Janet! Very interesting post!
I guess I might fall into a category of “semi-rouge.” 🙂 I’m not sure. I write dual time period novels, therefore mixing two genres. I love this style book & know this is what I’m meant to write. I’ve read plenty of ABA authors in this genre such as Kate Morton & Susanna Kearsley and those I’ve found within the CBA – Susan Meissner & Becky Melby, among others.
Is this blend of genres considered rouge? Or does the blend stand firm as a new type of genre? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thanks!
Morgan, switching time periods in a novel is not the same as going rogue. Some readers look for this type of novel, as do you. Readers seem to go with that flow, although it is something of a delicate balance as you decide how much to develop the historical story or the contemporary.
Thank you for clarifying, Janet! I appreciate it! 🙂
Lauraine Snelling makes rogue ..vogue…She has written horse books for girls, a prairie series with a huge following, woman’s fiction, non-fiction, and just released a new series of kids books about rescue dogs…AND she paints. I don’t think of her as the standard..but I look up to her as a pacesetter who doesn’t always write for the market but from her heart. She has direction, an adorable line of aprons, and a huge fan base because she hasn’t been haphazard or careless. She takes her readers into consideration when she invites them on a journey and makes sure they don’t feel abandoned along the road. She might be an exception..but that is what has made her exceptional and loved by so many.
Thanks Janet for addressing this issue. It is a fine line we sometimes walk as writers and with the publishing industry changing we need to remember that the rules still apply.
Marci, when we look at Lauraine’s career, we should keep two things in mind: 1) She has more than 70 books in print and has had decades to create a significant body of work; 2) she started her career concentrating on two audiences–readers of historical fiction and girls who love horses. She also started her career in an era in which the author wasn’t as accessible to readers. Readers had to write letters to the author and connected with the author only via correspondence or book signings–no websites or social media where readers expect to connect with the author and for the author to be talking about the types of books that reader loves. Lauraine is her own brand; at this point, she can write whatever she wants. But even she found writing a nonfiction book to have been outside her brand. She didn’t have the time or energy to promote it or to find its audience, and it didn’t fit with her fiction. Lauraine would be among the first to say it takes dozens of books written to a core audience and decades of consistent building before branching out.
I totally agree that the publishing industry has changed and how we handle the whole..”Platform” building. But, I wonder how Lauraine’s career would have become what it is today if she had written for the market verses act upon the advice of Lee Roddy, who told her to write the stories she had in her heart.
Judy Blume went rogue. She changed genres but more noteably, she violated the trust she had with her loyal readers. Something that Lauraine has never done despite genre hopping.
The points brought out on this post are well articulated and very informative. I am probably a closet rogue. I try to play by the rules but sometimes I color outside the lines. Once in a while I even hold the crayon between my toes because it makes me smile and I think, “Why not?”
Thanks again for all of your work in helping us become better writers.
Marci, it wasn’t my intent to suggest a writer decide what to write based solely on the market. I would consider choosing based on that single criterion a serious mistake. Writing what one is passionate about is key to excellent writing. Lauraine was smart to listen to Lee Roddy. My concern is with authors who are genre agnostics. They have never made a choice to “believe” a certain genre or category was the one they should focus on. Thanks for giving me an opportunity to clarify. You know I love your humor and your heart; I just want you to be smart about what you do next. I’m all about informing and believing everyone in our blog community is a responsible adult. If you choose to color outside the lines, it’s pretty likely your career will take a certain path; if you color within the lines, your career is likely to go down a different path.
Susi Robinson Rutz
Janet, your post has really given me something to think about. I consider myself a developing writer, following a career that has included teaching and ministry leadership. I have lots of writing interests. I believe I have been observing a few successful “rogue writers” as guides or mentors. I now realize my best chance is to keep my focus more narrow and follow the path of authors who do this. Big decision to make.
Susi, it is a big decision, but it’s also a matter of watching which door God opens. As he does, you faithfully walk through it. Some authors spend years knocking on one door, which is not opening, but never move on to any other doors. That could mean they feel a calling to that door, or they could be stuck when they don’t have to be.
Good points, Janet! I like what you said about genre-hopping. I think a writer needs to pick a genre in which her voice is strongest and settle down. Sometimes they do this before they query, but sometimes they publish all genres and then they find out they’re best writing this or that and not all the rest.
Question about this: “Despite their hard work, their careers muddle along. That’s because, when the writer has no focus, the reader doesn’t become a fan. How can I look forward to the next Civil War novel from that author when the next five books have no connection to the Civil War? I can’t anticipate what the next release will be because it might be a nonfiction book on parenting teens or a children’s Bible.”
What about those authors who post publication schedules on their websites to tell their readers when this book or that book is coming out? I have seen some indie authors do that — they write in X number of genres, but they have a publication schedule of all their novels, so the readers know when to expect the next book. In a way, they are behaving like publishers with their “coming soon” list except that all the books are their own.
I’m not sure if I’m rogue or not because I think that only applies to jack-of-all-trades published authors, no? Since I’m unpublished, I can keep trying to find my voice by testing out different genres, right, until I find that genre in which my voice is the strongest. Then that’s where I need to build my writing career. I think once you are published, it’s sort of a point of no return (or no returns LOL), am I right? It’s hard to reverse a career going in the wrong direction is what I mean.
Jan, you are correct that a newer writer “feels out” several different genres or categories to find which one readers are more responsive to and the author enjoys enough to make it his or her home category.
Some self-published authors operate differently than traditional authors, but I still think focusing on one genre or at least related genres (suspense and thriller, for example) is the way to build an audience. Think about what works best for self-pubbers: writing series and creating books as rapidly as possible. That shows that, even for those who are reading independently published books, they like a certain type of writing from that author rather than an array of genres from one person.
I agree. I happen to have found my voice writing thrillers, so I put most of my other genres on hold…
I’ve been studying both the indie and traditional publishing markets and observed that indie readers can be a bit more impatient than tradpub readers. If you don’t keep writing the same type of novels they come to know you to be writing in, they move on to other indie authors in the same genre, of whom there are plenty (self-publishing being Slush Pile 2.0).
Consequently, it’s common for selfpubbers keep churning out books in the same genres to keep their readers happy, sometimes 4-12 books a year, and alas, in their haste to publish, *some* skip a few critical steps (like, oh, macro edits and copyedits and proofreading to name a few LOL).
Interesting to hear Brandilyn Collins going indie, but she brings with her a background of books that have been properly vetted before being put on the market. But even there, when I do check out her books from the library, I only read her suspense novels. I don’t read any of her contemporary doggy books, cute as they may be.
Jan, you are very smartly observing what works and doesn’t work for other authors. Blessings on your tribe.
I love this. I follow the rules as long as I know the rules.
I won’t even drive down the lane of a shopping center if the arrow points in the opposite direction. I figure there’s a reason for the rules/laws, and I may as well obey them.
Thanks for sharing!
I’m waaaay too much of a planner to go rogue. I like to know where my career is headed. Sometimes, that is not possible. Sometimes, you have to change direction. But everything should be done with as much precision — and prayer — as possible.
Oh, and purpose. Apparently I’m all about the alliteration today. 😉
Lindsay, you’re so right that, when it comes to publishing (and life), lots of career elements are out of our control. But sometimes it’s clear you need to change direction. Heedlessly rushing forward on the same old path can be detrimental. But that’s not a typical way for a career to grow.
So I have a question, I write non-fiction. mainly I write about parenting, special needs, adoption, and faith (from a pastor’s wife perspective). I write about these issues on my blog, for Focus, for LifeWay, for Charisma, etc. It is what people expect from me, and I do enjoy it. But here is the thing, what I really want to write is fiction. I just don’t know how to get there because I am so established in my niche. I don’t have any books published, just many, many articles. Does that make a difference?
What would you advice a writer like me?
Ellen, in some ways, since you have no published books, the world is your oyster. On the other hand, you’ve probably developed a name for yourself as a nonfiction writer via your blog and articles. You will be stepping away from that audience to find a new one when you move to fiction. Your nonfiction audience is highly unlikely to follow you to fiction. The question to ask yourself is what do you want to do long-term. If it’s fiction, then just know you’re starting on the bottom rung of finding an audience. If you care more about maintaining your present audience rather than starting over, then you’ll want to continue with nonfiction.
Janet, one final question, if I may. I am mainly recognized as a special needs writer. All my fiction ideas center around special needs as well. Is there a way to “marry” those two because both, fiction and non-fiction, have that in common?
Ellen, you possibly could marry the two since they have the special needs “angle” in common. But I don’t think you can start out by creating an alternate sort of pattern of writing by first creating a novel followed by a nonfiction book, etc. I think you have to establish yourself in one category before you launch into the other. You are most likely to have two relatively separate audiences since those who want to read a special needs nonfiction book won’t necessarily want to read a special needs novel. There will be some crossover, but probably not as much as you would hope.
Janet, thank you. I really do appreciate your thoughtful responses. 🙂
To me, this boils down to deciding if I want to write for myself or for an audience.
My sister writes strictly for herself. She has desire to publish, and rarely shares any of her writing with anyone. All she wants is to put the stories in her head down on paper and move on.
I, on the other hand, consider publication a goal. That means (among other things) writing, editing, revising, and knowing my audience.
Thinking about what potential readers are expecting helped me see where my novel veered off course. It made for major (ongoing) revisions, but the end result will be a better book. Having a clear idea who I’m writing for goes a long way toward knowing what to write.
I should have proof read a little closer. It should say my sister has NO desire to publish.
Elissa, thanks for giving voice to the two motivations for writing: for oneself or for publication. That makes a world of difference in how the writing is approached, doesn’t it? And bravo for you to think about what you’re readers will want and responding accordingly. That’s a very smart move.
I write issue-focused fiction and non-fiction. I’m not published yet, I’ve wondered if they will complement each other or be too broad for my audience. It has worked for my blog (social justice/ making a difference) Tricia Goyer and Mary Demueth balance this well. Perhaps, you need a really dedicated audience in one before you are able to cross over. What is your opinion?
Lisa, since you write issue-oriented fiction, it makes sense that you could also succeed in nonfiction, if you wrote about those same issues in both categories. But you would be wise to find a strong audience in one before you add the other. Also, recognize that there is little audience crossover between those who read novels and those who read nonfiction. Liz Curtis Higgs gave an excellent presentation on that lack of crossover at the Mount Hermon Career Track a couple of years ago. She wrote best-selling nonfiction for decades before she finally ventured into fiction. That’s when she found out that fiction folks cared nothing for her nonfiction, and her nonfiction readers hated that she took time out from writing for them to create novels. I figure if Liz didn’t get crossover, the likelihood anyone else could is pretty slim.
Thanks this is very helpful advice!
Thank you, Janet, for this call to introspection. I’ve come to understand, as a new writer, that branding is about creating and sustaining an emotional bond with my readers. It is a big responsibility.
Do you feel that writing both YA fantasy and YA science fiction is rogue behavior? I feel drawn to both, as a way to unfold YA/life themes that matter to me.
Karen, at some point you might need to choose between the two, but as a new writer, I see no reason not to explore both. They are kissing cousins. The question to periodically ask yourself is whether the fantasy reader is also a science fiction reader. Trying to determine that answers becomes your challenge.
Thank you, Janet. Will ponder it. I’m a Christian/secular spec fiction omnivore. My readers’ mileage may vary. 😉
It seems like announcing “I am the exception!” has the same arrogant pride as movies that insist they will start a movement (before it’s even finished) or churches who insist on ‘scheduling our annual rivial.”
Exceptions, movements, and revivals happen – not because of our announcements, proclamations, or desires, but because God shows up.
Rich, well said..er, well written, Rich. It’s so true. We can’t proclaim we deserve to be the exception, or that a movement is underway before it is, or schedule a revival. We have to wait on God for any of the above to be the case.
Janet, your description of how readers innately understand their personal buying boundaries was great.
When I look at my TBR pile, I find that story setting determines the kind of books I purchase or check out. A novel that guides me through the alleyways or rusty gates of the past and helps me visualize the social history of a place as well as the people who occupied it, is a novel I long to spend time with.
These are also the kinds of books I’m striving to write, so I need to find and connect with my tribe.
In your experience, do readers of historical novels in the CBA prefer books that focus on a specific time in history, or a place?
Jenni, what a great idea to look over your TBR stack to gain insight into how you, as a reader, make your selections. It really helps the writer to get in potential readers’ heads.
CBA readers tend to like to read (please understand, everyone, that this is a generalization, not a command about what to write) small town, American settings; settling the West, the Civil War era, and WWII (with a European setting but an American protagonist) are perennial favorites.
Thanks for answering my question in a generalized kind of way. It helps to know that I’m smack dab in the middle of a state (even a bay) that is filled to the brim with riveting story ideas.
After your recent request, perhaps you’re holding a scintillating LIH type query in your hand right now. 😉 So curious to see how that pans out.
Jenni, I didn’t start looking over the romance proposals until the deadline to submit was past. Working my way through them now; I’ll be sure to report what I find in the stack.
Great post today. I’m not a rogue writer, but I have learned to read extensively in my genre so I can know how to create likeable protagonists, how to develop a romantic arc and romantic conflicts, etc. However, when I first started writing in my genre I didn’t know these rules and my stories felt “off.” This frustrated me because I couldn’t pinoint why my story felt “off.” After several revisions (and reading extensively in my genre), I’ve learned to incorporate the “rules” and have noticed an improvement in my writing as a result. So the rules work 🙂
Preslaysa, thanks for reminding us that reading in your genre of choice can inform your own writing in important ways. Sometimes I find writers who don’t read in the genre they’re writing. That decision puzzles me. What, I think, you don’t like the genre?
I am definitely a rogue writer, but I sort of justify it with two things: (1) I stick to YA, at least, so even though I’m all over genre-wise, I still have limits. (2) I’m not really into writing for a career, as in makes me money; just a life-long hobby, as in will do it forever just for the love of it, and if it makes me a little money on the side, that’s a bonus.
Emily Rachelle, considering your goals, then all I can say is, rogue away. You’re after the personal satisfaction, and therefore it doesn’t matter what you write. Have fun!
I’m a little late to the discussion today…just came in from burning fields in preparation for disking.
I don’t think of myself as rogue, but as a newbie I’ve experimented with different genres. Happy to say, I found my love and intend to focus all future written work in this ONE arena!
Janet, your comment about caring for your audience resonated with me. I like the vision of treasuring an audience…being mindful of them…not as a “target” for selling books, but as a group, as a family (or tribe), regarded with tender attentiveness.
This blog’s comments and responses are ultra-informative! I appreciate everyone’s input and your feedback, Janet, is very caring!!
I’m catching up late on this post, but I still wanted to say excellent information like this is why I continue to stop here. It’s definitely food for thought. Can’t say I’m much of a rogue; and as a VBT coordinator, I cringe when the author lists his book as some combination of various genres. It makes it seem like even he doesn’t know what he’s writing.
Thanks for your insight, Janet.
Cheryl, the mixed genre writer does seem to be of, at least, two minds. Which is disconcerting to us readers.
I don’t think I could lock myself into a Redwall kind of series, where I always write the same sort of thing. (To be fair, I’ve only red three or four, so that might not be a totally fair assessment–and I enjoyed them, by the way.) But I could probably do the Terry Pratchett things, writing about whatever I feel like writing about within the limits of a world I defined.
As it is, I’m on my third manuscript, and I think I’m discovering where I’m most comfortable and most able to successfully make myself uncomfortable. My second is quite a bit different than the other two. I think I’m settling into certain elements where I could stay, though.