It’s been a while since I’ve done a writing post – this month has been crazy with edits and covers and blurbs and newsletters, so the poor old blog has suffered. Before I sold I used to blog a lot about the trials of being an unpublished author and lots of other writing related stuff. I kind of wonder if that stuff is still helpful since I’m not sure how many people have followed me to this blog from my old one. But, whatever. I’m throwing this out to the ether anyway.
This is going to be a metaphor heavy post so apologies in advance.
What I wanted to talk about was limiting yourself (forgive me if you’ve heard this all before but I think it’s worth repeating).
When I first seriously started writing for publication, there was only one publisher I considered. I wanted that publisher and no one else would do. No one else was going to be good enough. Over the years I got great feedback and encouragement but for various reasons I kept hitting brick walls. It was totally depressing and utterly demoralizing. People kept telling me to write something else for a change but I didn’t listen. I wanted my special toy dammit! And besides, no one puts Jackie in the corner!
So there I was, steadily losing confidence in my abilities, my writing becoming narrower and narrower because I got more and more frightened that I was doing everything wrong. I was trying to write in a tiny box to please a particular publisher. Writing became something I hated, not something I loved. And yet still I wanted that publisher. I wanted their sweet, delicious oranges not bloody apples!
Luckily, before I totally lost what little confidence I had in my writing, the shouts of my CPs eventually got through my thick skull. WRITE SOMETHING ELSE JACKIE.
So I did – mainly becaue I didn’t have anything else to lose at this point. And the process was fantastic. When I’d finished I knew it wasn’t going to get me oranges but by that stage, I’d decided that I needed to listen to the people that had told me to branch out. I tried the apple tree next door and whaddya know? Those apples are crunchy and delicious and I love them as much – maybe more – than I loved oranges.
The process of writing that book and having it accepted did amazing things for my confidence. I sold another book – the peach tree next to the apple is incredible – and then more. The orange tree – which had dominated my orchard up to this point – began to shrink and I could see that there were so many more trees out there. So many more opportunities.
And that’s really what I’m trying to say. There’s nothing wrong with concentrating on one publisher but keep in mind that only liking oranges limits you, both as an aspiring author and as a published author. The publishing world is changing fast and it’s exciting but I really think it’s just good business sense to include a few apples and peaches in your basket.
Concntrating entirely on only one house also means you’re writing to please just one set of people. But they’re not the only editors out there. Just because you can’t seem to write something that grabs them doesn’t mean that ALL the editors in the entire world will hate what you write.
I’m not saying you should give up oranges entirely. I’m saying that while you’re reaching for that orange tree, keep in mind that there are plenty of other trees in the orchard. Working with one publisher might enable you to get a second. Because selling your book doesn’t mean you stop learning your craft and growing as a writer. The past six months have been amazing for me in terms of bettering and challenging myself. Hell, you might even find that you don’t like oranges at all, that you’re an apple girl all the way.
Okay so I hope you didn’t get lost in all the orange/apple/peach/orchard metaphors. Basically don’t let one publisher become your be all and end all. Keep your options open. Keep writing what you love, not what you think editors want to see. Keep loving what you write and the rest will follow.
As for me, I’ve still got my eye on that orange tree. But it’s not the only tree in my particular orchard. 🙂