Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

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 Before I sold I used to blog a lot about the trials of being an unpublished author and lots of other writing related stuff.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 Photo 15-03-13 10 23 19 AMbecause 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. 🙂


10 thoughts on “Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit”

  1. These are very good points. But what if you are growing cherries and everyone wants oranges and apples and peaches? What if you offered your cherries in the marketplace and they said they weren’t interested in fresh cherries? That people only want their cherries popped. Like Maraschino cherries. That people didn’t believe in fresh cherries any more. So what if you tried to grow oranges because that is where the market is and the oranges shrivelled before they bore any fruit? What if the soil in your orchard is too acidic or alkali to grow citrus or pomme fruits? Am I giving away that I live in a fruit growing district and therefore take the metaphor too seriously?

    1. The world is a big place. Someone WILL want cherries. And they’ll be damn annoyed that they can’t find any. Because some idiot keeps telling them want oranges and apples and peaches! 😉
      However, if you LOVE oranges and don’t want anything else, by all means, keep with the oranges. Don’t ever give up reaching for them and eventually you’ll get there.
      Just don’t let your love of writing and the pleasure you take in creating stories get hemmed in. Because I know what it’s like to feel that way and it’s the pits.

      Anyway, your soil is perfectly fine. Don’t prune your trees just because someone else says they look untidy. 😉

      Hmmm…perhaps I should have chosen another metaphor…

  2. I know what you mean Jackie, I spent several years yearning for oranges but they didn’t like anything I had to say. Anyway just had a rejection from Entangled for my Romantic suspense after seven months. But I got some great comments and although I’m a bit miserable it’s the best rejection I’ve ever had – does that make any sense?
    So now, like you, I’m aiming for apples and peaches and who knows maybe cherries.

    1. Awww, hugs on the R! And yeah, I know what you mean re it being the best rejection ever. I’ve had a few of those. 🙂 I would definitely take the comments, see if you agree with them, rework the ms then send out again. Send it everywhere. And make sure you keep going. Keep writing. It’s the only way.

  3. I, too, am blinded by the orange trees. I tell myself to try other fruits, but I’m not quite ready. But I know one day I will have to be ready to jump in another pie. I just wish I knew what it is about this particular orange tree that has me blinded to the apple and peach trees. What makes their orchard prettier than all the others?

    1. I don’t know, Marcie. Perhaps it’s what we hear from other people, or just what we perceive ourselves. But my experience of apples and peaches has been fantastic and it’s getting to the stage where I’m thinking I might give up oranges altogether. Not because I don’t like them but because there are other, bigger trees out there. 😉

  4. Hey Jackie, inspired post as always and can I just say now I’ve just downloaded Falling for Finn to my Kindle and I CAN’T WAIT TO READ IT!!! And I love your new website, too. Tres smexy.

    OK, now that’s done. You’re so right about the oranges and apples (although I think there really should have been some bananas in there – just as an appropriate visual aid you understand!). At the end of the day the goal is to get published, to get your books out there to people who will read them and love them and to do that you HAVE to find a publisher that loves what you write. You can tweak and stretch yourself and change a few things but if the Orange tree is trying to push you to write something that doesn’t work for you it won’t work for your readers either.

    And personally, I think it’s really exciting that there’s a whole orchard out there now and not just a few trees, providing so many more opportunities for writers to find that perfect fit. So we’re not all trying to write oranges – when apples and pears (and bananas) taste just as good.

    And once you’re a fabulous success of course the orange tree may come calling and say – ‘how about we plant an apple tree just so it can bear fruit like you?’ – Just sayin’

    Heidi x

    1. Eeeek, Heidi! Am VERY flattered and extremely nervous! 🙂 Hope you like it!! *bites nails*
      Well, that orange tree has been great but yeah, am wondering if it’s quite for me. It’s certainly not getting any easier to climb…
      But still, I’m with you, it’s a very exciting time for writers. And I’m really, really happy with where I am at the moment.
      Lol re the orange tree coming calling!! I’d like to see that day… 😉

  5. Awesome post, Jackie. You’re totally right. I love the whole orchard metaphor. I’m not sure I write bananas any more, lol. Maybe I write cherries now. But I am beginning to think I don’t write oranges :/ I think that hurts more than the bloody rejections!! That slow realisation…but then you’re right. Not everyone likes oranges anyway 🙂

    1. Hey Catherine, actually, I think you CAN write oranges, you just have to keep standing by that orange tree. Eventually it’ll happen. I’ve been standing there a while and to be honest with you, I’m getting a little sick of it. I’m wondering if I actually WANT to write oranges anyway. Then again, with all the other trees around, I don’t have to stick beside one. I can write whatever I want. Someone, somewhere will want it and meanwhile, that’ll distract me from waiting for the wretched orange tree. 🙂

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