“What are publishers looking for?” This is a question that I am often asked by emerging writers. My question back to them is– “What would you do with that information if I told you?” Would you write a book to match what you think “they” want? Would you just feel terrible because what you’re writing doesn’t match what “they” are looking for? In truth, I have no idea what publishers are looking for and I don’t really care becauase it has nothing to do with me, or with you.
You see, I have to say what I have to say, whether it gets published or not. I got myself completely blocked when I was writing Silver Sparrow because I feared that publishers didn’t want it. I almost let it wither on the vine because I was all tangled up in industry this, and industry that. I don’t feel like going into it, but you can read about it here.) Short version: what you know is your own heart and mind. And as they say: write what you know.
For August, let’s agree to take a little vacation from industry news. You don’t need to know what kind of deals other people are getting. Don’t look to see who gets reviewed in the New York Times. Doing a demographic round up of whatever award is recently announced is just going to spin you out. And being spun out is not going to help you finish your project.
When we started this month, the plan was to be eager and enthusiastic about our work. I must tell you that I have never heard one morsel of industry news that has made me feel excited about sitting down to write. Furthermore, all the industry news in the world is irrelevant if your manuscript is still a half finished stack of papers on your desk.
Truth: The journey is hard. For everybody. I know that some people make it seem easy, but that’s a performance. It’s intense. For everybody.
And here’s another truth: All of us who write– no matter where we are in our career have something in common– we must write the next book. Yes, you can spend a lot of time thinking about how it’s easier for some people. And it is. And it’s hard. And you still have to do it.
I’ve seen the VIDA numbers and I know that it’s rough out here if you’re not an straight, white, male. (And I know it’s rough out here for many of them, too.) But that roughness is not limited to publishing. It’s true for life, yet you manage to get out of bed this morning. You find joy in your life. You experience passion. And you will do the same with your writing. Do it anyway. And do with enthusiasm and do it well.
You got this. And we got you.