When What You Read Isn’t What You Write

I had a revelation recently, and it took some time for me to come to peace with it. But now I have, and I think I’m better off for it. Maybe time will tell even more, but I feel better. I feel like I’m past the time of confusion and frustration, and bound toward a more hopeful future.

So what in the world was my revelation about?

Writing, my friends. Writing and genre and how it’s okay if you don’t read what you write.

Let’s back up; here’s what my situation was. A few years ago, I rediscovered my love of reading (when I finally had more time to read, around the time I first started this blog). And I absolutely DEVOURED a number of popular fantasy series from the past few years that I’d missed out on during my dry spell (*cough*and everything Brandon Sanderson ever wrote *cough*). I became obsessed with fantasy novels, and rightly so! They were and are amazing! I got a ton of delight out of reading them.

Not only that, I would finish a book and feel inspired to write something so amazing, something that could evoke such deep feeling from a reader. That itch grew and grew until finally I tried to take up writing again. I started to develop a book idea involving time travel and a fantasy world. I wrote a few thousand words.

And then I hit a wall.

It just wasn’t working. I felt lost with it and couldn’t see myself moving forward with it. So I set it aside, and well, a few months later, I went through the same cycle again: developed an idea, wrote a bit, and eventually realized it was NOT working for me.

I was honestly sort of crushed. I wanted to write–it’s always been a dream of mine to be a published writer, and I desperately want to make it happen! But how could I do that if I couldn’t even write the first few chapters of a book I spent months planning? Even worse, I knew what it was like to plan a story and write it as if the words flew from my mind onto the page, with no problems, an endless flow of inspiration, and great joy and satisfaction when I wrote the final word. I wanted that again. But how to get it?

I didn’t realize how until I took a step back. My best writing experiences, to date, have come when I wrote contemporary fiction. I absolutely¬†love fantasy, reading and watching, but I don’t think I have the right brain to conceptualize a brand new world and pull it off satisfactorially. So, I thought, what if I went back to contemporary fiction? What if, instead of the epic fantasy and extreme worldbuilding and complex magic, I dialed it back to family drama and coming of age and sweet romance?

The outcome? A happy Brianne.

I’ve been working on my new project during the month of April, and I feel like if I haven’t quite recaptured the pure joy I’ve experience while writing on the rare occasion, I’m damn close. Writing these past two weeks has not been a chore, it’s been exciting and fun. I set a goal of 1,000 words a day, and it’s never been easier to crank that out in half an hour before work every morning. I almost can’t believe how easy it is.

But that’s what has proved to me that it’s all okay. Maybe it’s even meant to be. I can love fantasy novels, and I can write contemporary fiction. What I learn from and enjoy in the fantasy genre, I can still apply to contemporary fiction to infuse a new flavor into it. You can learn about craft and good storytelling from any genre.

So, my opinion? Write what you want and read what you want, if that’s what makes you happy.

Someday, I hope I’ll be able to pull off an epic fantasy novel, but for now, I’m happy right where I’m at.

What are your thoughts? Can your reading genre and your writing genre be completely different?

Until next time,
Brianne

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All You Ever Wanted to Know about Publishing

I’ve only mentioned it a few times on this blog, but I consider myself very lucky to work at a publishing house. And I love what I do! For a while, my career was taking a different path, and it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as I hoped. I took a chance on publishing, thinking it would be a “dream job,” and guess what? Dreams can become reality. I love working with books, and every day brings new learning at the publishing house. It’s not a dream every day, but I sure do enjoy what I do.

I used to work with the nonfiction divisions at the house, but I recently transitioned to the fiction team. Which is very! exciting. But since I’m moving away from nonfiction, and the more general role I previously held, I thought I would share a few lessons learned and insights gained during that time. These are tidbits not only that I learned, but I thought might be interesting for others in the writing world who are looking to getting traditionally published. So here we go!

Most authors who get signed have an agent

We have an online submission system that we direct authors to who want to submit an unsolicited manuscript to us, but generally speaking, we do not take unsolicited manuscripts. Nearly all authors who get signed have an agent, or get one early on in the game. Those who didn’t have an agent but still got a deal connected with the acquiring editor at a conference or through another author we publish. Agents are important! And if you don’t have an agent, you definitely have to get yourself out there.

Titles are not the author’s decision–and they can’t be trademarked, either

We work hard to collaborate with authors on their book titles, but the ultimate decision comes down to the publisher. There may be a rare case where an author worked a clause into their contract, but even then it never goes further than joint agreement on the title. About half the time, we’ll use the title an author proposes, and the other half of the time, we’ll go with a different idea we came up with. Sometimes, those titles might be the title of another book–and again, we do try not to use titles in our space that are recent. But the occasional drama does come up! *shrugs*

Author platform does matter

This may be more specific to nonfiction books, but this really is true. I know this is something debated in the writing community, but it definitely is important in all I’ve seen. Granted, “important” ends up mattering in different ways. Here’s what I mean–our publishing committee discusses an author’s platform before we ever sign them. Sometimes, we make a comment about the small platform, but if we really like the content and enough people speak up in support for it, we might move forward with a book, giving it a small projection. However, if an author has a small platform and weak content, that might sway the room against the proposal. So, all said, platform makes a difference, but it’s not the sole deciding factor.

You don’t need an English degree to work at a publishing house

Yes, many people do have English degrees–at least the people in the editorial department. But there are tons of different roles at a publishing house that lots of people don’t ever think about–rights and contracts, production, sales, marketing, customer service, design, and more! Some of these departments might require a college degree, but many others might not. There’s a starting place for everyone, and typically lots of ways to grow and strengthen your career no matter where you begin.

Publishing schedules work way in advance–and all at once

Explanation: We work on three schedules, spring, summer, and fall. At any given time, we’re at a different point for each season, and we’ll be working on anywhere from three to five seasons at a time. For example, right now, we are just getting start on books releasing in spring 2020, and we’re at various points for books releasing in fall 2019, summer 2019, and of course, those releasing now in spring 2019. Especially in my previous assistant position, I was always looking ahead to schedule meetings and plan for books releasing years from now. Plus, we’ll look at new book proposals and might sign the author, but the book won’t be due for at least a year. This publishing business takes time, which is necessary but can also be infuriating!

That’s all for today! Interested in more insights from the publishing house? I’m sure I’ll have tons more to share from everything I’m learning while working in fiction. Stay tuned!

Until next time,
Brianne