Monday, August 17, 2015

Find Your Story To Tell

There are many writers out there who have taken the self-publishing approach, not just because of the money, but because they have felt that writing for an established publisher will "limit their personal writing style." They feel that to write for a publisher (or even to have an agent) they will be forced to write stories that aren't truly representative of who they are or how they write.

This idea seems to come from pretty detailed descriptions of what we are looking for in our submission guidelines. This also comes from comments the editors and agents say during those panel discussions. "Read what we publish/represent to know what we are looking for." The problem is that many of the authors out there are misinterpreting what we mean by those comments, or even the submission guidelines.

In no way are we looking for someone to simply copy what we are publishing or representing. And those submission guidelines and descriptions of the particular genres are simply parameters to work with. It might be word count, it might be the level of sensuality. But that is it. From that point, it is entirely up to you as to what you want to write about.

Let's take my submission guidelines for women's fiction.


Word count 75,000 - 110,000

I am actively looking for "book club" style women's fiction pieces. These stories should examine the world through a woman's eyes. We want to see what it means to be a woman. Stories can be historical or contemporary but the focus must be on the female journey.

Please focus on one issue and not a ton of personal problems the protagonist has.

Stories can have happy or sad endings.

Please no adultery.

From this description, you can see that writers have a lot of flexibility. We start with word count. There is a huge range here to work with so this should not be an issue. If you are below that word count, is this for you? Probably not.

Now, look at the things I am asking for. These are stories that "examine the world through a woman's eyes." In other words, the story should have the focus of giving us a perspective of how women think and live in the world, of how they deal with issues and complex situations.

You will also notice that I am not looking for stories with a soap opera feel. I want the stories to tackle one issue and theme. Don't over load me with stories where the women have more issues than you would find in the offices of a counseling center.

Even the ending is up to you.

The only thing I openly stress is to not have a story with adultery.

What you should see is that there is no limit. You CAN find your own story to tell.

Now, I want to take this to a second level. If you are a new author just starting up in this business, take the time to explore and figure out what you personally write. Sure, you can play around with styles from other publishers, but the starting point will always be and should always be what you want to write. Once the story is done, THEN you can see who out there might represent your work.

I think the nice thing to remember is that the world of publishing has a lot of different avenues authors can take. It is always up to you which road you want to travel on and what stories you want to write.

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