Friday, December 13, 2019

Writing Inspirational Writing Ain't Easy

We talked earlier in the week about how difficult writing for series line can be. Today, I want to talk about writing for the inspirational market.

This is an AMAZING market, but one that really takes the courage of David to be successful writing those inspirational novels. On the surface, many writers might feel it isn't that bad, but let's talk about those things that really cause you to pull your hair out.

Let's start first with the competition. This is a HUGE market! Conferences just for inspirational writers can sell out instantly. Look around you at the number of "non-denominational" churches pop up. These churches can pack the house. Our home church pulls in 800 kids for their one week of Vacation Bible School. That's huge! Now, you might think that with a demand this high, the demand for authors might be equally as high. Not so!

Remember, these publishers have a smaller number of bookstores they sell to. Sure, they have the standards of Amazon, Barnes and Noble and so forth, but, their central audience are those smaller bookstore, churches and select locations. These publishers simply are not producing the same number of books that those larger lines publisher. In other words, there are simply a smaller number of slots for inspirational authors.

But what about the writing? Isn't that pretty straight forward? Again, not as easy as you think.

First of all, the level of "faith" has to be pretty moderate. Yes, it needs to be there, but no preaching. Shoving scripture down the throats of the readers is not going to work. Along the same lines, because this is non-denominational writing, it needs to appeal to a very broad spectrum of writers.

Next, we have to examine the central story arc of this writing. If you are writing inspirational romance, you have to find a happy balance between the romance and inspiration. It is the faith that is going to bring the two of them together, but we still have to see the romance. It's easy to keep things tame but for the romance to blossom, you have to find different ways to bring them together.

Finally, this level of writing really needs a strong guiding theme. What is that single, powerful message you want the reader to leave with. Think sermons here. The pastor determines what the thing he or she wants the congregation to walk out with. They don't just babble on and on about faith. There is a goal. Without that in your writing, you will struggle a lot.

If you truly have the passion of this writing, and want to write it, I strongly encourage you to do two things. First, join the larger Christian writing organizations and get to every major conference. Secondly, read and research those authors EXTENSIVELY. This is not something you can just jump into.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Your Passion For Writing Does Not Sell Books

I remember a colleague of mine at a college had a comment in his syllabus that was fantastic. It essentially said the amount of time you put into a writing assignment or whether or not he liked you was not an element in the grading process. So true.

And yet, time and time again, students would come to us telling us of how hard they worked or how much they loved their assignment and that should count for something when it came to the grading.

Nope, not happening.

Writers tend to do the same thing. A week does not go by when we don't receive a submission that goes on and on about the passion of the writing. They tell us emphatically of the time they spent on the project, of the blood sweat and tears in that novel, or of the enthusiasm they have about their writing and career. This is all great to hear, but in the end, that passion is not going to sell the book.

It is about the product!

Now, please do not get me wrong. We want authors who are passionate about their careers. We want you to love what you do. But, we also want quality writing. We need the quality writing. Your readers expect great writing. When they pick up your book and start reading, they will see that passion. I promise you! But they don't really care, in the end, that you cried when you wrote that scene in chapter 7.

As you write your query letters and think of your pitches, remember to focus on the writing. Focus on the craft. Focus on the novel. That is what sells!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Knowing and Using Your Resources

I heard a great quote yesterday that I truly believe says a lot, especially for people in publishing. I had on in the background SHARK TANK and there were two people there pitching their product. One of them referenced something she learned while working at Goldman Sachs.

You are not expected to know everything, but you are expected to know who to go to.

This says a lot!

I talk a lot here on the blog about writers needing to become educated. Too many are just jumping into the business and wondering what that success they dreamed of is turning into one failure after another. These writers struggle with composing a quality story. They struggle with knowing who to send their projects to. They struggle knowing how the whole process works. The list goes on and on. It all stems from a lack of education.

This quote, I do believe really captures what I have been trying to say. I never once believe that we can know everything. The publishing industry is constantly changing and evolving and even those editors and agents who have been in the business for a long time know that there is always a learning curve.

The second part of this thought is also important. If we don't know something, we should find a solution. We need to go to someone to get that information. It is this point that so many authors screw up. If you go to someone who is not an expert, who does not fully know and understand that concept, you will head down the wrong path.

Too many authors just do a quick internet search, find something and think they have the answer. Too many authors just sign up for some random workshop, follow a blog, or listen to a podcast from someone who claims to be an expert, and then continue to fail.

The statement implies that you know the "RIGHT" person to go to.

Always make sure that the resource you are going to is:
  • Up-to-date
  • Truly knows the right answer
  • Truly is educated in that field
If we don't do this, it becomes an issue of the blind leading the blind!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Writing Series Romance Is Not That Easy

There are a lot of people who seem to have it in their heads that writing series romance is a lot easier than writing single title romance. This same argument often extends to series romance being "a training ground" for authors before they become serious single title authors. Unfortunately, this is far from the case.

Most of these misconceptions come from the belief that since the stories are shorter as well as scripted (sort of) by the line's requirements and characteristics, this writing becomes nothing more than a formula. It is important to understand that it is just these supposed misconceptions that make this writing a lot harder.

Let's start with the page count. Because these stories are shorter does not mean that the story line, plot development and character depth is lacking. It simply means that these authors have to really maximize their word economy and truly develop that plot in an effective and efficient way. Give me an additional 30,000+ words and I can easily weave in a lot of that depth. Try that in a smaller space and still make the story believable... try it and you will see what I mean.

Now, let's talk about those series characteristics. Just because a series has specific guidelines DOES NOT mean all of the stories are the same. It means that now, you have to work within those parameters, find unique twists and turns, AND keep your own voice.

Again, single title authors, and more specifically, authors who just write "general fiction" can pretty much get away with anything.

I liken this idea to those cooking shows where chefs are given a specific group of food items as well as a required theme. Not as easy as you think.

So, before you go out and slam those series writers, try it for once. You may seriously change your attitude about this great group of authors,.