Fitting the Mold Pt. 1

I started writing fiction from… well, as long as I can remember, writing fiction has been something I’ve done. Sure, maybe in Kindergarten I ripped off the Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See? book, but you know eventually I fell into my own creativity.

For the majority of my life I dreamed about being a published author… but mainly just wrote into a vacuum. I took a few creative writing classes, got positive feedback, entered a short story contest or two, but honestly I was kind of hoping someone would magically find what I’d written and magically think I was brilliant and magically want to publish me. (Sure wish it worked that way).

It’s been a year now since I have seriously started pursuing publication. Last March marked my first query letter landing in an editor’s email inbox. The story I queried (which mercifully got rejected) was the first novel I’d ever written. (Though I had rewritten it multiple times since that first time… so I wasn’t a total idiot). Looking back, I realized that you shouldn’t submit a novel on a whim. Or maybe you should when it’s your first and you’re testing the waters. Bottom line, I didn’t do my homework. Didn’t determine if my book fit the publisher’s mold, just sent this story that I loved.

I submitted a few more novels like this. Just sending stories I liked out into the world without a real sense of what a publisher was looking for. I just knew that if I wanted to become published, this was the first step.

But, I also began to realize that I was missing a step. And as I began to become a member of the eharlequin community, I realized how much I was missing in terms of how to actually get published. The art of the synopsis, an engaging query letter, understand the publisher you want to submit to and what they’re looking for, knowing your voice, etc. etc. etc.

Bottom line: I needed more than a halfway decent story, some engaging characters, and a decent concept of grammar if I wanted to get anywhere.

Part of this was hard to accept. I mean, I’d always been told to write what you know and not worry about other people, write for yourself, etc. But, part of it was kind of a relief though. Many publishers were explaining what they wanted (and online, so easy access). So all I needed to do now was sit down and follow those guidelines. There was a formula!

Easy, right?

Wrong.

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