It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a publisher in possession of a publication schedule must be in want of a new author. The problem, as many struggling authors observe, is that with ever-changing world of publishing, it’s impossible to know what publishing houses want. Today Boroughs Publishing Group‘s Editor-in-Chief Chris Keeslar offers a kind of GPS for writers, a road map to help you achieve success.
Everyone is always talking about all the changes occurring throughout the publishing industry. It can be daunting, really, as much as exciting. But one thing will never change. First and foremost, regardless of your experience level or the innovations of product delivery, writing is about communication.
So, as a writer, focus on that: Communication. Your key to success is conveying everything you want to convey to the appropriate audience in the appropriate manner—a manner you’ve determined by listening to them before you speak. Know who you are. Know who they are.
If you don’t know who your audience is, it’s you. At least, that’s a great place to start. You’re most likely writing for someone who has the same tastes as yourself but doesn’t have the same drive to create. That makes things easier, no? Start thinking about the elements that work for you when you’re reading. What really makes you gasp, groan, sigh or buy the next thirty installments of the series? Can you do the same? Next start thinking about what you’d do, how you would have characters act differently in similar situations and how you could make a story even more romantic than the best book you ever read. Don’t look now, but you’re finding yourself. You’re finding your Voice. Not as tough as you thought, eh?
When authors or teachers or editors tell you to “Find your voice,” they’re not just talking about what words you use and how you naturally arrange them; they want you to discover that inner core of yourself that makes you write, what it makes you write and why. Your Voice is what’s quintessentially you. It’s what you as a writer offer the world. It’s your soul: unique, immutable, beautiful.
People—aspiring authors in particular—are guilty of a serious crime: They elevate writing to a Herculean task. Well, maybe it is one. But the strenuous part comes from committing to and believing in your vision while paying attention to your audience, connecting their hopes and dreams to your own. Become a good communicator, you’ll be a good writer.
Interestingly, authors who have tackled the often overwhelming task of writing a book then shy away from something as minor as a pitch. There’s absolutely no good reason. If you can do one, you can do the other. A pitch is just using your Voice to tell a friend why they should read a book, see a movie or listen to a song. That friend just happens to be an editor, and the book just happens to be yours. You should know better than anyone what makes it awesome.
You’ve heard this before: To do something well, understand it.
In genre fiction, ultimately the publishing construct is about the author delivering a specific experiential payoff for the reader, simultaneously entertaining and educating. Mysteries work the logic circuits of the brain, ideally offering a series of clues that can be pieced together for a solution that’s both obvious and obfuscated at the same time; deduction is all. Science fiction follows a similar line, except it asks not, “What really happened?” but “What could happen, and should it?” Fantasy is all about the emotional, requiring not that situations be scientifically conceivable or demonstrable but the very opposite, that our imaginations be stretched, that our interaction with the characters be illuminating and exciting in worlds impossibly grand or horrible.
So, for a Romance novel to be truly effective, what must we see?
Connection. Or, rather, we must first see the opposite. Pain. Emptiness. Solitude. The possibility of those things, the looming danger that awaits all of us who avoid genuine human connection, no matter how good the reason for such a choice. Especially if the reason is good. Which character is more compelling than he who stood at the abyss yet turned back? Who is our best example if not one who has trod easier paths and now walks forward with eyes open, choosing a difficult path with the most worthy reward?
What are all the reasons people shouldn’t be together? Know them. Then know the reasons of your characters. Finally, know your audience and how they will benefit from watching your characters learn the truth. Writing is communicating. You are providing the payoff to them. Choose something you know and can illustrate, and know why everyone should care. If you don’t, you’ll have struck a glancing blow not just for the happiness of your protagonists, but to the hearts of your readers.
Speaking of communicating and connection, which book spoke to you most and why?
Boroughs Publishing Group’s Editor-in-Chief, Chris Keeslar, has been a leading industry professional for over 20 years. He graduated from New York University with an eye on publishing. Initially intending to make a name for himself as an author, he took work as an editorial assistant to support that ambition and soon found himself as handy with a pencil as with a word processor—or maybe handier.
Chris found Romance fiction to his taste. Genre fiction–wise, he’d grown up reading primarily fantasy, swords and sorcery type books, but discovered that the leap to Romance was not as disorienting as one might suspect; both genres steered toward overall happy endings and fantasy fulfillment. He is happy to announce that as Boroughs continues to accept submissions in all sub-genres of Romance (except inspirational), and the publishing house has begun accepting submissions in Women’s Fiction and the badly named Chick Lit.
A Kiss to Build a Dream On – In WWII, Women’s Auxiliary Service Pilot Rachel Prentiss finds herself in increasing danger: to her life by what killed her friend, Lt. Gracie Abbott, and to her heart, by her superior officer, Captain Jack Lassiter.
Eldercynne Rising – Reina Cahill is about to learn the truth about herself by returning to a world of shapeshifters and sorcerers, of ancient secrets and older magic, a world where she will win the friendship of monsters and the love of a vigilante sorcerer and save the world.
A Hero to Hold – Disillusioned by the scandal that took her husband and standing in society, Viscountess Charlotte Haliday will return to London and come face to face—and mouth to mouth—with a wounded war hero, the best man she has ever known.
Kiss and Confess – As a new addition to the TV reality show “Make Me a Match,” Charley Stephens is about to meet the love of her life—offscreen.
Craft of Writing