Thursday, June 13, 2013

My Recent Interactions with a Publisher OR Uniqueness Often Frightens People

Hi Everyone!

As I mentioned some time ago I was contacted by a publisher about Neanderthal Seeks Human. Here is what they had to say after reading the story:

"We really do think that there is potential in the manuscript and enjoyed the story, we had some problems with the characters... We thought that Janie was a little too slow on the uptake sometimes but too smart at other times. It was really funny in the beginning, but became a little unbelievable further into the book... women can't identify with that kind of character. Also, we felt that we didn’t really get to know Quinn as much as we would have liked. "

First, I was really flattered that the publisher even contacted me. That was a cool experience.

Ok, now to something that has been on my mind for awhile...

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say: I feel my book is unique. There are few things about my book that make it unique, as follows:
  1. I feel Janie is a unique character because she has an IQ greater 165 and therefore can't find her way out of a paper bag. If any of you have ever met someone with an IQ greater than 165 then chances are you know they have difficulty navigating paper bags as well as common sense. Also, Janie is endearing but seldom (if ever) 100% likeable.
  2. The reader is uncertain of Quinn through most of the book as his character is revealed only through Janie's perspective. Because the reader gets to be Janie through the whole book, Quinn is a big, fat mystery. The reader is never 100% satisfied that they understand his motivations and is left wanting more of him (of his thoughts, feelings, motivations, etc) much like Janie feels. But, she has to accept him on faith.
  3. The book doesn't end in a cliffhanger but many questions are unresolved.
  4. The ending is over the top. Like, seriously over the top.
  5. It is a romance novel that has at least seven 5-or-more syllable words on each page (a reader sent this statistic to me, it made me smile)
If I changed any of the items above I feel the book might be more palatable to a wider range of readers. But, it would be a completely different story, evoking a completely different range of emotions. There would be less mystery, less frustration, less hilarity, less wonder. It would be more like everything else out there. It would be more normal.

I am not content to write another romance book.
I want to write someone's favorite book.

I want to write the book that sits on the shelf next to Pride and Prejudice. I want to write the book that people (even if it is a very small group of people) read and re-read then re-read again because they love it so much and they connect with the realness of the characters but enjoy the ridiculousness of the story.

If that means I never choose to sign with a publisher because they want my books to be more like other books then that is a-ok with me.

I don't believe my book is perfect (far from it). I do believe I have a lot to learn. I do believe I have a lot of room for improvement. I don't believe my books will be for everyone. Maybe they will only be for a small group of people who like the frustration that accompanies character driven stories with mystery, hilarity, and wonder.

I feel confident in stating that my book is unique. If I had to choose between being palatable and being unique I'd choose unique each time. 

One last thing then I'll end my silly post.

I LOVE MY READERS!!!! I love them so much I want to put them in my pocket and smother them with ice cream and marshmallows. You are the best. For reals. Crazy love from me to you.

Ok. The end.

Sincerely, Penny

22 comments:

  1. Author Amber Lin recently wrote on a blog post, "Maybe we are just destined to love our creations that we recognize as imperfect."

    This, it seems, is the heart of most stories. If you love it, if your readers love it, they'll cherish it--imperfections and all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very well stated, Kristin.
      I acknowledge that NSH is imperfect. I really do love it for its imperfections <3

      Delete
  2. I for one am very grateful you NEVER published this particular book with a traditional publisher - because I very much doubt it would have stayed the same book. It is a unique read and a smart romance. Hold fast to your writing voice and vision. I am one reader who believes in it - and Im sure there are zillions of others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah! Thank you, Lani. Your comment is one I needed to hear/read. I will hold fast to my writing voice and vision. I feel like it's one of the only steady anchors in this crazy ocean of publishing. I should accept advice for improvement but not for general consumption.

      Delete
  3. There's an over abundance of cookie-cutter romance novels available. This is why, with very few author exceptions, I stopped reading them many years ago and locked onto the (then yet to be overdone) paranormal romance genre (taking "different" in a whole other direction). When I find an author that has that "something special, something unique" I hang on for dear life!

    Absolutely...grow, learn, improve, but when it comes to who you are, who your characters are, HOW you write...don't change a darn thing! Those are the reasons your readers love you. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is very interesting. If you have any suggestions for paranormal romance please send them my way.

      I promise I will do my best to filter advice! As a writer it is difficult to keep from second guessing yourself: is this too different from what I've done before? what will my readers think? am I letting them down? am I crazy? who am I? how did I get here and where are my pants?!?!!? (j/k)

      My consolation is that there will always be another book. If I write something that doesn't resonate with my readers I'll always have another book to write.

      Delete
    2. Well, lordy, I'm new to the blog commenting (you're the first...lucky you...ha!), so I'm not sure if you'll see this in the sea of other comments.

      Everyone has their own taste when it comes to the paranormal books. Some are hardcore, even with the romance (JR Ward) and some are more like a typical romance novel with the paranormal thrown in (Molly Harper and Kerrelyn Sparks).

      I recently read one of Molly Harper's books called "A Witch's Handbook of Kisses and Curses". Very light & funny. LOL...in the story the main character travels to the US, leaving her boyfriend in Ireland. During one of their phone conversations he says that whenever he watches a DVD he has to turn on the Director's Commentary because she's not there to continuously prattle on with movie trivia and factoids (paraphrasing). Made me think of Janie. Check it out.

      Delete
    3. I will check it out!
      My husband actually does that (with movies). At first it drove me crazy but now I end up asking him questions during the movie (because I've become accustom to it) and that drives him crazy :-D

      Delete
  4. Your book was unique. Laugh out loud funny, romantic and Janie's inner dialogue was one of the best parts of the book. You will grow, learn and improve in your craft; but don't change how you write to fit into "the norm". I have "Neanderthal Seeks Human" on my Kindle and it is what I call a "keeper" for future enjoyment. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YAY!! I am so, so pleased that NSH is a re-read book for you. That is the biggest compliment ever. You are precisely my target audience: people who love to read, who love books, who love to love characters. You are the best!

      Delete
  5. NSH is an amazing book because it is different and seeing the world through Janie's eyes is what makes the book so special, funny and touching. You don't need to change a thing - and NSH is most definitely on my keeper shelf (but only next to Pride & Prejudice when I sort my Kindle by Title rather than Author :-) )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. !! It's next to Pride and Prejudice...? OMG. Angela, you have just allowed me to cross something off my "bucket list" (I actually call it my "before I get too senile to do shit list").

      Thank you. I mean that with all sincerity. That is such a compliment (even if it is only when sorted by Title ;-) ). Maybe my next book should be called "Price Check on Aisle Seven" or "Prince of Pretty Pants" or "Principals and Despicables" to avoid any danger of a new title usurping my spot...

      Delete
  6. This is an over-the-top romantic comedy. If you water down the characters' quirks, you wreck the comedy. Not everyone loves over-the-top stuff. That's OK. But suggesting that you change your "voice" to make it more palatable for the masses/more like every other main-stream romance, is a horrible piece of advice.

    Embrace Unique. It's a good thing (Martha Stewart would say that).

    :^)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ITA. I have embraced my unique. I could fake it but then... I'd be faking it. I love that I've found others who also enjoy my style of over-the-top romantic comedy. I feel so lucky that you all exist!! (lucky and relieved that I'm not alone in my questionable proclivities...)

      Delete
  7. I've read this book three times already (twice before and once after the editing - the edits were very useful in removing distracting flaws.) I've also really enjoyed following it on Amazon and seeing how overwhelmingly positive the reviews are. I think it says a lot that if you look at the category Romance, NSH is number 14 in the top 100 highest rated books. I think this is due in a major way to the unique voice of the story. I totally agree that you should not pay any attention to anyone who tries to make you more typical. I think self-publishing is probably a great path for you to follow.

    Anne in Michigan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. That's a crazy statistic! (number 14 in romance... how did that happen?)

      Also, you've read it 3 times? That is so unbelievably freaking fantastic!!!! I think it was Oscar Wilde who said: “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”

      I feel this way about books. I sometimes get so invested in the characters I feel lost for days after finishing (even if there is a happy ending). I want to write books like that. The coolest thing is that there are people like you who want to read books like that.

      YAY us!

      ITA. I think self-publishing is a great path for me; the decision is made especially easy when there are really rad readers who want to come along for the ride. <3

      Delete
  8. As I read your blog, I had a flashback moment to the Reality Bites
    movie and the scene where Ben Stiller bastardized Winona's documentary into the pop culture MTVish reality show. NSH should never debased from its wonderful core so thank you for staying true to you and your excellent work!

    And to other readers and lovers of NSH my request is to give the ebook to your friends. I just completed my fifth purchase of NSH for my friends. One thing is to recommend the book, the other is to give it away and say "I loved this book so much and I think you will too. Enjoy!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your comment actually left me completely speechless for several minutes. That is amazing.

      You must email me your mailing address... well, *must* is a strong word choice; let me rephrase:

      If you wouldn't mind, I would appreciate it if you would please send me a mailing address where things can be mailed (to you). pennreid AT gmail DOT com. I have something that I simply must send you. (This time *must* is appropriate).

      Delete
  9. You did write someone's favorite book! A couple of someones to be exact. And not to forget, someone's first romance novel and now she can't stop reading them :)
    We love your writing and can't wait for more books from you. So like you, we'll take that uniqueness over 'normal' anyday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "You did write someone's favorite book! A couple of someones to be exact." Oh geeze, that's nice of you. I am pleased that you prefer uniqueness to normal... the more I hear this from my readers the better I feel about the direction of the next few books!

      Delete
  10. I just want to say thank you for writing a book with an intelligent main character! I read a lot and I am constantly being frustrated by books with girls who are just idiots and I hate it! So don't listen to the publisher. I loved your book and I loved Janie and it was hilarious and I loved how Quinn reacted to Janie and I just loved it all! I think I shall have to go re-read it now since it has been a while...Don't change anything. It was a great read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Jen! You are so very welcome!!
      I love that smart can mean so many things: high ability smart verses savant smart verses book smart verses street smart verses socially smart verses emotionally smart, etc. I plan to explore all these different kinds smart types through my characters. One thing is for certain- they will all be smart and NORMAL BE DAMNED!!!!

      BTW, I really feel that normal is actually smart. I think women are tired of reading about dumb people. There. I said it.

      Thank you for loving my book. I feel similarly about my readers. <3

      Delete