April 5, 2021-Sometimes by playing it safe in our writing we limit our opportunities for growth not only as authors, but in finding out about the world around us and the people that live there. Today I’m going to talk about what publisher’s want to see when it comes to pushing the envelope in your writing.
- New solutions to old problems. If we use YA books as an example, some of the subject matter written about involves divorce, substance abuse, the character finding themselves, peer pressure, eating disorders, and more. As a publisher, I want to see new solutions to these old issues and not always a happy ending. Divorce, for example, could include the main character going to live with her grandparents or best friend’s family, or even better, striking out on her own and figuring things out herself. Maybe she sides with the mother’s new spouse or the father’s new partner, perhaps she decides to move abroad and get some space from the whole situation. The possibilities are endless, and they should all be explored when brainstorming. Going with the least obvious choice is a sure way to get your query read.
- Fresh perspectives. Publishers are sick of seeing the same old perspective, and I’m not just talking about the type of narrative (e.g., first person), when authors submit their work. We want to see fresh perspectives, we want new voices, and we want to hear voices that have been stifled up until now. We want more diversity in the way characters are presented, where they come from, and how they see and deal with the world around them.
- Real characters. Not every character should be white, blonde, and blue-eyed. We need to show unique characters in our writing just as we observe in the real world; people come in different shapes, sizes, abilities, challenges, and personalities and we should strive to include them because these facts are authentic, real, and sometimes raw. Think back to the last time you saw a character in a wheelchair or with leg braces on in a children’s book; what about the last time you read about a character with Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy? The point is, authors need to embrace the real people, their challenges, and the situations around them.
You’ll have to do a lot of research on topics you don’t know about when writing things if they are not something that you’ve experienced such as ableism, health challenges, relationship issues, etc. But please remember to bring in the experts and do not appropriate cultures. There are a lot of stories that are not ours to tell. Stay tuned for more advice in pushing the envelope in your writing all this month. If you’d like help with your manuscript or don’t know where to start, check out some of our courses and classes here: Children’s Book Writing Master Class – Pandamonium Publishing House, Transitioning from Writer to Author (An Introductory Course) – Pandamonium Publishing House, Best-Seller Bootcamp – Pandamonium Publishing House