Scaredy Cat Writers


cat

I think writers share a lot of common fears.

What if this thing NEVER happens:
– complete that first manuscript
– nail a damn query letter
– compose a decent synopsis
– sign with an agent
– score a book deal
– write full time
– win an award
– hit a bestseller list
– finish another manuscript ever ever ever
– etc

What if this thing DOES happen:
– end up with a bad agent
– accept a lowball offer out of desperation
– give away too many rights in one whack
– lose my creative soul in the process
– can’t make a deadline
– go broke and die of starvation
– the publisher folds
– only sell, like, 10 copies
– receive nothing but horrible reviews
– lose my mind
– etc

And I know some fears are more personal to each of us.

I’m fearful of a lot of those universal things. Right now, I also have a particular fear of a very specific kind. I have an uber-clear idea of the type of book—my brand, I guess—I want to write, what I want to put out in the world. And that is: amazingly written YA. (Duh!) Drilling down further: amazingly written, quirky YA. And to add one more layer, amazingly written, quirky YA featuring LGBTQ+ protagonists.

Right now (as in RIGHT NOW) there seems to be a ?hunger? for that type of book. I saw evidence of it on editors’ and reviewers’ year-end lists. It was threaded all through the most recent #MSWL. I catch hints from publishing peeps. I’ve read some outstanding examples of it (Grasshopper Jungle, I’ll Give You the Sun) & see others in deal announcements and (promising!) books scheduled to hit shelves any day now (Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda. Seriously, have you read the first chapter that’s up RIGHT NOW? Do it.).

Here’s my twofold fear: like paranormal romance, dystopian, [insert past trend here], I’m going to miss the window. The craving will be satiated & it will go away. Honestly, how many of a certain type of book can the market hold? Publishers must “balance” their lists. Even if it could sustain more, a sense of familiarity & boredom sets in & acquisition shifts toward a fresher thing. And a second part to this, which feels even more personal: as amazing as the books mentioned above are, I want amazingly written, quirky YA featuring LGBTQ+ protagonists, which is written by LBGTQ+ authors.

Maybe that niche is just too damn small?

Or maybe there are some AMAZING books with those attributes I don’t know of. Maybe they’ve already been purchased, are going through copyedits right now, and I’ll discover them soon. Maybe I have completely no idea of how any of the authors writing LGBTQ+ protagonists identify. There’s perennial favorite David Levithan, of course. Who am I missing? Help me.

Great books are great books. No doubt. I’m so thankful that the ones that exist do indeed exist! The teens and adults reading them deserve them. And maybe I don’t have the chops to create an amazingly written, quirky YA featuring LGBTQ+ protagonists. But, damn, maybe I do. Maybe I already have that completed manuscript. Maybe the one I’m working on right now is yet another one.

But what if the entry window closes before I find out? How many phenomenal PNRs, or books-that-happened-to-have-vampires, or dystopians missed their window? How many ridiculously original works will never become published books because they didn’t make the cut-off? Because the timing was against them? Because the market was already saturated? Because it was time to move on? We’ll never know.

So, yeah, I have those big, universal fears shared by a lot of (most?) writers seeking traditional publishing. But I also, just like you, have another set of fears probably particular to a subset of writers, and even fears that are mine and mine alone.

Sadly, this post is more about what I’m scared of than providing a fix for those fears. I’m definitely interested in your thoughts.

Do you know of any new amazingly written, quirky YA featuring LGBTQ+ protagonists, which are actually written by LBGTQ+ authors? TELL ME. PLEASE!

Forget my personal fear for a minute. What’s yours? What’s that specific ~thing~ that makes you fret & sweat when it comes to your own writing, hopes & publishing goals?

Spill your scaredy cat guts in the comments and let me know. Maybe by naming them, we can do something about them.

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13 thoughts on “Scaredy Cat Writers

  1. I have lots of fears. Some have come to pass, but have been overcome. I believe your fear is unfounded. Diverse books shouldn’t be part of a trend. LGBTQ readers need these books. In some cases, these books help them feel not so alone. You’re an amazing writer and I believe there will always be readers eagerly awaiting anything you write. You have an authentic, honest voice that comes across in your books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re super-kind, Tricia. Thx for those words! And, yes, I totally agree about the ongoing need. Maybe I’m off-base with my fear of saturation. That’d be way cool.

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  2. I, too, have this particular fear (though in my particular genre). I, too, have no idea what to do about it. Keep your head down and keep writing the best you can, I guess. As far as LGBTQ+ protags by LGBTQ+ authors, Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg comes to mind. (Though I don’t know if I’d call it quirky.) Hmmm. I’ll be watching the comments for more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Some genres get really hot & then have to cool, it seems. It’s rough stuff to navigate. I’ve heard ~of~ Openly Straight but haven’t checked it out. I will now. Thanks for mentioning it! Hopefully more recs do pop up in the comments. I’d love a long, long, list.

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  3. I think there’s a huge difference between a window for VAMPIRE books and LGBTQ books because on the one hand, vampires aren’t real and on the other hand, you have a whole lot of flesh and blood people who are not vampires that would like to see themselves represented in fiction. I’d say if anything, the fact that we’re discussing the need for diversity to the point that mswl lists seek it out is more evidence that you’re on the edge of a tidal shift. One should hope that in the future the call for diversity will diminish because, as you fear, the need will be met. But I don’t think that there would ever be such a thing as saturation on LGBTQ books, just as there’s never an end to the demand for romance or calendars with pictures of cats. I would hope that it would just become one more normative avenue for writers to pursue, and that the readers will always be self-perpetuating.

    And so we’re confessing fears… Mine is cyclical and hits between books. Every time I finish one, I’m convinced that’s it. I’ve used up all the experiences I can wring free of interesting characters and plots and clever turns of phrase, and there will be no more books. It usually takes a couple of months, lots of pleasure reading, doing stuff, and letting my brain reset before something sparks. Then it’s off to the races. But when I finish this one, what if I never have another idea again? Deep breath. Have faith. (And I tell myself, there are plenty of brilliant writers out there with only a book or two.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes! That dreaded “I’ll never have another brilliant idea again” fear. That one’s a nasty liar, for sure. The subconscious is a bottomless, magical place. If we scoop up buckets for 1 book or 30, I think there will always be more in the well. The refueling you mention def helps with the restocking.

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  4. What’s my fear? That I SUCK. That no one will ever want to read what I write, other than a small group of friends. That my stuff won’t be considered “relevant.” That when people say write the book you want they’re secretly laughing about it.

    But, you know, some of those things might well be true. Doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, gods, yes! That classic Suckage Fear. If you love writing, you love it. Period. Doesn’t make the fear go away, but it overwrites the paralysis that can come from that fear. Writings wins.

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  5. Perry Moore’s “Hero” published by Disney-Hyperion (2009). Brett Hartinger’s “Geography Club” and its sequels published by HarperTeen (2004). Prizm Books was launched in 2007. (http://www.prizmbooks.com/) amazon’s category is Books > Teens > Literature & Fiction > Social & Family Issues > LGBT Issues, (so it’s quite buried but separate from Books > Gay & Lesbian > Literature & Fiction > Fiction).

    Most current “gay fiction” is M/M Romance written by women for women, I say this because, in the glut of “gay fiction”, you’re hard-pressed to find authentic gay fiction, let alone authentic gay YA fiction. (Let me be clear, it’s not that women can’t write authentic gay fiction, it’s that the market is calling for M/M Romance, which is inherently different.) But yes, unless you cater to the M/M Romance market, you’ll be in a subset of a subset of a subset . . . dealing with very small independent publishers, who add very little value to something you can do yourself.

    You have the talent, that’s a fact. You have several MSs under your belt. You have a significant web presence and followers. Only YOU could aim high and get published by Hyperion or HarperTeen. Anything less than that, you could do it yourself and would do it better yourself.

    You’re scared, for no reason. You have the next big hit in your hands already, (if not more than one!). Get over your fears and make it happen. Just don’t knock on those doors, bust through those doors or make doors of your own!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanka, Scavola. I’ve read both of those you specifically mentioned. I’ve yet to check out any Prizm books, and I ought to. Always pushing, pushing me over to the Self Pub Side! 😉

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  6. I am also a bit afraid that I’m going to miss the window… since my agent left and now I’m having to do the query trenches all over again…. and there’s a lot less LGBTQ+ in this most recent MSWL than there was in the last one.

    I’m also afraid that people are going to assume that my characters’ opinions and prejudices are mine… that’s a big one. I wrote flawed characters who were supposed to be realistic, but I’m afraid of being the target of a Twitter mob.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thinks folks are generally wise when it comes to what characters say & do, how they are constructs, and separate from the author’s beliefs. A big part is how those statements & actions are perceived by other characters & how things ultimately turn out in the story. A lot of horrible characters have existed. We need them. Using them to show the flipside of the negativity is part of why we tell stories in the first place. 😉

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  7. My biggest fear is that the little voice in my head that whispers ‘you aren’t good enough’ is right. I’ve already faced missing the boat. It was bad timing to finish a YA dystopian just as ‘Catching Fire’ came out. Frustrating, to say the least.

    Personally, I would love to see well-written, relatable LGBTQ characters in LOTS of novels – not just in a specific genre, though I do see the need for the genre. (I’m hoping I’ve pulled it off in my current novel.)

    I guess as authors we just have to wait for the right time for our ideas to line up with the market. It WILL happen. Right? In all honesty, patience is a virtue I lack. 🙂

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