This week, I’ve plunged into final edits for Miranda Warning. I haven’t really delved deep into this novel in months. Two words: Freaking. Out.
This may or may not involve frantic messages to my crit partner asking if I actually have the ability to write in the first place. This may or may not include a dramatic monologue to my husband about why my writing isn’t as lyrical as so-and-so’s, or as popular as so-and-so’s, and by the way, why did I think I could write in the first place?
This may or may not mean I have emailed my cover artist (my brother, bless him!) and changed direction for the cover art about ten times over the span of two months.
I confess to none of the above.
But as I was comparing my writing to so-and-so’s, both my hubby and my crit partner (bless them!) told me, in so many kind words, to knock it off. If people want to read a book by so-and-so, they’ll get that person’s book. If they want to read a book by Heather Day Gilbert, they’ll get mine.
On the topic of cover art, I kept comparing my mystery cover to regular ABA (non-Christian market) covers. They often have words and one graphic element–no faces. But I LIKE FACES. After I asked my FB readers what they like to see on covers (you might’ve been one of them!), everything was confirmed in my mind. We were going the right direction. Deep down, I know my audience and what they would like, because quite often, my audience thinks like me!
I’ve also been wrestling with whether to categorize Miranda Warning as Christian/Inspirational or not. Most of my readers know I’m a Christian. I write from a Christian worldview. But that doesn’t mean all my characters are Christians. That doesn’t mean they always do things right (um…not that Christians do, either!). From the very start, I’ve always wanted my books to reach both Christian and non-Christian readers (yeah, I’m one of those weird “crossover” authors). BUT if I put it in the Christian category on Amazon, it might limit it.
And yet, if I don’t put that label on there, I’m afraid it might limit me as an author. I don’t want to have to go through and scrub my book of Christian elements, and I know full well that people sometimes leave bad Amazon reviews if they perceive it’s a Christian book and you haven’t told them. Sad but true. I feel like my novel is along the lines of Jan Karon…but I see she’s got a Christian/Inspy label on her book.
In the end, for every one of these issues, I realized I have to be me.
As an author, I tell stories. I tell different kinds of stories–thus, the historical fiction AND the contemporary mystery (and whatever other genre I take a notion to write). I tell them the way I like to tell them–thus (quite often), the first-person point-of-view.
And in the end, some will like them and some won’t. Much as I want to be winsome and all things to all people, I can’t. I can’t inject extra metaphors/adjectives to amp up the literary feel–that’s not me. I can’t use a cover that doesn’t catch my eye. I can’t scrub my books of themes that are important to the story.
Authors, I just want to encourage you, like my husband and friends have encouraged me (not to mention my readers, whose thoughtful support always touches me so deeply!). Sometimes you might not look like every other writer. Sometimes you might even get not-so-hot reviews. But in the end, if you’re writing the very best books you can write, you’ve accomplished something wonderful.
You’ve brought new stories into the world.