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Breaking out of the Bookshelf (Issue #8 of a newsletter by @karmicangel)

Words to Live By (a newsletter by @karmicangel)
Words to Live By (a newsletter by @karmicangel)
The first agent who approached me at my first book launch was a titan in their field. They were known in the industry by name, they had a roster full of authors I admired and they had decades of experience honing their craft. So why did I drop them after a mere two years?

Author, know thyself
Like many specialisations, authors can become pigeon-holed and that’s what my agent wanted to do to me. I don’t think they did this to be mean or even close-minded; this must have been a strategy that worked for them in the past with their other clients. But being restricted to one type of writing or one bookshelf didn’t work for me. I had lots of ideas, and lots of stories to tell (still do).
As it was explained to me by this agent, publishers wanted to see that you were “serious” about the genre - in my case, mystery/thrillers. If you diversified your offerings (this week I’m selling a YA from Angela, next week, I might be selling a picture book from Angela) it seemed to indicate that you weren’t sure what you wanted to write.
This is an approach that is publisher-focused as opposed to audience-focused. The agent was entirely concerned with selling this idea/book to a publisher (which makes sense since their biggest earnings come from the percentage of the advance you get from said publisher).
As a reader, when I’m hooked on an author, I read as much as I can that they have written, I am not bound by bookshelf and I don’t know anyone that is. In fact, when it comes to discovery, I’m not even bound by author. I often find new books to read based on recommendations from friends, or awesome Indie bookstore staff.
For my own journey as a writer, I’m much more focused on my readers than the publishers or the agents. My readers are in it with me for the long-term (and I’m in it with them).
Limits are for highways, not artists
My mantra for all artists is to just keep creating, and throwing roadblocks of any kind while someone is in the creation phase is unhelpful to say the least. So, write what you want. Follow your muse. And then when it comes to selling that piece of art, figure out the best way to sell it to the right people who will bring it to your audience in all its glory.
It’s a long life and (hopefully) a long career as a writer, and that means writing more than one thing for more than one audience. I’ve written screenplays, picture books, YA and middle-grade books, adult books, and romance. And I’m not done yet.
Don’t let traditional publishing and traditional agents in a traditional industry hobble you or your muse. Your writing is unique. Fight for it.
Let me know what you think! Write back and share this newsletter with your friends!
Words to Live By (a newsletter by @karmicangel) | Revue
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Words to Live By (a newsletter by @karmicangel)
Words to Live By (a newsletter by @karmicangel)

Digital Director @TheWalrus, journalist, fiction author, instructor @RyersonU and nerdy Kashmiri Canadian. Opinions are my own.

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