Choose Your Lane and Stay There; Write Your Passion
by Kate Breslin
As the years have passed and I’m now a seasoned writer, this is the advice my older self would give to my younger self.
Choose Your Lane and Stay There. As a young aspiring novelist, I persisted in trying to “write to the market,” eager to get a publishing contract. Like rush-hour traffic, I zigzagged back and forth between genres and subgenres, always looking for that chance opening. Then one day I finally got my reward and received a contract from my dream publisher for a historical novel I’d written, For Such a Time. But when they asked if I had another story to offer, I sadly had to tell them no. The other works I’d written were all over the genre map, and none would have complemented the novel they were ready to buy.
Since then, I’ve learned that writing to the market can be tricky. The publishing industry is ever changing, and what is trending today oftentimes gets rejected tomorrow, and then in a few months or years, it becomes popular once more. A good example: when I finished writing my World War II historical romance, I had difficulty finding a publisher at first. Virtually no one was publishing novels set during the war back then. Now WWII fiction is booming and is one of the few genres I’ve seen that has such staying power. And it doesn’t appear to be phasing out anytime soon.
Write Your Passion. This doesn’t mean you should jump into writing war fiction. If you’re not passionate about what you write, it’s hard to enjoy the journey—and your story can suffer for it.
Choose a genre and setting you love, then begin writing and keep writing, which brings me to my postscript. Once you’ve completed and polished your first manuscript and submitted your queries to various agents and publishers, sit thee down again and start crafting the next story and the next. That way, when you do receive your dream contract, you’ll have a backlist of similar genre stories to offer, along with a ready-built platform for those novels. And how great to be ahead of the game and avoid the pressures of having to write an entire second book under a deadline crunch. Instead, you can continue creating even more stories.
Kate Breslin is a bookseller turned author of award-winning fiction, poetry, and travel articles. Her debut novel, For Such a Time, received Christian Retailing’s 2015 Best Award for First-Time Author, was shortlisted for the Christy and RITA awards, and won American Christian Fiction Writers 2015 Carol Award for a debut novel. Kate’s fifth novel, As Dawn Breaks, released November 2021. Kate will keynote and teach two workshops at the upcoming 2022 Oregon Christian Writers Fall Conference, October 15.