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What to STRIVE for?

In the past few months I’ve covered lots of different topics and talked about Goals and Procrastination – so what should an author strive for? Should you set yourself a word per day goal? Should you aim to publish x books this year? Should you try and turn in an absolutely clean, clean, clean manuscript to your publisher (honestly, clean is good but overly clean and you held onto your manuscript for too long)?

With the ever changing landscape of m/m romance, publishers having challenges, new authors appearing daily, older favorite authors saying they’re taking a break, and the nastiness or pirates/plagiarism, I think you should strive to stand out. I know, Captain Obvious here J But how to stand out, now that’s the $1 million dollar question.

Every author wants to have that book that goes through the ceiling and sells millions and millions of copies that’s read by just everyone. Don’t get me wrong, I’d LOVE to be the editor for a story like that because yes, we’d all love the paycheck that would come with a seller of that nature. Something that can make you stand out other than this? Word of mouth, reviews, a pleasant social media presence.

How many times have you finished reading a book and thought “wow, that book will stay with me for a LONG time”? And I’m not talking about that book that you forced yourself to finish and know you can NEVER get that time back. I’m talking about that book you read years ago and touched you so much that you can still tell the story and you haven’t re-read it in ages?

Without looking at my iPad, I can name three books off the top of my head that I haven’t read in ages but I can (not that I will) tell you the story and recommend them all the time. I can’t even fathom how many words, stories, authors, themes I’ve read/edited since I first read each of these stories. Normally, I try not to name names (don’t want anyone to feel left out) but for these three stories I’m going to. Why? To give you an idea about what I’m talking about when I say a book touches you. These three stories aren’t fluffy stories, that’s another blog post on its own, and the writing is powerful.

Riding Heartbreak Road by Kiernan Kelly – originally published in 2006 (re-released here)

Bareback by Chris Owen – originally published in 2003

Smart Alex by AKM Miles – originally published in 2008 (re-released here)

So how do I suggest you stand out? Focus on your craft. Focus on your storytelling. Grammar can be taught. How to stop head-hopping can be taught. The one thing that no matter how good an editor I am or your editor is, the one thing we CAN’T teach is how to tell your story the best you can. We CAN’T teach you how to focus your muse on your character. We CAN’T craft your story better than you can.

Now, I’m not going to guarantee that this will make you rich. I’m not going to guarantee that you’re going to sell thousands of copies. What I will guarantee you is that if you tell your story the way that only you can tell it that you will touch someone and really? Isn’t that the main reason to write? To tell a story that touches a reader and brings them joy, entertainment, laughter, a bit of escapism and maybe even hope?

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