Break-In Novel

Rachelle Gardner’s blog post on writing a break-in novel made me start thinking about Finding ‘Ohana and whether or not it could be considered a break-in novel. Gardner describes a break-in novel as “the one that has the best chance of breaking you in. The one that presents the fewest obstacles to publication. The one in which your writing shines the brightest. The one in which the genre and subject matter are closest to what seems to be selling right now.”

Obstacles to Publication:

  • The main character is a lesbian. I knew from the beginning that it might be hard to get an LGBT book published by a large publisher who might not want to publicly appear to be supporting LGBT rights. I hate that there are still people who are so against giving people in the LGBT community equal rights, but it’s the reality of the situation. And, as Gardner points out, it may be easier to get an LGBT book published once I’ve had something else published. Still, I can’t help but think that no publicity is bad publicity, so if there’s controversy it may help rather than hurt the book’s sales.
  • Not only does Finding ‘Ohana deal with LGBT issues, but it deals with them in conjunction with religion, which makes it an especially touchy issue. Although, again, see publicity statement above.

Shine, Writing, Shine!

  • This is where I have something going for me. Cinnamin’s story has been on my mind for years. I knew her long before I introduced her to paper. The result? She is real. Not just for me, but for those who have read her. A friend of mine (you know who you are!) told me that his biggest concern before reading Finding ‘Ohana was that he might not be able to read it with a voice other than mine in his head. But, he said, most of the time he forgot that I was the writer. Cinnamin is her own person, and her emotions make her real.

Popular Genre/Subject Matter

  • This brings me back to my first bullet point: when has homosexuality ever been widely accepted? (Except for in ancient Greece and other similar cultures. And even then, it’s mostly — not in every culture, but many of them — homosexual men who were accepted.) However, homosexuality is more accepted by the general public now than it has been in centuries. The question is: has the genre been successful in book sales?

One out of three, if you don’t count the no-bad-publicity thing.

As Gardner says, Finding ‘Ohana is “closer to [my] heart, the [one I] really want to see published.” It’s certainly too early to think that it won’t sell, but it’s comforting to read: “Don’t fret. Once you’ve broken in, there may be opportunity down the road to get those published, especially if you revise and rewrite with your improved writing skills (because the more you write, and work with editors, the better writer you’ll be).”

So it may be a good idea to write a novel that makes three out of three as my break-in novel. Or at least two out of three. Luckily, I can still send queries for Finding ‘Ohana even while I write a novel that might have more wide appeal. If I can’t get Finding ‘Ohana published now, at least I’ll have another novel to work on getting published, and hopefully that will lead to having two (or more!) published novels.

I’ve had an idea for a novel with a new take on werewolves. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and have been getting pretty excited about it. Stay tuned for future posts regarding a synopsis, but for now I’ll do a quick evaluation based on Gardner’s three criteria:

Obstacles to Publication

  • Some agents/publishers may see werewolves as a fad and therefore less worthwhile. This obstacle could be overcome if I present my novel as character-driven and highlight the aspects which make it very different from your typical werewolf novel.
Shine, Writing, Shine!
  • This I won’t know until I write it. But as long as I care about the characters like I care about Cinnamin, I have faith in my writing.
Popular Genre/Subject Matter
  • The other side of the coin where my obstacle resides. Werewolves may be a fad, but that doesn’t mean the public doesn’t love them!

Potentially two out of three, three out of three if I sell it right.

I would be writing the werewolf novel while writing my untitled novel, which is also likely to meet obstacles in publishing, and which will be in a format that will help when working on two projects. This way, when my brain can’t take any more of one universe, I can switch to the other and still be productive!

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4 responses to “Break-In Novel

  1. The question is why you picked a Lesbian as the MC. You said that she was on your mind for many years. Does her story have some authobiography elements? If not, you have two choices. Submit the book to book publishers that specialize in LGBT books. They will be happy to read your mansucript. Or change the storyline in the what most publishers will not resist to accept, i.e. male-female romance. Book Publishers ar in the business to make money and they will take your book only if they feel that there are enough readers for it, compared to many many others books that people submit to them. I have a similar problem. My book is set in a foreign country. It will be easier for agent and publishers to accept it if it was set in America.

  2. There are some similarities between Cinnamin’s experiences and my own, but a lot of differences too.

    She’s a lesbian because it creates most of the conflict for the story. And most of the conflict is as it is because she is a lesbian. The story deals with Cinnamin struggling to reconcile her family, her religious beliefs, and her identity as a lesbian. Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that there wouldn’t be much plot conflict if she were heterosexual, or even bisexual.

    • IN that case, you leave Cinnamin as a Lesbian but try to make it appealing to everyone. I guess at first she has a secret about her sexuality and she’s afraid to come out to her family. Many have other secrets that they don’t want their families to find out.
      So the general theme is: What if you are not what your family expect you to be, but you don’t want to conform to their expectations. You want them to accept you as you are, and you want to reconcile with them and make them understand that they should be happy for you being you. Good luck!

      • I’d say that already is the theme. I think it applies to heterosexual readers because they would be able to relate with whatever it may be that their parents don’t know about them. And then it might help put homosexuality in perspective for some people who may have problems with it before they read a book from a lesbian’s perspective. I don’t know, just something I kind of hope for. 🙂

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