No one tells a painter her work isn’t good enough to be on canvas. They may not buy her painting, they may not hang it in their galleries, but they can’t keep her from painting it.
It’s different for writers. Gatekeepers –agents, editors, publishers’ marketing departments- – have until very recently had the power to keep a writer from making a book. Writers internalize rejections by these authorities as being related to quality, but in fact they are more related to marketability, and marketability is predicted based on the extent to which a manuscript resembles some commercially successful book.
Looking for proof? How many aisles of young adult horror/romance are there in your local Barnes and Noble now? How many were there before the Twilight trillogy? The market operates to reward imitation, not originality.
Until now. Now a number of outlets provide writers with the ability to publish a book themselves–without the approval of a sales-driven publishing industry– and to make it available to readers directly. A book can be the handcrafted production of just one person to a greater degree than at any time since the early days of the printing press.
Maybe I’m a control freak (okay, definitely I’m a control freak!), but I decided I wasn’t going to follow suggestions about how to make my book more acceptable to agents and editors by making it more like some other book. I wasn’t interested in being told about some trend I should follow or some other writer I should imitate.
Soup to nuts, for better or for worse, The Caregiver is my creation, from characters, setting and plot to the color of the cover and the font for the chapter headings. It isn’t available at your local Barnes and Noble with the teen vampire/werewolf/zombie books, but it exists in the world as a book. And it’s all mine.
The Caregiver, Maria Theresa Casale, October 14, 2014: