Today a question is burning inside of me. I hope by writing about it I will arrive at an answer.
When do you stray from your convictions and conform to the “norm”?
Before I address that question I need to give some background for my newer readers:
- I have eight of ten chapters completed of my book: Say It Out Loud: Revealing and Healing the Scars of Sexual Abuse.
- I have been working on getting an agent/publisher for over a year.
- So far I have either gotten rejections or no response.
This weekend I went to an event for writers called Pitchapalooza. Participants were randomly chosen to give a one minute pitch of their book. (A pitch is the essence of the book or describing 60,000 words in 60 seconds!) Each pitch was critiqued by a panel of three professionals from the publishing world. I was one of the fortunate ones chosen to pitch.
The highlights of their critique were: they loved the title; my voice was strong and forthright; Say it Out Loud felt fresh; I need to decide if this is a memoir or a self-help book.
Memoir OR self-help? My mind is churning.
Publishers want to know, what shelf will this book sit on in a book store? Every book has to have a niche, which adds to its saleability, which means more $$$ for the publisher, which is their main goal.
Doesn’t anyone want to go out on the limb with something new? Where is that agent who is an individual, who believes we don’t have to conform to every wish of the almighty publisher? What happened to creativity, new ideas? If that agent is out there I need to find her/him.
Say it Out Loud is a book of strategies to help survivors of sexual abuse – Self-help.
Strategies are authenticated with personal excerpts from the journals kept during my years in therapy –Memoir.
I believe the uniqueness of my book, the beauty and resourcefulness, is that is provides specific, usable strategies, not written by an “expert” who has studied the healing process, written by an “expert” who has lived the healing process and who is willing to expose her darkest moments for the sake of helping others.
Isn’t that more powerful and important than what shelf the book will sit on?
As I type, my heart is pounding and my hands are perspiring. My physical response should give me my answer to the question:
Do I conform to what is needed to get published and rewrite this as a self-help book or a memoir? Or do I stick to what is in my heart and keep it what it is; a unique book that offers concrete help and attainable hope because the author lived every word of it?
If I don’t conform the book may stay on my computer unable to reach anyone. If I do conform my heart will be taken out of it.
I thought at the end of this post I would be asking for your thoughts. Do I conform? Stick with my gut? I had no idea how obvious the answer would be.
I will not give up on what I know is right, what I know other survivors need. I can’t. This will probably mean self-publishing, something I did not want to do. More to learn, more decisions to make, more time, more money. If that is what it takes to get Say It Out Loud published as it was originally written I will do it. I guess the bookstores will just have to create a new shelf for me!
Although I have found my answer, I always welcome your feedback. Roberta