When I first informed people I was writing a paranormal, I inevitably got one of two responses. One response was from non-writers and the other was always from those more savvy in the publishing field. The first and foremost was, “Paranormal is so hot right now! You’re going to be a millionaire!” The other was, “The paranormal market is so saturated right now. It’s going to be a hard sell.” One guess as to who said what, another guess for who was right. Yup, the ‘hard sell’ group were the people who have experience in the field. And they were definitely right.
I am not, what I call, a “what’s hot right now” writer. There’s a lot of reasons for that. One, I write incredibly slowly. At least by some standards I’ve seen. It takes me around fifteen months from first words to a final polished copy. By the time I’ve finished writing a book, the trend has changed. When I started Awakenings, paranormal was still hot. When I finished, everyone was looking for contemporary. *shrugs* It’s just how the industry is.
Secondly, and most importantly, I write what I love. And I love the supernatural. I always have. I can’t imagine writing a book that I wasn’t invested in one hundred percent, and that’s what any other book I would have attempted to write would have been.
So, you ask, how did you break into an overcrowded field? Well, for one, I didn’t write about vampires. I’m kidding, kind of. Not that I have anything against vampire books. But I do know how many vampire books there are out there. Same thing goes with werewolves, demons, and angels. I wanted to be different, and people were looking for something different (especially agents). I had an idea brewing and I knew that I hadn’t seen anything like it. I can’t tell you how excited I was to get started.
The other thing that I did was read, read, read. It’s no secret that I am a huge YA fan, so that’s what I wanted to write. So what was it that made for a great YA read? To me it wasn’t about the sex (or lack of) that so many people seem to focus on. It was the pace. YA books are almost always action packed. They zip from one scene to the next and make you want to keep turning pages. Those are the books that I fall in love with.
I also really listened when people talked about their favorite books. Why are they their favorites? I found that readers are very vocal when they find something they love…and what they hate. I found a few really common things. People want a character they care about. I know tons of people that will read series simply because they have become so attached to the main character. Even if they books fade in quality, even if they hate the way the story is going, they still want to know, but what will happen to so-and-so? A character connection like that is a beautiful thing. Readers want something that holds their interest. A story that doesn’t feel forced or contrived. Something that doesn’t feel like it’s dragging on after the main part of the story has already been told.
So, I had a goal I wanted to reach. I wanted a different, fast paced, action packed, page turner with likable characters. Not much of a discovery, is it? But it did keep me in line. When scenes started to drag, I knew it right away. I never did like the girls in books who couldn’t take care of themselves, so I made my MC a strong, independent character. Right now it seems a lot of guys in books are real jerks to everyone, but secretly are very sweet and caring. Nuh-uh. I didn’t want that either. I don’t want a guy who’s any sort of a jerk, fake or not. So I left it out.
In the end I believe I achieved my goals, and written something that readers would connect with. I had a story with characters I felt attached too, a pace that was fast, and the story ended just when it should have. Of course, this is a very subjective field, so somewhere out there there is someone who will heartily disagree with everything I just said. They are probably shaking their coffee mugs at me right now…and that’s okay. What matters is I had a story that I was passionate about, one that I was proud to have written. I think that is the real key to success. If you’re writing a story that you are only half heartedly involved in to meet a trend, your readers will know. And so will every agent and publisher out there.
J. E. Shannon currently lives in Florida, but is a Missouri native. She spends most of her time reading, writing, taking care of her small child and two crazy dogs, and trying not to melt in the Florida sun.
Evie Shepard’s nightmare begins when she finds herself buried alive, with no idea how she got that way. As she struggles to remember what happened to her, she begins to notice changes about herself. Her senses are heightened, her movements are quicker, she is incredibly strong….her heartbeat has stopped. It’s then she makes a disturbing discovery. She wasn’t buried alive. She was murdered.
Somehow she has come back…And she wants revenge.
For buy links go to http://www.jeshannonbooks.com