Ever since Charlotte’s Secret was released last year, I’ve said I’m happy with Phaze and wasn’t particularly interested in looking for an alternative publisher. As long as they are happy to publish my work, I’m happy to stay with them. But a respected fellow writer is a big advocate of ‘spreading yourself around’ and having ‘irons in more than one publishers fire’ so I thought I’d look through some of the submission guidelines for other publishers and one of them, I must admit, made me smile.
On page five of one publisher guidelines, in a bullet point section headed “Submission Tips from Editors”, is the following piece of advice.
- Originality: not the same plot elements and character types I can find in a hundred books.
Which is, I think, a very good piece of advice and something I certainly strive for – after all, I’m “the man that get’s it”, right? I’m different. I stand out from the crowd. So, yeah, originality is pretty important to me.
Three pages later there are more ‘Tips’ this time from a named person, who I assume is either an author or an editor. It’s a numbered list and here are three of those tips.
- (2) Strong heroines are a must.
- (5) Don’t always write perfect heroines
- (6) Heroes are always tall, masculinely handsome (never pretty), muscular, and well-endowed. It
doesn’t matter who his heroine is…the hero is always yummy.
Now, lets ignore for a second that I’m not even sure that ‘maculinely’ is a real word (and is certainly one I’m having trouble wrapping my tongue around) can I just ask what happened to the plea for originality of a few pages earlier? How can you write something original if the guidelines are prescribing the type of hero and heroine to write?
That said, I don’t have too much of an issue with numbers (2) and (5). Strong yet vulnerable and not perfect heroines are certainly more interesting that the drop dead gorgeous supermodel of a heroine who never does anything wrong and always gets her way. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that they are something of a speciality of mine. Charlotte (Charlotte’s Secret), Beth (Lost & Found) and Chloe (Kissed by a Rose) are all strong attractive women with faults or fears that they have to overcome. Hell, even my first ‘proper’ romantic heroine, Kelly (Reunion), turns out that way.
But I would take issue with point (6) (big surprise there then). None of my heroes have been tall, handsome, muscular and well-endowed. (Okay, maybe well-endowed, although I don’t think I ever actually mention it) In fact, all of my heroes have been ‘ordinary’ men. Hell, in my next book, Eternally & Evermore, I’ve even described the hero, Will, as ‘slightly balding’ on more than one occasion. You see, it’s my belief that it’s a man’s actions that are important and not what he looks like. And haven’t women been saying the same about their gender for years? It’s my aim to make my readers fall in love with my heroes because they are the type of man they would want in their life and not because they are Brad Pitt clones with giant dicks.
Or perhaps I’m going about this Romance thing in the wrong way and I should conform to the accepted norms.
But anyway, those of you who know me will understand why I had to smile when I saw these particular guidelines calling for originality but then setting rules about the people you’re supposed to be original with. There’s nothing like a good contradiction.