Reading books is a curious pastime. We plunge into the book hoping it will take us away.
If it’s fiction, we’re hoping it will take us to a new world we never knew before or introduce us to a new character we identify with.
Perhaps it’s a non-fiction that we hope will teach us something previously unknown before.
Regardless, most of us fall into the same trap.
We find a genre, a lane if you will, on the literary highway. And we tend to stay in our lanes. Sometimes we veer across the line into the lane next to us, but we don’t like to swerve across too many lanes. Heaven forbid we should dare risk going in the opposite direction, even for a moment.
That was me for a while. I have always been an avid reader. When given the choice in school to read the 400+ pages worth of Grapes of Wrath or the <200 pages of the Great Gatsby, I was drawn to the larger of the two.
But, on my own, I still stayed in my lane. As a teen, I read everything in horror and suspense I could find. Stephen King and Dean Koontz shot to the top. Then I had an uncle who introduced me to action and thrillers like Robert Ludlum and LeCarre. I was in the next lane and loved those too.
That same uncle then got me started as the owner of my own franchised book store and my eyes opened. I felt I had to familiarize with all kinds of genres to be of help to my customers. I tried to dabble in all sorts of books. Yes, I have even read Harlequin and other romance stories.
One of my favorite non-fiction books is “1001 Books for Every Mood” by Hallie Ephron. In it are a broad range of fiction and non-fiction books to fall into. I made a commitment to myself to try all kinds of genres even if the idea of the book isn’t really me. Most, I would never have picked up on my own, but I veered into other lanes and even went the other direction just to keep to that odd commitment. Most of the time I’m pleasantly surprised.
When I needed Beta readers for my manuscript, I asked several people. They all indicated that this kind of book is not up their alley, and they were reluctant to take a read. In one of the writing clubs, I belong to, this question arose when people in the group were paired up to sample read other member’s writing. The leader of the group stated that was exactly what you wanted – people drawn to different genres because they could be more discerning.
I realized when I ventured into other lanes on the literary highway, that good writing transcended genres. Although I’m still drawn to selected categories, I’m pleasantly surprised when I switch lanes, the ride can still be enjoyable.
So, I gently encouraged my Beta readers, with this in mind.
What happened as different readers have read, reviewed, and critiqued my manuscript?
They were all surprised. Not, only did they enjoy the work but couldn’t wait to read more and even asked for the sequel. Wow!!
That is encouraging to know that even people who normally are not attracted to this genre can still find my manuscript enjoyable enough to want more.
Now, to find an agent and a publisher who feel the same.