I want to write a book, what should I do?

Read within the genre and know what type of story you are telling. There are certain expectations or conventions in romance (and in most genre fiction), and they matter. I learned this the hard way. For example, 160,000-words is too long for a manuscript, and no agent will read it, no matter how good it is.

Do yourself a favor and write to the market. Adhere to word counts, be mindful of preferred content/themes/tropes, and stick to established subgenres. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel unless you are actually inventing something so far and away better than the existing wheel.

If you find you are writing outside the expectations of the genre—that’s fine, it just means you aren’t writing a romance novel, you’re writing something else. In that case, learn the expectations of what you are writing. Don’t waste years breaking rules that will keep you from being considered.

Also, connect with other writers who are writing something similar—I suggest RWA National and the local RWA chapter nearest you if you are writing romance fiction. Trade pages with other writers. Be open and gracious about critiques. Settle in with a critique partner and a network of supportive writer friends. (Shout out to Lenora Bell!)

And finally, get words on the page. As veteran romance-novelist Nora Roberts says: “I can fix a bad page, but I can’t fix a blank page.”

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