The Hunt for ‘The One’


By Carol Harblin for PublishingPush

Action, intrigue, drama, raw emotion, and of course, love, are all what consumers – and editors – search for these days in manuscripts.  It’s a jungle out there.  So many books, and such little time…

In fact the average consumer can be more critical than editors and agents. 

As I stepped into the bookstore the wind from behind thrusted me forward as it vacuumed the door shut.  I cupped my hands together and brought them to my face, darting my eyes from one book title to another, eager to begin my quest for “the perfect summer book.”  I wanted a book with love and romance, but also adventure and elements of a profound soulful message.  I don’t read to just read, I also want to learn, see depth, and discover symbolic meanings. 

I had a specific idea in mind.  The hunt was on. 

That is just how editors and agents are when they read through the endless, insurmountable, never-ending pile of manuscripts on their desktops. 

Template books aren’t tantalizing, but more often than not the reason they are still bought is because the author name is well-known – because the well-known authors offer familiarity no matter how disappointing their books are – are we really wanting to spend money on drivel just for a familiar author name?

Okay, let’s keep searching.

A rectangular table at the center of the aisle, jutting out just enough so I have to move around it, has several new releases arranged and displayed.  One by one I skim through each book.  I notice the covers first and the titles.  I observe that if the title doesn’t fit with the idea I have in my mind then I don’t bother to pick it up.  Unresolved, I walk past the fiction section and begin to sift through the science-fiction books.  I want to read a book similar to Phillip K. Dick and Aldous Huxley.  So far I am fighting a losing battle. 

I stop abruptly and see Neil Gaiman’s book, Neverwhere.  Instantly I pick it up as though my hands are magnetized to the book.  Does it pass the first-page test?  Does it make me want to turn the first page?  Not only that, but I see a hardcover version with fun illustrations that supplement the pages, too.  The cover on both the paperback and hardcover are expertly illustrated with intrigue and familiarity. 

That is what we seem to want in a good book, isn’t it?  We want a familiarity, yet we also want to be pulled into a new world of drama, adventure, and heartfelt emotion. 

So when we write our own manuscripts we have to write what is familiar, yet unique with our own interpretation of interest and understanding. 

Publishers, agents, consumers, and editors are not rejecting manuscripts and it isn’t an insult on our writing – it’s just a style that we have embedded within our minds and we are blind to anything else until we find it.  This is why self-publishing may be the way to go, because we can control its fate and where it goes and which store it hits.  A book sitting on a shelf at a bookstore will have more consumers picking it up and perusing it than the one agent or publishing company we send it to.  Sure we all want that “good deal” from the agent, but the primary reason we write our stories is to have them read by people who love us, not necessarily to get a “good deal” and cash the check at the bank. 

Happy hunting!  That’s part of the journey.