Thursday, August 30, 2012

I've dived into a whole lot of new things in the past few months. I joined a gym. Started a small business. Accepted a promotion at work. Got new glasses that gave me headaches for weeks. Learned to format ebooks in CSS. Joined Twitter, and more recently Goodreads.

Oh, and I am trying to put together a book launch for late September.

Some of you lovely folks have found me on Twitter, and I thank you. I hope some of you will find me on Goodreads (hint, hint). A few of you have talked me off the ledge when I thought I'd crack under the pressure of so many learning curves at once (I owe you some really killer cookies).

I've realized a few things in the midst of all this:

~No matter how much you plan, something will pop up you could never have planned for (like my hubby's nasty bike accident).

~The easy stuff often turns out to be the hard stuff.

~Stuff you thought would drive you insane might actually be fun (me, learn CSS?).

~Your friends genuinely do want you to succeed. Never be afraid to ask for their advice and help.

~Don't forget the "realizing a dream" part of the equation when you tackle new skills. It will help you stay positive even when you hit roadblocks.

~Remember that every pro was once a newbie.

I wish a happy Labor Day weekend to my American friends, and a pleasant end-of-August to those who don't have a holiday weekend.

Have you ever tried a lot of new things at the same time? How did you cope?

Thursday, August 30, 2012 Laurel Garver
I've dived into a whole lot of new things in the past few months. I joined a gym. Started a small business. Accepted a promotion at work. Got new glasses that gave me headaches for weeks. Learned to format ebooks in CSS. Joined Twitter, and more recently Goodreads.

Oh, and I am trying to put together a book launch for late September.

Some of you lovely folks have found me on Twitter, and I thank you. I hope some of you will find me on Goodreads (hint, hint). A few of you have talked me off the ledge when I thought I'd crack under the pressure of so many learning curves at once (I owe you some really killer cookies).

I've realized a few things in the midst of all this:

~No matter how much you plan, something will pop up you could never have planned for (like my hubby's nasty bike accident).

~The easy stuff often turns out to be the hard stuff.

~Stuff you thought would drive you insane might actually be fun (me, learn CSS?).

~Your friends genuinely do want you to succeed. Never be afraid to ask for their advice and help.

~Don't forget the "realizing a dream" part of the equation when you tackle new skills. It will help you stay positive even when you hit roadblocks.

~Remember that every pro was once a newbie.

I wish a happy Labor Day weekend to my American friends, and a pleasant end-of-August to those who don't have a holiday weekend.

Have you ever tried a lot of new things at the same time? How did you cope?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I've read a few YA novels recently that left me a little cold. As I thought about why, I realized one aspect of all the stories was underdeveloped or nonexistent--the inner journey or emotional arc.

All three protagonists wanted something. On the surface. That desire drove the plot arc. But the inner need behind that desire wasn't addressed. There was no emotional arc.

What's the difference, you might ask. I turn again to one of my favorite resources for these sorts of definitions--Les Edgerton's Hooked.

Edgerton says that a novel develops around two major components, the "surface problem" and the "story-worthy problem." The former is generally a bad situation or quandary that is introduced at the beginning of a novel. The kidnapped sister. The business collapse. Impending bankruptcy. Serious illness. Infertility. That sort of thing. The story-worthy problem is the deeper psychological need that is challenged by the surface problem. The need to feel competent. Worthy of love. Generous rather than grasping, or confident instead of fearful.

The story-worthy problem adds emotional stakes to your work, so that what happens to your characters and the decisions they make actually changes them deeply. If you only work on the level of surface problem, you'll have a surface story. Quality writing puts characters through an emotional growth process that is cathartic and healing for the reader as well.

You find story-worthy problems, Edgerton says, in "that dark place we all have inside and try hardest to deny and ignore" (64). These are areas of vice or weakness that need to change for a character to achieve goals and fully blossom into his or her best self.

Here's an example:
In Sense and Sensibility, Elinor and her family become impoverished after the father dies. The best hope of solving the problem is a wise marriage. But Elinor is so "sensible"--practical, wise, following every rule of propriety-- that she comes across as cold to men. In other words, her virtue has a dark side. She learns to risk loving, even in the face of what seem impossible odds. Hope might not be sensible, but in taking risk, Elinor becomes a more fully human person.

What are some other examples you can think of? How might this distinction help your writing?


Tuesday, August 28, 2012 Laurel Garver
I've read a few YA novels recently that left me a little cold. As I thought about why, I realized one aspect of all the stories was underdeveloped or nonexistent--the inner journey or emotional arc.

All three protagonists wanted something. On the surface. That desire drove the plot arc. But the inner need behind that desire wasn't addressed. There was no emotional arc.

What's the difference, you might ask. I turn again to one of my favorite resources for these sorts of definitions--Les Edgerton's Hooked.

Edgerton says that a novel develops around two major components, the "surface problem" and the "story-worthy problem." The former is generally a bad situation or quandary that is introduced at the beginning of a novel. The kidnapped sister. The business collapse. Impending bankruptcy. Serious illness. Infertility. That sort of thing. The story-worthy problem is the deeper psychological need that is challenged by the surface problem. The need to feel competent. Worthy of love. Generous rather than grasping, or confident instead of fearful.

The story-worthy problem adds emotional stakes to your work, so that what happens to your characters and the decisions they make actually changes them deeply. If you only work on the level of surface problem, you'll have a surface story. Quality writing puts characters through an emotional growth process that is cathartic and healing for the reader as well.

You find story-worthy problems, Edgerton says, in "that dark place we all have inside and try hardest to deny and ignore" (64). These are areas of vice or weakness that need to change for a character to achieve goals and fully blossom into his or her best self.

Here's an example:
In Sense and Sensibility, Elinor and her family become impoverished after the father dies. The best hope of solving the problem is a wise marriage. But Elinor is so "sensible"--practical, wise, following every rule of propriety-- that she comes across as cold to men. In other words, her virtue has a dark side. She learns to risk loving, even in the face of what seem impossible odds. Hope might not be sensible, but in taking risk, Elinor becomes a more fully human person.

What are some other examples you can think of? How might this distinction help your writing?


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Obviously the best thing about being married to a left-handed person when you're right handed is you can hold hands and both still write. Cool, huh?

Beyond that, I've also discovered that handedness dictates one's orientation to the world. Thus, my hubby does a lot of things "backwards." Sometimes it's just puzzling. Other times I realized he's shown me an approach I'd never considered.

Take loading the dishwasher, for example. He loaded a stack of bowls the opposite direction I do--and they fit BETTER. Holy habituation, Batman! I'd never have tried that trick on my own.

I think this lesson has application to writing--especially when you're perplexed with a plot hole or an uncooperative character. Instead of plowing ahead full steam on your usual course, consider approaching from the opposite direction. Reorient. Perhaps you need to draft a scene from a secondary character's point of view in order to see your protagonist and his motivations more clearly. Perhaps your protagonist needs to react differently to her circumstances--opposite of what you've planned. Maybe the antagonist is a misunderstood hero, or the nice neighbor is a psycho.

Mental habits can be a tough obstacle to overcome. When you're most stuck, you might need to add more "lefties" to your circle of beta readers. Or you might try rearranging the furniture in your writing space or changing writing venues. You'll be surprised how a single turn can open new possibilities.

Have you experimented with approaching a problem from the opposite direction you usually take? How might reorienting help your writing?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 Laurel Garver
Obviously the best thing about being married to a left-handed person when you're right handed is you can hold hands and both still write. Cool, huh?

Beyond that, I've also discovered that handedness dictates one's orientation to the world. Thus, my hubby does a lot of things "backwards." Sometimes it's just puzzling. Other times I realized he's shown me an approach I'd never considered.

Take loading the dishwasher, for example. He loaded a stack of bowls the opposite direction I do--and they fit BETTER. Holy habituation, Batman! I'd never have tried that trick on my own.

I think this lesson has application to writing--especially when you're perplexed with a plot hole or an uncooperative character. Instead of plowing ahead full steam on your usual course, consider approaching from the opposite direction. Reorient. Perhaps you need to draft a scene from a secondary character's point of view in order to see your protagonist and his motivations more clearly. Perhaps your protagonist needs to react differently to her circumstances--opposite of what you've planned. Maybe the antagonist is a misunderstood hero, or the nice neighbor is a psycho.

Mental habits can be a tough obstacle to overcome. When you're most stuck, you might need to add more "lefties" to your circle of beta readers. Or you might try rearranging the furniture in your writing space or changing writing venues. You'll be surprised how a single turn can open new possibilities.

Have you experimented with approaching a problem from the opposite direction you usually take? How might reorienting help your writing?

Monday, August 20, 2012

You may be shocked to learn that I have at last started a Twitter account (gasp!). I know I've said numerous times that the very idea of Twitter makes me break out in hives. Well, I've had to pop some virtual antihistamines and dive in, in part because my pals at The Rabble Writers are beginning to plan some fun stuff for the fall, and Twitter will be part of it.

If you wish to follow me, my handle is @LaurelGarver, or you can click the handy button in my sidebar.

My biggest fear has been the "noise level" of this medium, something I seem to be oversensitive to. If I didn't work alone in a quiet office with a door that shuts, I probably would get very little work done. I like to hyperfocus when I work, and find that nearly everything distracts me. Hats off to anyone who can work in a coffee shop. I tend to go to such establishments to socialize, people watch, or work on my movement journal.

For now I'll probably limit myself to short spurts on Twitter (maybe twice a day) and see how it goes. One definite plus is that my tweets repost to Facebook, so I should appear a bit more active there.

What are your best tips for getting the most from Twitter?
Monday, August 20, 2012 Laurel Garver
You may be shocked to learn that I have at last started a Twitter account (gasp!). I know I've said numerous times that the very idea of Twitter makes me break out in hives. Well, I've had to pop some virtual antihistamines and dive in, in part because my pals at The Rabble Writers are beginning to plan some fun stuff for the fall, and Twitter will be part of it.

If you wish to follow me, my handle is @LaurelGarver, or you can click the handy button in my sidebar.

My biggest fear has been the "noise level" of this medium, something I seem to be oversensitive to. If I didn't work alone in a quiet office with a door that shuts, I probably would get very little work done. I like to hyperfocus when I work, and find that nearly everything distracts me. Hats off to anyone who can work in a coffee shop. I tend to go to such establishments to socialize, people watch, or work on my movement journal.

For now I'll probably limit myself to short spurts on Twitter (maybe twice a day) and see how it goes. One definite plus is that my tweets repost to Facebook, so I should appear a bit more active there.

What are your best tips for getting the most from Twitter?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Income. It is taxable. The sooner you get your small-business ducks in a row, the better.

Self-publishers especially have to do the right steps in the right order, or your publishing dreams will stall.

I've consistently heard one piece of advice I'll share again: create a financial infrastructure separate from your personal finances. Register yourself as a sole proprietor/independent contractor. Get a bank account for your writing. This will make tax time tons easier.

It will also help ensure you pay the right taxes on time and avoid getting smacked with fines and fees, or being charged with tax evasion. You can't wait until next April to pay 2012 taxes on writing income, unless it's under a certain threshold (I believe $250 or under can be paid annually). Most taxing entities want you to pay tax on income quarterly at the minimum (some want it monthly) and will punish you if you don't. This is one of those places where "ignorance of the law does not excuse you."

Publishing with an ebook publisher or print-on-demand service, you will need to set up an account with them.

To do that, you need your bank account set up.

To do that, you might need a business license from your local municipality.

To do that, you might need to register your business with the state.

To do that, you WILL need to register for an EIN (employer identification number) from the federal government.

To do that, you will need to decide what kind of business entity you will be. If sole proprietor doing business under your own name, there's no special step here, other than to simply decide this. If you plan to set up your own press or publish under a pseudonym, you must register the name with your state. In Pennsylvania, the fee is $70 for a "doing business as" (DBA) license.

So, to put that in the correct order, do the following:

1. Chose your entity type-- as yourself or pick a business name. Research that the name isn't already registered.

2. Apply for your DBA license. (Skip if using your own name.) How long this process takes varies from state to state, as does the fee.

3. Register with the federal government for your EIN. You'll need an approved DBA name to do this. It is FREE and can be done online, with instant results.

4. Register with your state. You'll need your approved DBA and your EIN. In my state, this is process is free.

5. Register and/or obtain a license with your local municipality. Urban areas in particular are keen to collect business taxes. You will need your approved DBA, your EIN and your state ID number to do this. My municipality offers a lifetime or annual fee. I plan to do the smaller, annual fee until I have book income coming in.

6. Open a business bank account. You will need ALL OF THE ABOVE to do this. Most banks offer a variety of business accounts. Choose one that allows enough transactions that you won't have your income eaten away by bank fees. Keep track of how much "seed money" you initially invest to cover expenses before you begin bringing in income.

7. Set up a PayPal account for your business. You will need the business bank account to do this. This will enable you to sell autographed copies from your own site, for example. It also makes it easy to pay out-of-state vendors, such as a freelance editor.

8. Set up your royalty payment account with your service providers, be that the print-on-demand publisher, Smashwords, Amazon and other channels. Traditionally published would skip this step.

9. Pay your business expenses from your business bank account (you'll need to begin with seed money you invest). Keep receipts for everything. If you work from home, hang on to your utility bills for the year also. A portion of those are deductible. A tax professional can help you calculate how much.

10. Map out your tax-paying schedule and pay taxes on time, again, from your business bank account. Track your tax payments. Some state and local taxes paid can be deducted from your federal 1040. License fees definitely can be.

I procrastinated a bit on step five and realized I might have to schlep to City Hall to speed the process along. It's worth the hassle, especially since I can't move ahead with uploading the book until I can get paid, which, as you can see, is a few steps past step 5. :-)

On a personal note...
Those who follow me on Facebook heard about my husband's bike accident. Someone opened a car door into him and he flipped over the door. Miraculously his injuries were not catastrophic--severe whiplash, a sprained finger, five stitches for one deep gash, and lots of bruising. No broken bones at all. I'm home this week taking care of him and learning ebook formatting, plus the small business hoop-jumping. He's steadily getting more mobility and starts physical therapy for his neck soon. I'm hopeful that in another week, he'll be able to turn his head enough to drive again.

What part of this process surprised you? Which steps seem easiest or hardest?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 Laurel Garver
Income. It is taxable. The sooner you get your small-business ducks in a row, the better.

Self-publishers especially have to do the right steps in the right order, or your publishing dreams will stall.

I've consistently heard one piece of advice I'll share again: create a financial infrastructure separate from your personal finances. Register yourself as a sole proprietor/independent contractor. Get a bank account for your writing. This will make tax time tons easier.

It will also help ensure you pay the right taxes on time and avoid getting smacked with fines and fees, or being charged with tax evasion. You can't wait until next April to pay 2012 taxes on writing income, unless it's under a certain threshold (I believe $250 or under can be paid annually). Most taxing entities want you to pay tax on income quarterly at the minimum (some want it monthly) and will punish you if you don't. This is one of those places where "ignorance of the law does not excuse you."

Publishing with an ebook publisher or print-on-demand service, you will need to set up an account with them.

To do that, you need your bank account set up.

To do that, you might need a business license from your local municipality.

To do that, you might need to register your business with the state.

To do that, you WILL need to register for an EIN (employer identification number) from the federal government.

To do that, you will need to decide what kind of business entity you will be. If sole proprietor doing business under your own name, there's no special step here, other than to simply decide this. If you plan to set up your own press or publish under a pseudonym, you must register the name with your state. In Pennsylvania, the fee is $70 for a "doing business as" (DBA) license.

So, to put that in the correct order, do the following:

1. Chose your entity type-- as yourself or pick a business name. Research that the name isn't already registered.

2. Apply for your DBA license. (Skip if using your own name.) How long this process takes varies from state to state, as does the fee.

3. Register with the federal government for your EIN. You'll need an approved DBA name to do this. It is FREE and can be done online, with instant results.

4. Register with your state. You'll need your approved DBA and your EIN. In my state, this is process is free.

5. Register and/or obtain a license with your local municipality. Urban areas in particular are keen to collect business taxes. You will need your approved DBA, your EIN and your state ID number to do this. My municipality offers a lifetime or annual fee. I plan to do the smaller, annual fee until I have book income coming in.

6. Open a business bank account. You will need ALL OF THE ABOVE to do this. Most banks offer a variety of business accounts. Choose one that allows enough transactions that you won't have your income eaten away by bank fees. Keep track of how much "seed money" you initially invest to cover expenses before you begin bringing in income.

7. Set up a PayPal account for your business. You will need the business bank account to do this. This will enable you to sell autographed copies from your own site, for example. It also makes it easy to pay out-of-state vendors, such as a freelance editor.

8. Set up your royalty payment account with your service providers, be that the print-on-demand publisher, Smashwords, Amazon and other channels. Traditionally published would skip this step.

9. Pay your business expenses from your business bank account (you'll need to begin with seed money you invest). Keep receipts for everything. If you work from home, hang on to your utility bills for the year also. A portion of those are deductible. A tax professional can help you calculate how much.

10. Map out your tax-paying schedule and pay taxes on time, again, from your business bank account. Track your tax payments. Some state and local taxes paid can be deducted from your federal 1040. License fees definitely can be.

I procrastinated a bit on step five and realized I might have to schlep to City Hall to speed the process along. It's worth the hassle, especially since I can't move ahead with uploading the book until I can get paid, which, as you can see, is a few steps past step 5. :-)

On a personal note...
Those who follow me on Facebook heard about my husband's bike accident. Someone opened a car door into him and he flipped over the door. Miraculously his injuries were not catastrophic--severe whiplash, a sprained finger, five stitches for one deep gash, and lots of bruising. No broken bones at all. I'm home this week taking care of him and learning ebook formatting, plus the small business hoop-jumping. He's steadily getting more mobility and starts physical therapy for his neck soon. I'm hopeful that in another week, he'll be able to turn his head enough to drive again.

What part of this process surprised you? Which steps seem easiest or hardest?

Thursday, August 09, 2012

If you thought this was going to be a post about Olympic sprinters, I'm sorry to disappoint. It's about punctuation. Specifically, my pal the em dash.

An em dash — gets its name from the typesetters of old. It is a dash the width of a lowercase m. It is not to be confused with the trusty hyphen - or the en dash  (a lowercase n in width, and seldom used in fiction. My typesetter at work uses them in page ranges, like 23–46).

Em dashes have a few primary functions in fiction:
1. To show an interruption or stuttering, spluttering speech


"I just got back from—"
"Liar! I saw your lights on an hour ago."

"She just  she isn't she never should have gone there in the first place!"

2. To punctuate an aside or explanation, instead of using formal-looking parentheses or colons

I took care of all the pets  not that you asked  and really need a moment to rest.

Stuart did exactly what the coach asked lengthened his stride, pumped his arms, and kept his posture tall.

3. To set off long, descriptive appositives, instead of a tangle of commas

The coach's instructions lengthen your stride, pump your arms, keep your posture tall helped Stuart improve his performance immediately.

Linda's dress teal brocade with slashed sleeves, plunging neckline and seed-pearl trim was the talk of this year's Renaissance Fest.

Em dashes typically appear automatically as you type in Microsoft Word when you type two hyphens, followed by more text. They don't automatically appear if you follow them by, say, a quotation mark. This means you often need to hand-code sections of dialogue. Irritating, I know.

If pull-down menus make you batty, consider using a keyboard short cut. For PC users, type Alt+ 0151 (type the numbers while holding the Alt key--I like my number pad for this). Mac users, type Option+ Shift+  - (type a hyphen while holding the Option and Shift keys).

So, I have a minor dilemma when it comes to using em dashes: How to space around them?

The Elements of Grammar book has no spaces around them.
The entire Harry Potter series has spaces on each side of them.
I've seen a few published books in which there's no space before, but one after IF it's representing stuttering or spluttering.

I have to make a style decision in order to get my novel ready for layout. I'm leaning toward following Scholastic's lead in how they formatted Rowling's books. There's a nice openness to the look.

What do you think? Do you like thistight look? Do you prefer this open look? Or do a hybrid?

Thursday, August 09, 2012 Laurel Garver
If you thought this was going to be a post about Olympic sprinters, I'm sorry to disappoint. It's about punctuation. Specifically, my pal the em dash.

An em dash — gets its name from the typesetters of old. It is a dash the width of a lowercase m. It is not to be confused with the trusty hyphen - or the en dash  (a lowercase n in width, and seldom used in fiction. My typesetter at work uses them in page ranges, like 23–46).

Em dashes have a few primary functions in fiction:
1. To show an interruption or stuttering, spluttering speech


"I just got back from—"
"Liar! I saw your lights on an hour ago."

"She just  she isn't she never should have gone there in the first place!"

2. To punctuate an aside or explanation, instead of using formal-looking parentheses or colons

I took care of all the pets  not that you asked  and really need a moment to rest.

Stuart did exactly what the coach asked lengthened his stride, pumped his arms, and kept his posture tall.

3. To set off long, descriptive appositives, instead of a tangle of commas

The coach's instructions lengthen your stride, pump your arms, keep your posture tall helped Stuart improve his performance immediately.

Linda's dress teal brocade with slashed sleeves, plunging neckline and seed-pearl trim was the talk of this year's Renaissance Fest.

Em dashes typically appear automatically as you type in Microsoft Word when you type two hyphens, followed by more text. They don't automatically appear if you follow them by, say, a quotation mark. This means you often need to hand-code sections of dialogue. Irritating, I know.

If pull-down menus make you batty, consider using a keyboard short cut. For PC users, type Alt+ 0151 (type the numbers while holding the Alt key--I like my number pad for this). Mac users, type Option+ Shift+  - (type a hyphen while holding the Option and Shift keys).

So, I have a minor dilemma when it comes to using em dashes: How to space around them?

The Elements of Grammar book has no spaces around them.
The entire Harry Potter series has spaces on each side of them.
I've seen a few published books in which there's no space before, but one after IF it's representing stuttering or spluttering.

I have to make a style decision in order to get my novel ready for layout. I'm leaning toward following Scholastic's lead in how they formatted Rowling's books. There's a nice openness to the look.

What do you think? Do you like thistight look? Do you prefer this open look? Or do a hybrid?

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.  ~Jennifer Yane

Been there? Feel free to share your best coping tips. 
Tuesday, August 07, 2012 Laurel Garver
I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes several days attack me at once.  ~Jennifer Yane

Been there? Feel free to share your best coping tips. 

Thursday, August 02, 2012

I write contemporary YA and have been reading heavily in the genre for years--the humorous, the romance-driven, the heavy-hitting "issue" books, the lyrical coming of age. There's a lot of diversity. There's also (may I say it?) a lot of sameness. As Blake Snyder notes about "salable work" in Save the Cat, "give us more of the same, only different."

A few of things I noticed aren't being published in contemporary mainstream YA--cross-generational relationships, grieving someone other than a peer, characters struggling to mature in a faith tradition and make it their own (rather than rebel against it).

I looked at Christian-market YA and didn't see anyone coming from mainline or reformed Protestantism. Apparently all fictional Christians are low church evangelicals or Amish, despite the fact that among the billions of Christians worldwide, they're a minority (in the case of the Amish, a tiny one; see the numbers here). The characters are almost never urban, except for the African-Americans. They don't interact with Christians from other countries except in missions contexts.

I realized my novel didn't fit many of the cliches/tropes publishers seem to want. I have an Anglican teen from NYC who has lost a parent. Her relationships with extended family are are as important to her healing as her relationships with her peers. She's not another secular/non-denom suburbanite who loses a best friend/sibling and heals by hooking up with dream boy. (Sorry if that sounds snarky--I've seen this formula quite a bit.)

I realized I could abandon the story, spin it in ways more palatable for one market or the other. Or I could go it alone.

When you write outside the box, there's risk. But there's also opportunity. Because outside-the-box stories have the potential to build a readership among those tired of or bored with current cliches/tropes. The trend-setting books are often ones no one saw coming.

And when traditional publishing isn't willing to take the risk, you now have other options.

Have you assessed the market fit of your work? Do you like to read outside-the-box stories that push against reigning tropes in a genre?
Thursday, August 02, 2012 Laurel Garver
I write contemporary YA and have been reading heavily in the genre for years--the humorous, the romance-driven, the heavy-hitting "issue" books, the lyrical coming of age. There's a lot of diversity. There's also (may I say it?) a lot of sameness. As Blake Snyder notes about "salable work" in Save the Cat, "give us more of the same, only different."

A few of things I noticed aren't being published in contemporary mainstream YA--cross-generational relationships, grieving someone other than a peer, characters struggling to mature in a faith tradition and make it their own (rather than rebel against it).

I looked at Christian-market YA and didn't see anyone coming from mainline or reformed Protestantism. Apparently all fictional Christians are low church evangelicals or Amish, despite the fact that among the billions of Christians worldwide, they're a minority (in the case of the Amish, a tiny one; see the numbers here). The characters are almost never urban, except for the African-Americans. They don't interact with Christians from other countries except in missions contexts.

I realized my novel didn't fit many of the cliches/tropes publishers seem to want. I have an Anglican teen from NYC who has lost a parent. Her relationships with extended family are are as important to her healing as her relationships with her peers. She's not another secular/non-denom suburbanite who loses a best friend/sibling and heals by hooking up with dream boy. (Sorry if that sounds snarky--I've seen this formula quite a bit.)

I realized I could abandon the story, spin it in ways more palatable for one market or the other. Or I could go it alone.

When you write outside the box, there's risk. But there's also opportunity. Because outside-the-box stories have the potential to build a readership among those tired of or bored with current cliches/tropes. The trend-setting books are often ones no one saw coming.

And when traditional publishing isn't willing to take the risk, you now have other options.

Have you assessed the market fit of your work? Do you like to read outside-the-box stories that push against reigning tropes in a genre?