Traditional publishing is all about marketability of a book. They want to reach the largest audience possible. That’s not really a big deal. That’s everyone. Even self published authors want to reach the biggest audience possible, to a point.
To that end, when you sign a contract with a traditional publishing house, you are signing away some of your creative license. They may like the story, with changes, and you may or may not agree with those changes, the point of those changes is to widen the audience that buys the book.
For me, traditional publishing wasn’t an option. I didn’t want Aislinn Cain to have a love interest. I didn’t want Nyleena to be married with children. I didn’t want Malachi fawning over Aislinn in every scene they shared together.
Things I did want… To add a little gore when necessary to my story and not gloss over the gruesome dirty details. Lucas to be involved in a healthy, homosexual relationship that wasn’t bogged down by unnecessary petting, touching, or pretending to not be gay. Malachi to care for Aislinn, even love her in his own way, but for it to be an unobtainable reality for him, because Malachi usually gets what he wants. For Nyleena to be a forty-something unmarried, childless woman with a career and no regrets about not going the traditional route of marriage, kids, dogs, mowing the lawn on a Saturday, kind of thing. Lots of women are doing it and we rarely hear about the women who are strong enough to stand on their own without a man by their side while they climb the ladder of success and are appreciative of their own company and don’t need the drama a relationship, particularly a long term relationship brings. Why can’t she be a healthy, normal, 40-something woman that doesn’t feel the need to clutter her life with kids and marriage?
However, these wants of mine make the books and series less marketable. I know it. Publishing houses know it. So all the contracts I get offered make those sorts of stipulations… I must remove Aislinn’s asexuality from her personality. Nyleena should be married and having a career. Lucas should not be gay. Malachi should be falling all over himself to be by Aislinn’s side.
By doing this they can market the books differently. If Ace has love interests and there is no gore and no swearing, they can be marketed as romantic suspense thrillers where Ace is constantly saving whatever her love interest flavor of the book is from certain death… all the while the readers absolutely know that by the end of the series, Ace and Malachi are going to be living in a little house with a white picket fence and 3 or 4 kids and a handful of dogs and 2 cars, with neighbors they pretty much despise and Malachi is going to be flipping his lid every time something happens to Ace and there will be drama between Malachi and Gabriel – because Ace’s boss shouldn’t put her in harm’s way like that and he’s seen her naked.
I could have done that. I didn’t want to, but I could have because that would have made the series as a whole more marketable, therefore, more profitable. The money would have been nice, but I don’t think we’d be on book 13 or there about at this point. I think the series probably would have ended before Fortified Dreams, which is my favorite.
However, when you write a book and go the traditional route, the publisher can have you to make changes to the characters, the plot, whatever is necessary to make the books more marketable, ie; more profitable. Their first and last thought about your book is how to make money. That’s the part they care about and it’s the only part they care about.