On Niches And Candy Corn

There seem to be two seasonal candies in the world that are surprisingly divisive.


The first is Peeps. Those little marshmallow bunnies and chicks dusted in colored sugar. They're associated with Easter but also come in pumpkins and ghosts for Halloween and snowmen and Christmas tree shapes.


And then there's candy corn.


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For some, it's one of the first signs of fall alongside the return of pumpkin spice everything. Others, however, find it less than appealing in taste or texture.


It's not uncommon to see debates and polls pop up every year on social media asking people where they stand with candy corn. The comments can get wild, some damning it as others defend it.


Candy corn is actually among my favorite candies, right up there with Swedish Fish and chocolate. I know it's not for everyone, but I get excited when the bags hit the shelves.


And every year, there's something that makes me feel as though I'm in the wrong for enjoying what I like.


Last October, I shared a post about how a little trivia fact about the way Kit Kats are manufactured helped reshape my approach to editing my fiction. This year, I'm doing the same for candy corn.


Because if there is one thing I've learned from candy corn, it's that it's impossible to please everyone. But when you do find your niche, things get pretty sweet.


A fear commonly shared among writers is that our works will not be received. It comes from a few different places. We worry that when our books are published, they will be met with bad reviews or, worse yet, won't attract any readers. If you're pursuing the traditional path, there is always the chance of facing rejections and passes from agents; when you do accept an offer of representation and eventually go on sub, it's not guaranteed that your book will be taken on by a publisher.


We long to tell our stories, but we also want them to be received.


Accepted.


And because of this, we can find ourselves lost in the pitfalls of wanting to please everyone.


It's impossible to make our books appeal to every reader.


Everyone has their own individual tastes.


Some are common, like teenage audiences preferring Young Adult novels over Middle Grade. Others are more specific, say for example liking YA fantasy novels more than YA dystopian novels.


That's one of the reasons genres exist. They allow readers to identify and select books based on what they like.


The same goes for subgenres. Some romance readers prefer contemporary stories set in the here and now, while others prefer to travel back in time with historical works. And the latter can be broken down further by time period, with Victorian and Viking romances for example.


Every genre has its niches, and not every reader will fall into them.


Paranormal romances and horror might share ghost characters, but fans of one might not be fans of the other. Additionally, fans of paranormal romances might gravitate towards vampires and werewolves over ghosts when it comes to supernatural love interests.


When it comes to Halloween candy, candy corn is one of the treats most closely associated with the holiday.  


But it's not for everyone, nor is every variety.


Candy corn is traditionally striped with yellow, orange, and white, but it's not the only bag you'll encounter leading up to Halloween. Some manufacturers also offer a candy corn in which the yellow is replaced with brown and add little pumpkins to the mix.


And that's just for the fall.


Like Peeps, candy corn has found its way into other holidays. Cupid Corn for Valentine's Day that's made of pinks. Green-and-red Elf Corn. Bunny Corn made of pastel, springtime colors at Easter.


But as much as I like candy corn, I'm actually not as big a fan of the varieties made for other holidays.


It could just be me being picky. After all, I typically avoid anything where there's too much red food coloring in the mix simply because of the taste, and it's prevalent in the Christmas and Valentine's corns. Or it could be since the brands I favor when it comes to candy corn haven't ventured beyond autumn to my knowledge, so the texture isn't "right" to me; candy corn's texture is reportedly one of the things that people dislike about it.


Overall, these flavors just aren't my thing. And that's okay.


Even with the original candy corn, there are bits of it I don't like. When I was a kid, it wasn't unusual for me to crack off the white tip and only eat the orange and yellow sections. 


Candy corn isn't for everyone, and not every flavor of candy corn is going to please every person who does like the autumnal treat.


This is the way I've been trying to look at my writing lately.


Romance novels aren't for every reader. Not every romance reader enjoys historical romances. And not every reader of historical romances favors Regency Era romances.


And even for avid Regency romance readers, there are things they might not like about a specific book—including my own.


With Bound to the Heart, readers might not find Eve's mother to be a likable character. The inclusion of intimate scenes rather than taking the fade-to-black approach might be offputting for some. One decision made by a protagonist might not go over too well with a few folks. It's also possible that they just don't mesh with my narrative style.


The editing process can alleviate some of these issues. Characters can be reworked. Lines of dialogue can be rewritten. When multiple beta readers call attention to the same matter, it typically means that the sentiment would be shared by future readers when your work is published if left unaddressed (which might result in not-so-good reviews).


But even with the eyes of multiple betas on your work and several rounds of feedback, catering to the tastes of every reader out there is impossible.


Take it from me. I've gone in circles trying to write the book for everyone. In the end, I started to lose sight of what I wanted that story to be. And in turn, that may have also impacted those readers who find themselves settled comfortably in a similar niche, those who love workaholic characters who wear cravats and drink brandy. Those who enjoy leading ladies who can be both sassy and soft. Those who find solace in stories where characters find love amid grief.


One of my favorite Halloween memories growing up is coming into school on November 1st with a bit of my haul from the night before, as everyone else would. Some teachers would grant us a few minutes to engage in candy trades before class started, and the PlayScape would become a marketplace at recess. I'd gladly hand over Snickers and Paydays—anything with whole nuts, really—for Reese's cups and Twix bars.


These were all chocolate bars with similarities. Paydays and Reese's both contain peanuts. Snickers bars do, too, and they also have caramel like Twix. Yet I liked some more than others.


And there is nothing wrong with that. It's not much different from liking candy corn when others don't, and liking the traditional candy corn far more than Cupid Corn or Bunny Corn.


Everyone has their preferences when it comes to anything, including what we read.


While the goal is, naturally, to write something that a lot of readers will enjoy, I cannot please everyone.


Instead, my goal for this next rewrite of Bound to the Heart and all of my other projects moving forward is to make them the kind of story that is mine. Chasing vibes and aesthetics that make me feel cozy, embodying all those little moments that I dream of living out. Creating a space for my favorite tropes to frolic and run rampant.


And if my books are the candy corn of romance novels, it can only mean that, somewhere, there is a niche ready to read them.



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