I understand that publishers don’t have time to respond to each book proposal individually, but wouldn’t it be handy if they could tick a box so at least we know where we are going wrong?
Did my proposal even make it to an editor?
Was it my writing experience?
Was it my first five pages? My first page? Was the synopsis not engaging enough?
Was the writing not up to scratch? Did I use a dialogue tag other than’ said’? Should I have used ‘said’ alternatives? Did I use an adverb?
Was it the covering letter/query? It was the prologue, right?
Is my book marketable?
It’s this last one that I am going to delve into today. I, by no means, have the know-how on the Literary industry. This blog is more to take you on my journey: an unpublished writer uncovering the clues as she goes along. It’s Blue’s Clues, alright. It can be downright depressing, but more than that, it’s shown me how naive I am. Who do I think I am submitting to publishers directly? Am I arrogant? Am I cocky? Am I an arrogant cock? And if you’re English, you can call someone a cock and it’s all good. Has a different meaning here of course: it’s not quite as endearing and charming as cockney English and really scary to google when you want to check your facts.
I don’t think I’m making too much of a leap from my limited knowledge base to say that publishing is a business, and like any business, they need to make money. So…
Write what you love – but it needs to sell.
Don’t write to a trend – but what is trending sells.
To work out where my book fits, I have to consider:
1) Young adult, new adult or adult.
2) Paranormal romance or urban fantasy.
Combinations of 1 and 2 produce very different expectations and attract different markets. Apparently romance readers have specific requirements – this is not from me, this is what I have heard over a few panels/seminars. I can’t guess what they are because a romance reader, I am not.
When I was thinking about comparable novels, authors I feel I am similar to, it became obvious that young adult urban fantasy – my pitch – is hard to find. Well, if you consider urban fantasy the way I consider urban fantasy, it is: if you took the romance out, the story would survive on it’s own. Try thinking about comparable novels and authors you are similar too. Now try and do it without saying ‘but’. It can be hard. I read on a blog once that a comparable novel will allow a publisher to forecast future revenue based on that books past sales. That makes complete sense, but if you don’t fit into a box, it’s tough. And no one wants to believe they fit into a box.
Don’t get me wrong, I have romance in my book. It’s slow burn and it’s low on angst, but it does has an emotional element where the tension builds. My original synopsis, though, was focused around Mae, the troubles she has to face and how they are resolved. If I change my pitch to be young adult paranormal romance, then the synopsis should focus more on the tension between Mae and Gage, rather than Mae’s journey?
Pitching as young adult paranormal romance will certainly make my book more marketable, if popular young adult books are any indication. Sex aside, I would love to introduce true urban fantasy as it’s written in the adult market, to the young adult market.
Am I selling out if I change my pitch? I don’t know, but there is a reason my favourite uf authors are writing contemporary, and I don’t condemn them for it. I know I want to sell my book, and I know I want this to be a paying career. And I do know that the shift and / buttons are wearing out on my keyboard from all these questions, so I must wrap this up.
I guess I need someone to help me sell my book, but literary agents are no less forgiving – so lets just go back to the very top of this blog and go through this again.