Saturday, July 5, 2008

New is fine, but it needs to be marketable

Although editors and agents are screaming desperately for something that is new and unique, many writers seem to forget that there still is the element of marketablity that comes into play.

In the end, it doesn't matter how good your story is, or the uniqueness of the plot, if the editors and agents just don't know where they would market the story, or more specifically, where it would fall on the shelf, then they won't go after it.

I see this more and more with the writers trying cross over genres. When the line blurs between the two, the difficulty in selling the story becomes increasingly harder. Agents struggle with trying to explain the concept to the editors. Editors struggle with explaining it to their other colleagues, to the marketing department, to the business department. It's just not fun.

Think about this. If you wanted to write Inspirational Erotica, where would you put it on the shelves at your local book store? Certainly not in the inspirational section, although the message in the book is important to put it there. How about the erotica shelf? The problem is that your target audience is not likely to go looking there to buy your book and needless to say, it won't sell.

Now is this a viable genre to write? I always get laughs out of this one when I joke about it at conferences, but why not? Can't you have great action in the bed with the hero and heroine? Can't married couples have great sex? Can't there be inspirational messages to go with the story? Sure! The problem though is the marketing.

So, as you think of your current WIP, or the one you are sending out to agents and editors, think about being as specific as possible with the genre you claim it to be. Think like someone marketing. Go to the book store and see where it would honestly fall on the shelves. If you can't, you might want to revist the project.


  1. I think that is so true!

    I know a writer that has a GREAT story to tell, but no one (agents, major publishing houses, etc) will touch her work, because it is a cross between historical with a touch of paranormal.

    She has gotten a small publisher to publish the first two, and is writing the third.

    It's frustrating enough to find an agent, without the added problems of genre cross-overs.

    :) Terri

  2. Dear Scott,
    You must be a hoot in your private life. Is not the point of great sex to make one see the light, and be, yes, inspired! to have more of it?
    Meanwhile, cross-genres. Some writers do make it work so well. Consider "Water For Elephants." and Gruen's comment about refusing to be pigeonholed as a writer. Would you call that book a romance, or historical fiction? Does ot matter if it is a number one book for months?
    As for paying to have work submitted by another author, no, I would avoid it. I don't think I made the situation clear. The writer pays the service around $400 and in return receives the name of 5-6 agents currently accepting new work in that area. It is then up to you to use the names or not.
    It is much less money than it would cost to fly to a conference-I am only considering it because the service is associated with a very successful author. Perhaps they do not need the extra money?
    They have also posted the names of writers who found agents through their service, and they indeed have books shelved at Barnes and Noble right now.
    What to do? How can anyone look at "fifty" unsolicited queries every day ?
    none of us will live forever, and the agents are paying New York rents and mortgages. They can't afford to make a mistake.
    As always, thank you for your willingness to address publishing issues for all of us.

  3. Linda,

    I would still say to not pay anyone for these services. This sounds even worse. How hard is it for a writer to do this research? This sounds like a scam to me. I really don't care if this person is a decent author, the work they are doing is what you can do. As far as going to the conference, sure it is cheaper, but we're talking about submissions.

    I have said this time and time again, but there is no easy way to get published. You will have to do your own research. You will have to send out your own queries and you will have to finally cough up some cash and meet with people at conferences.

  4. I again agree! There are hundreds and hundreds of agents web sites out there.

    You can also go to and it lists so many agents, what genre they like, and contact info.

    Researching agents is no different than researching for your writing. It's a necessary evil, but it so pays off if you spend the time and effort to do it.

    That's how I found this blog, along with many other agent blogs. I love to see what tricks of the trade I may pick up that can come in handy later on.

    It's people like Scott who not only represent writers, but that try and teach so many of us the ins and outs of the agent/publishing world.

    :) Terri