Monday, December 23, 2013

How Will You Sell Your Story In This Competitive Market?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that surviving in this world of publishing has become harder and harder these days. This struggle is for all those in the business - the unpublished, the newly published, the traditional print author, the self-published author and the e-published author. It doesn't matter who you are, it is tough. Why? The market is flooded right now.

I should note here that when we talk about the market being flooded, it is not so much an issue of the market having far too many strong authors out there. It is an issue of just the number of people filling up the "bookshelves" with their books. Readers have so much to look through, it becomes an impossible task to find anything. This might even be the one of the reasons why so many people aren't reading anymore (but that is for another day). The point being, that to survive, you have to find a way to draw attention to yourself as an author. You have to make people know who you are!

As I looked back on my submissions from 2013, among the top 5 reasons for passing on a project was the comment "same old, same old" that I logged into the database. Translation? There was nothing new here. The rejection came about, not because of the story being written poorly, or the characters being psychotically weird. It was simply an issue of the story not being fresh and original. That story had already been told before. More specifically, there was nothing that would make an editor jump up and down and scream "Yes, I need this for my line-up."

So, the question is, "How will you sell your story?"

To begin with, I do have to say there is nothing you can do if your story is already written and falls into that earlier category of being blah. Fancy marketing, sexy covers, scandal and controversy is not going to help you in the least bit. The story is D.O.A. and the best thing to do is put it out of its misery. I did hear that manuscripts make a great wrapping paper?

But, if you are one of the fortunate people who have a story that has that potential, then what will it take?

You have to think about how the agent will pitch it to the editors. How will the editors pitch it to the book buyers? This is that high concept and hook they are looking for. Is there a way to say this in one basic sentence that makes me want to say yes!

For example:

  • 8 characters, 1 missing brother, an inheritance on the line, and the answer lies under one roof with only the servants or the residents to find out the answer - Harlequin's Castonbury Series.
  • She was not a bombshell, but had unruly hair, glasses and a bit overweight. He fell for her because of who she was and not what she looked like. - No Regrets, by Michele Young.
  • We know Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, but what about the untold and exciting stories of the other Darcys? - Sharon Lathan's Darcy Series
The idea behind the hook is to set up a scenario where the editor or agent is really sitting up and listening to what you have to say. You don't need all of that extra flash or a lengthy description. It is that one line that will make us (as well as readers out there) want more.

We have to remember that the current population of readers out there are inherently lazy. They want to sit at home and do all of their shopping online, thus the rise in businesses such as Amazon. Click and buy! It is for this reason that hook is so important.

So, what are you going to do? Think about that as you stand in line trying to get that last minute shopping done!

1 comment:

  1. I've wondered if novellas will become more popular since people seem to have less time to devote to reading for pleasure. On a similar line, I've recently read that more adults are reading MG and YA books because they are a 'quicker read' but can still have compelling stories.