Monday, November 24, 2014

What Makes Your Approach Different?

Too often, I find myself passing on projects for the simple reason of not seeing anything new from the author. The writing is fine, but in the end, I feel as if the story being pitched to me simply doesn't stand out from the other things I am seeing in the market, or even more importantly, from the other authors I currently represent.

As an author, whether you are pitching your story to editors and agents to take the traditional route of publishing, or putting together your own marketing pitches to the book buyers and the readers if you are doing this on your own, it is beyond crucial for you to show us that you have "something different." Those people on the buying end need to see why now, they need to get something new, and that something is your book.

If you think about the success and failure of a lot of most products in the market today, the consumers really want to see they are "getting something new" AND that the "something new" is a significant enough change. Cars cannot simply be a new color. Cell phones just can't be a different size or shape. Consumers want to see something tangible. Just "reformatting" isn't enough.

The same goes for publishing. As we evaluate your story, we are thinking not just how it fits with our current line up and voice, but also what unique twist you bring to it that others don't see. I do have to say, I see authors who love writing for the Series houses struggle with this more than others. They try so hard to follow what they believe to be prescribed story lines, but fail to bring their own unique style. You see, the thing is that these lines don't have prescribed story lines, but prescribed themes and voices. They are looking for certain tones. The rest, is entirely up to you.

Another flaw I see are authors who, in their query letters, simply say their story is similar to all of these other authors. Now, while this is a fine strategy to demonstrate a similar voice, the problem is you have now told us that your story is not different in any way to people we already are representing or selling really well. If we have, say a Nora Roberts, why do we need two of them?

As you write your query letters to editors and agents, I want you to think about how you are showing us that your story is somehow different. Show us that you are unique. If you have noticed, by the way, I am using the word "show". What I see more often than not, are authors who simply tell me they bring a new voice. Remember, we push for that "show don't tell" aspect in your writing, so you need to do that here as well. Make it clear to the editors, agents and book buyers that you bring that "something new" to the table. Make it clear that your story is one that cannot be passed on.

No comments:

Post a Comment