Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Don't Make Your Story Into Something It Isn't

I see this a lot with submissions that come into Greyhaus Literary Agency. Maybe it is because I have provided people a "form" to submit the stories to me, but far too many authors are trying to suggest their stories are one thing, when the stories are something completely different. Knowing the genre you write is beyond crucial when it comes to marketing and certainly demonstrating to the editors and agents, you know what the heck you are talking about.

For many authors, I have found they place their writing into a particular genre because "someone told them that is the genre." This is the biggest mistake ever. In fact, I would go so far as to ask, "How do you not know what you are writing?"

Definitions of genres are pretty clear out there. Publishers do their best to identify the types of genres they represent. There are pretty comprehensive lists out there from writing organizations that define the genres. But more importantly, it is the responsibility of the author to read what he or she is writing. This is what the publishers have been screaming time and time again on those editor/agent panels, and in everything they write on their FAQ pages. "Read what we publish to get a feel of what we are looking for."

There are a few authors out there who believe if they just call it something that we say we are looking for, that will be an "in" to get that editor or agent to read it. I am sorry to break this to you, this is a sure way to get a rejection faster than it took you to write that query. When you submit a story claiming it is one thing and it is far from that, this simply shows the editor or agent you have no ideas what you are doing. No, it isn't that what you did was a "small mistake." This means you just didn't do your homework.

As you know, I represent only romance and women's fiction both in single title and series. I do get that some of you out there might be confused with the whole "women's fiction" thing, but with the romance genres, it is pretty cut and dry. It is or it isn't. To add to this, if you are marketing your story as a category/series story, you need to know what it is because you have been reading Harlequin or Entangled.

And yet...

I see so many authors sending me stories that are no where near to what these genres are. Stories set in a romantic setting are not romances. 120,000 word thrillers with female protagonists are not romantic suspense stories designed for Harlequin.

This is not rocket science here. If you want to write thrillers, then read thrillers. Study these stories and research. If you want to write for a Harlequin or Entangled line, then darn it, read as many of these stories as you can get your hands on. One will not cut it.

You might find your rejections are reduced significantly!

1 comment: