Thursday, June 2, 2016

Why Are You and Your Book Special?

One thing that frustrates me so much about many of the submissions I receive, is the lack of "marketing" the author puts into that first contact. I see the same thing on so many of the "self-published" books that are sitting their gathering virtual dust on the Intenet. Yes, I understand, in the grand scheme of things, we fall in love with a book BECAUSE of the book. Our "favorite books" are those we have loved, not because of the pitch that was made to us, or who the author was, but because of the writing. And yet, there was something, when you first picked up that book, that "hooked you." Let me give you a couple of examples from my personal list:

  • THE ASCENT OF RUMDOODLE - This is a book I fell for while backpacking in Sequoia National Park. What sold me? The pitch. Led by the reliably underinsightful Binder, a team of seven British men—including Dr. Prone (constantly ill), Jungle the route-finder (constantly lost), Constant the diplomat (constantly arguing), and 3,000 Yogistani porters—set out to conquer the highest peak in the Himalayas, RUMDOODLE at the height of 40,000 feet. This description for someone who likes the outdoors screams the ultimate parody of climbing books. 
  • GONE WITH THE WIND - Why did I fall for this book? My parents allowed me to stay at home from school the next day to watch it on TV when I was in the 5th grade. What sold this book to me? It was epic in proportion. But for a guy in the 5th grade, this gave me a whole new perspective on the Civil War (I do love my history)
  • Anne Rice's THE WITCHING HOUR - I was familiar with the Vampire books, but those just
    never really drew me in. But the thought of 13 generations of witches all being guided by the same spirit was just the selling point. What made this special was the legacy aspect of the story as well as the mystery

What authors seem to fail to recognize is that there needs to be something special about your book to draw a reader in. This cannot just simply be the location of the story, or the characters types. It has to be something on a larger scale. This is especially true for those of you who want to write for publishers such as Harlequin. Your book and your voice cannot be just like every other author out there. You have to be special.

The same holds true for you as an author. I have always loved Source Book editor Deb Werksman's comment of what she looks for in a pitch. She is not signing a book, but signing a package of an author and a book! Why are you unique? What is it that you bring to an editor or an agent? Telling me you are enthusiastic and someone who really wants to write, is not unique that is expected. Telling me you want to take on a active role in marketing is not unique -it is expected.

Even readers want to know why you are the best person to write this story? If you write historical
romances, what is your background? Think of Madelyn Hunter who has a background in art history. This is what makes her book STEALING HEAVEN so amazing!

We read non-fiction books because someone is an expert. (This is that "platform" piece you hear a lot of people talk about when discussing pitches and submissions).

The simple point is that you cannot just attach a a story to your query letter and expect us to "just get" what makes this special. You cannot simply send us a quick note on social media saying, "I have some great books! Do you want to market these for me?" You cannot simply send us a link to your books on Amazon, or your personal website and just tell us to "go and look." And if you are writing your blurb for your books on Amazon, you have to find a way to hook us. I promise, we will not just buy it because there is a title and a cover.

1 comment:

  1. It's become increasingly difficult to be special when everyone is special. And they know they're special because people like me tell them that they are! It has never occurred to me to not try to be unique. Query letters are so intimidating BECAUSE you need to try and set yourself apart. These days, people, in all their lovely entitlement, just expect you to know. You're a mind-reader, right? :) Thank you for this.