Skip to main content

Submitting to agents - Part IV

Actually, this post should have come in Part I. It's about knowing the genre so you can target your agents.

I'll start off by saying I have trouble with this sometimes. I write a story about characters and things happening to them and I'm told as a writer that I have to make the story unique - but maybe the Hollywood rule of "Write something different but the same" applies to novels. To be honest, I'm not sure I want to live in that world. Anyway, I've written a book and now I have to find a box to put it in. And I'm also not supposed to have too many boxes. This apparently confuses readers though I think readers are smart enough to read more than one genre.

When I (unsuccessfully) pitched Little Red Gem I pitched it as Paranormal Romance. But here's the thing about paranormal romance:

It's boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy loses girl, boy gets girl.

In Little Red Gem, at the end the main character had her revelation but she didn't run straight into the arms of the boy. She took that moment and decided that she was more important and she needed to figure things out first. Ergo it was not romance. I failed at the pitch because I got the genre totally wrong. To be honest it started out as a paranormal romance, and the first draft it was boy gets girls, but then in the final edits I got o the end and said "would I do that?"  and the answer is that I would not. So I had to be true to ME and I let the main character give the flick to the guy. I did this is real life as a teen so it's a plausible ending. The problem is I still had it in my mind that it was romance. It was more like young adult fantasy chick-lit. But try putting that in a pitch.

Despite the thousand categories on Amazon that writers like to use to slot their books into the obscure ones to get higher rakings, according to Wikipedia there really are only 8 or so genres. Beneath these we have multiple sub-genres

Crime
Romance
Fantasy
Horror
Mystery and Detective
Science Fiction
Western
Inspirational

Science fiction is typically space opera, plausible futuristic plots, hard sci-fi, social science fiction, time travel, alternate universes, science fantasy, soft science fiction. Dystopian and apocalyptic fiction tend to find themselves under the sub genre of science fiction.

Fantasy uses magic or supernatural as a primary plot element, completely fictitious worlds.

So what do I do when I've written a book about a virtual game, supernatural characters, a futuristic world but not dystopian, and an apocalypse.

I have read on a few blogs that Dystopian and Apocalyptic Fiction are becoming their own sub-genre. But agents don't list the million genres they're looking for, just one or two, such as Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the list I provided in Part III showed the agents who are currently looking for Science Fiction and/or Fantasy.

In short, just like there is a billion trillion dollars in the world there is still only a large handful of actual currencies. i.e $1 coin, $2 coin, $5 note, $10 note etc. In order to hand over $17 we need to know what that is comprised of. Sorry if that's confusing, it's the analogy I'm using to try to perfect the genre in the pitch.

Here's another reason why knowing the genre is important.

Stephanie Palmer runs a blog Good In A Room. She teaches screen writers and this was a really interesting post I read a little while back.

http://goodinaroom.com/blog/why-the-pitch-for-snow-white-and-the-huntsman-is-better-than-the-pitch-for-mirror-mirror/

Extract:

In the epic action-adventure Snow White and the Huntsman, Snow White is the only person in the land fairer than the evil queen out to destroy her. But what the wicked ruler never imagined is that the young woman threatening her reign has been training in the art of war with a huntsman dispatched to kill her.

 
Compare this with how the concept of Mirror Mirror is pitched:

A fresh and funny retelling of the Snow White legend, Mirror Mirror features Snow White as she fights the evil Queen to reclaim her birthright and win her Prince in this magical adventure comedy filled with jealousy, romance, and betrayal.


Snow White and the Huntsman

Genre: Epic action-adventure

Story Elements: Snow White gets trained in the art of war by the Huntsman, an assassin dispatched to kill her; Snow White threatens the reign of the evil Queen.

The story elements of being trained in the art of war by an assassin and fighting an evil Queen match the genre. This pitch has genre-story congruency.

 
Mirror Mirror

Genre: Magical Adventure Comedy

Story Elements: An evil, ruthless Queen; Snow White fighting to reclaim her birthright; jealousy and betrayal.

There’s nothing funny about the story elements. This conflicts with the description of the movie as a comedy.

 
The difference between the two  is Genre-Story Congruency
Will the story live up to the genre expectations of the audience?

I won't go further into this because of copyright reasons you need to read the post.

So I have pitched my novel as Science Fantasy because nobody listed Apocalyptic fiction. Here's hoping I have met the genre expectations of my audience.

Until next post.

D L Richardson

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Latest news! I've signed up to write a post-apoc series

When I started writing, I had one set goal: to become a prolific author. At the time I was into reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz, and I wanted to write books, lots of them.  Now I have that chance. After writing, publishing, and promoting 10 books, I've signed up to to write a series of post-apocalyptic fiction books for  Mission Critical Publishing. The reason I signed up was simple. They're innovative. The publishing industry today is fast and fluid.  I've agreed to write 3 books in 6 months. Each book will be around 60,000 words when completed. I'll need to become a writing machine. To accomplish this I'll need to do  2 things: #1 Write fast The only way for me to write fast is to write an overview of the entire book (or series). This can be one page per book. Then I write dots points that become the chapters. Complications, conflicts, solutions, all fit into these chapters. Then I set a daily word count. I'm

The Bird With The Broken Wing by D L Richardson ebook now $2.99

Welcome Latest news!!! What a surprise it was for me to check in on my online retail sites and discover some good news about my debut novel The Bird With The Broken Wing . I regularly do this to make sure links are working and what not. Anyway, I checked in and discovered that my publisher has reduced the ebook price to $2.99 USD. This is great news, because many ebooks are set at this price point and I've often thought that maybe this deterred buyers rather than attract them, which is the essence of selling. you can read reviews for this YA fantasy novel on author website Author's description of the book: "The Bird With the Broken Wing is a tale about a guardian angel who ends up in Purgatory with the mortal she was assigned to watch over. While working on getting her mortal out of Purgatory she discovers some disturbing news about her presence there." Things about this book you did not know , as told by the author D L Richardson : "This was ori

Science fiction predicts...

It started out as a discussion group on Amazon. "Who likes Apocalyptic fiction and why?" I asked this question and received so many great recommendations for books to read. Why did I ask this question in the first place? Because I'm writing two different sci-fi apocalyptic novels at the moment, and I really wanted to know that I had an audience. A writer's worst nightmare is to write a book that nobody wants to read. Yet, often its a case of nobody being able to find your book in the highway jam that is the internet. THE VIRTUAL WATER COOLER Everyone will tell you that word of mouth is still the best way to sell a book. The industry is clogged with books. Just like the highway, the jam is full of good cars and bad cars, and the online book industry is the same. Asking a question like "Who likes Apocalyptic fiction and why?" on an Amazon discussion group was the best way for me to get a list of books to purchase. This is the word of mouth that advertis