STATUS: I’m battling myself to not leave the office early. It’s 70 degrees out. Must go to Park. Must take Chutney for a walk RIGHT NOW. No, I must be good and wait until at least 4 o’clock when it might be reasonable to pop out early to enjoy the day.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? FALL ON ME by R.E.M.
I have to say that I really enjoyed reading the discussion in the comment section of last Friday’s blog so a quick thank you to all who chimed it.
It’s clear to me that writers who have considered the question of market will not run into a problem when querying a work—even if it’s not clear exactly where the work might fit.
Writers who understand and have analyzed the issue will figure out how to label it (literary fiction in an SF setting for example) or decide to not even try and really focus on the storyline in the query.
It’s hard to explain the issue of market savvy versus not when I can’t share a real query letter received that so exemplifies when it misses. The closest example I can give is that when writers miss, it’s usually because they describe the work in an odd manner so it ends up sounding like some strange cross between nonfiction and fiction (my work is women’s fiction that embraces many principles of psychological self-help that will really help readers). Or something like that.
That’s when Sara and I end up shaking our heads in wonder about the aspiring author’s cluelessness regarding the market. If I want psychological self-help, I’ll read a nonfiction book for it. I don’t read a novel to get those principles. I’m much more interested in the story unfolding and how the characters will grow and develop (and if those psychological self-help principals are subtly interwoven so I don’t notice it but it does enhance the story, all power to the writer—but it doesn’t need to be highlighted in the query.) Did I explain that well?
But I do agree that sometimes the most interesting and original fiction can come out of the exercise of writers bending the genres. I personally love that.
Several years ago when I first shopped Shanna Swendson’s ENCHANTED, INC., we were in a little quandary about what to call it.
Was it paranormal chick lit? Or was it fantasy? We ended up calling it paranormal chick lit for submission but in truth, that wasn’t quite right. Maybe today I’d call it lighthearted contemporary urban fantasy (and how many descriptors can I put on that?). That’s actually more accurate but three years ago, nobody in publishing was calling stuff “lighthearted contemporary urban fantasy” so we opted for the first option.
It can be annoying but we do have to name things when going on submission.
And I personally like to hear how writers consider their own work (even if it ends not being completely on target). It can be very telling about how writers perceive themselves, what they want from the work, their career, their style, their direction etc.