At the beginning of this year, I was writing queries and a synopsis for one of my books. Of course, I got rejections. Thinking the problem was in my presentation, I set the queries aside so I could think things through. Earlier this month, I sent the query package to a friend in marketing for his thoughts.
His response was that I sounded as if I didn’t believe the story was marketable (and the tag line didn’t nail the story).
He’s partially right. This novel is multi-layered, multi-faceted, and though it has a supernatural twist, that is only one element. How can one tag line do it all? Do I believe it’s an easy book for an agent or publisher to slot for genre?
So I sat on my porch and thought hard about the book, the characters, the facets, and the ramifications for my MC and the world around her. I’d like to say the heavens opened up and a chorus sang. They didn’t. It was more like lightning. I had an epiphany.
The aspects of this novel that make it a challenge to quantify are the aspects that make it special. It’s a story worth reading that will appeal to all ages. It’s about redemption, responsibility, secrets, lineage, mystery, love, social expectations, aspirations, overcoming the opinions of others, friendship, and trust. It’s about accepting the responsibility and choices we make when we let ourselves care about others. It’s about embracing the possibility of getting hurt or rejected. It has a monster. And it is set in 1952. Without apology.
I called it a literary YA with a supernatural twist. It is, and so much more.
Do I believe in this story? Do I believe readers will identify with Lillian and her friends?
A thousand times, yes.
So my marketing friend asked me to draw some parallels to other books in print. That’s much harder, because it is different from what’s on the market right now. But I can say that it has the flavor of The Spitfire Grill, The Secret Life of Bees, A Great and Terrible Beauty, and maybe a tiny touch of To Kill a Mockingbird. Literary, coming of age goodness in a unique package.
Will agents and traditional publishers be interested now that I can approach queries with a different mindset? I don’t know. My writers’ group will tell you I have insecurities and lack confidence, but I believe in this story and its potential to touch readers. I will find a way to get it out into the world. This story deserves to live, not because I wrote it, but because it wove itself around a truth that resonates within us all: caring about others leaves us vulnerable, but also gives us the strength to rise to challenges we could only imagine.
Image: Original Photo: Morguefile; Quote: Albee