It’s something I joke about, but it’s true just the same: It’s a good thing I’m a freelance writer who receives regular assignments or I’d be playing Tetris all day. Query? Shop around? Try to charm a new editor? No, no, please no.
So you can imagine how I feel with regards to marketing my fiction, where I don’t even have a strong writing portfolio to point at, just a passion. Can’t someone just do it for me? Please? I’ll give you my pinky toe.
I finally sent a mass of queries off last week, and I’ll continue this week. Why the setbacks? General life stuff, mostly, details of which I’ll spare you. But the other big issue (aside from fear of rejection and crushed self-esteem issues that I’m loathe to admit) is that I didn’t have a clear idea how to market my story. I wouldn’t go so far as to say my manuscript is ultimately Unique, because I know Eric will call me on it, but it wasn’t cakewalk for me to ID another work like it. My story is part family saga/ women’s fiction, part paranormal, part mystery… You get the picture. I have a fuzzy-genre manuscript. Who should I query? Who’d want to represent it? Who might be looking for what I have to offer? But I finally settled on a plan.
I took the plunge and subscribed to Publishers Marketplace after both Allison Winn Scotch and Ray Rhamey encouraged me to do so. At first I wasn’t convinced it would offer anything more than the great services at Agent Query, which are free. I immediately saw, though, that PM’s sales lists are thorough, current, and detail how well agents have sold by genre (though I wish these lists were a little more specific and that PM differentiated between women’s fiction and romance, and between literary fiction and commercial).
Now I know who the top-selling agents are for debut authors and who sells the most, period. I know who has a great track record of selling foreign and film rights. I’ve read sales blips to find stories that do, in a general way, sound like mine, then noted who those agents are. And I’ve found agents who sell ALL of the things that I think my manuscript has, so that THEY can decide how to market it–and will have the chops to do it.
So I query using this A list and call my story commercial fiction. That’s my strategy. How ironic that it hearkens back to my time as a researcher and the number one lesson of all: CAST A WIDE NET…but cast it in a sea rich with possibility.
Write on, all!
Photo courtesy Flickr’s Niklens’