In the tech industry you’ll often hear a founder say “We have no competitors! We are creating a new category! No one does what we do!” Whenever a company says that, reporters and analysts roll their eyes. PR people do too, because it’s much easier to take over and change markets than it is to forge a brand new path. Remember the Newton anyone?
This is even more true when it comes to media. Pitching a movie? The first thing you’ll get asked is how it’s like movies that have succeeded before, which is what gave us the MCU. (Not that I’m complaining. More Thor is always good.)
When you’re pitching a book you have to demonstrate that the labor of love that took you years to produce is not just a gorgeous vivisection of your soul but a viable product too. Because, after all, publishing is a business. What agent, editor or publisher wouldn’t want to make as much money as possible with the smallest amount of effort possible??
I’m almost done with the third revision of my third draft of my novel (which might actually make it the fifth draft, but who’s counting?). Since I started this project last spring I’ve spent my energy figuring out how to write fiction, not figuring out how I’ll pitch my finished product.
It’s time to put my PR person hat on and look at my work and the market with a sharp and unsentimental eye. Gulp. What category does my book live in? What other books is it like? How can I describe the story in one sentence? Uhhh. . .
Is it a coming of age story like Elizabeth Gonzalez James’ Mona at Sea (which I adored)? Yes. Is it a romance centered on characters facing grief like Akwaeke Emezi’s ravishing You Make a Fool of Death With Your Beauty? Yes. Is it a post-apocalyptic tale of Bigfoot like Max Brook’s brilliant Devolution? Well, no, but maybe the next book?
When I get my pitch sorted, I’ll let you know!