10.24.2006

You are not as clever as you think

Miss Snark,

I am unpublished young novelist who has few writing credentials to his credit. In my query letter, rather than reflect on my inadequate pedigree as a writer, would it be wise to play up the marketability of my thriller? I believe it has a large audience that has largely been ignored by fiction writers up to this point.

No.
Chances are I know a lot more about marketing thrillers than you do.
Nothing makes me sneer more quickly than some whippersnapper telling me about his great "new" idea...the same one that seventeen publishers have been doing for a decade.

Focus on your writing.

6 comments:

michaelgav said...

"I believe it has a large audience that has largely been ignored by fiction writers up to this point."

By God, he seems ready to blow the lid off the upholstery business as we know it.

My assumption is that ten years ago there may have existed an audience that had somehow been missed by big publishing. That's what small presses were for. But it wasn't large, and it wasn't ignored. Now, with the web stitching everyone together, and half of us running hit counters on our websites and blogs, I doubt this can happen.

On the upside, I like it when someone compels MS to talk like Grandmother Snark. And I wish we had a word that works as well and sounds as good as "whippersnapper." The only four-syllable word I see applied to the young folk starts with M and is unlikely to harken back to our grandmas.

Wesley Smith said...

If you think agents don't want to hear how marketable a book is, then why do so many agencies--small but legitimate--ask prospective clients to include what they plan to do to market the book right in the submission?

Anonymous said...

Upholsterers are people too, michaelgav.

Maya said...

Chris Anderson's book "The Long Tail" made the case for the fact that there is money to be made in small niche markets.

The Wall Street Journal had an article in early July titled "Novel Ploy: Market Fiction to Niches." The story said that publishers are getting more creative in their use of the Internet, interactive games and viral marketing targeted toward small niche groups. "The trick is finding their market."

I suspect the upholstery industry would qualify as a niche market.

michaelgav said...

And who am I to turn my nose up at a niche market?

"The Touch-Up," is a spine-chilling new novel that rips the cover off Poughkeepsie's upholstery industry and exposes its "seamier" side.

Detective Lawrence Wren is convinced he's on the tail of a serial killer. A serial killer who knows a thing or two about slipcovers.

First Maxie Ungar, owner of Mad Maxie's Furniture City, is found with his skin pulled off by an Osborne #253 gooseneck webbing stretcher.

Then Seigfried Schaefer of Zig's Digs is dicovered without eyes -- clutching a Burnham 120-F staple puller with telltale goo dripping from the handle.

But when Aurelio Figueroa, whose only previous claim to fame was the odd fact that both of his names contained all five vowels, is found bludgeoned with an Errol's 96d white rubber mallet, Wren thinks he recognizes a pattern, and it's not paisley.

Jake Mendel has been running his own upholstery business for the last 32 years, and he's hit on a surefire way to scrape together enough cash to purchase the silence of a saucy little mattress tester.

"If they can't buy new, what are they gonna do?"

Detective Wren might have the answer...

Anonymous said...

"a large audience that has largely been ignored...." Hmmm. I agree with Miss Snark. Focus focus focus.