Life has been busy lately. So, although I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my manuscript, I’ve been relegated to putting it on the back burner a bit these past few days.
As of tomorrow it will have been 2 weeks since I started sending out query letters. That’s a relatively small amount of time in the true scheme of things. But I can’t help but spend my time thinking about the few responses I’ve gotten already, or, truthfully, the lack thereof.
Most of the people I’ve sent my query letter on to have not responded yet. Most won’t, I realize, but I haven’t even reached the time frame that they state they will respond in. I’ve received 20 responses, and there’s another 10 that I can reasonably assume have already responded by not responding, which means I have well over half of the queries I’ve sent out to hear from yet. And, of course, I have my one glimmer of hope that’s come through so far to hear back on, which, from the research I’ve been able to do on her, I should hear something back. But, of course, there are no promises.
All the same, I’ve obviously been curious why people would be so quick to shoot me down. I know that there’s a great combination of things which come into play for these quick rejections. I realize I will probably never know the reason any of these specific rejections occurred. But I can’t help but wonder what might help those rejections along.
And, of course, the easy answer is, there’s not much of a market currently for superhero science fiction novels. Heck, the market for science fiction in general has been overflooded for ages, so the idea that any book could come out of that as a shining example of something new is pretty convoluted. So, looking at it from that standpoint, if I were an agent looking to sell some science fiction, I’d want something which immediately struck my interest. I wouldn’t care if there’s a good story in it as much as I would care what people would think when reading the back of the trade paperback.
And that’s what I’ve hated about this process so far. I don’t really consider my book to be a science fiction book. Its subject matter does surround superheroes, of course, but that’s not what the book is defined by. It’s a coming of age book.
But it’s a coming of age novel regarding a middle-aged overweight man. The market for that has to be almost non-existent.
When I initially wrote my book, I wasn’t really thinking about the audience. I was thinking about the story. Now that I’m in the sales portion of the process, I’ve come to realize something. Genre’s important. Agents and publishers (from what I’ve gathered) need these little buckets to put things in in order to get an idea of how much of any particular book will sell.
And if you look at the numbers, the stuff that sells is the young adult.
I don’t want to come off as a complete sellout here, because I fear that’s what easily could happen. When I initially wrote the book, as well as during all of my rewrites so far, I had in mind that it would be more popular among the young adult crowd than it would with the adult crowd. That’s why I kept the adult topics to a minimum. There’s no sex. There’s no cursing. There’s no graphic violence. And although mentioned throughout, there’s no excessive drinking. But I couldn’t justify having a central character who was in high school. It just seemed like I would be ripping off Harry Potter, or Twilight, or Percy Jackson, or whatever. I didn’t want to come off as just another author trying to ride on Rowling’s coattails.
But I think I’ve done it. I think I’ve managed to figure out a way to make a central character that the young adult market can connect with (meaning, of course, that he is a high-school age character) without looking like I’m pandering to the market in order to make the big bucks.
In other words, the one thing that’s been troubling me about my story has now been solved (mostly) in my head.
Of course, that means I have to get back into the rewrite process. . . and that can be painful. Although, sadly enough, nowhere near as painful as the selling process.