This is a Tough Sell

Rejection Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Storm Clouds and Sky.


You write well and I enjoyed your submission, but this is a tough sell.

That’s the advice I paid $200 to hear.  I guess that’s better than the deafening silence I heard from my other queries to literary agents.   Some feedback, any feedback, is useful even if I had to pay to get it.

Let me clarify just how I got that feedback lest you think I did something improper.  Rest assured, I did not.  I enrolled in a Writer’s Digest course on how to make the first ten pages of a manuscript sing.  The first ten pages are important as they are often what literary agents will request with a query submission.

I have enrolled in several Writer’s Digest courses in the past and have always found them helpful.  This was no exception.  My big take away was that while Fantasy is an established genre the focus of my story (hint: it’s not dystopian, vampires/wizards/witches, or steampunk – whatever that is) makes it difficult to identify an audience.  The feedback was not entirely surprising.  I myself was having difficulty identifying an appropriate market comparator.  I couldn’t simply say it’s Harry Potter with vampires instead of wizards, for example.  The closest I could come up with is it’s The Hobbit with a female protagonist and a doomed love affair for a 17+ audience.  But that’s not exactly correct either, it’s simply the best I could come up with on my own.

So, what to do?  One option is to re-write my story for an established commercial audience.  While that sounds logical it wouldn’t be all that easy to do.  Plus, to quote George Costanza, what about my artistic integrity?  The other option is to go out and find my audience on my own.  This idea, while I’m quite sure is even more difficult, intrigues me.  How to do it?  Do I have an audience, who are these mysterious readers, and how do I reach them?  Honestly, I don’t know if it’s possible to find them but I feel like I should at least try before re-designing my original (yet possibly unmarketable?) creation into something I no longer recognize a la it’s Fifty Shades of Grey with a male protagonist and a doomed love affair (the horror!).

For those of you who remember George Costanza I’ll leave you with my all-time favorite quote:

“The sea was angry that day my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli!”

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