Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bullseye

Oftentimes new writers don't think about where their writing may fit in the publishing world, but it's an important aspect to consider on the journey to publication.

Think of the publishing world as one big dart board. Somewhere is your perfect bullseye. It's up to you to find it.

In order to do that, there are several things you need to consider.

1. The tone of your work
2. The genre
3. The length
4. Your projected audience

There's probably more to add to this list, so feel free to point out other considerations.

Have you targeted certain publishers or agents as a fit for you?

24 comments:

Angie Ledbetter said...

Reading and rereading a pub's submission guidelines gives great clues to how/if your work fits.

Jessica said...

Definitely. And many times you can find interviews with editors where they'll tell us exactly what they're looking for.

Kristen Painter said...

Find books that are similar to yours in tone/genre/mood then you know what publishing houses publish work like yours. Read the acknowledgments to find out what agent reps those authors and send queries to those agents.

T. Anne said...

I suppose I try and keep within genre guidelines and only those I've gleaned from reading like books. Honestly my best teachers always seem to be books similar to the ones I like to write, which is great because I love to read them too! Thanks for the Sunday post!

Terri Tiffany said...

I've been doing that! I think it is really important to see where you fit.
Did you go to the conference here in Fla? I wanted to go but thankfully didn't sign up as I was so sick!

anita said...

Hey Jessie! I really like the dart board analogy. :-)

Kristen mentioned finding books similar to your own and that's what I've heard a lot, too. Sometimes it's hard to find just one author's style that fits yours. But if you can combined two authors' voices and it makes a reasonable facsimile, that's one way to go.

In my latter query letters, I used to describe my voice as: somewhere between the lush, gothic under-pinnings of Anne Rice and the literary styling of Charlotte Bronte.

It must have piqued some interest, because those were the queries I got requests for partials or MSS on.

Wolfey98 said...

Happy b'day, Jess! The best is just ahead!! God bless.

I have been most successful with the "bass-ackwards" approach -- write for the market rather than writing first and finding a market second. The "book of my heart" never sold. But when I dissected an existing category book and followed the formula, I had more success. In a way, that's a shame. But it is what it is, right? I like having a formula to guide my project planning. But that's just me. Cheers!

Jessica said...

Kristen and T. Anne, great advice! I just had to do a fiction proposal and realized I had no clue what books were comparable to mine. What a shocker! It's better to know starting out, I think, how your story is the same and yet unique.
Thanks for chiming in!

Jessica said...

Hey Terri,
I wanted to go so bad but it didn't work out.
Yeah, I'm so glad you're better now. What a horrible thing! It is good that you didn't go.

Jessica said...

Hey Anita,
I think you're right. You don't have to exactly match someone else, just point out some similariies so the publisher gets a starting point for marketing.
Wow. I didn't know that you had written that in your queries. Very interesting! I haven't read Rice or much of Bronte but from reading your writing those adjectives sound right on.

Jessica said...

Thanks Anne!
You know, it's a shame that it feels shameful for us to actually plan our careers. Writing is artistic, yes, but it's also a business. I don't think there's anything wrong at all with your approach. In fact, it's mine too. :-) Somewhat. LOL I haven't actually broken anything down.
Anyways, I think you're going to be very successful because you're not just writing passionately, but you're writing smart.

Janna Qualman said...

I found it difficult with my first novel, and that's one of the reasons I decided it was a great practice run more than anything.

I think novel 2 has much more definition in these areas, and for that I'm thankful.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

I think the reading published works is the greatest way. Whichever your work is closest to is likely the house you should be looking at.

Guidelines of the individual houses is also a good place to look.

Jessica said...

Hey Janna,
My first novel, the unfinished one, had absolutely no point to it, no genre, etc. It's definitely better to have a slot for where you think your story goes.

Jessica said...

Exactly, Eileen.

Debra E Marvin said...

It also seems we need a play chart for the publishing industry. I can't seem to keep up with the lines and what they're looking for.


Jessica, do you mind if I use your blog for myself here?

Anita, can you contact me (debraemarvin@yahoo.com) to discuss your work? I haven't been able to pin down what I'm writing (historical romance suspense with a hint of gothic, for the inspirational audience. . . see what I mean?)or find anything similar.

thanks!

Jessica said...

LOL Debra.
It can get confusing. I don't mind at all. Anita is great and she may be able to help.

Dara said...

I haven't started looking too hard yet, but I am getting ideas of who to look for agent wise.

Jessica said...

Good for you, Dara. I love researching agents and sending out queries. It's an adventure. :-)

Keli Gwyn said...

I entered a contest recently with an entry I was targeting for a specific line. One kind judge pointed out aspects of the story that weren't in sync with the publisher's guidelines. She was right, so I've reassessed my goals and have decided I need to look elsewhere, unless I'm comfortable changing those aspects of the story.

Jessica said...

Huh, that's interesting. Good for you on being flexible and objective. :-) Good luck finding the right fit!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

Getting familiar with what's acceptable and unacceptable in CBA will help you hit that target.

Also, each genre has its own set of rules. When I started dabbling in the romance genre, I quickly found that I had to adapt to a different set of expectations.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jessica said...

Definitely Susan. And each CBA house has a different flexibility for what's appropriate, so that's important to know too.

You're writing romance? I love romance. :-)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

I started a romance, but have gone back to my original book. I did submit a short story (romance) to Women's World. (Thanks to the encouragement of the Seekers.)

Blessings,
Susan