I know that YA sci-fi that even whiffs of dystopia is a hard sell. But what about a good ol' fashioned space opera? No chosen one. No oppressive society. More so in line with Gravity, but (of course) with aliens. Thanks for your response, I'm working on a project right now, but this idea sort of came up, and I was wondering if it would be worth pursing a couple months in the future. Thanks again.
Everything is a hard sell right now. Dystopian and SF dystopia is harder than a space opera perhaps, but a space opera is still tough.
Don’t let this discourage you though. Write the best book you can, revise it, query it, and see what happens!
When querying, I know it's best to mention if your book has "series potential". But what exactly is the difference between a standalone, and a book that just wouldn't work any other way than being in a series? The novel I'm currently revising doesn't end in a cliffhanger, but there are multitple questions left unanswered. So, if I shop this book, should I say it's a standalone, or could mentioning that I think it would be best as a series scare an agent off?
The sweet spot is a stand alone novel with series potential.
Stand Alone means the book can stand alone—it can be read as a single novel and readers will feel satisfied with the ending. There might be questions still open at the end, but it still works as a single book.
I've heard different things about formatting your manuscript for submission. Is Courier really the font "everyone" expects to see as a sign of professionalism? Are there certain genres/agents/editors/publishing houses where Courier is expected, and something like Times/Times New Roman is either frowned upon or a sure way to get your ms tossed? Obviously, if someone's submission guidelines specify a font, you should go with the guidelines, but I'm wondering about the general case.
Actually Courier annoys me. It makes everything look so long. I suppose I would prefer Times/Times New Roman. But really if it’s a readable font you’re totally fine.
Is it just that there are more white authors than those that are person's of color? I'm asking because everyone says that the market is hard to break into, but in every other blog or goodreads, I see a new novel coming out that is the same as it's predescor, specifically with YA contemporary: white people in been-there-done-that relationship angles. It seems like agents/publishers are always asking for the next big thing, but all I see is the same thing.
I suppose it’s possible that there are more white authors. But there are also some amazing authors of color out there and some amazing authors writing books with diverse characters.
Sometimes that same thing feeling can come from the fact that if readers are buying a lot of the same kind of story, then publishers want more of that story. That’s why trends go up and down.
But if you’re looking for some reads that are a little different, can I recommend:
NIGHTINGALE’S NEST by Nikki Loftin (this is MG but amazing and different and the kind of MG that readers of any age can enjoy)
GATES OF THREAD AND STONE by Lori M Lee (this will be out in August)
OF METAL AND WISHES by Sarah Fine (also out in August, but well worth the wait)
Hi! I just recently finished a story and got two full requests on it! However, I entered a contest and someone informed me it was very similar to a self-published web comic already out in the world. Now, I don't know what to do. The premise is similar, but my novel's plot is completely different. I don't want to tread on anyone's toes. Thanks in advanced for your help
Congrats. Query away.
Lots of stuff is similar. As long as you’ve written it yourself, you’re fine! Now that you’re aware of the web comic, you can even think of a few things that you might want to do differently in a revision.
How impossible would be an YA angel/demon MS to sell right now, regardless of whether or not if it's "different" (since everyone says that)? I know there are popular series (Mortal Instruments, Unearthly, Fallen), Hush Hush to name a few) but it didn't seem to get as mainstream as YA dystopian did.
For a debut author, I’d say it is 99.5 % impossible to sell right now.
That .5% is on the off chance that you can write as well and frame a story as differently as Laini Taylor.
I get a lot of questions from writers who think their story is too close to its inspiration or too similar to another story. I can’t give you direct answers because it’s your story. I can’t write it for you. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t help you find a way to make it different.
My novel's contemporary, but it's got a heavy technological slant - think Doctorow's Little Brother but not five minutes in the future, and featuring a female protag interested in STEM fields despite the current rampant sexist nonsense therein, instead of a dude. Is that something that is an automatic turn-off -- math-sci-interested tech-savvy female protags in contemporary but technologically-based plotlines? I've seen similar titles featuring male protags, but never female.
Dystopians are a hard sell. I wrote one... while working to subvert or avoid every YA dyst trope I could think of. My heroine is curvaceous. She's a POC. She's blind. Her love interest is deaf. There is no love triangle, no apocalypse, no government looking to a 17-year-old to save the world. There is no world saving, either. The stakes are significantly more personal. Anyway, should I include a paragraph in my query that says "I know dystopias are a hard sell, but...?" Is it spec-fic, not dyst?
I would try to pitch it as something other than dystopian. If there’s no world to save or no government aspect, just call it futuristic. It’s still a tough sell but maybe I’ll keep reading about it :)
When do you think the market for science fiction will get better? I have two novel ideas swirling in my head, (one urban-fantasy, one science fiction) and I have no idea what to do. One of my writer friends is devastated that no agent will bite her ms (they tell her it's a "hard sell") and I really don't want to be in that boat when querying like six months down the road. Thanks
Unfortunately I can’t predict the future. The market is crowded. Everything is a hard sell. Your book as to be amazing.
The good news is, trends change and even if you query and don’t get any bites now, this isn’t a race. There’s no rush. You have time. Write something else. Come back to this ms later.
Once you send out your first 'batch' of queries, how long should one wait before sending out more? Most agents these days do the whole 'no response means no,' so it makes it hard to know for sure.
There’s no set timeline. I would say wait a few weeks and see if you get requests (2 weeks should do it). If you don’t, revise your query and send out some more. Wait two weeks, then re-evaluate where you are.
In my novel, the initial stakes change dramatically within the first 50 pages because of third-party meddling. In a query, should I just present the initial stakes,which gives a slightly different impression of the direction, or explain how the stakes change, which is long and arduous? (It's rather confusing to only present the later situation.) Thanks~
Find books out there similar to yours and read the back of the book. You probably want to present the first problem and use the stake change as the hook and makes your reader go “And then what?”
For instance, in The Wizard of Oz, the main problem at first is that Dorothy needs to get home. The stakes at first are where is she and how does she get home. It’s only after the Wicked Witch shows up and is like “You killed my sister!” that the stakes change. Because now she needs to get home—AND STAY ALIVE.
Hi! I'm having a bit of trouble finding my novel's genre. It's set in a fictional medieval world, but has no elements of fantasy. It dabs in politics, but isn't dystopian. It also has traces of war and mystery. The closest I can think of is historical fiction, but in an imaginary timeline instead of real-world history. Any ideas?
Where would it be on a shelf?
Who would read it?
Think of your audience. Would fans of Game of Thrones (hopefully) like it? If so, it’s fantasy. Or would it appeal to (hopefully) fans of Philippa Gregory? Then it’s historical.
My feeling based on what you said is that it’s fantasy. It’s a made up world. That’s fantasy even if there’s no magic.
How are you with mixed-media for comps? (No pun intended), I've heard it both ways.
I’m not sure what you mean by mixed-media. If you comp a show or a movie that I’ve heard of I’m fine with that. If you comp a video game or an app or something I will most likely have no idea what you’re talking about—which isn’t helpful to your purposes.
Hey! I started a WIP, that I want to be contemporary, but realize that it will be slightly apocolyptic. It is not science-fiction (nothing supernatural going on, like in nature. Think the tv show REVOLUTION and LIFE AS WE KNEW IT but in present day). But I'm scared I'm going to fall into the trap of a genre that is a hard sell. I'm asking because I have other ideas (one a realistic contemp remiscent of SHE"S THE MAN) and I'm wondering if it would be better to work on that instead. Thannks.
So truthfully Revolution says futuristic and dystopian to me and makes me go “meh”. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write it though. I just wouldn’t use that show as a pitch (but maybe that’s because I wasn’t a fan?). Write whatever you fell most passionate about. When you finish and query, write the other one.
Back in September an agent favorited a pitch of mine from a Twitter pitch contest. I sent in my query and sample pages and not long later she requested my full MS. Since then, I've heard nothing back from her. I've nudged twice (once in early Jan. and once last week). Should I just assume this is a no and move on? Is this common?
I don’t want to say it’s common or to just call it a wash. But yes move on. You never want all your eggs in one basket. So query other agents. Write another manuscript. Participate in other contests. You get the idea.
How do ya'll feel about synopses? I think Suzie has said she likes to read a manuscript before reading a full synopsis so she can experience the story without knowing what is going to happen next. But how do other agents feel about that? I ask because I'm getting ready to query, and I my manuscript has lots of twists and reversals. I feel an expanded synopsis would totally kill the fun an agent would have reading it. What are your collective thoughts and thanks for all the great posts.
You should have a synopsis written.
Some agents will ask for one in their submission guidelines. Some won’t. Some will ask for it when they request your manuscript. Some won’t. But even if you don’t need one until your book sells to a publisher, you will need one. And it’s a skill you should have.
My novel is set in the near-future without much technological advancement but an important social/political change (and no, it's not dystopian). Should I call it science fiction, or maybe 'light science fiction', 'soft science fiction', or 'social science fiction'? Or can I just query it as 'commercial fiction'?
Where would it be on a shelf? What is your audience? Think about these two questions and you’ll come up with the answer. But don’t make up a genre. When people say something like it’s “light speculative contemporary fantasy” it’s a turn off. Because I don’t know what that is.