Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Scouting the Competition

So I was drafting a query, and the submissions guidelines I'm following ask that the author do a little work upfront and give examples of books that the work in question would be competing with head-to-head in the market place. A labor-intensive request, but a reasonable one; and after all, I have an internet.

And no matter what combination of search terms I use (fiction lesbian historical YA 2014 is typical), I turn up more hits than I would have expected.

Not all of which are actually relevant, for one reason or another. And there's some overlap. But - and this is the point - every search turns up something unfamiliar, that I didn't know was out there.

It behooves us to remember that, no matter how unusual the property, no matter how rare the premise, no matter how underserved the audience, and no matter how on top of things you think you are - you are not the only one interested in it, somebody is publishing it, and you are not familiar with everything published about it.

So maybe yours is the work that will hit it big and make whatever it is you're doing go mainstream in a big way. Or maybe somebody else is about to do that and you'll catch the first wave of the trend, quite by accident. Or maybe you'll languish in the midlist like all these other books that weren't adequately hyped. Or maybe you're not as well educated as you think you are and it's time to knuckle down to reading and truly educate yourself.

And isn't that kind of exciting? C'mon, you know it is!

These books aren't your competition. They're your team. And it's bigger than you thought it was.

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