Ah, there are no sweeter words other than hearing the beagle has a fresh batch of margaritas in the blender and she’s done the dishes.
But, alas, I speak not of drinkies and dishes. I speak about understanding that you need a unique voice if you write in a crowded genre. Why? – you ask. Because if there are 500 books that cover the same material your book does, then why would I want it? It’s been thar, and done did that. Why recreate the wheel when the first 500 work quite nicely?
For instance, we are a dartboard for bipolar queries because of our fabulous title, Mommy I’m Still In Here. The problem with these queries is that bipolar is a hugely impacted category. If you peruse the bookstore shelves, you’ll see book after book that hits upon every aspect of biopolar disorder. II repeat; been thar, and done did that.
So why did we buy Mommy knowing this category was impacted? Kate McLaughlin’s pitch was one of the most professional and knowledgeable proposals I’ve seen. Kate knew her competition like the beagle knows tequila. She could outline no less than five or six current competitive titles and speak to her book’s unique qualities that the competition doesn’t address. I knew exactly what we were up against in terms of competition and felt Kate’s book would be an added bonus to this crowded category because she has information that the others lack. Yay.
This is how you pitch an impacted category. To do this, you have to understand that you write in an impacted category and state in your query what new content readers will find in your book over what is currently on the shelves. We need that information because that’s how we’d pitch the book to the genre buyers. If you don’t tell us in your query, we’ll more than likely reject it.
The gentleman I rejcted last week was unhappy that my rejection letter stated his was an overwritten category and I didn’t see any unique elements to his story. He wrote back to outline those unique qualities. Well, why on earth didn’t you say so in the first place?? It’s not my job to pull the answers out of your pie hole.
You don’t wait for an agent or editor to ask for pages because you won’t get that far. And please don’t expect that we’ll instantly understand your book’s unique qualities via osmosis. My osmosis broke in the last earthquake. Remember, it’s your job to sell, and making us aware that there isn’t anything else on the shelves quite like your book is a big selling feature. Lead with the strenghts.
If you’re not sure if you’re writing in an impacted category, walk through the bookstores, or go online to Amazon.com. If you see tons and tons of books, you know you could have some heavy competition.
On the other hand, if you don’t realize you’re writing in an impacted category, I’m fairly worried about your savvy about the industry and will probably avoid working with you.