Breaking into Fiction

Hello writers! Hope you’re keeping on the path with your writing projects…or finding your way back!

Last time, I wrote about the best genres for breaking into the nonfiction world, so today I want to switch gears and offer some words of advice from agents and publishers about your best odds for breaking into fiction. Once again, none of this is a sure thing, but these are areas where small and mid-sized firms (and sometimes even the bigger players) are looking for new writers. As always, if your fiction book doesn’t fall into one of these categories, don’t let that discourage you. A good book is a good book and if you got one, pitch it…it’ll find a home!

That said, let’s see if we can’t bump up your odds a little bit!

SCIENCE FICTION – For years, this has been one of the most popular genres for emerging writers, mainly because it has a HUGE fanbase that connects over these books, their writers, their spinoffs, etc. There are small publishing firms that have launched solely to publish sci-fi and more often than not, they are open to new talent. Another reason sci-fi is so popular is the potential for other uses. A few blogs ago, I mentioned how publishing firms will always look at you as more than a writer. They also examine you (and your brand) as a business partner. They want to know how much money they can make from what you’re pitching. Sci-fi books can lead to TV shows, films, cartoons, etc. And if one does well, the fans crave (and often expect) sequels and/or a series. As such, when you’re pitching your sci-fi book, have some ideas of other potential uses and what adventures your characters could possibly take next.

FANTASY – See above. Seriously, pretty much all that applies to the sci-fi genre goes the same for fantasy. Loyal fans who are no longer afraid to wave their nerd flag (we all have a nerd flag!) have boomed this genre. And publishers are looking for the next Song of Fire and Ice, Dark Tower and more. By no means are you guaranteed a publishing deal, but if you have a compelling story with rich characters (and once again the potential for further adventures), you’ll at least get looked at with some serious consideration. When it comes to fantasy however, some stories to really avoid pitching are both vampire books and post-apocalyptic. There has been an oversaturation of both in recent years and publishers are less likely to consider, according to industry insiders.

ROMANCE – Don’t laugh, it’s probably the most popular fiction genre. You can make the joke all you want about the middle aged, lonely housewives secretly obsessing over the stable boy’s adventures with the duchess, but if you look at sales, you’ll see that there are a whole lot of other people buying these books. If you have a good story…hell, it can even be a mediocre story, as long as its high on the sexual tension, pitch away!

As for what’s a little tougher to pitch (outside of post-apocalyptic vampires, of course), the biggest challenge is children’s books. That’s because everyone thinks they have one. It’s the fiction version of memoirs. Acquisition editors at some of the bigger firms say they get dozens to hundreds of children’s book submissions every month so the market is literally flooded. They did offer some advice on how to make your children’s book stand out, but that’s a blog for another time.

With any of these genres, or fiction in general, there are some other key things to keep in mind when writing and pitching, so if you’re working on one, reach out. I’d love to help guide you through the process. Til then, all the best on your writing adventures!

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