Pitmad observations

A few days ago there was a Twitter event called Pitmad. Basically you write your best book pitch in 140 characters or less, tag it with the #pitmad hashtag, and lots of agents and publishers camp Twitter as much as possible and add the most likely ones to their favorites. If you get a fav, you get to query the agent.

Anyway, the agents were griping about how all they see is young adult fantasy and they wished for [insert genre here]. While I know a lot of them work with imprints that only publish, say, romance, I found it very interesting. There were a lot of fantasy queries (I read lots of them with interest).

It made me think about gatekeepers. Really, we’re presented with the kinds of books they think we’d like to read, or should read. Compared to the sheer numbers of people with stories out there, published books are really a very narrow range. No wonder the indie books are going crazy. I’m not a fan of Howey’s Wool, but it was different and fits the cultural depression of the moment. Or the Song of the Summer King, a book with griffin main characters.

A lot of indie books I’ve read have been an unedited mess, but there have been some really fantastic ones, too. I’ve read some really good stuff in exchange for reviews. And, moreover, they’re different. Way different from the samey-samey you see on the shelf.

I know there’s sort of a war on between Amazon and the big publishers right now, and I hate to pick sides. There’s merits and drawbacks to both traditional publication and self-publication. But watching the agents talk about how they’re tired of certain genres and want to see other stuff–especially the sex-heavy New Adult genre–is eye-opening. The system is old and tired, and Amazon is blowing some fresh winds of change.

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4 thoughts on “Pitmad observations

  1. This is really interesting. I had never thought about that before – how traditional publishing is really publishers picking what *they think* people want to read, rather than books necessarily being chosen on their merit as stories alone. I’ve never wanted to self publish, and still wouldn’t really consider it – I’d like to have the affirmation that traditional publishing gives and the thought of doing it on my own scares me – but I have wondered many times whether my book is just too unusual for a traditional publisher. Maybe no press would want to take a risk on it…but even if that’s true, it wouldn’t automatically mean my book is a bad story! It might just mean it doesn’t fit their preconceived notions of what might sell. That’s an encouraging thought!

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    1. Bethany: I think your book will totally sell. It’s portal fantasy/soft scifi with great military battles. I sure liked it! Of course, I’m partial to a male MC and all of the above will appeal to guys. You might want to check out the small press Curiosity Quills. I’ve got my eye on them, precisely because they’re picky.

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  2. I want to know what the agents mean by YA fantasy? Are they using that as an umbrella term that includes paranormal romance and dystopian? Or do they mean old-fashioned *fantasy* like Harry Potter and Fablehaven? Cos, all I see being published in the YA market these days is paranormal romance and dystopian and I miss true fantasy. One of the reasons I *write* fantasy is because I love to *read* it and the selection is rather slim these days–or it all gets shunted down to the MG/juvie level.

    Anyway, yes, I agree that the pundits are pushing what they think we will read, What if they tried something different and it really took off? Oh, wait, that would mean taking a risk….

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    1. Well, going by the requests I saw, they wanted category romance or YA whatever’s the acronym for sexual deviants. I love fantasy of all kinds, and apparently so do a lot of other people, but agents are ‘tired’ of it.

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