Publishing trends are usually fairly obvious—I mean you can’t throw a rock and not hit at least three Billionaire Alpha Males, right? The problem with trends is that very few become categories. The only trend I can think of in recent history that might become its own category is “New Adult”, although I believe this is quickly becoming an age identifier (like Young Adult) and not the sub-genre of romance that the original books fitting this trend held, I still believe it’s here to stay. So, unless you’re a really fast writer, are well known enough to pitch just about anything, or you’re planning to go the Indie route if you don’t get someone interested—chasing trends is probably not the best strategy for deciding what to write next. Especially if you want to be published by one of the New York big boys—they’re looking for the next big thing—not another story like the twenty they just rejected.
Okay, so what do you do if you’ve inadvertently found yourself with a finished book that is at the tail end of a trend? You have a few options: 1) put it away until the trend is over (but starting to come back—this could take a while), 2) pitch it like it’s something else—at least let’s hope those Billionaire Alpha Male stories have something else going on, 3) hire your own editor and go Indie!, or 4) give it a makeover.
Before Dark Hope (book 1 in the series) was picked up by a small press in Canada, I pitched it to several New York City editors at a pitch conference in NYC. I was told by more than one that “angels and faeries are dead, but demons are okay.” As you can imagine I wasn’t happy, but the biggest reason was because I didn’t really think it mattered that they were angels—the story wasn’t about them being angels. Of course I couldn’t just pull out two thirds of the book and make it all about demons either.
As I mention above, I had my four choices. While 1-(put it away) was an option, I really didn’t want to pitch a story I didn’t have—and I was at a pitch conference so I had to pitch something; 2-(pitch it as something else) wasn’t really an option either—the cat was already out of the bag, so it would have been hard to spin it as a demon centric story on the fly; 3-(go Indie!) wasn’t something I was ready to do yet—and I was already at the conference, so I didn’t have anything to lose by pitching what I had. At this point I’d only been told by the pitch group leader that angels were going to be an issue, so I still had a little hope, and I pitched my original story to three of the four editors. Unfortunately, they all told me “angels and faeries are dead”.
It was obvious now—I had to go back to the drawing board, so that left 4-(makeover).
Okay, so there are really five options—but no one wants to look at their 90,000+ word baby, call it ugly, and toss it in the trash. And remember option 2-(pitch it as something else), this is really the key to option 4-(makeover)—the only difference is that you’re not just pitching (spinning) it as something else, you’re actually going to make it something else. The story wasn’t about angels—I mean, my angels were running the Underworld mob, they weren’t cute, and nobody had wings. So, angles are dead—fine—my boys just became druids. Faeries are dead, fine, I already had a significant tie in with pagans anyway. Problem solved, right?
While I ultimately liked my new direction, it was a shift in the story. Specifically, Harry (the ruler of Heaven—call him what you like), needed a new image. He didn’t have to be “the good one” (not that he was exactly anyway), but there wasn’t any baggage now to justify why he was or wasn’t “the good one”. His character was now free to be anything I wanted him to be, and that made for some interesting new dialog and motivation. It also let me bring in the royal angle—The Boss isn’t just the Devil, he’s now also the Demon King.
So, you may be wondering how that fourth pitch went? How my druids and pagans and demons panned out. Well, until I meet this woman in person, and she tells me otherwise, I say she was interested. Had I pitched that idea in person and she’d been able to give immediate feedback—I truly believe I would have gotten her email (which is all you really get at a pitch conference—a way to contact them and get that ever important foot in the door (without an agent)—your story could still suck and you get rejected, they may never ask for the manuscript, but at least they’ll read the first few pages and respond—that’s it, that’s all you get—one shot). Unfortunately, because she was ill and we were not able to pitch in person, she agreed to let us post our pitches online for her to review (in a closed group). She critiqued all the pitches (which was awesome), but the group leader never sent a final email to her or us indicating that he even asked if she wanted to see anyone’s work (which is how it would have happened at an in person pitch). So all we had were her comments—and because we could see everyone else’s critique, I know there were only two that she called “Commercial Ideas”, which was one of the goals of the pitch. Do I really think I would have been picked up by that publisher? That I would have blown her away with my awesome first chapter and been signed within minutes of her receiving my email? Let’s be realistic, probably not. Now, let’s be optimistic—but we’ll never know ;)
I’m now very happily an Indie Author. Book 1 (Dark Hope) was originally with a small press, but [long story omitted] it was re-released by me in July. Dark Awakened, book 2, was released December 1, 2014. It continues Claire’s kick-ass adventures—and is just as relentless as the first one!
The Devil’s Assistant Series
Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Wild Fey, LLC
Number of pages: 290
Word Count: 88000
Cover Artist: Robin Ludwig Design Inc.
Tag Line: Darkly delicious—relentless—and wickedly good … the Devil’s Assistant is back.
Last spring Claire’s seemingly normal—if not totally screwed up—life was tossed on its head. For five years she’d been one of the damned—a human that knows the truth about the otherworldly among us. She’d worked for The Boss—the Demon King himself—as his administrative assistant, handling everything from early retirements, to Maintenance’s incessant requests for dental.
No one gets dental.
Then she walked into Purgatory—totally not her fault—went back in time, and awakened powers she never knew existed. Now Claire has a prophecy hanging over her head, a diamond ring hidden in her sock drawer, and the blood of a long dead royal running through her veins.
And it’s only going to get worse.
Her vow to live free or die takes a serious hit when she’s forced back under The Boss’s protection. Of course, there’s no protection from fate, or the Bounty Hunter sent to deliver her to Purgatory. And as if being “the girl” in the prophecy wasn’t enough, Claire soon discovers there are three other contenders for her role—two of whom want her dead.
Follow more of Claire’s adventures in Dark Awakened, the second installment of the Devil’s Assistant Series, to find out if she’s lucky enough to escape with her life, or if she’s just the first notch on the next contender’s belt.
Reviews for The Devil’s Assistant Series
Dark Hope is a serious thrill ride type of story ~Fang Freakin' Tastic Reviews
I fell absolutely head over heels in love with this book! It truly was dark & delicious. Mayhem, death, Demons, Pagan's, Druids and a kickass heroine!
~ Taking It One Book at a Time
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, very unpredictable and difficult to anticipate what happens next, which is always a good thing. Claire is an intriguing character, everything she thought she knew is not quite true …I cannot wait for the next book in series, eager to figure out what is going to happen to Claire. ~ Musings From An Addicted Reader
I love when authors can create something that takes me on a wild ride I’ve never been before. ~ Book Lovin' Mamas
About the Author:
HD Smith has been writing for over ten years. She is a software developer by day, working for an awesome cruise line in Celebration, FL.
HD grew up in South Carolina, but has called the Sunshine State home since 1997.
She has Computer Science degrees from Clemson University (BS) and Florida Institute of Technology (MS). Her other hobbies include painting and screen printing. She enjoys creating t- shirts inspired by the places in her books. For more information, visit HD’s website at http://www.hdsmithauthor.com/