Why Literary Agents Aren’t Requesting From You (A Lesson in Re-framing Stories for the Diversity Market)

old_books__with_making__by_janemere-d4v7hz5It’s very unlikely that the book you want to write, or have already written, is a book that will sell. One need only look at the Manuscript Wish List hashtag (#MSWL) to find out why agents and publishers aren’t requesting manuscript submissions for your stories. #LGBTQ, #POC, #ownvoices, #WeNeedDiverseBooks, #disability and #feminism, there are a myriad of ideological hashtags being pushed upon the writing market that most writers just don’t focus on. That’s where re-framing your stories can come in handy.

To do this properly you may need to change the race, sex or sexuality of a character or even the very setting through altering the story’s geography. This will involve reading through and re-writing most of the scenes involving these characters or settings, or altering the language or dialogue around it. Your most important tool will be the copy and replace word function, but this only works so long as you make a key to keep track of all of the changes you have made throughout the edit, and that during the read through, you must make sure the changes fit with the surrounding narrative. From my experience, if you can pander well enough to these agents, you have a higher chance to getting picked up.

bakuman-takagi-akitoJust for the point of showing that this actually works, I recently did this kind of heavy edit for a book that I wrote back when I was a teenager.  The book was pretty average, generic really and was originally written with a white person as a main character. I completely transformed the story so that it had a ‘Person of Color’ (#POC) protagonist and the plot was grounded in the folklore of a diverse culture(#WeNeedDiverseBooks). Although the plot of the story had not changed one bit, with these minor alterations I went from receiving no manuscript requests to receiving several in one week!

For me this shows that, by re-framing a story to these ideology/diversity market, you can increase the likelihood of selling your book by a lot. All you have to do is have a story that you don’t mind defacing for the purpose, and sell your soul to the corporate devil by shilling to the cultural diversity market. Yes, to get a chance at being a fledgling writer, it really has become this bad. In most forms of media, this idealist market is getting pretty massive, and in order to survive in a market one must adapt. This is one method of doing this. Just don’t sell you own identity as something that it’s not (#ownvoices), because there’s a high likelihood that you may have to meet the people you’re working with and you don’t want to surprise them with your whiteness and/or maleness.

novel-writingNow for why I actually wrote this post. There’s an agent competition that I want to enter from the Writer’s Digest website, but to enter it I have mention it twice on some form of social media platform. This counts as one, so if you’re wondering why it’s on my twitter in the next couple of days, that’s the reason. Either way, I wanted to put this link in a post of something that I thought was relevant to writing and literary agents today.

Here’s the link for for the Dear Lucky Agent competition if you are interested, just remember you need to link in to areas of social media in order to enter: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/26th-free-dear-lucky-agent-contest-fantasy-science-fiction

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