A vision of what’s to come in the traditional publishing world of adult fiction novels
If you hope to have a traditional publisher take your book to market, you know that after writing what you hope is the perfect manuscript, you have to write the perfect pitch letter. In as few words as possible, you’re hoping that a reader or gatekeeper of some sort is going to be able to see all of the years of practice, coursework, and hope you’ve put into every word of a great book.
Your name, address, and any other demographical information that can be gleaned from your pitch letter provides an image to that reader that influences their decision---whether they mean it to or not. Wouldn’t it be great if a writer could be considered based on book-writing talent and nothing more?
Jodie Archer and Matt Jockers, authors of The Bestseller Code; Anatomy of the Blockbuster Novel, have come up with a way to quantify how well your adult fiction novel compares to bestselling books. Imagine a talent-based pitch that changes letters from this:
“Dear Ms. Jones -
My name is Muhamed Nuwandu. I have recently graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in English. I’d like to send you a copy of my second fiction manuscript, a suspense novel about a terrorist cell operating at a college campus in Texas involving oil tankers and drones. My professor thought it was very well done.
May I send you a copy?
... to this:
“Dear Ms. Jones -
I recently had a thriller manuscript run through Archer & Jockers’ “Bestseller-o-meter” and received a score of 86. May I send you a copy?
Ms. Jones knows The Bestseller Code. Ms. Jones knows that a “86” is a respectable score. (Ms. Jones knows she can confirm the score online.)
What Ms. Jones doesn’t know is if “M” is female or male. Old, young. If “M” is for Mary, Muhamed, or Moira. And she doesn’t particularly care.
She does know that “M” has talent. Whether that’s through coursework, practice, contests … doesn’t matter. “M” has a manuscript that Ms. Jones wants to read.
Ms. Jones’ colleague, Mr. Brown, likes to go online and search the “Bestseller-o-meter’s” results database. He can choose the genre and a range of scores from which to choose. He knows, too, that the scores reveal a level of talent and writing proficiency that makes some of them worth checking out. Mr. Brown might be looking for the next big thing; the next Rowling, Patterson, Cornwell, or Eggers. Or he might be looking for someone who scored well, but not so high that he has to worry about a bidding war. Mr. Brown’s looking for authors to nurture and build into a better writer. He’s happy with a “65 to 75” score.
Wouldn’t you like to be considered for your talent than on your pitch letter? This change is coming, sooner than later. Wouldn’t you like to be part of the changes that are coming to publishing?