Pitching A Novel:
I started posting here at SOL when I got hooked on T.R.E.S. by Ms Friday.
I'd been using short sex stories to learn how to write dialogue and had a half a dozen or so in the trunk. Instead of shelling out whatever it is to get a premier membership, I posted enough stories to qualify. All of those stories were basically written for the trunk, but being as money was tight at the time, cheap way to get to read the rest of the story, right?
Suddenly I had fans. Weird, huh?
I got so I could write dialogue and this big huge six hundred some page novel got written. Then something else happened in my life that used up five years and once you move away from a project, it loses all it's sizzle and just sits there, gathering mass. Pretty soon it's so massive you simply do not want to futz with the thing any more as there are a hundred pages or so that have to be fixed and ... well, it's a dead in the water project.
Thing is, it's a really good book.
Most publishing companies have big huge slush piles of unsolicited manuscripts and in ten months or so, someone will get back to you.
Having a six hundred page novel where a heck of a lot of the plot lines are sex driven, and yeah, strange how humans have this big huge motive that drives their actions, but simply is not talked about. Parts of the book that need work are in the first two sections (mostly) and a chunk in the third could use some work too. That is a lot of fixing, but the last half of the book is .. well, damn great.
But how often have you read a science fiction novel with lots of sex in it? Phillip Jose Farmer, yowza, how did he get some of his work published? Well, he didn't start with Flesh as a first book. By the time he wrote that, his name was out there on a few dozen books, so his publisher was willing to take a bit of a risk. A first time out of the box unpublished writer? Rots o Ruck, fella!
Writing and asking 'Would you be willing to take a look at a book that needs lots of editing?' is obviously not the way to go. Writing and asking, 'Would you consider a very long door stop of a novel with a sex driven plot?' is also not likely to fire up enthusiasm among editors when they are picking stuff out of the slush pile. They're looking for maybe a hundred and thirty to a hundred and seven five page book, not six hundred plus pages.
So I wrote a 'would you consider a novel with a sex driven plot by an unpublished writer' and sent them "The Mar Chine Ambassador: A Steak and A Blow Job" to save the editor having to plow through hundreds of pages to figure out if I can write or not.
Kind of regret not submitting that story to a sci fi magazine. Most bizarre and surreal plot line I've ever come up with: Someone with absolute power. Can't be hurt. Instantly transported from place to place. Governments pick up his expense account and all they want to do is keep him happy. Ability to walk through solid objects. Can't be touched if he doesn't want to be touched. And the only thing that keeps all that power from corrupting the guy is that he's never in one place for more than a couple of hours. Doesn't sleep, have to use the john, can ignite his own thumb to fire up a cigarette and that's a lot of power, no? Only he get jerked from scene to scene, and what can you do if you're only in town for a couple of hours and then you're zipped away instantly to another place?
Cramming a plot line into something as surrealistic as that story is a pretty good trick. Eleven pages and there is this whole sci fi epic, only the omnipotent Ambassador who got selected to represent the (Peace Corp? Foreign Aid Program? Invasion of the Body Snatchers?) Aliens doesn't have any choice in it at all. He doesn't sleep. It's just two hour slices of reality and the reality channel changes and instantly it's a whole new set of characters to be dealt with.
So: If you were a science fiction writer and got a submission of that story would you open it just to find out what the hell the gimmick in the title is all about?
I figure I have absolutely not the slightest chance in hell of selling the novel this way, but it beats the hell out of having to find an agent and audition your work for them, so they can send it around and get it rejected just as easily as you can!
But as a marketing tool, you have to admit that it's so strange that just out of idle curiosity that an editor is more apt to read an eleven page short story with 'Blow Job' as part of its title than a six hundred plus page door stopped that takes off rather slowly.
Wish me luck!