Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wicked Wednesday - Witch's First Rule

I've talked about a lot about the different aspects of how to market paranormal romances. I've been asked a few times to use examples from my own work. Here we go. It's time to put all those tips and research to work.

I'm going to use a novel that has gotten a lot of attention from agents and publishers, but somehow, I never make the sale. Why? I've been marketing it all wrong.

It's taken me a long time to realize why I couldn't sell it. I was too close to the story. I took a break from it to work on a few other manuscripts and now I see it with fresh eyes. It surprises me how much I've changed and how I've grown as a writer. How could I have thought what I was doing was the right way? I have a particular love-hate relationship with the protagonist, Magena Silver. She's been with me for a number of years. We know each other well. Perhaps too well. She likes to get her way and knows how to manipulate me, but her way isn't always the right way.

The first issue: the title. The book was originally called Alchemy. I was very attached to the title, but it doesn't speak to a paranormal romance audience. It's plain. It doesn't have any character. It could be a "How To" book for what anyone could guess from the title alone.

The new title: Witch's First Rule. This says a lot more. Saying "witch" allows the potential reader to know what they're dealing with. It's a paranormal. It has something to do with rules. The twist is it's not rules of magic, but Magena's rules of dating. It'll make the potential reader curious to find out what this first rule is. It's also a play on the title of a famous fantasy novel by Terry Goodkind.

I sent a query letter out to several agents and publishers. One in seven responded with interest and asked to see the full manuscript. Each time it was rejected. It wasn't what they were looking for. So what did they see in my query letter - particularly the blurb - that led them to believe it was something else?

Here's the old blurb: Magena Silver is a professional celebrity and a witch. She's the most successful marriage therapist in America because she secretly slips love potions to her clients. In Alchemy, she helps one couple and it turns out to be a grave mistake.  The father of the wife is a powerful witch – a Master - and he wants Magena to make an antidote or else he will kill her.  Magena fails to make one and must discover another way to defeat the Master with the help of her companions.  She is caught up in an ancient battle between two powerful families and must deal with a lovesick gypsy as well as her attraction to the handsome empath the Master has sent to watch her.

Not hot. Not quirky. None of Magena's personality in it. It attracted attention, though. Were they hoping for a lot of magic? Witch fights? Alchemist details? There isn't a lot of magic. There's fighting, but it's not the focus of the story. There's very little details about alchemy. It's about people and relationships. It's a paranormal, but the romance drama trumps it all.

It has the main character and the conflict, but not in a way that best markets them. It has a hook, but it's not as powerful as it could be. It needs to show just how unique this book is compared to other paranormal romances. It's fast-paced and hot, but the blurb definitely doesn't mirror this. There's mounting tension, but even I'm not drawn in by that part and I love the story.

I'm trying to compose a new blurb, but I can't get it right.

The new hook: Magena Silver's first rule of dating: don't get emotionally attached.
OR  The first rule of dating Magena Silver: don't get emotionally attached.

Yes, she breaks her rules. I think this hook works more efficiently than the previous one. Yet I'd still like to say she's a professional celebrity and a witch. I need to set up the paranormal feel and the conflict. This is tricky.

Slipping her clients potent love potions has brought Magena great success as a celebrity therapist and a witch until now.

Hm, that needs work. Yet it has what I want in it. Should I go the romance route first?

As a celebrity therapist and a witch, Magena's career comes first until Nathan Linwood saunters into her office.

Mmm, I do like imagining that man do anything.

What do you think? Paranormal conflict first or the romantic conflict?

12 comments:

  1. I agree a new blurb would help. I like the first rule of dating line. You could mention she is a witch and celebrity by attributing those talents to her, such as "A celebrity therapist and witch, Magena Silver..." Then you would have the paranormal right up there with the romance. I do love the new title for it. It's catchy. :)

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  2. Thanks, Cherie! I'm having trouble breaking with the old blurb formula and trying to make it full of Magena's personality for the new one. Though, really, she's over-flowing with personality! *LOL* You'd think it would be easy.

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  3. Hi Christine,
    thanks so much for the visit and lovely comment on my blog today.
    karen

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  4. Which does the story focus on more - the romance or the paranormal? It sounds to me like the romance, so I would go with that first. But, Cherie has a great point too.

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  5. It's interesting to see the changes you've made, and how they help your story. The different title certainly intrigues me!

    I like your second line, which includes Nathan sauntering in, although I'm not sure how to then indicate he's part of the paranormal conflict.

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  6. Karen, you're very welcome. :) And thank you for popping by to say hi.

    Nicole, the story focuses more on romance. Though I'd rather say relations with Magena!

    C D, thanks for that about the title. Titles are really difficult for me. And blurbs! Hm, yes, you're right about Nathan there. He is part of the paranormal conflict. I don't want to overload the blurb with details, though. It's a tricky balancing act.

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  7. I haven't written blurbs yet....so don't think can offer sound advice... I think the last attempt shows more promise, you can add the story premise from there, I guess.
    You can check this out though
    http://marilynnbyerly.com/blurb.html

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  8. I think by adding in both the paranormal and romantic element you're doing it better justice. They're both a big part of the story. I like the last one best, I think. Isn't it funny how queries are?? Sometimes I think my queries are too good and the stories just aren't what the agents expected. Or maybe they just have such high expectations they're next to impossible to impress.
    All we can do is keep at it and keep writing. Our genius will come. ;)

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  9. They both work but I prefer paranormal conflict first. I'm an action adventure kinda guy so conflict first. But there needs to be a balance and romance is a great way to develop character arc and character buildup.

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  10. I like the new title!

    I would echo Cherie; including both the romance and the paranormal elements might be the most effective.

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  11. Rek, thanks for the link! That was very helpful.

    Pk, that's so true! We just have to keep plugging away.

    Stephen, I agree about balance. Characterization is very important to me.

    TGE, thank you!

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  12. I like paranormal conflict first, but I need the romance as well so this is a tricky one to balance out.

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