Proposals, pitching, and pleas for reading recommendations

Hello, friends! (Which is how I view my readers, in case you didn’t know.) Once more, I’ve been neglecting the blog. And once more, there are a million-and-one (give or take a million) reasons. But the most important one is that I’ve signed up for a writing conference in February, and I will be pitching an agent for the first time.

Honestly, I don’t expect this agent to be The Right One. But I think she’s in a good position to discuss the salability of this novel, how to create a stronger proposal, all that groovy business stuff that goes along with writing fabulous fiction. I’ll be practicing my pitch until I could be a Major League baseball player (minus the talent) and polishing my book until it shines like the sun (or at least a star in a distant galaxy).

But I need an itty-bitty bit of help. A proposal contains a section called comparable titles (or competitive titles). This helps the publisher see where this novel fits in the current market. I’ve searched for other novels that might contain similar themes, plot, story, and haven’t come up with anything obvious from my recent “have-read” list. But maybe YOU have.

(I’ll keep searching, of course. I’ll do my homework.)

I’d love it if you, dear reader, would read the gist of the book (below) and think about any novels that might have themes about sex trafficking and survivors of sex trafficking, etc. (I don’t need non-fiction titles, though those are useful for research.) Post any titles in the comments below, and I’ll track down the novel and read it. Or, if you’re not a huge fiction reader but your best Facebook friend (or whoever) lives and breathes novels, consider passing on this post to them and they can search their minds for titles.

Here we go:

Kellyn escaped sex trafficking as a young teenager and now, seven years later, is doing just fine. That’s what she tells herself. Never mind the cutting or the anorexia. Or how she can’t bear to touch anyone or have anyone touch her. Or the way the flashbacks pop up at the most inconvenient moments, making her wonder if those around her know about her past. She can’t entirely remember her past but she can’t entirely escape it, either.

Enter a cat. A one-eyed cat, with an eccentric artist owner, and a painting that touches her soul. His painting makes her want to reach beyond the barrier between her and other people and find freedom. But can this artist be trusted?

Then a stalker preys on her. She’s just begun to heal, and important parts of her history are closed off in her mind. She suspects that this man might know what those parts hold. But finding out means putting herself in the same danger she’s fighting to escape. How far will she go to learn the truth? And will the truth set her free or put her back in bondage?

(As an added bonus, I’d love to know if the above three paragraphs make sense. You can tell me about the other paragraphs, too, of course!)

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16 thoughts on “Proposals, pitching, and pleas for reading recommendations

  1. Laura, I am SO proud of you for committing to the conference. I know it’ll be helpful and inspiring. The three paragraphs make total sense and the book sounds very intriguing. Over the past few years I’ve moved from reading novels to memoirs; while I can’t think of any comparable titles right now, if I encounter ANYTHING that could be helpful I’ll let you know! 🙂

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  2. Yay, you! So glad you are pitching this!! Every now and then I think about the possibility of one day having something to pitch to an agent and I just about break out in hives at the thought. (And also, this is where I lean so very heavily on the support and wisdom of the Redbud Writers!) To answer your question, I don’t know of any fiction books that directly match here, but I do know a person whose story is very similar to Kellyn’s. Let me see if I can gently ask if she’s read anything she strongly identified with. Liz M may also have some ideas… I’ll tag her, too. Best of luck!

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  3. This is fantastic! I love the pitch and I really hope you learn a lot from the agent. I’d read this book.

    It’s hard to come up with comps for sex trafficking novels because there aren’t a lot out there. First thought was Barbed-Wire Butterflies by Jessica Kristie (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0988184583/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0988184583&linkCode=as2&tag=elizmalcom-20&linkId=2CMSOTQEUQF7ZNDN)–100% of the proceeds of which go to a great organization I used to work with.

    Every other book I know about sex-trafficking is nonfiction. But you can use a comp that has a similar feeling or similar protagonist to yours, but has a different setting/theme. If you’ve read any novels whose pace and intensity levels feel like yours, they might work as a second comp. (My CPs discuss comps aaaaall day long. If you’ve got a critique group, ask them, and if you don’t, definitely find one!)

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion, Liz. I’ll check it out. I wish I had a critique group. I’ve had no luck in this town finding like-minded people. Lots of wannabe novelists who haven’t finished a first draft or people who write speculative fiction (think vampires, demons, or space) or romance, which aren’t my thing. If I’m going to offer critiques in return, I’d like to be able to appreciate the genre!

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      1. That’s tough. I’d suggest, if you’re able, going to a writing conference (NOT a convention). I attended Pikes Peak Writers Conference for the first time in 2014, and there I met some of the best friends of my life 🙂 We formed an online critique group and keep up via Facebook and Google Hangouts on a weekly (for some of our members it’s monthly) basis. PPWC is a general conference, from sci-fi to memoirs. You would definitely find fellow literary/commercial fiction writers there! (And, if you went next April, we’d meet in person! 😉 )

        I’m sure there are other conferences like it, maybe some in your area that would cut out travel expenses. Definitely go to one if you can: it was the number one thing that helped my writing and my career. And it’s surprisingly unstressful when you’re surrounded by a bunch of fellow neurotic introverts…

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  4. This sounds great, Laura. I have no idea what books might be in the ballpark, but I am praying your pitch goes right down the middle of the plate and your hoped-for agent hits it out of the park for a grand slam. (How’s that for staying with your baseball metaphor?)

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  5. Your 3 paragraphs really grabbed me — sounds like a great novel. I don’t know of any novels on this topic myself, but I’ll ask my daughter tomorrow; she’s a voracious fiction reader and might have some ideas.

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    1. Thanks, Jeannie, and thanks for asking your daughter. I ran across a few YA novels on cutting, anorexia, that sort of thing, but sex trafficking seems to be an empty area in both YA and adult novels.

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    1. I understand, Sandy. If this book does get published, it’s not one that I’d recommend to anyone who has a trauma of that sort in her or his past. I’d hate to cause problems for them, so I want to be open about the subject matter so they can use their best judgement about whether or not to read it.

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  6. It sounds like it would be directed towards young adults, because the way it’s worded makes it seem as if she is newly upon that time in her life where she is moving on from her troubled past, but still the repercussions of it. It’s sounds very intriguing and needs a title that draw you in. I think there is an audience out there who may feel drawn to read a book that has relatable stories and complications. It sounds like a book I would want to read. 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the ideas, Kas. The book isn’t YA–the style of writing isn’t quite right for that market–but Kellyn is young enough that maybe a new adult market might work, though the subject matter isn’t the typical new adult market fare. I’m still brainstorming titles. I’m glad it sounds interesting to you!

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