I can’t tell you how excited I am to have a special guest on the blog today! I’m joined by BITE SOMEBODY author Sara Dobie Bauer and she’s talking about something that’s been on my mind for a while. I’ve been hearing a lot about certain types of books that publishers just aren’t taking. But what does a writer do when he or she wants to tackle that topic that’s fallen out of vogue? Since Sara has written and sold a GREAT, witty, funny vampire book in a climate where that isn’t supposed to be possible, I asked her for her thoughts on this. Be sure and see the bottom of this post for a BITE SOMEBODY giveaway. Now, here’s Sara:
Not another vampire book! Selling the unsellable
By Sara Dobie Bauer
As soon as I start talking about my new novel, Bite Somebody, I get one of two reactions. Some people laugh and get super excited. Other people just glaze over, because I assume they’re thinking, “Not another vampire book.”
It’s true: Bite Somebody is about vampires … but it’s not your typical vampire book. The lead vampire is not sexy or brooding. She’s a klutzy, chubby, insecure redhead who has yet to have her first bite. There’s very little angst in the plot. In fact, there’s a laugh on every page, and NO ONE GLITTERS.
One reviewer even said, “If you kind of like Twilight, but also kind of like making fun of Twilight, this is the book for you.”
Despite its differences from other bloodsucker fare, Bite Somebody was a hard sell. It took over a year to even get a nibble (bad pun), which surprised me. I thought I’d have agents clawing down my door.
Vampire books aren’t the only genre over-saturating the market. As a book reviewer for SheKnows.com, I get a dozen books a week for review consideration, and what I’ve noticed: everyone wants to write the next Gone Girl. Everything is “riveting” and “shocking” with a “fantastic twist.”
We arguably have enough vampire books. We have enough Gone Girl wannabes. Yet, books like these still get published. How? Let’s say you’ve written the next Interview with a Vampire. You’ve got the next Girl on the Train on your laptop. What sets you apart from everyone else?
- Your voice
Even newbie writers know you have to have a voice. You might emulate Anne Rice, but you’re not Anne Rice—so don’t sound like Anne Rice. Develop a voice all your own, something that catches the attention of a prospective reader right away. For instance, here’s the first line of Bite Somebody: “Celia Merkin rode her powder blue beach cruiser down the humid length of Admiral Key, past darkened palm trees swinging in the nighttime breeze—and one hissing goose.” The goose makes this sentence and lets the reader know the book is going to be goofy … or goosey, I guess. Anyway, make your voice memorable, and even if you’re writing a story about an unhappy, sociopathic wife, you still might sell it.
- Your angle
Yes, Bite Somebody is about a vampire, but this is a vampire readers haven’t seen before. Celia falls in love with the scent of her neighbor before she even sees him. She has fang dysfunction. She’s never had a boyfriend, never been in love, never had an orgasm, and of course, never bitten anyone. Even though the lead character is a bonafide member of the undead, her story is less about blood and more about coming of age in her early 20s. I also won on the comic angle. How many comic vampire books are there really? You have to do the same with your manuscript. If you’ve written the next Fault in Our Stars (sick-lit is also super hot right now), how is your story different from John Green’s? It better be different, or it’s never going to sell.
- Your query letter
Yes, I realize all writers hate putting together the dreaded query letter, but it’s a necessary evil. Writing one for Bite Somebody was tough because I wanted to somehow inject the completely ridiculous comic voice into something that’s supposed to be semi-professional. After many failed attempts, I came up with a letter that explained the plot but also showed why the plot was different. I used over-the-top phrases (“his blood smells like Christmas wrapped in bacon”) and even direct quotes from the book. I made the reader laugh, just like I do in Bite Somebody. Think along similar lines, whether you’re writing a mystery, horror story, romance, or tragedy. In your query letter, evoke the same emotions your reader will find in your book, and someone will want to read more—feel more.
- Your author platform
Before you even approach agents and publishers, you need to have an online identity. You need to be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram … the list goes on. You need to have a following, and you need to have a niche. My niche? Benedict Cumberbatch. Sounds so stupid, but I accidentally developed a fan base by being a Cumberbitch. I also own vampire teeth, wear black nail polish, and am a total goofball. These aspects of my own personality jive with Bite Somebody. You should do the same with your subject matter. Build the online personality that would write a Harry Potter, a Hunger Games, even a Pride and Prejudice. When a prospective business partner (publisher/agent) searches you, make sure they have something interesting to find. They’ll be more likely to give your manuscript attention, even if they’ve seen it all before.
- Your writing
Write well. Simple. If your writing is messy or dull, your manuscript won’t sell. All of this other stuff I’ve talked about doesn’t matter if your manuscript is a disaster. Come back to the basics. Write every day. Write your best. And best of luck selling!
About Bite Somebody:
“Do you want to be perfect?”
That’s what Danny asked Celia the night he turned her into a vampire. Three months have passed since, and immortality didn’t transform her into the glamorous, sexy vamp she was expecting but left her awkward, lonely, and working at a Florida gas station. On top of that, she’s a giant screw-up of an immortal, because the only blood she consumes is from illegally obtained hospital blood bags.
What she needs to do—according to her moody vampire friend Imogene—is just … bite somebody. But Celia wants her first bite to be special, and she has yet to meet Mr. Right Bite. Then, Ian moves in next door. His scent creeps through her kitchen wall and makes her nose tingle, but insecure Celia can’t bring herself to meet the guy face-to-face.
When she finally gets a look at Ian’s cyclist physique, curly black hair, and sun-kissed skin, other parts of Celia tingle, as well. Could he be the first bite she’s been waiting for to complete her vampire transformation? His kisses certainly have a way of making her fangs throb.
Just when Celia starts to believe Ian may be the fairy tale ending she always wanted, her jerk of a creator returns to town, which spells nothing but trouble for everyone involved.
About Sara Dobie Bauer:
Sara Dobie Bauer is a writer, model, and mental health advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She spends most days at home in her pajamas as a book nerd and sex-pert for SheKnows.com. Her short story, “Don’t Ball the Boss,” was nominated for the 2015 Pushcart Prize, inspired by her shameless crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she would really like to live in a Tim Burton film. For more about Sara, visit her website: http://SaraDobieBauer.com.
Where to buy Bite Somebody: