Thursday, February 20, 2014

To boy or not to boy

On top of the editing (which I'm trudging through, I swear. I haven't just tossed the manuscript into a wood chipper and pasted together what came out) us Wrimo winos have to begin thinking about how we're marketing our books. If you're never had to summarize 100K to 200K words down to 300 while keeping the spirit of your book alive AND convincing a jaded audience to fork over 99 cents for it, I'll level with you, it's about ten times more difficult than writing those 100K in the first place.

I have a unique problem in trying to pitch my novel. The King's Blood has a dual lead, no obvious hero and leading lady, or clumsy heroine and hot piece she marries. While Aldrin is my own spin on the spare to the throne struggling to find his own way, coming to accept his power and rising to the occasion, it's Ciara that's the greater divergent from the typical medieval fantasy novel. She's a she for starters, she's black, she's not there to be a "prize" for finishing, and she's the courage behind their whole quest to save the country from a deadly Empire. So Ciara is my greatest "See, not like every other fantasy novel at all. Okay, it also never takes itself seriously until I start offing people" but she's not marketable.

This is not some magical fairy world where everyone's equal, where books featuring female protagonists get the same clout, the same attention, the same store front as male protagonists. To pretend otherwise is to delude yourself. It might be 2014, but Cartoon Networks still cancel shows because girls are getting to into it and the SWFA once again falls into a controversy where members think women and POC are a fringe freakshow who shouldn't be mucking up their very serious business of being he-man woman haters.

If you held a gun to my head I'd probably say Ciara is the main character by a smidgeon, but is she really the best choice for me to base a synopsis off? I don't know. I adore her, as well as Aldrin, and Isa -- my terrifying asian witch who is not a ninja, or a geisha, or an IT girl, and will seriously screw you up if you mess with her. If I craft a synopsis around Aldrin I might get more eyes that never would pick up a book about a WOC, but it feels like lying.

To drizzle another layer of syrup on this crawling anthill, I'm also about 95% certain I want to drop my first name and go by my initials. Hiding my "fragile" gender is an old practice by female writers, all the way back to the creator of Sci-fi herself, Mary Shelley, and for damn good reasons that I doubt I need to explain to another woman. Here's an example hitting the web in the past day. Do not tell me that "I have a pretty name" or I'm "being silly." I could pull up historical and current examples until we both die from old age. The only downside is that I already published two books with my first name so there could be a bit of search problems if I actually get a reader or two that want to read more (as if that will occur). At least that wacky Z name will stand out.

So I'll be over here, being a traitor to my gender while I edit this monster and struggle through the best synopsis I can. Please send jerky.

1 comment:

Raquel Gabrielle said...

I know what you mean my friend who is entering the Amazon contest is having a hard time coming up with a pitch. I read the synopsis you have for this book it seems very interesting, I will definitely have to read it when it comes out. I know J.K. Rowling did that with her name because of the gender issue but I didn't know it was still such an issue. When I pick up a book I never look at who has written it I just read it and see if I like it if I do then I look at the author to see if I would like to read anything else by them. And Congrats for winning the Wrimo contest!