Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Guest Post by Suzanne Redfearn

As promised, Suzanne Redfearn herself is here on the blog today. Before I hand things over, though, here's a bit about the book from the publisher:

Faye Martin never expected her husband to abandon her and her three children . . . or that she'd have to struggle every day to make ends meet. So when her four-year-old daughter is discovered through a YouTube video and offered a starring role on a television series, it seems like her prayers have been answered. But when the reality of their new life settles in, Faye realizes that fame and fortune don't come without a price. And in a world where everyone is an actor and every move is scrutinized by millions, it's impossible to know whom to trust, and Faye finds herself utterly alone in her struggle to save her family.

(If you missed my review of her latest, No Ordinary Life, you can check that out here.)

And now, here's Suzanne!

Selling a Novel
by Suzanne Redfearn

Selling a novel is easy. Ha!

All you need to do is write something that's guaranteed to make money for the agent and the publisher and you're good to go.

With the current state of publishing being what it is—only three out of every ten books earning back their advance—it's no wonder editors are looking for a sure bet. So the question is, how do you deliver that? Simple, you need to write a novel with the ever-elusive, infuriating “hook” agents and editors are always talking about.

The last thing an agent or editor wants is another murder-mystery about a down-and-out, ex-cop/current cop/lawyer turned private detective, or a paranormal romance involving vampires, werewolves, zombies or aliens. Michael Connelly and Stephenie Meyer are alive and well...and, well...they are Michael Connelly and Stephenie Meyer. So save the paper because you're not them, and why would anyone want to buy a replica when the real thing is already on the shelf? These ideas are sinkers unless you figure out how to tell one of these well-worn storylines in a new way or with a twist so unique you can ride the wave of these blockbusters while still blazing your own trail.

Hush Little Baby (my debut novel) was my fifth novel, but the first one to make it into the marketplace past all the hurdles of agents, editors, readers, senior editors, and the ever-daunting marketing department. And the reason I believe it turned out to be “the one” was because I stumbled on a concept that was already a proven winner but that had never been written before—my novel had a hook.

Hush Little Baby is a story of domestic violence, a battered woman who needs to escape from her abusive husband. The hook: the story is also about marital sabotage, how one spouse can set up the other to lose everything, including custody of the children. The idea was inspired by a couple I knew who were going through a horrible divorce. There was a lot of he said/she said and it was impossible to know who was telling the truth. The idea of the husband being abusive came after the initial idea of writing a story about a psychological war between a husband and wife going through a custody battle. So though the story is primarily about an abused woman fighting for survival (a story already told in dozens of other novels), it’s the contemporary twist that made it unique enough to survive the labyrinth of obstacles to getting a first novel published.

Other great examples of debut novels with wonderful hooks are:

Water for Elephants—There are hundreds of books about the depression, but throw a circus into the mix and you've got a twist that makes me jealous of Sara Gruen’s moment of inspiration.

Twilight – Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles along with centuries of other bloodsucker novels preceded Stephenie Meyer’s blockbuster success, but the reason hers made it beyond the slush pile is no one else ever wrote a story about “vegetarian” vampires who only drink the blood of animals, thereby allowing them to fall in love with a mortal. Brilliant!

The Lovely Bones—A murder mystery narrated through the eyes of the fourteen-year-old victim in heaven. Alice Sebold reinvented the first-person narrative with her unique perspective.

There are other ways to get a debut novel published. You can be so extraordinarily talented that, even if you are telling a story that's already been told, you stand out among the pack. You can write something so ground-breaking and revolutionary that the world stops revolving when an editor reads it. You can be a celebrity or a kidnap victim or an ex-cult survivor. But if you are a mere mortal with no extraordinary credentials aside from a modicum of talent and a boatload of perseverance, the trick is to give agents and editors what they need—a proven winner that is easy to define but still unique enough to stand out.

Good luck and happy writing.

About the author: Suzanne Redfearn is the author of Hush Little Baby, which was chosen as a Target Recommends selection and Target’s Emerging Authors program. She graduated summa cum laude from California Polytechnic University and, prior to becoming an author, was an architect. She is an avid surfer, golfer, skier, and Angels fan. She lives with her husband and children in Southern California. No Ordinary Life is her second novel.

Big, big thanks to Suzanne for being here today and equally big thanks to her publicist for setting up this stop on the blog tour. 

For more on Suzanne Redfearn and her work you can visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter

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