More on the Break-In Novel

As new authors we want to write both a break-in novel and a break-out novel. In my last post I touched on what a break-in novel is, but for clarification, let's define both:

Break-In novel: The one that presents the fewest obstacles to publication. The one in which your writing shines the brightest. The one in which the genre and subject matter are closest to what seems to be selling right now. (Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent)

Break-Out novel: A book that makes dramatic leaps in sales over peers or even ahead of our own previous work. . .breaking through to new, more powerful ways of story construction. (Donald Maass, Writing the Breakout Novel)

Here's how I distinguish the two. A break-in novel is the book new authors need to help us begin to establish a wide readership. And a break-out novel is one that makes our books stand out from the rest of the competition.

As new authors, ideally we would like to accomplish both a break-in and break-out with the same book. That's an ideal.

But in reality, I'm learning as first time authors, if we want to sell our books, we have to find a way to attract readers. We need to write a book that breaks us into the flooded market. Obviously our names will not draw readers. In fact many of us stick to authors we like the best and hesitate to pick up someone we don't know for fear of disappointment.

Since our name alone won't attract readers and may even discourage them, what will compel someone to pick our books off the shelf and give the first page a glance? What factors cause a reader to take a chance on a new author?

Let's think about what makes us take a chance on a new book:

  • Reading a great review on the book

  • High profile marketing

  • A beautiful cover

  • An endorsement from a favorite author

  • A back cover blurb that hooks

  • The genre, setting, time period fall within the category we love most

As we're striving to publish our first books, we have to give weight to the break-in factor if we hope to establish a readership. Now I'm certainly not advocating that we all drop our WIPS and start writing Amish fiction. But I am learning I must evaluate what is most marketable within my genre and begin there.

What factors make you take a chance on a book? Have you thought about how those factors apply to your WIP? Will your book attract a large enough readership?

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