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View Full Version : Changing race of MC = requery??



amyashley
10-20-2010, 03:36 AM
My agent search isn't going as positively as I'd hoped, and in another month or so after more responses come back I am considering what I might do to give my MS a better chance.

The query feels very sound, although not all my queries I sent out were this one. I changed it some after a few rejections.

I have a paranormal mystery, but the MC is a "vampire". I say that, because she isn't very vampirish. Since the book doesn't focus on that, but it is mentioned in both the query and the first pages, I am considering changing her "race" to something a little more acceptable for the market.

If I do this, would it be acceptable to re-query?

I am also trying to keep in mind Janet Reid's advice about making mistakes-she encourages authors to go against the rules if they really want to get their book sold, including re-querying.

Polenth
10-20-2010, 04:43 AM
The basic premise of your change seems a little odd to me. Having a vampire is a small detail, not a form rejection thing. There's either a bigger problem with the story or you haven't found the right agent yet. Neither of those would be solved by changing your MC into a flibbertigibbet.

defcon6000
10-20-2010, 04:50 AM
They didn't reject your query because you have vampires in it, they rejected it because the query itself didn't hook them. Until you fix your query all you'll be doing is bugging them.

Kitty Pryde
10-20-2010, 04:56 AM
I would think changing the word "vampire" to another word and sending the same query of the same novel to the same agents would be an automatic rejection.

kaitlin008
10-20-2010, 04:59 AM
I agree with the above advice.

And if you do decide to change it, but the only thing you change is the term "vampire" to something else, I would definitely not requery, at least not for quite some time. Agents have good memories sometimes.

You have to carefully consider when to be pushy and when not to be, because you never know which bridges you might wish you hadn't burned.

eta: Kitty posted while I was typing, so my post is redundant with hers :)

Izz
10-20-2010, 05:00 AM
Also bear in mind that it generally takes longer than a month or two (and often several books over several years) to land an agent.

suki
10-20-2010, 05:01 AM
Yup. Agree with all of the above. Changing it to another paranormal race doesn't warrant a requery. And I highly doubt another race would turn an autoreject to a request.

Now, if it went from paranormal to completely contemporary - ie, no creatures - maybe that would feel different.

But just changing from vampire to another race isn't enough to warrant a requery. So...it's time to look at more than her race.

~suki

amyashley
10-20-2010, 05:10 AM
Thanks guys. Fixing the query stinks. QLH hasn't been helpful.

I'm still waiting on responses, so maybe it just needs time. I'm confident the book itself isn't the problem, since I've only had one partial request, and still waiting on that.

Giant Baby
10-20-2010, 05:19 AM
Janet Reid is an amazingly writer-friendly agent who posts amazingly writer-friendly advice on her blog. I believe her 100% if she says it's cool to re-query. Her, I mean. It's cool to re-query her. Not every agent is of like mind, and another of Ms. Reid's edicts is "follow the damn rules."

Fact is, you'll get away with it much of the time. Agents get a lot of queries, and often they won't recognize a re-query. (This doesn't include Janet Reid, who I've observed to posess a freakishly impressive memory.) But, for those who would OR those who wouldn't, changing a vamp to a shapeshifter or land-adapted mermaid isn't going to help if you're not getting requests. Re-querying is likely to garner re-rejections. In that case, you've likely got one of two problems: Your book needs work, or your pages do.

It's impossible to tell from your question, though. Have you posted anything in SYW? Maybe we're all wrong. Also, how deep in are you? Have you had any requests at all? Are the rejections based on 10 queries or 100? Also, did you get any detailed response to any of the rejections mentioning the vamp issue (or any other). These questions make all the difference in whether you should hold on, query some more, or go back to the drawing board.

Edit: Ah! You answered at least one of my questions (no wait, two) while I was writing. Still... And good luck!

defcon6000
10-20-2010, 05:33 AM
Thanks guys. Fixing the query stinks. QLH hasn't been helpful.
Wow. Isn't that a slap in the face to all the people who tried to help you out?

amyashley
10-20-2010, 06:26 AM
NOT YOU!!!!

You helped! You helped a LOT. It's just if it still is a stinky query I don't know what direction to take it next!

Susan Littlefield
10-20-2010, 06:35 AM
flibbertigibbet.

What a GREAT word! I'd had to look it up. :ROFL:

Susan Littlefield
10-20-2010, 06:36 AM
Amy,

I wouldn't change anything in your novel. Just make sure your query is 100%. Keep sending it out. It takes time to find the right agent.

amyashley
10-20-2010, 06:44 AM
Susan, you had to look up flibbertigibbet?

I will always remember that one. It's in The Sound Of Music, from the song How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria (which I'm sure isn't the title). All the nuns sing it.

"a flibbertigibbet, a will 'o' the wisp, a girl..."

yellosharpie
10-20-2010, 06:52 AM
Going only from the information in your question here I'd say that it depends on a few different things. Changing your MCs race from vampire to another creature might help as long as the rest of your query is absolutely sound. An agent I queried let me know that some agents may be wary of vampires, but not if everything else is fresh.

Also, you said the vampire race isn't a central aspect of the story, but I might read through the whole manuscript again to make sure nothing would be impacted in any way by the change. I'd also go by what the responses to your initial queries were. If you received mostly form rejections there's a good chance it could be the query. I struggle with those too, so I know what an issue they can be. However, in most cases queries are the issue. If you have gotten requests for partials or fulls then it might be that your manuscript might need tightening up in some way.

All in all I'd say change the query before changing the race. Give it a few more chances with the agents before making any changes of that sort. As for re-querying, unless there is some other huge change in your plot I'd hold off for at least six months after a rejection. Re-querying for the same manuscript can be annoying to some unless you were specifically told that re-querying was fine after a rejection of a full or partial.

Giant Baby
10-20-2010, 07:09 AM
... The query feels very sound, although not all my queries I sent out were this one. I changed it some after a few rejections...



NOT YOU!!!!

You helped! You helped a LOT. It's just if it still is a stinky query I don't know what direction to take it next!

I'm not trying to tell you what to do. I honestly can't tell anything from your posts, and I haven't seen your work in QLH, so salt to taste.

The above remarks suggest to me that there's still work to be done -- maybe on your manuscript, maybe on your query. Maybe on both. Narrowing your focus to a single detail (like the race of the protag) feels like a simplified fix to me. Have you received any feedback from agents identifying that specific detail as the sticking point? What makes you think that's the problem?

Terie
10-20-2010, 09:47 AM
I have a paranormal mystery, but the MC is a "vampire". I say that, because she isn't very vampirish. Since the book doesn't focus on that, but it is mentioned in both the query and the first pages, I am considering changing her "race" to something a little more acceptable for the market.

Okay, I'm going to go out on a limb here, and I might be far out in left field (to mix metaphors horribly), but this paragraph from your OP struck me as possibly being the problem. All of a main character's primary elements must be important to the story, and if they're not, you have to ask yourself why that element is in place.

In this case, the fact that the MC is a vampire isn't central to the story seems to be a major flaw. If it's not important, why is she a vampire at all? That smacks of trying to ride on the coattails of the current vampire trend. (Which, BTW, is probably nearing its end, and very few editors are currently buying vampire stuff that isn't outstandingly fresh. The stuff being released now was contracted a couple years ago.)

So....can the story be told with the MC being a human? If so, then there's no point in making her a vampire or any other kind of creature. If you want to sell to the paranormal market, the paranormality has to be fundamental to the story, not just a BTW sort of thing. If it's a simple matter for her to be changed to a different type of creature, then it's not fundamental to the story.

'Vampire' or 'mermaid' or 'werewolf' can't be nothing more than a physical trait like 'blond hair' or 'brown eyes'. It has to be a hinge on which the story turns. It's more like whether your MC is straight or gay, devoutly religious or dramatically athiest. These aspects of a character change the entire book if you change the aspect.

Now, obviously I haven't read the book, so I can't know what part her vampirism plays. There might be more to it than your OP implies. But it's probably worth having a long, hard think. This might be the reason you're getting rejections.

Corinne Duyvis
10-20-2010, 04:10 PM
It's more like whether your MC is straight or gay, devoutly religious or dramatically athiest. These aspects of a character change the entire book if you change the aspect.

That depends entirely on the book, IMO. You can turn tons of straight MCs gay, or atheist MCs religious, and it wouldn't change a thing about the book. Why couldn't someone be incidentally queer?

As for the main topic, I agree that, unless agents have specifically said that the MC being a vampire is a problem, you probably shouldn't focus on that aspect. It might just be that they don't like the plot, that their lists are full up, that the writing in the query or sample pages isn't strong enough -- there are tons of reasons for form rejections.

Terie
10-20-2010, 04:52 PM
That depends entirely on the book, IMO. You can turn tons of straight MCs gay, or atheist MCs religious, and it wouldn't change a thing about the book. Why couldn't someone be incidentally queer?

Well, obviously you can have someone be incidentally queer. But if they weren't to start with, then you also have to change all kinds of details. Did the character have a wife or husband? How does changing the gender of the partner change the story? What about the details of when the character sees someone they consider hot? Seriously, changing the sexual identity of a character is almost as intensive as changing from first-person to third-person POV...there are a zillion details you have to check. It's not an incidental change to a story.

And I did say 'devoutly religious' vs 'dramatically athiest'. I used those adjectives purposefully. It's not just an incidental change. If your character is 'dramaticallly athiest' and now you want to make them 'devoutly religious', you have to make all kinds of changes to your story. If they previously would be happy to work on all days of the week, now there's one that they might need to be unwilling to work on. If they previously pooh-poohed people of faith, now they have to stop...or maybe they have to change the way they think about characters who share their faith and those who are of other faiths. Again, it's all in the details.

That's what I mean. It's a pretty simple matter to change a main character's eye or hair colour. Not so much other aspects of their character that drive the way they relate to other people or the way they conduct their daily lives. If a character is incidentally a vampire, they're going to do things one heck of a lot differently from someone who's incidentally a werewolf or incidentally a mermaid.

amyashley
10-20-2010, 05:11 PM
'Vampire' or 'mermaid' or 'werewolf' can't be nothing more than a physical trait like 'blond hair' or 'brown eyes'. It has to be a hinge on which the story turns.

In my book, that's almost exactly what it is. The premise is that paranormals are only separated by humans by a few genes. She does need to be paranormal, but I could make something else up.

I'm afraid that it comes across as a vampire book, and it's not.

I think I just need to be patient. There are still several queries out.

Corinne Duyvis
10-20-2010, 05:39 PM
Ahh - yeah, of course changing it would require various other changes. I read your in the same line as what you said before, about why the MC was a vampire if it didn't affect the book, which is why it bothered me. You see that line of reasoning a lot with queer characters especially: if the character is queer, the book has to be ABOUT being queer. It makes me twitchy. ;)

amyashley
10-20-2010, 06:45 PM
EQUAL RIGHTS FOR VAMPIRES!!!!!

VAMPIRES ARE PEOPLE TOO!!!!!!!

I wonder what symbol they would use for a pride parade.


No, if your MC is a vampire, queer, female, or a dog, then the novel does not have to hinge on that. It's just what they happen to be. Doesn't mean something's wrong with the book.

Susan Littlefield
10-20-2010, 11:29 PM
Susan, you had to look up flibbertigibbet?

I will always remember that one. It's in The Sound Of Music, from the song How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria (which I'm sure isn't the title). All the nuns sing it.

"a flibbertigibbet, a will 'o' the wisp, a girl..."

Amy, I admit I did! And, I've seen the sound of music and love it! Just didn't remember the word.

It's a great word, though.

amyashley
10-21-2010, 12:04 AM
LOL, I probably just dated myself with admitting growing up with that movie!~

Oh well...

Alan_Often
10-21-2010, 12:27 AM
"No, if your MC is a vampire, queer, female, or a dog, then the novel does not have to hinge on that. It's just what they happen to be. Doesn't mean something's wrong with the book"

In the thread you made asking about POVs I mentioned that you should cut secondary characters that do not help move the storyline along or contribute to the themes of the work. This advice applies here as well.

Think of your novel as a tree. The roots anchor the story. This is your theme and your ultimate point. (Why are you telling this story?) The trunk is your hero's story, stretching up to its terminal length. The branches and leaves are your secondary characters/plots, catching the light and providing nourishment to your story. You can put a bird on the tree, but it's not a part of the organism. Shake that bugger off, your tree doesn't need it to live.

I firmly believe EVERYTHING in a novel is there for a reason. If any element does not support either your plot or your theme, and I would always aim for both, get rid of it.

Just my opinion mind you. Hope this is a help in some way.

Corinne Duyvis
10-21-2010, 12:53 AM
Yes -- but at the same time, not all of the things she mentioned are "extra" elements. Being queer is not "extra"; being straight is not the norm, the blank slate that you start out with. For most books, the MC being straight doesn't support plot or theme either, but no one suggests getting rid of that.

While I agree that the MC being a vampire could be an unnecessary complication if it's not relevant to the plot, the way she explained it, it could work. In that universe, it sounds like it could just be a part of their identity that informs their beliefs and habits, same as being a smoker, or being attractive or unattractive...

None of us knows without reading the book, basically *g*

Alan_Often
10-21-2010, 01:55 AM
I have to respectfully disagree. There are no norms in a novel.Saying characters have a default state, such as a straight sexuality, is not true. There is only what the author tells you about the character. Each one is a blank canvas otherwise, and the reader fills it with whatever he or she wants to using their own personal taste and experience. Using your example of being straight:

In a romance, the template is boy meets girl. The moment you introduce your hero(ine) as being interested in the other, you set him/her up as being straight. The conflict of the book hinges on this fact. It is not extraneous.

A counter example: if the plot of yourbook was that your hero was the US president and trying to stop the Russians from invading, and you had a subplot about his wife, and you weren't making a point about his character using her (he needs escape from the tensions of the office, she is his anchor/the brains of the outfit/a russian spy/whatever), then get rid of her. In this story, she is extraneous, and is baggage you don't want or need. This is not an invitation to empty your book of characters, but to fill it with a cast that functions as a working whole.

Again, just my views.

amyashley
10-21-2010, 02:03 AM
I think she'll stay as she is. If I can't sell it, it will go into the trunk for now. It's had enough revising, and as I said it IS solid.

It was my inspiration to write a story about a vampire mama with migraines that was the catalyst. I'd rather not let that go.

My query needs work maybe, but I've lost desire to do much more at the moment. I do think that having a vampire in the book is probably one factor turning agents off. If they like them, it may present competition for another book. If they're sick of them, they won't give it a chance.

In 3 years it will be different.