obligatory i haven’t posted in too long text]
So, the book is about finished. It has gone off for a final proofread by my agent, and also for a review by an unsuspecting, anonymous guinea-pig reader. I’m very interested in what he or she has to say, since fresh perspective is hard to come by at this stage.
Anyway, we get to the nuts and bolts. An editor who loves the book is the first thing, but almost the easy part. The real task, i’m told, will be convincing the MONEY MEN. These cash fondling tycoons want to know – what already published book is this most similiar to, and how well is that selling? This is what they base their decision to buy on. So if you’ve written a medieval style fantasy with cut-throat characters, political intrigue, bloody violence, incest and a bit of dragon action, you can fit nicely into the Game of Thrones market. If you write magic thief heist books, you might be likened to Scott Lynch. You’re up against some stiff competition, for sure, but at least the MONEY MEN know what you are, and maybe you can just jump-start a career in the wake of these eminent scribes.
But what if you your book isn’t so obviously like anything else? Isn’t that a good thing? It should be, really, but it can be a hindrance in this DEADLY CUT-THROAT MARKET OF DOOM. So it helps to be able to reel off a quick, reductive branding of your book.
But THE BASTARD WONDERLAND struggles to fit in. It’s like that rough looking kid in your class who’s got a ‘tache and smokes cigs round corners. It’s fantasy, sure, because its a fictional world. But not what’s called ‘high fantasy’, with elves and dragons and magic and all that shit, and twee maps with mountains and little dinky trees (don’t get me wrong, i used to love this stuff). There is a bit of magic and mysticism, but its quieter, and not so world defining. Is there such a thing as ‘Low Fantasy?’ The fantasy comes more in almost a sort of alternative history, where we see a post-colonial, rapidly industrialising world, roughly anlagous to North America. There are airships, and a bit of nascent steam and organic technology, but not enough, nor with the right trappings to warrant a steampunk label entirely; we have some rifle based military scenes, but its not a military book. The hero is basically a bloke from Hull. He’s not a prince, or a hero of destiny. He’s a rough-arsed, smoking layabout. He’s too old to be a Bildungsroman. He’s not all that angry, or desperate for revenge or justice so much as just generally cantankerous. He swears a lot, argues with his dad (a lot), and lacks direction. Its not fantasy staple.
So in terms of likening TBW to what’s already out there, i struggle, especially in likening it to other books. Perhaps Joe Abercrombie? He’s got swearing. And a sense of humour. And northmen(albeit not the Yorkshire type). Mix with Steptoe and son. Shoot at them. Add guest ales, shellfish, and a panic stricken samurai guerilla.
Look, i just don’t know what it is, alright? That’s why i have an agent! He has his work cut out for him, that’s for sure.
Look out, MONEY MEN! Something unfathomable is comin atcha! It’s the new new! It could make
enough for a round of drinks and a packet of quavers millions!