Managing Expectations

Last week was pretty exciting, for several reasons. One was that a fellow writer I had met at a conference contacted me to ask if she could submit my novel, Undead Rising, to a publisher for consideration. I was over the moon!

She had only heard me talk about it–I’d given my standard description: a zombie novel for adults where the reader could “Decide Your Destiny” by making choices along the way, a gamebook (a genre best known by the Choose Your Own Adventure novels). She thought that sounded awesome, but I had sent her my sample pages just to be sure she really wanted to submit it; I didn’t want her to submit something she couldn’t really vouch for.

She looked over the sample… and it was not what she had expected.

She said:

It wasn’t quite what I was expecting from an adult version of CYA. (sic)  It was fun because it reminded me of the books I used to read when I was younger but I think that is my roadblock; it’s too much like the young books (except for the work references and swearing, it feels written for a pre-teen audience).  … I liked the story and I still LOVE the concept – I just don’t think this would fit with [publisher].


But it was actually okay. I felt a little over my head with the whole situation, so while it was exciting and a good experience, I think she was right to turn it down if she didn’t feel like it wasn’t the right fit. Better to get out of it quickly, before I got my hopes too high.

The thing is, I don’t necessarily disagree with any of her comments. In fact, some of what she said is exactly why I think my story is great. It relies heavily on nostalgia from the original Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novels (which were originally published in the 1970s). It would be appropriate for readers from about 15-up (but I still think it’s “adult”). It’s not horror; it’s humor.

It’s left me wondering if I need to tweak my pitch a little. How can I get across a sense of what this book really is? I still think most people would love it and that it would do well as a print book (I’m less certain about how a choice-based book would do on a ereader. More research to do).

Sometimes, looking at the list of genres, it’s very challenging to pick exactly where your book fits (particularly for one like this, that has some crossover elements). How did you find your category?



Filed under Publishing, writing

4 responses to “Managing Expectations

  1. That’s a really interesting question and I would love to know what your other reader’s think. I like the idea of your book and I used to read the Choose Your Own books as a child. I have a similar category dilemma with my novel which has elements of romance, deception and thriller so it doesn’t fall neatly into any one category. I am kind of hoping that that’s what will set it apart when I self – publish it in a couple of weeks time!

    Thank you for an interesting post and good luck!

    • Thank you–it is such a relief to have someone else say they think my story is interesting. It gives me hope that I’m by totally crazy!

      • I think we’re all a little crazy at otherwise we wouldn’t be on this journey! Lol! The reason I like your idea is that we are all still kids at heart and I see nothing wrong with having a concept that will take us back to our youth and magical times and memories. Adulthood is not always a picnic and if we can bring back some of those golden times then I am all for it!

      • A little crazy–ain’t that the truth! 🙂

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