It’s Dead, Jim: Querying in a “Dead” Genre

He's bread, Jim - Dr. "Bones" McCoy he's dead, Jim | Meme Generator

I don’t even consider myself a Trekkie but I love a good meme.

Anyway, today I wanted to talk about something that’s been on my mind lately. Something that I’ve been experiencing myself as of late: Querying a book in a supposedly “dead” genre. For me, that genre has been YA sci-fi. Now, if you’re familiar with my writing journey at all and if you know what my book, MIDNIGHT AT THE NEON TIGER is about, then you probably know that, in terms of genre, the book is pretty…weird. While my mentor and I have gotten pretty good at hiding the more sci-fi elements of the book, it’s still kind of obvious that NEON TIGER is a bit of a sci-fi book. Kind of. I liken it more to science-fantasy than anything else.

Why is this important?

It’s important because sci-fi in YA is “dead,” supposedly. Unless you’re already an established author, it’s very hard to sell YA sci-fi because, apparently, the industry thinks there’s no market for it. Let’s ignore how sci-fi stories like Star Wars are dominating pop culture right now. When we think of sci-fi in YA, what do we think of? We think DYSTOPIA. Which is a subset of sci-fi, sure, and I love love love dystopian novels.

Aside from dystopian stories like The Hunger Games, Divergent, The 100, etc, what else do you think of when you think YA sci-fi? Books by already-established authors, probably. When you’re a debut author, it’s very hard to squeak your sci-fi through. I’m learning this the hard way as I query. While my rejections have been many–all of them courteous and kind–more than a few of them are about my book’s genre. This sounds great, but I don’t rep a lot of sci-fi, some say. Others say the opposite. I don’t represent high fantasy!

This is where I’m stuck, dear readers. MIDNIGHT AT THE NEON TIGER straddles genres in a way I think is very special. There are fantasy elements. There are sci-fi elements. There are cyberpunk elements and so much more. It is truly the product of all my interests smashed into one book. Like Gotham City but set in the future. Querying this book ahs been much more difficult than I thought it would be, and there have been plenty of times where I’ve wanted to shelve it. But I haven’t yet, because of so many supportive readers like you.

Over the past few days, I’ve had so many people tell me how excited they are by Neon Tiger’s concept. This means the world to mean, especially when agents keep telling me no. I know it’s nothing personal. I know how hard querying is, and I know it’s going to be even more difficult with a book like Neon Tiger. I’m determined not to give up. No genre is “dead” until everyone gets to write it. Disabled bisexual disasters included.

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