Monday, September 17, 2012

WSG 23: What Makes a Book Unique?

Writer's Survival Guide 23: What Makes a Book Unique?

I've been preparing pitches for the conference I'm attending, and one of the questions that's come up is "what makes your book unique?"


Book vending machine
Photo by austinevan

This should be easy, right? We know our books inside and out. But I'll admit, at first, it stumped me.

So I brainstormed the elements my book contains that other books I've read don't. After that, figuring out what makes my book unique became simple. I can quickly point out the "different" factor in any one of my books.

And it's always been easy for me to evaluate other books for uniqueness. Let's look at a few.

Of the three books I read and reviewed on my blog over the last few weeks, I'd like to point out what makes them unique.

Die Run Hide by PM Kavanaugh:

Character motivation. This is a woman on the run who will do anything for freedom, including betraying the man she loves. However, over the course of the book, she realizes freedom isn't worth the price she was willing to pay, and she comes up with her own plan to have both.

Fairyproof by Constance Phillips:

World-building. Constance created a world I got sucked right into--a world where fairies can influence humans but who also can return to a world only fairies occupy. What an intriguing place to reside in!

Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund:

Setting. Set in a Michigan lumber camp in the 1880's, the setting stood out as being extremely unique. I'd love to read more books in this setting.

As you can see, each of these books was unique for a different reason. We don't have to come up with a completely new plot (I don't think it's possible, anyway!) to stand out.

What makes your current book unique? What book comes to mind when you hear the word unique?

Have a terrific day!

And the winner from Friday's giveaway?

Huge congrats to LIZ R. for winning a copy of Jody Hedlund's Unending Devotion!!

I will be at a writer's conference this week and will return to bloggin a week from Wednesday.

22 comments:

  1. Eeek! You're at ACFW, aren't you! Well...soon, I mean. lol
    I love that book machine!!! My book has an FBI agent in 1920...that might be kind of unique? I hope? LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kind of? Absolutely!! I love the 20's too, so you sold me!

      Delete
  2. I've never seen a book vending machine before. I'd be worried that it will damage the book.

    In the book I'm querying, the mc's love interest is a quarterback whose first love is Latin dance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooo, a dancing football player--that IS unique! Fun!!

      Delete
  3. It is 1894. My main characters are a wealthy Boston woman and a widowed Navajo man. She has PTSD from decades of suffering and he is terrified of falling in love. Sparks. Fire. Trouble!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cool set-up! And I'm all about sparks, fire, AND trouble!!

      Delete
  4. I'm writing a steampunk/romance novella that features a Greek woman who builds automatons (fancy Victorian word for robot, lol) and a pirate turned diplomat for England. I love how speculative fiction allows you to play with all the genres :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd say that's pretty unique, Brandi! Good luck!

      Delete
  5. There's a very old book called Freckles by Stratton Poeter. The background of the camp and fields is amazing. You probably don't like old books. (This one has a "fairy" in it.) Nevertheless, I find the book unique because of the above.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I LOVE old books! Freckles sounds wonderful. :) My dad would sometimes bring homes stacks of old hardcovers he'd found at a garage sale. I found Rose in Bloom, Brighty, and all sorts of wonderful books that way!

      Delete
  6. For me, any book where the male characters don't have to be overly "manly" to be masculine will stand out, because there are sadly so few of them, and even fewer from male authors, and being male, I hope some of my stories will help break the cycle.

    I strongly feel boys and men need a kind of empowering "We really are in this together"
    experience that doesn't yet exist in today's world, or it only serves one small niche of the male population.

    If they are around, I never hear of them, and aren't in my neck of the car-reliant "Woods" yet. Maybe they're just overshadowed by all the girls and women empowerment programs, and I certainly applaud those too, but I often find most of male-oriented stuff goes WAY beyond my comfort level to the point feeling like the "Way odd guy out." If that makes any sense...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This must be a current topic. I was on Jane Friedman's blog a few months ago on a Thursday--that's when Porter Anderson posts his "On the Ether" series. He gave a shout-out to an article about how society extends emotional support to women, but how we expect men to figure it out on their own. I wish I could remember the author!! If I find it, I'll let you know. It was a terrific article.

      Delete
    2. Please do! I've been trying to find it on my own. No luck so far.

      Delete
    3. Hey, Jill.

      I'm unable to figure out which article specifically may have been referred to here, although it might have been Hanna Rosin's original piece for The Atlantic http://ow.ly/eawpV -- and her new book is out, same title, The End of Men, and is excellent: http://ow.ly/eawtT

      I did do a piece for Susan Cushman's blog in the summer of 2011 on the way attendance at publishing conferences (writing conferences in particular) tends to divide between men and women: http://ow.ly/eawxZ

      Nathan Bransford and some others came into play in an Ether segment about YA and gender: http://ow.ly/eaxo7

      And author Jeff Norton is very good on the Ether with the difficulty that boys have in finding their way to reading (and writing) as an accepted thing in much of our culture: http://ow.ly/eaxIg

      In terms of authors working in less stereotypic ways with male characters, as Taurean Watkins is discussing, I can recommend the work of Michael Cunningham, whose recent "By Nightfall" is a powerful work with a much more nuanced understanding of masculinities, well beyond the normal sitcom. http://ow.ly/eax8Q

      Hope that helps,

      Cheers,
      -p.
      @Porter_Anderson

      Delete
    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    5. Porter, thanks so much for coming over to help clear this up! At first, I thought Hanna's article was the one, but though I loved it--even if it was rather depressing--I realized it wasn't what I was thinking of. And you inspired me to do a thorough search to locate this lost gem!

      I found the snippet on your March 15, 2012 On the Ether post: http://janefriedman.com/2012/03/15/writing-on-the-ether-29/#7. It was by Victoria Noe, and it discussed the differences between men's and women's acceptable grief patterns. It fascinated me!

      Taurean, here's the link to Victoria's blog post: http://www.friendgrief.com/2012/03/mars-and-venus-grieve-their-friends.html

      Thank you both for stopping by and commenting. :)

      Delete
    6. Thanks Jill and Porter. I appreciate your taking the time to help me find that blog post. I'm so glad I just read it some time ago (I'm up early for cooking Thanksgiving dinner, while some loathe that, I LOVE it, it's so much more instantly gratifying than writing can be. For me, anyway.

      Delete
  7. Jill: Sounds like another workshop topic. My upcoming release contains murder by train. I have the convention exceeds your wildest expectations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shay, every one of your ideas oozes with uniqueness! ;)

      Delete
  8. Jill - I am sorry. I did a typo. The name of the author of Freckles is Stratton Porter. I love Rose In Bloom, too. In fact I think Mac ranks right up there with Laurie as a romantic hero. Did you know that there is a book where the cousins were all kids called Eight Cousins? I'm so glad I'm not alone in loving old books.

    ReplyDelete
  9. That's okay, Nancy! I LOVED Eight Cousins! I think I read it 3 times! :) I wasn't sure anyone else had read that one!

    ReplyDelete
  10. My book is about a female secret agent who has the ability to see the future. She uses her ESP to solve cases. She also has a complex that drives her to push herself past her limits just to prove to her male coworkers that she is their equal, despite being female. Not sure if its unique, but it never hurt to try.

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear from you!