I had an interesting time at a writer’s conference yesterday. I went primarily to pitch my novel (actually the trilogy of novels) to a representative of a well-known publishing house in New York. This makes the third time I’ve pitched this novel to either a publisher or an agent. I’ve gotten a different response each time.
As a bit of background, my science fiction novel, The Anthanian Imperative–Blue, concerns a group of people from another planet, Anthanos, who come to Earth about 15,000 years ago and look around. Their planet is about to be destroyed by their sun which soon will undergo a nova blast and wipe out all life there. Consequently, they have what they feel is an Imperative to find another planet to live on, hence The Anthanian Imperative. The “Blue” indicates they are looking at Earth as a blue planet. The next two books in the series are Green and Red.
The pitch went quite well. I described the novel, touched on the two sequels, and got into a good discussion with her about the details of the story. Everything went okay until I mentioned that a couple of the people were rescued at the end. She didn’t like that at all. Can’t have someone rescued. “Would have been better,” she said, “if they’d died.”
“They can’t die,” I said. “They have to live. For several reasons. One, and most simply, is to allow the series to continue. Without those two alive, the series wouldn’t work.” What I didn’t say, largely because of time, (this was, after all, a ten-minute pitch) was that that scenario was not the novel I wanted to write. I set out to write a novel of a group of people who come to Earth to explore, but don’t find Earth to their liking. But even further, her ending would be too predictable, too much expected by a reader. In fact, it would be too Hollywood. It wouldn’t work because I deliberately set out to write something different from what we see so much of. I wanted something that gives the series, not just one novel, a sense of continuity and purpose. But most importantly, it wouldn’t work because it wouldn’t fit with the development of the plot in rest of the book, a point that is difficult to get across in a ten-minute pitch. In order to have that type of ending, I’d have to re-write the entire book, and that wouldn’t be what I started out to write at all. You have to read the book to understand.
Her response differs from the reaction I got from another publisher two years ago, who was simply lukewarm to the book and didn’t say much about the plot line. He just kind of blew it off without a real comment.
It also differs from the response I got from an agent last year at a different writer’s conference. She liked the first chapter, but didn’t say much about the ending. I suspect she was okay with it. She didn’t like the book itself because she had a hard time dealing with the fact that the characters aren’t really human, even though they embody the best actions and traits of humans. “Would be too hard to sell,” she said. Well, that’s her opinion.
In short, I’ve encountered a wide variety of opinions about the book. I’m going to another writer’s conference soon, and I’ll pitch to another agent and see what she thinks. Her opinion will most likely be different. Watch this space for a full report on the results.