Thought I'd throw in an update in regards to the status of my River Bottom Blues manuscript that I've been dangling as bait to various and sundry literary agents and publishers. Nary a bite, yet, but I ain't giving up on trying to get it published. Most of my rejections have been in the form of form rejections. "Sorry, not for us." "Thanks, but no thanks." "We have to be very selective and what you have, we ain't selecting", etc...I have had a few requests to send in sample chapters and such, and I have hopes for positive responses for a couple that are still out there floating around on submission.
I have gotten a couple of rejections that actually gave a bit (very little bit) of feedback. Both mentioned that maybe my story fit into too narrow of a niche. Keep in mind that most of the rejections are based on a one page query in which I explain how my two blues harp protagonists are hell bent to stop the murders of fellow harp players. The two rejectionists with the feedback wondered just why the hell anyone but a blues enthusiast would care about reading my book. That makes the market way too narrow in their minds. Now, agent feedback is not open to rebuttal--the responding e-mail would have the delete button applied. First and foremost in my mind is the fact that it is a crime thriller suspense mystery type tale (choose one, because I'm required to define the genre of what I've written), so it should appeal to those who have an affinity for such a novel. Secondly, I think they underestimate the power of the blues--and maybe its popularity.
There are oodles of examples within the genre with blues floating around the periphery of the story. Lee Childs' Jack Reacher character is a blues enthusiast and the music finds its way onto the pages of his novels, whether he's running into trouble while searching for the grave of a long dead blues legend, or just humming a Muddy Waters tune. Walter Mosley cranked out a fictional tale loosely based on Robert Johnson and his Easy Rawlins stalks streets steep in blues lore. The blues also bounces around Ace Atkins' Leavin' Trunk Blues and Crossroads Blues, and someone buys enough of his books to pay his gasoline bill.
How 'bout movies? Cadillac Records brought the Chess Records story to the big screen last year--lots of artistic license stretched the facts, but hey, Beyonce was in it. Who Do You Love (based on the Bo Diddley hit) brings another spin on the Chess brother's legendary blues label to the movie houses sometime this year. So, somebody thinks the blues can make a buck or two. Of course, Martin Scorcese produced the acclaimed documentary series on the blues to PBS a few years ago, and the legislature declared it the "Year Of The Blues". So, the blues has been rubbing elbows with some high classed clientele during this past decade.
It may be a small niche market, I don't know, but I think a lot more people are in tune to blues music than the gatekeepers to the publishing world realize. Not getting played on Top 40 radio, doesn't meant that it lacks support. They haven't surveyed the number of blues festivals, blues cruises, or the success of the tourist industry devoted to regions where blues music fermented.
Well, anyway, just wanted to post that my story still resides on my hard drive, but with the click of a button it could find its way into the hands of someone willing to publish a niche novel about two good guys chasing bad guys--they just happen to blow a little blues along the way. 'Nuff for now.
P.S.--In the mean time, I am dilently working on a new novel. If I can't nail 'em with the first one, then maybe the second one will smoke their shorts.
P.S.S--Oh, and by the way, Cyndi Lauper sang a knocked out version of Little Walter's I'm Just Your Fool live on Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice last Sunday with Charlie Musselwhite slaying 'em on some great blues harp. That's pretty prime time.
Sonny Boy Williamson - Don't Start Me Talkin'
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