Monday, December 16, 2019

Whatever You Do, Make it New

I've seen three different books marketed as 'retellings' of Beauty and the Beast on FB and/or book newsletters this past week.  Which is kind of sad for the authors who put all that work into their books only to have them all marketed around the same time. 

It's possible they were all published at different times and just ended up being marketed at the same time.  Maybe when each of them came out there weren't that many retellings of that tale...  Except people have been retelling that tale in one way or another since the tale came out.

So, how does one differentiate oneself in the marketplace when the stories are all so similar? 

Perhaps the answer there is to NOT market your book as a retelling of BatB.  It doesn't change the story, but perhaps it changes the readers' perceptions of the story.  Tell readers what your story is about instead of falling back on the 'this is a retelling' thing.

John is a beast of a man--rude, belligerent, and definitely in need of a shave--who has learned to stay the hell away from other people.  Mary's a beauty whose looks could launch a thousand selfies.  During a hike in the Rockies, Mary gets lost and winds up on John's property.  She'd leave, but he's holding her until the cops arrive to arrest her for trespassing.  A snowstorm forces them together and love ensues...

That sort of thing.  Yeah, the blurb sucks, but it ain't my story to tell.  Still, you get the drift.  It's BatB retelling, but it doesn't wave a big banner in your face telling you, it shows it to you.

Show vs tell... just as important in your blurbs as it is in your writing.  Imagine that.

I mean, look at You've Got Mail.  It's a retelling.  It's Shop Around the Corner for the 1990s. (By the way, SatC was also retold as In the Good Old Summertime.)  And all of it was apparently a retelling of a Hungarian play, which makes sense if you've seen SatC because it's set in Hungary.  Imagine if YGM was marketed as a retelling instead of a whole new story.  It probably wouldn't have done as well as it did.  No one is as excited about a regurgitation as they are about a new thing.

Imagine if West Side Story had been marketed as a retelling of Romeo and Juliet.  The common moviegoer would've been all "Shakespeare?  :yawn:"

Whatever you do, make it new.  Find something to set it apart.  Maybe then, readers will be encouraged to buy your book instead of yawning and passing on yet another retelling. 

Just a thought.


  1. A very good thought and a great way to avoid being in direct competition with similar concurrent releases!

  2. Actually, I'm thinking I need to hire you to write my blurbs!!! 🤣

    People market their retellings as a retelling of the original for a couple of reasons. One--especially BatB or R&J or Cinderella whatever famous tale--tropes are marketing triggers. You mention BatB or R&J and readers know exactly what they are getting. Is that smart? I don't know. Readers who don't love that trope might automatically reject the book. The other reason is less altruistic on my part. They do it because they are lazy and they know a certain segment of readers will be drawn to their book. That said, they better have a story that lives up to the "hype" or there will be a lot of DNFs and bad reviews. Just my 2 cents worth. 🤷