How to market your unpublished novel… or not

I’ve been listening to the Ringo Starr song, It Don’t Come Easy. The song is (forgive the pun) easy on the ears, and it’s also kind of an anthem for anyone trying to do something extremely daunting.

Like trying to get someone to represent, publish (or heck, read) literary fiction.

So, ya want to be a writer?

Earlier, I introduced my new podcast, But I Digress, which will feature conversations with other writers about writing, not writing, and everything in between. Like for instance, “what would you have wanted to be if you couldn’t be a writer?”

Hopefully, that will give other writers courage, inspiration, and maybe a few good ideas of what else to do in case the writing thing doesn’t work out. But as my old friend (and ex-wife) Molly Elliott once said, you haven’t failed if you haven’t quit.

Now, despite having been published in the past (the bygone days when supposedly no one published literary fiction, as opposed to today, when no one publishes literary fiction), I’m talking a lot to people in the business (and by the business, of course I mean the industry) about how to go about peddling a work of literary fiction.

First rule of literary fiction: don’t talk about literary fiction!

Here is a sample of what you might want to do to market your unpublished novel:

  • Write a synopsis
  • Describe your potential audience
  • Provide a list of similar titles (and explain why yours is different/stands out)

So, here goes:

Synopsis of The Factory: A Novel Based on a True Holocaust Story

Ernst Lazarus, who barely knows his older half-siblings and their children, is in the process of alienating his own grown children and his second wife, with whom he has an infant son, when he receives an email from a heretofore unknown nephew. This meeting leads him to discover that his grandfather’s factory, expropriated by Nazi Germany, is still being run as a family business – albeit by a family other than his own.

Ernst takes his wife and infant son to France and Germany as he seeks more information about the German factory, and about his father’s secret past. While in France, he also tries to repair his relationship with his older son from a previous relationship.

Ernst decides to pierce through the haze of historical and familial amnesia. He discovers the wartime generosity of a French painter who saved his father’s life, and realizes that he can bring his family back together by fighting for his family’s heritage.

Potential Market:

This novel will appeal to first- and second-generation Jewish-Americans, as well as aficionados of family dramas and historical fiction, especially fiction relating to the Second World War and the Holocaust. It is similar to Everything is Illuminated in theme, but offers a much more sanguine and positive outlook than Foer’s more cynical vision. 

Similar titles:


Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

Reparations: A Novel of War and Rebirth Paperback –by Ruth Sidransky 

Eli’s Promise: A Novel by Ronald H. Balson

Not Me: A Novel by Michael Lavigne

Last Impressions by Joseph Kertes

The Paris Photo Paperback by Jane S Gabin


Plunder: A Memoir of Family Property and Nazi Treasure Hardcover – March 16, 2021 by Menachem Kaiser

A Crime in the Family: A World War II Secret Buried in Silence–and My Search for the Truth

That’s it for now — that’s what I know so far. More to come, though, I promise.

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