Monday, July 13, 2009

Dear Kerrie: Agents & Genres

Every Monday I will answer your writing questions. So send me them by Friday each week. No question is too small or too big and I will do my best to get to all of them.

Dear Kerrie,
I write fantasy and mainstream ethnic fiction. My ethnic fiction is the first book I will finish and start looking for an agent. So what do I say regarding future plans? As a new writer, how can I make sure of getting an agent who won't be put off by genre difference?
-Lost Wanderer

Dear Lost Wanderer,
Finding an agent is like finding a partner for marriage, business or tennis. You have to find the person who is the right fit. Finding an agent is no different. They all have their own distinct likes and dislikes. Your job as a writer is to research agents; find out the clients they currently represent and they types of books those authors publish. This will give you an idea of what they are looking for. One great way to find an agent is go to the bookstore and find books in your genre. Read the acknowledgements in the front of the book. Typically authors will thank their agent. By doing your homework ahead of time, you will be able to find the right agent for you and it will save you disappointment in the future.

Dear Kerrie,
I have completed what I consider women's fiction. It could also be called a whydunit. It could also be called contemporary fiction. Since the definitions of women's and contemporary fiction often overlap, I am considering querying agents who specialize in either genre. Any advice??

Dear Betsy,
I agree that the definitions of women's and contemporary fiction do overlap. Your question kind of relates to the one above from Lost Wanderer. I think the first thing you should do is find books that are similar to yours and find out who is representing those authors. Then go ahead and send out your manuscript. I don't see anything wrong with sending it out to agents who specialize in either genre.

Dear Kerrie,
Your conference this past winter gave me the confidence to finally start my YA fiction novel. Now I halfway through, and wondering what will happen when I'm done. I've heard I should set it aside and "let it marinate" for awhile, and then go back and edit. But I'm wondering, how long should all of this take? And should I be starting to think about the marketing side yet?

Dear Kathleen,
I am thrilled to hear the conference helped you. First off--Keep Writing! Don't worry about marketing, editing, submitting until that novel is done. Then once your novel is done-celebrate. Finishing a book is not an easy task and you should reward yourself for completing it. Then I would put the manuscript away for a week or so, maybe work on something else or take a little break. Then it is time to reread and edit the entire manuscript. You can do this on your own, with a writing buddy or with a critique group. Finally when you feel your work is the best it can be, then start looking for a literary agent or a smaller publishing house that accepts unagented work. Marketing is a topic for another time--when the rest of this is done.

Thanks for all your questions.
Until next week...


Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Some great advice!

Amo said...

Great advice! I am so happy to have found this blog!

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