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popmuze
01-28-2006, 09:16 PM
I have burned through 20 agents in the last year with no takers for my novel as of yet. With my specialties being music and satire, I'm getting very near the bottom of my personal list of possibilities.

Some agents on certain web sites say they're interested in every genre going, so I'm not interested in them. Other really good ones say they don't accept unsolicited queries.

So how am I going to keep sending the ms. around this year?

I will say that since I polished my query letter, I've been getting a great response to send all or part of the ms. On the other hand, on many agents' web sites, the guidelines say to send the first three chapters with the query and synopsis. So maybe getting a request for a partial (if not a thorough reading) is no big deal.

I feel like going back to the earlier agents, figuring they probably didn't read my stuff that carefully to begin with.

sirensix
01-28-2006, 10:16 PM
I'm having the same problem. In my case, it's that I write BOTH mainstream/contemporary/literary/whatever you want to call it, AND sword-and-sorcery fantasy. Though I suspect the bulk of my writing income will eventually come from my fantasy series, my first completed novel is in the former category. So I'm forced to shop agents who represent BOTH genres, and frankly I'm not certain I'll even find 20. I've already sent out 16 queries, and to be honest I don't know where to send # 17.

So I second this question.

UrsusMinor
01-29-2006, 12:04 AM
When you write things that mix genres, you face real problems--something to offend everyone.

In your case, though, sirensix, it may not be as bad as you think. You probably won't be able to find one agent to represent all of your work, but you may not need to do so. Query one set of agents on your lit stuff, query another set on your fantasy stuff. Once you get to the point where you're discussing representation, explain that you have other books that aren't in their area.

You may find that they are willing to at least look at the books that in theory they don't represent. If not, then they may tell you that you're free to market those other books on your own, or even find another agent to handle those specifically.

This seems to be a secret no one wants to talk about, and I will probably get flamed for mentioning it. Agents make a big point of telling everyone, quite loudly, that representation is like a marriage, and that you only have one agent at a time. But I know people who have different agents handling different kinds of properties...and I may find myself in that state soon myself, since my agent is utterly uninterested in one of my earlier books.*

This is a touchy area, but it's a problem to solve once you have either representation or an offer thereof. For example, maybe you need to agree to write all of your fantasy under a pseudonym, and find another agent for that. Maybe you need to market it on your own. These things ARE done (though some agents may refuse), but agents don't want to tell you about it because it is so damn messy to explain, and also because they are afraid that writer will misinterpret it and believe they can have as many agents as they like.

I'd advise you to skip the search for Mr Right and find Mr Right-Now. Then have the discussion. (Some agents don't even want to hear about all of your books at first--you have them interested in a single book, and they want to see if they can sell that. Later, they want to talk about what else you have to offer.)

If you land an agent and they sell your book, then even if they turn out not be able or willing to represent your full range, and even if they aren't accomodating in letting you, as it were, 'see other people,' you'll be in a stronger position to find a better agent.

This is easier if the spread is wide: Lit-fic and children's books, for example, seldom have the same agent. And mainstream and fantasy/sci-fi don't tend to have a big overlap (notice how many agents make it clear that they don't under any circumstances handle fantasy or sci-fi). Writing in different genres always makes you more of problem for an agent--they are looking for a product, not an artist. But, in terms of genres, you're in a pretty good position to argue for two agents....

*Oh, and popmuze--guess what my book is that my agent isn't interested in representing? You guessed it: Satire. Kiss of death. Call it comedy. Call it lit-fic. Call it a political cyberpunk romantic comedy (that's what mine is). Just don't say the "S" word.

popmuze
01-29-2006, 12:55 AM
Also, as I've posted elsewhere, I write fiction and non-fiction, with the non-fiction representing the bulk of my published work.

Most agents want to typecast you into the area they feel would be the easiest for them to sell. I don't really want to write anymore non-fiction, but I may have to come up with a project just to get another agent, who then won't want to deal with my novel (I'm calling it a fictional memoir, as if there were any other kind).

UrsusMinor
01-29-2006, 10:25 PM
For a somewhat downer take on this topic, see the "comments" section under "Time To Talk To Your Agent" over at Miss Snark. (http://misssnark.blogspot.com/) An anonymous agent talks about folks shopping around novels not wated by their own agent...