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sussu
11-17-2013, 02:12 AM
I hope someone would be able to help me figure this out. I just cannot find any answer anywhere.

I have written a MG high fantasy novel with the regular story and conventions of the genre. It is humorous too.


However, my novel also includes educational elements such as anagrams (a group of pirate anagrams fight with my heroes and are defeated when the heroes scramble their names), parts of speech (my MC has to go from room to room to gather words so she goes to the noun room and meets the nouns, then she goes to the adjective rooms, etc. Some of the minor characters in the novel are words) and cognates (the MCs meet a German character and misunderstand each other because they speak different languages. The German character says "let's go for a boat ride" but my MC understands there is something wrong with her boot because boat in German is "boot").

The educational part is just something added for humor and it is not the main goal of the novel.

My questions are:

1. is my novel considered fiction or non-fiction?
2. When I query, should I mention the educational content or keep it as a surprise?
3. Do regular agents take on a project like this or do I need to find some other kind of agent?
4. How to find an agent doing educational books?


This project is very much like "The Phantom Tollbooth" or "Lost in Lexicon: An Adventure in Words and Numbers."
I hope to have a series each introducing cognates from a different language. My next novel will be French since there are so many French words used in English.
This project is also geared toward 3rd grade to 6th grade.


I am so confused, please someone help me!

Thank you kindly
.

Ferret
11-17-2013, 07:15 AM
Your novel is definitely fiction. Although you've sneaked in some educational elements, it's not about things that have actually happened. I would query it as a fantasy novel and not an educational novel, and I would query agents who represent middle grade fantasy.

Also, I wouldn't focus on the educational aspects in the query because agents might be turned off if they thing your book is about educating children instead of entertaining them. The book has to be fun to read first and foremost, although I don't think working in educational bits is bad as long as it's done in a fun way. If some of these elements come up naturally in the query, I think that would be fine, too, but you should focus on the characters and the conflict.

cornflake
11-17-2013, 07:23 AM
I hope someone would be able to help me figure this out. I just cannot find any answer anywhere.

I have written a MG high fantasy novel with the regular story and conventions of the genre. It is humorous too.


However, my novel also includes educational elements such as anagrams (a group of pirate anagrams fight with my heroes and are defeated when the heroes scramble their names), parts of speech (my MC has to go from room to room to gather words so she goes to the noun room and meets the nouns, then she goes to the adjective rooms, etc. Some of the minor characters in the novel are words) and cognates (the MCs meet a German character and misunderstand each other because they speak different languages. The German character says "let's go for a boat ride" but my MC understands there is something wrong with her boot because boat in German is "boot").

The educational part is just something added for humor and it is not the main goal of the novel.

My questions are:

1. is my novel considered fiction or non-fiction?
2. When I query, should I mention the educational content or keep it as a surprise?
3. Do regular agents take on a project like this or do I need to find some other kind of agent?
4. How to find an agent doing educational books?


This project is very much like "The Phantom Tollbooth" or "Lost in Lexicon: An Adventure in Words and Numbers."
I hope to have a series each introducing cognates from a different language. My next novel will be French since there are so many French words used in English.
This project is also geared toward 3rd grade to 6th grade.


I am so confused, please someone help me!

Thank you kindly
.


1. It's a novel, thus it's fiction. Also, even if it weren't, how would this be non-fiction? It's a fantasy about pirates and talking to words and such.

2. I think it may be possible to do it obliquely.

3. I'm sure MG agents won't be surprised by stuff with educational elements - as you note, these aren't so rare.

buz
11-17-2013, 04:33 PM
I hope someone would be able to help me figure this out. I just cannot find any answer anywhere.

I have written a MG high fantasy novel with the regular story and conventions of the genre. It is humorous too.


However, my novel also includes educational elements such as anagrams (a group of pirate anagrams fight with my heroes and are defeated when the heroes scramble their names), parts of speech (my MC has to go from room to room to gather words so she goes to the noun room and meets the nouns, then she goes to the adjective rooms, etc. Some of the minor characters in the novel are words) and cognates (the MCs meet a German character and misunderstand each other because they speak different languages. The German character says "let's go for a boat ride" but my MC understands there is something wrong with her boot because boat in German is "boot").

The educational part is just something added for humor and it is not the main goal of the novel.

My questions are:

1. is my novel considered fiction or non-fiction? A novel is fiction by definition :)
2. When I query, should I mention the educational content or keep it as a surprise? I should think it would be obvious from the content of the query (your presentation of the story) and you wouldn't need to state it outright:

"Twelve-year-old Marsha is quite put out when she gets sucked into a wormhole eight minutes before the State Spelling Bee. When she comes out the other side, landing, naturally, on her face, there's a noun standing over her, demanding that Marsha find its missing adjective.

Fart is demanding and rude, but he says he knows a way out. If she finds his adjective, Wet, and makes his life whole again, Fart will get Marsha back in time to kick everyone's ass at the Spelling Bee. But it turns out Wet has been taken by the anagram pirates..."

I mean, not that crappy, obviously, but you see what I mean--you can show what kind of story it is, rather than explain. If you use a comparison like The Phantom Tollbooth it will be even more obvious. Show not tell and all that. :)
3. Do regular agents take on a project like this or do I need to find some other kind of agent? It sounds like fantasy to me. So, I'd find an agent who reps MG and fantasy.
4. How to find an agent doing educational books? If the educational part is not the focus, then I wouldn't say it's an educational book. I think I read somewhere (and someone can correct me if this is wrong) that A Series of Unfortunate Events is in a small way supposed to be vaguely educational (teaching vocabulary) but that was not the focus of the stories--they're not "educational" books, they're...absurdist...gothic...uuhhh...(what are they?) :D Fiction books. For funsies. :p Anyway, I'd just look for an agent repping MG and fantasy.


This project is very much like "The Phantom Tollbooth" or "Lost in Lexicon: An Adventure in Words and Numbers."
I hope to have a series each introducing cognates from a different language. My next novel will be French since there are so many French words used in English.
This project is also geared toward 3rd grade to 6th grade.


I am so confused, please someone help me!

Thank you kindly
.


:)

sussu
11-17-2013, 08:11 PM
Thank you so much Ferrey, Cornflake and Buzhidao. (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?u=56041)
I was so confused because I did ask an agent and she said a trade publisher would never accept a work like this, but maybe an educational publisher would.
It hit me that some novels are considered educational like the alphabet stories in illustrated books and do not go through regular agents.
Until I talked to her, I was not so confused. I just met her once in special circumstances.
I am grateful that you took the time to reassure me :)

Old Hack
11-19-2013, 03:10 PM
Much depends on your work. A trade publisher might take it on if it's strongly written and a good read.

If it really is "a MG high fantasy novel with the regular story and conventions of the genre" then I don't see why a trade publisher wouldn't take it on. The other stuff could be a bonus, not a problem: it all depends how you've written it.

If it comes across as preachy and patronising no publisher will take it; if it's the good read I hope it is, then there's probably a good market for it.

Debbie V
11-19-2013, 08:00 PM
Much depends on your work. A trade publisher might take it on if it's strongly written and a good read.

If it really is "a MG high fantasy novel with the regular story and conventions of the genre" then I don't see why a trade publisher wouldn't take it on. The other stuff could be a bonus, not a problem: it all depends how you've written it.

If it comes across as preachy and patronising no publisher will take it; if it's the good read I hope it is, then there's probably a good market for it.

Absolutely. Many middle grade books have educational elements. Consider historical fiction.

There are agents who deal in educational publishing, but they are hard to find a list of. Few seem to mention it specifically. There is also an organization for educational presses. Some of them take unagented submissions.

Never write in a didactic way. It's a turn off to the reader.

If you try the ed market, figure out how your book fits with the common core standards for the middle grade readers and include that in your query. For the moment, this is still a selling point.

For the trade market, leave out mention of the educational merits and let the pitch portion of the query speak for itself.

Good luck.

Old Hack
11-19-2013, 11:06 PM
If you try the ed market, figure out how your book fits with the common core standards for the middle grade readers and include that in your query. For the moment, this is still a selling point.

And make sure that the educational publishers you submit to take fiction. Most don't; and if they do, they might well only consider books from people with appropriate training and experiece. For example, they might only consider books written by qualified teachers, or specialists in dyslexia, or in the subject they're writing about.

sussu
11-21-2013, 07:43 PM
Thank you so much Old Hack and Debbie. This is valuable information. I am a teacher, so that should play in my favor, and the novel is definitely not preachy.
I think everybody agrees on not to mention the ed art in the pitch because it will right away be assumed that it's preachy (like the agent I talked to assumed, no matter what I said afterward).
I'll do just that and include the anagram pirates as part of the characters.
Thank you again everybody :)

Debbie V
11-26-2013, 08:50 PM
And make sure that the educational publishers you submit to take fiction. Most don't; and if they do, they might well only consider books from people with appropriate training and experience.

Often the fiction is produced by packagers or developed in house and written by freelancers. Check guidelines carefully. (Added for others who may read the thread.)

Good luck, sussu.

Corinne Duyvis
11-27-2013, 02:12 AM
This isn't related to your question, but the German thing gave me pause. German "Boot" is pronounced closer to the English "boat" than the English "boot" so if they're talking, I don't think the confusion is likely. If they're writing, that's different.

If you knew this already, pretend I said nothing. :)