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werewillf
03-17-2014, 01:01 AM
I've been shopping my first MS around, which is something of a YA Urban Fantasy. In the meantime, I'm working on a new novel, which is a realistic literary novel. I'm fine with overall trying to stick to one genre or another, but the novel I'm working on now is something I have to write, if you know what I mean. How do I decide which genre to build a career around?

Fizgig
03-17-2014, 01:41 AM
I honestly think only you can answer that one. I do have the strong impression that publishers will want you to write the same basic genre once you've had success in that genre. I've definitely seen a number of agents say that your debut book should be in the genre you want to write for a while.

I think its fairly easy to move between, say, adult and YA in the same genre, but jumping from literary to fantasy might be less supported. Of course no one can make you write a second book in a genre you don't want, but I do think agents and publishers interested in one of your books will ask about future novels and might not love it if you don't plan to continue in that same vein.

I think I'd ask yourself what you want to be writing for the next 5 years or so and go from there?

werewillf
03-17-2014, 01:59 AM
Thanks for the advice Fizgig. That backs up what I've heard, and sounds write. I guess I just need to figure out which one is a fluke, and which genre I will have fuel and passion to continue in. My current thought is that the literary novel I'm working on is something I need to get out of my system and will be used up after this novel. I think fantasy is something I could have more flexibility with and continue finding inspiration for.

Aggy B.
03-17-2014, 02:54 AM
More than a few authors separate their different genres with different pen names. You can develop more than one brand that way and write what you want. Of course, finding an agent that reps both fantasy and literary may be a challenge, but sometimes you can find a good agent who reps your main genre and is in a house with someone who reps the other.

Tromboli
03-17-2014, 03:11 AM
You could always use a pseudonym for one of them. That's what I'm considering. Name #1 will be YA contemporary name #2 fantasy MG. We'll see. Write what you want to and take it one step at a time.

werewillf
03-17-2014, 03:52 AM
Yeah, I guess a pseudonym is an option as well, but I guess I'm just concerned about how to portray myself as I look for agents. Is this a concern I should express with my (hypothetical) agent, or will I come off as indecisive and unsellable?

Tromboli: I was just reading an article about how it's easier to switch genre's in the children's market, even MG to YA. I'll see if I can find it again.

Old Hack
03-17-2014, 11:52 AM
When you send out a query you'll be trying to sell that one book to an agent. That's all. You don't have to worry about author-branding at that stage.

If an agent is interested in your book, he or she will almost certainly want to talk to you about your future plans before offering representation.

At this point, you should probably write the books you're most passionate about, and the ones you think you can do the best job with. Worry about branding later.

werewillf
03-18-2014, 05:08 PM
When you send out a query you'll be trying to sell that one book to an agent. That's all. You don't have to worry about author-branding at that stage.

If an agent is interested in your book, he or she will almost certainly want to talk to you about your future plans before offering representation.

At this point, you should probably write the books you're most passionate about, and the ones you think you can do the best job with. Worry about branding later.

Thanks for the perspective. This all makes sense. I guess what I'm wondering here is: Is it okay to discuss these things with an agent, or will I seem inconsistent and like too much work for them to take on as opposed to someone with a clear genre focus?

Aggy B.
03-18-2014, 05:35 PM
Thanks for the perspective. This all makes sense. I guess what I'm wondering here is: Is it okay to discuss these things with an agent, or will I seem inconsistent and like too much work for them to take on as opposed to someone with a clear genre focus?

I think that while agents do like to find authors they can support through a career, the fact is, they are still taking on a single book at a time. (There are exceptions, but usually the initial contract is for a single book/set of books. Not for everything an author will write for the rest of his/her life.)

If you have a book that is well-written and they can be passionate about, that should be enough.

I would still discuss with any agent who wants to sign you, that you don't always write in the same genre. But I don't think that should be a turn-off or a sign that you're unfocused. It just means you're flexible. ;)

Old Hack
03-18-2014, 06:49 PM
Thanks for the perspective. This all makes sense. I guess what I'm wondering here is: Is it okay to discuss these things with an agent, or will I seem inconsistent and like too much work for them to take on as opposed to someone with a clear genre focus?

I think most agents will expect you to discuss your hopes and plans with them. They will want to get to know you a bit before offering representation. They might want to steer you towards a particular genre, perhaps, and if you want to write outside that genre it could affect their decision to make you an offer: but that's what discussion is for. To work things out and reach agreement.

Most writers I know work across a few different genres: they'll write their novels but they'll also write non-fiction (articles, perhaps, or memoir). Their agents seem to enjoy the breadth of their work. It might cause some agents problems: but again, that's what you'll have to talk about before you make any decisions. What's important is that you're open and honest. There's no point trying to second-guess what someone might think about something you've not said yet.


I think that while agents do like to find authors they can support through a career, the fact is, they are still taking on a single book at a time. (There are exceptions, but usually the initial contract is for a single book/set of books. Not for everything an author will write for the rest of his/her life.)

It's not my experience that agents represent authors one book at a time: the ones I know take on writers for good and for all, and try to sell everything they've written.

Aggy B.
03-18-2014, 07:21 PM
It's not my experience that agents represent authors one book at a time: the ones I know take on writers for good and for all, and try to sell everything they've written.

I'm not disagreeing with that. But several established authors here on AW have pointed out that they either deal with their agent/agents one book at a time, or that the original contract was for a single book. (This from a couple of current threads.)

And at least one who has an agent that reps specific genres, while the author does the legwork (finding publishers and submitting the MS) on others. Then, any time there's a contract offered, the agent looks it over.

Point being, when an agent is interested, talk to them about any concerns, but don't stress about this now because it's not likely to be an issue.

Old Hack
03-18-2014, 09:52 PM
I'm not disagreeing with that. But several established authors here on AW have pointed out that they either deal with their agent/agents one book at a time, or that the original contract was for a single book. (This from a couple of current threads.)

Some agents do rep single books, rather than authors. But that doesn't mean that it's the norm, which is what you seemed to say in your previous post:


I think that while agents do like to find authors they can support through a career, the fact is, they are still taking on a single book at a time. (There are exceptions, but usually the initial contract is for a single book/set of books. Not for everything an author will write for the rest of his/her life.)

My bold.

It's not usual at all.


And at least one who has an agent that reps specific genres, while the author does the legwork (finding publishers and submitting the MS) on others. Then, any time there's a contract offered, the agent looks it over.

This isn't usual either. Not if you're considering reputable, established agents.


Point being, when an agent is interested, talk to them about any concerns, but don't stress about this now because it's not likely to be an issue.

This bit, however, is spot-on.

Aggy B.
03-18-2014, 11:34 PM
Learn something new every day. My impression had been the opposite.

werewillf
03-19-2014, 03:51 AM
Thanks for the feedback, it's helpful to hear both ends of the spectrum!