PDA

View Full Version : Can you call your work "upmarket" in a query?



cruellae
12-02-2014, 04:25 AM
I see a lot of people looking for upmarket fiction, and although it seems somewhat hard to define, I've read a lot of opinions and think my novel might fit the bill.

So my question is, in my query can I call my novel "upmarket fiction," or is that the kind of designation only a publishing professional can make?

Little Ming
12-02-2014, 04:44 AM
Do any of the agents you're querying want "upmarket fiction" in their guidelines?

cruellae
12-02-2014, 05:17 AM
Yeah, quite a few I'm looking into mention it specifically.

Little Ming
12-02-2014, 06:47 AM
If your novel "fits the bill" and they "specifically" want it, I think the answer is obvious. ;)

mayqueen
12-02-2014, 07:22 AM
I think so. I used the designation "upmarket" when I was querying when agents said they were looking for it. (I write historical fiction.) The key is to make sure that your query supports the notion of upmarket fiction: a strong possibly genre plot with literary qualities in the prose and/or characterization.

cruellae
12-02-2014, 07:47 AM
Thanks, mayqueen! That's the definition of upmarket I've seen too and I think my work fits it, although literary qualities are hard to define and I know I sometimes have trouble being objective when looking at my own work.

Filigree
12-02-2014, 07:59 AM
Aim high and hope.

Jamesaritchie
12-02-2014, 06:46 PM
Doing so won't matter. Your query will either show that it's upmarket, or fail to show it, and calling it "upmarket" simply makes no difference.

cruellae
12-02-2014, 07:36 PM
Doing so won't matter. Your query will either show that it's upmarket, or fail to show it, and calling it "upmarket" simply makes no difference.

This is definitely something to consider, but I worry that the literary leanings of my prose might not be evident in a brief query letter.

Laer Carroll
12-04-2014, 02:07 AM
"Upmarket" is a rather vague term. Sometimes its used to suggest something pricey (thus not appealing to bargain-basement shoppers). But less often people use it to mean higher literary quality, as you seem to do.

In a query it's next to impossible to convince an agent of that. Queries are intended to be very brief and engaging and the plot, characters, or setting are more likely to do that. It is in your sample (if they ask for one) where the literary quality will be evident.

I go with James and others on this. Leave the label out of the query and focus instead on one which is as short and compelling as you can make it. (Agents are usually very busy people and like "short" a lot!)

Quickbread
12-04-2014, 02:21 AM
I see a lot of people looking for upmarket fiction, and although it seems somewhat hard to define, I've read a lot of opinions and think my novel might fit the bill.

So my question is, in my query can I call my novel "upmarket fiction," or is that the kind of designation only a publishing professional can make?

It would be safe to call it literary fiction if that's the aspect you want to emphasize. Let the agent decide how to define it before they pitch it.

cruellae
12-04-2014, 02:37 AM
I had never heard of "upmarket" relating to the price of a book. That's good to know. I don't know if I'd like to call the novel "literary fiction" as it's more commercial but with literary leanings. So maybe just calling it contemporary or commercial fiction would be best.

Laer Carroll
12-16-2014, 12:59 AM
...maybe just calling [my book] contemporary or commercial fiction would be best.

Or not call it anything. Write a pitch that grabs the agent and leave the exact category label for the agent to decide. Labels like these, as you've seen from all the previous comments, are not scientifically precise. They are inexact and vague. S/he may even give a different label to your book when s/he talks to different publishers.

mayqueen
12-16-2014, 02:44 AM
Or not call it anything. Write a pitch that grabs the agent and leave the exact category label for the agent to decide. Labels like these, as you've seen from all the previous comments, are not scientifically precise. They are inexact and vague. S/he may even give a different label to your book when s/he talks to different publishers.

You have to list at least genre. Otherwise it looks like you don't know the market. Yes, you can leave calling it upmarket or literary to the agent when she pitches it to publishers. But in a query, you need a genre.

gingerwoman
12-16-2014, 08:58 AM
I had never heard of "upmarket" relating to the price of a book. That's good to know. I don't know if I'd like to call the novel "literary fiction" as it's more commercial but with literary leanings. So maybe just calling it contemporary or commercial fiction would be best.
I've noticed a few agents saying they are open to literary fiction "with a strong plot." Upmarket commercial fiction is another name for that.

Old Hack
12-16-2014, 09:37 AM
You have to list at least genre. Otherwise it looks like you don't know the market. Yes, you can leave calling it upmarket or literary to the agent when she pitches it to publishers. But in a query, you need a genre.

Agreed. Publishers and agents want to know what they're looking at: they need to know the genre.


I've noticed a few agents saying they are open to literary fiction "with a strong plot." Upmarket commercial fiction is another name for that.

I'd be wary of labeling your work "literary fiction" when you're querying. It's not got its own shelf-label in bookshops; and it's a term which is so often misused it's sometimes taken as a bit of a warning signal.

arcangie
01-07-2015, 11:56 PM
Can anyone give some titles for upmarket? I saw on Folio Literary Manegement website clearly stated they are searching these stories.