Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why Agents Don't Always Represent EVERYTHING: Or why does it seem like we are so picky?

It never fails. I will usually get at least once a week (and sometimes more than I can count) authors who submit stories that fall outside the realms of romance and women's fiction. So, I reject these authors telling them straight forward that while the book may be the book of his or her heart, while it may be well written, it is simply something I don't represent. Sometimes, after I have done this, I receive a comment back from the author noting that I need to expand my horizons. The answer to this is simply, NO.

As an agent, we decide what stories we really want to represent and which ones we want to pass on to other authors? Is this because we have limited connections in those fields. No, not exactly. The answer is simpler than that. In all honesty, we probably don't like the genre.

In other words, when we select which genres we leave off our acquisitions list, it stems mostly from a purely subjective decision.

Now, while, this might seem harsh, let me take it a step further. You want an agent who is 100% behind you on your stories. You want an agent who cannot say enough about your story. And, more importantly, you want and need an agent who understands that genre enough to really coach you through the tough editing issues.

For myself, I don't represent sci-fi or fantasy. Again, the reason is simple. I simply don't get the nuances of those genres. I like to read fantasy every now and then, but in terms of providing guidance to an author in that genre? I really wouldn't be able to help out.

I bring this up because if you are an author still looking for an agent, you have to find someone who "REALLY" represents your book. You have to find that agent who really understands your genre. They may say they take everything, but the real question is, do they understand everything. The odds are, they don't. Don't hold it against them. This is just a match that won't work for you.


1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this. I'm sure it must feel frustrating, especially the last stab emails asking you to broaden your horizons (lol).

    Being an aspiring author myself, not finished with revisions just yet, I recommend writers go on Twitter and search for agents. I look for those specific to my genre/subgenre. I take it a step further, visit the agency's website, look at the other agents which may be even more targeted, and follow the relevant ones. A hit list, per se, so that one day when I'm done polishing the ms, I have only to go on Twitter and get the agent names and emails.

    For example, if I write a historical romance, I would not follow an agent who represents historicals, or romance, but rather one specific to historical romance. Preferably specific to the time period also.

    Yes, it takes hours, days, a month, but... doesn't writing a manuscript take months? Sometimes years?

    Disclaimer: I do also follow interesting agents completely irrelevant to my genre just for their advice and posts.