Thursday, June 27, 2013

Stick To Your Genre For A While

I know, I know. There have been a ton of writers lately writing in multiple genres and really hyping this approach up. I get it. But, as an agent, I personally recommend to NOT do this until you have become an established author with a following. Let me explain.

As a new author, it is important to really find your niche and find your voice. This takes time. Sure, you might jump around a little to find exactly where you want to write, but once you do, stick to it. Learn it and grow with it. But, there is one other twist to this that I think many authors fail to think about and it all comes down to marketing.

As agents talk to editors (or writers go directly to editors or agents) we are often looking at selling the author and not simply the single book to that person. We have talked about that this week with working with authors for a long period of time. Now, there will be times that sometimes a project just doesn't work out right with that editor. It might be the plot or it might simply be the execution of that single project. In any case, we often get a comment like this one that I just got back from a previous rejection from an editor: I believe you had mentioned that [author] has other story ideas and manuscripts. If she does and you think one would be suitable for [me], then I would be delighted to read it." (I took out the author name and line just for anonymity).  Seeing something like this is great, especially when the rejection came back with the first lines saying she really loved the author's writing and voice. Now here is the problem. The stories we have don't fit her line. We have no fall back position on this one.

I do have to explain that we had not planned to submit to this individual but the work ended up heading into this editor's hands via word of mouth and so forth. The writer does have a series of books designed for another line/editor, but I think you can see from this response where it puts and author if they are jumping around all over the place.

As an agent, when I look at signing an author, I do look to see what else that person has to offer. This is especially the case for people wanting to write for category lines such as Harlequin and Entangled. Your success with those lines is building up a name recognition in that line. Later on you can move around, but you need to get those authors following you. It is for this reason, I often ask what else the author might have that would fit that same line they submitted to me for.

Please don't get me wrong. Playing around with other genres is fine. Writing in multiple genres is fine. But, there are downsides to this, especially for new authors trying to make that first big break.

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