Friday, January 31, 2014

Struggling To Find An Agent For Authors With Multiple Genres - Question from a writer

I am at a complete loss.  I am a writer with a pile of books that are ready for representation.  My issue is that I AM a writer and put fingers to keyboard as the muse descends.  As such, I have completed works that represent several genre.  I would prefer to work with one agency to represent all my works, rather than have them scattered, but I am finding that rather difficult.  Although I have reasonable interest in many of my works, I don't have interest from an exclusive agent.

This is a good question and certainly one that I think a lot of writers face. I do see several things that have to be addressed here.

The first revolves around the idea of developing an author brand. Readers need to know you are someone they can go to for a particular genre or voice. This is something that as an agent, we work on with our authors. What is the "package" we want the publishers to see as well as the readers. As you noted, you have a lot of different ideas and genres you are juggling. While there is nothing wrong with playing around with a lot of different styles, that focus is key. You can't be there for everyone. 

I would also recommend to take the time to really get to know one of those genres really well. Specialize in it and learn all of the nuances of it.

The second issue here is how the agent is going to market your work. There are a lot of times when we market a book to a publisher, there were things about the writing he or she liked, but the story itself didn't work. When this happens, we frequently get the question, "What else does this person have?" If you don't have something else in that particular genre, the conversation stops. We now have to start on ground zero with a new project and a new editor. 

Finally, and I think this addresses the issue of finding that agent who has an interest in everything you do. You have to remember that agents specialize in areas because of their background and their own interests. You want to find someone who "knows" your genre inside and out. If you reflect on your initial question, I think you can see the answer. There simply isn't going to be someone (or at least very few) out there that know the "ins and outs" of all of your genres.

When you are looking for an agent, you want someone who can truly help you, not just with the marketing but also with the story development. If we don't understand it, then you lose out.

I would recommend two things:

1) Focus in on one genre until you get established. Then, if you and your agent think expanding is an option, move into one other area only.
2) If you still want to write in a lot of genres. look for an agency that has multiple agents focusing on all of your genres. Continue to stress just one genre, but in the initial correspondence, make it clear that you would like to work with the other agents as well on other projects. I cannot promise that will work, but that is the best option.

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