I had a question come up yesterday and I thought I would address it here. Like always, there are a lot of elements to this question so we will look at all of the pieces.
I wrote a romantic comedy (haters to lovers) and am struggling to find an agent. The book has more elements than just a romcom. I've had a full manuscript request, but ultimately, being a male author in a primarily female genre, I'm wondering if I should query the novel as general fiction. If so, is that smart or a dead end? The novel has similar qualities to the movie Tin Cup and has football as a major theme.
I am trying to be honest with myself and not waste anyone's time, including my own. I believe the novel would appeal to both men and women.
Let's start with the biggest question and then cycle back around to pick up the other issues.
but ultimately, being a male author in a primarily female genre, I'm wondering if I should query the novel as general fiction.
Gender as an author is not necessarily the issue. There are a lot of great male authors writing romance. Just because you are a guy does not mean you cannot write romance. I did say necessarily here so let me clarify this piece which might be the reason why stories are not working out well with editors and agents. It comes down to the voice issue. If you study gender communications, a common theme is how men and women communicate differently. Small things such as what each gender emphasizes in conversations, what they think is important and how they work with others is a huge difference. So, when we read a story written by a male author who is writing as a male author, the words on the page just don't feel right. The author might be using the right words, but something is just not connecting.
As for just marketing the story as general fiction, that option just is not going to work out either, or at least probably not. First of all, just throwing it out there with all of the other fiction writing will end up with it looking really flat. Secondly, there is a pretty good chance that your general fiction editors and agents will read this and see someone attempting a romance and not quite making it there.
OK, let's move on to the other things I see here... I wrote a romantic comedy (haters to lovers) and am struggling to find an agent. The book has more elements than just a romcom
Immediately, what jumps out to me is someone trying to meet too many markets with the story. If this is a Rom Con then stick to that genre. When readers want to read this genre, that is all they want to see. They don't want other genres thrown in there as well. This could be an issue as well.
Now, let's look at the topic of the story and see another big issue...The novel has similar qualities to the movie Tin Cup and has football as a major theme... I believe the novel would appeal to both men and women.
This is probably one of the biggest issues here. Tin Cup is not a Rom Con. It is a sports movie with romance in it. I would also argue that, while it is true that women do watch golf and football, in most romances, the sports side of the story is often just a small backdrop. Obviously, without reading a full synopsis of this story, I cannot make a full call on this one, but based on just the things this author has noted in the question, I am betting the focus of this story is more on the Football and not on the building of the relationship, which, by the way, is the heart of a romance.
Now on to the last piece of the puzzle...I am trying to be honest with myself and not waste anyone's time, including my own.
Writing is not about wasting time. It is about learning the craft and knowing the right approaches to take. This is where I'm going to get a bit motivational speaker here so work with me. This author is at least making an effort to learn and grow as an author. This takes time. Sometimes the honesty you have to deal with is looking at a story, after you spent months working on it, and simply say this is not going to work. Was that wasted time? Not necessarily. Every author out there has written a story that, when they look back on it, realize it was just not good and would never sell. Simply move on.
Now, with that said, wasting time would be just firing this off to any agent out there without doing your homework. Too many authors do this. They work their way through a database, find any agent out there accepting stories and send the story to them. I see this as well and am always wondering, "Why is this person wasting my time?" This is always a reaction to a story that is clearly not what I am looking for. Do the research. See if this is something the agent is really looking for.
In the end, as I read this question, my best answer to this author is to go out and read romance novels. Go to your bookstore and start grabbing books from the Romance Section. Really take the time to learn the genre. That will be the best use of time.
Hope that helps!