Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Agents for Multiple Genres

My question is about securing an agent when you write in multiple genres. It can be difficult to find one agent who represents all of them. Is it ever possible to have multiple agents? To locate a single agent who represents all of your particular genres can be challenging. It also limits the number of agents you can query - in a field that is already small. Or is it best to look for an agency that represents multiple genres, and hope that you can be represented by more than one agent within the firm?

I think one of the keys to success in this business is to take things one at a time. Just because you are writing in multiple genres doesn’t mean you will be published in multiple genres. What genre are you querying now? Focus on that book and look for agents who would be right for that book. If you’re building a career you’ll need to focus on one thing at a time anyway. If the agent you find happens to represent all of your dreamed-about genres, that’s great. If not, you’ll cross that bridge when you come to it.

One of the things I’ve found is that it’s not uncommon for unpublished authors to have dreams of being published in three or four different genres. Once you’ve sold a book, though, those dreams can change. You might discover that while you thought you were both an inspirational author and an erotic author you really stink at erotic and have found your true calling in inspirational. Or you might simply discover that your inspirational career is keeping you so busy you don’t have time to even think about the many other genres you had once imagined for yourself.

While it’s important to have dreams of your bigger picture, that picture is likely to change over the years. Heck, my vision and the books I represent has changed over the years. I’m continually adding new genres to the list of books I represent and removing others. Focus on one book at a time and you’re likely to have better luck.



Donna Lea Simpson said...

My situation is a little different... I'm a multi-published author in romance, and I'd like to keep my options open in that regard, but murder mystery novels are what I've always written (on the side) and want to primarily focus on. But many agents that agent mystery firmly say 'no romance!'

So, right now at least, I'm focusing on those who agent both. If I have to make a decision, it will be for mystery.

Anonymous said...

"...I think one of the keys to success in this business is to take things one at a time. Just because you are writing in multiple genres doesn’t mean you will be published in multiple genres..."

AMEN. I love this post!

Because it is soooo true, that when you are first starting out, you get in this grove of thinking, and next I'll write THIS and then THAT, and then THOSE! People mistakenly think that all one has to do is be dedicated, and they'll succeed. But lots of writers are dedicated. It's just a simple fact that some writers are more geared to writing lit fiction, or crime fiction, or picture books, or erotica.

As we all know, writing is damn hard, doing it well at a level where it is publishable, even harder.

(I once spent seven months writing a mystery novel before it dawned on me that I don't even READ mystery novels... reality, reality is good. :) )

Anonymous said...

That was "groove," sorry!

Lydia Sharp said...

Good post, excellent advice. :)

Shawn said...


Getting published is such a moonshot.

It's a bit like planning the order of planets you will be the first to set foot on.

Get one agent. Get published. Live happily ever after... or at least until you don't sell out your advance and have to start over again.

Kristen said...

Good advice, though this brings up another question for me about how new authors should handle submissions when they have multiple novels polished by the time they feel ready to enter the market.

Sounds crazy? Yes, I agree, but it's the predictable result of how I'm training myself.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I wish Jessica had actually answered the questions rather than brushing them off by saying the situation was unlikely. The questions the blog asked at the top were much more interesting to me than the answer that was provided.

Mira said...

Thank you, Jessica. I really appreciate your perspective on this - it makes alot of sense.

One step at at time. :)

Thank you!

Mira said...

Anon 11:19 - thanks. This was my question - I think...it's been a few months since I asked it, and I've been on the blogs alot since then, so I have alittle more information now.

I like Jessica's answer, for three reasons:

a. I think she has a very good point. Why count your chickens before they are hatched? Go with the best agent for your first book.

b. If the situation comes up, you can always discuss it with your current agent, and figure out a best way to handle it.

c. This may just be circumstantial evidence, but I've noticed that all agents on all blogs avoid answering the question of multiple agents. I've seen it asked numerous times, and no one will answer it. I assume there's a reason for that, and once I got published, I'd figure it out. :)

But regardless of c. above, I really appreciate Jessica's answer. I think it's the right answer for me, personally, and I definitely appreciate that she took the time to answer it.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Were you reading my mind? Because I had this exact question floating around in there.

Thanks for the post!

Unknown said...

Mira, I think if you ran into this problem, then yes, you could have another agent.

I'm am in this situation, I am also writing screenplays besides my current work, and my agent doesn't handle them, so yes, I am going to have to secure a different agent for them.

But I find that most agents, will grow with you. If you have a good product I am sure most agents would help you find a home for it.

writergrrrl said...

You and Betsy Lerner must be sharing brain waves. Her post from yesterday discusses the two-agent issue:


Gilbert J. Avila said...

Inspirational AND erotic? Other than The Song of Solomon I can't think of any titles that fit that description.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:19, I agree: Why tackle a question when all you give are wishy-washy answers or reply "It depends"? I've seen a lot of that on blogs lately and it's a waste of time & space for us who need real answers to real problems.

Mira said...

LD - thank you very much - I appreciate the information.

Anon 9:18, like I said to the other anon, I asked the question, and I like the answer just fine. It's on target and helpful. Sometimes the right answer is "it depends."

I'm not entitled to anything here, you know - I appreciate that she took the time.

Anonymous said...

Mira, IMHO it's not just your Q, it's the dozens of other questions that agents never really answer for fear of offending someone or making a statement. That's my point--no need to defend Jessica or any other agent. Just my opinion!

Sheila Deeth said...

It's comforting how many people want to ask the same question. Now I don't feel so weird. Though deciding to concentrate on one thing might be hard.

Mira said...

Anon - Well, sure you're entitled to your opinion.

I guess the way you phrased it struck me as rather harsh - almost an attack. I felt protective. But I hear that you're feeling frustrated.

307books said...

Critics: If are seeking an answer to this question, can we assume you are unagented? Otherwise you likely would have discussed with your own agent first. Therefore, I think Jessica gave the best advice possible: focus on getting Book 1 published before you worry about Books 2, 3, 4, etc. Not sure that there is any better advice than that.

kanishk said...

right now at least, I'm focusing on those who agent both. If I have to make a decision, it will be for mystery.

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