Friday, June 19, 2020

Why NOT to query agents who don't represent your genre

Querying can be extremely frustrating. Odds are, eventually you might get to the end of your "agents to query" list without signing with anyone. At that point, sometimes it seems like the thing to do is to branch out a little, maybe query an agent whose interests are only tangentially related to your MS. Or maybe you see a cool agent post on Twitter that they're looking for something specific, and you want to work with them. You wrote high fantasy and the agent is looking for low fantasy - they're both fantasy, that's close enough, right?

Well Yes, But Actually No | Know Your Meme
[Image: "Well yes, but actually no" meme]
Agents have manuscript wish lists and interest lists for a reason: that's their area of expertise. You wouldn't take a motorcycle to a mechanic who only works on trucks. In the same vein, agents explicitly state what genres and age categories they're interested in (and often what they don't want to see) not only because they prefer to read that sort of work, but also because they have connections in that type of literature. That is their field, and as querying writers, it's our job to respect that.

It's not only a bad idea to send a manuscript in a genre an agent doesn't represent, it's unprofessional. It's like saying to the agent that you know they have preferences, but you're choosing to ignore them. Angie Hodapp at the Nelson Literary Agency said it best:
At the end of the day, you shouldn't query an agent who doesn't represent your genre. Period.