This post is for all you fantasy writers currently querying to give you some insight into why it can be so difficult to land a fantasy project with an agent. While romance has the biggest market share, it often seems like fantasy is the most popular genre to write and that is part of what makes it so tough on the traditional side. I’m going to cover stats, inbox trends, the market, and what I’m looking for.
When it comes to my slush inbox, and probably most inboxes of other agents who represent fantasy, fantasy tends to dominate numbers wise. For example my next most popular genre right now is historical since I did several contests for it in May (this may actually be skewing my historical stats higher than usual) and I’m pretty vocal about my love for the genre. I took stats from recent queries to show you just how far my slush skews fantasy. In that time that it took me to get 192 historical queries these last few months across adult and YA, I got 168 adult fantasy queries and another 161 in young adult. So together that’s 329 queries versus 192. The next highest genre was science fiction at 126 queries. All other genres I accept in that same period of time got less than 100 queries. Continue reading “Fantasy Slush: The Current State”
I found myself wanting to post a lot of #mswl wants on Twitter lately and decided to do a big compilation post about what kind of manuscripts I’m currently looking for. Don’t forget I also keep my Goodreads page up to date for those who want to see what I’ve been reading lately to get a feel for my tastes. Keep in mind while this includes some of what I know I want, I love finding surprises in my inbox. Often times I’ll say I really want horror and the next book I sign ends up being romance or some other genre. I want to find things that surprise me. Stories I never could have imagined before reading them.
The below goes for both adult and young adult works. If you want to query me do so here.
I’m seeing a lot of stories about royalty, rebellions, evil leaders, and fighting for the throne lately and the market is crowded with those types of stories right now. I’m craving something different. Something fresh with intimate personal stakes. I want to find stories that surprise me and that I didn’t even know I wanted. I would love some fantasy set in Eastern Europe or Asia or other places with riveting history and myths that haven’t often been covered. I love fantasy about folklore but I like seeing new twists on it. In contemporary fantasy I would love something that isn’t your typical urban fantasy. I’m always craving historical fantasy and recently loved Enchantée. Humorous fantasy is always great as well.
Science Fiction Continue reading “Wish List Update”
I get a lot of queries from self-published authors. I want to discuss what I personally look for in hybrid authors as an agent as well as some querying advice for hybrid authors. I have made offers to hybrid authors in the past and likely will again. I also expect the number of hybrid authors to grow since I think that is the direction the industry is headed in and for the better. Authors need more options outside of traditional houses because frankly as an agent I see too many great books go unpublished.
Let’s start with the biggest and most common mistake I see. I get a lot of queries from authors who decided to self-publish but did zero marketing and in many cases didn’t hire an editor or have a professional cover made. They made very few sales and disappointed, decided to try for an agent next. Most agents won’t be interested in these books and if my slush is any indication we get a lot of them. Putting your book on Amazon isn’t enough to sell copies. You need to be willing to market no matter which route you choose.
As an agent I can tell you it’s hard to sell already published books to editors unless they are selling very well, by which I mean thousands of copies and not hundreds. Any other book I’d rather see before it’s published. I’d rather try to sell an editor on a clean slate than a book already published to poor sales. Sure the lack of marketing may be the culprit, but how can editors know for sure? In the end they care about numbers, not excuses. If you want to self-publish commit yourself to putting out a quality product and that means you need to think beyond the writing. Studying marketing is just as important as studying writing. Continue reading “Querying: Hybrid Authors”
When I joined D4EO agency it gave me the opportunity to very excitedly switch over to QueryManger instead of using an email inbox. QueryManager will be known as Qm from now on and no that lack of space in the middle of the name is not a typo. The software is named QueryManager and if you don’t believe me check their website. Qm is how the logo shows up when I use the software. I’ve been with several agencies between interning, assisting, and agenting and I’ve seen many different query inbox systems. Qm is by far my favorite. However I get a lot of confused messages from authors about Qm, and so I’m going to discuss how I use Qm as an agent and clear up some confusion, including the fact that no, you can’t add indents to your query since it uses block formatting. The amount of messages I received about that when I first switched over to Qm surprised me.
What I love most about Qm is how organized it is. And since it has all my queries and requests, it keeps everything in one place instead of getting requests lost beneath dozens of other emails. Qm also hides my email and uses it’s own to send from, which cuts down on submission emails to my agency email and keeps my amount of emails under control. I think it’s important to note Qm is not designed to be messaging back and forth with authors, something I learned from experience. It’s set up to make it easy to reject or request and once we know we want to offer it’s assumed we will switch to email, which is what I do. Unfortunately that also makes it hard to respond to questions from authors so please just follow the submission guidelines and if you have questions about representation save it for when/if I offer since we will have a chat when I offer. If I have questions I will shoot you an email. Continue reading “QueryManger and Queries”
After my latest conference taking pitches from authors, I had some thoughts I wanted to share. Most queries to me end up as a rejection, and unfortunately that includes ones received from conferences. However that doesn’t mean pitching an agent can’t be worthwhile. For those who view agents as the scary gatekeepers, this is also your chance to see that we are real people too. And as an agent I enjoy getting the chance to talk to authors and hopefully be of some help. Publishing is a tough industry and I wish I could help more authors out, but my time is limited and my clients come first. Luckily I can give out tips on my blog!
In my experience a lot of people get nervous pitching face to face. The pitches usually aren’t as succinct as queries either. I tend to like to see the queries afterward because I don’t like to judge by a nervous pitch unless I know the overall concept definitely isn’t for me. My advice is don’t see that pitch to an agent as a make-or-break moment for your book and instead view it as an opportunity to practice pitching your work and getting to ask questions. Once you’re a published author you will get people asking what your book is about and if you can give a good pitch you might be able to convert curious people into future readers. You also may wind up in other networking positions where being able to pitch your book will help you. Continue reading “Pitching at Conferences”
One of the questions I often get asked by potential clients is whether or not I’m an editorial agent. With my background in editing the answer is of course. That leads to authors wanting to know how much editing I do, which depends on the amount of work each individual project needs. Editorial agents are becoming more common and I think the increased competitiveness of the industry is going to lead to most if not all agents becoming editorial agents eventually. Honestly I’m glad I started on the editorial side first to work on editing since these days it’s an important skill for agents. While I don’t give specific edit notes until a client has signed with me, on the offer call I try to cover my expectations of what needs edited to clue the author in how many edits we’d be doing together.
When it comes to my clients, as an agent I tend to work with authors who don’t need heavy line edits and I tend to focus on developmental edits instead. By that I mean their overall style is polished and the changes needed are usually not grammatical issues that pop up throughout the whole story like passive versus active voice or too much telling. My clients are authors who have put in a lot of time to studying the craft and aren’t still learning the basics. They are also often experienced with taking critique as well. Continue reading “Being an Editorial Literary Agent”
I think it’s pretty safe for me to say many if not all of us working in publishing struggle to have a healthy work-life balance. Our jobs can be time demanding so much so that it can feel like there’s never enough time to get everything done. As an editor I had to balance how many projects I accepted at one time. As an agent I keep a close eye on my client list and how many upcoming projects I have when I consider making an offer. My big goal for 2019 is to try to obtain a healthier work-life balance. Thankfully since I live in Pittsburgh instead of NYC, my cost of living is lower which means I can keep my client list smaller. So here’s some cold hard truth about my work-life balance as an agent.
Clients always come first, but because handling work for them takes up my regular work hours, reading to find new clients often gets pushed into personal time. Once you get behind on queries its difficult to catch back up without closing to new queries. I set aside a half hour a few times a week to go through queries. This keeps me on track, but as the number of queries in my inbox rises so does the time needed to get through them and read all the “maybes” I have marked. And really that’s why you really need to grab me with your query and first chapter because there are probably five or more other manuscripts being considered for a full request and I don’t have time to request and read them all. Continue reading “Work-life Balance in Publishing”