If you’ve written a novel, you will have to identify it’s category when you query an agent. It’s not just a novel. I touched on this subject last week, then Sharon Egan wrote a detailed post on the same topic, and now I’m revisiting it. Sharon referenced AgentQuery’s genre descriptions and I quote from them below.
Last week, I categorized my 250-opening-word contest entry as women’s fiction, but when literary agent Rachelle Gardner commented on it she said, “This seems like it’s going to be a romance and frankly I’d be disappointed, after this opening, if it weren’t. So I’m not sure about your genre of women’s fiction.”
For this very reason, I’ve struggled with revisions of the first few paragraphs of my novel. Ms. Gardner will be disappointed unless the definition of the romance genre has changed. However, according to the AgentQuery site, it hasn’t. And they say: “If you didn’t intentionally set out to write a romance novel, it’s probably not a romance.”
I did not intend to write a romance. I did intend to write about love. There’s a difference. Learning to recognize and accept love is as much a part of my book as any romance storyline. (But hey, if Ms. Gardner wants to represent me and sell it as a romance, who am I to argue?)
So what is my novel? I’ve eliminated romance, sci-fi, mystery, fantasy, horror, or any of those other commercial genres. And I don’t think it qualifies as literary. So that narrowed it down to either women’s fiction or commercial. My novel has elements of both, but here’s the thing, according to the AgentQuery definitions, women’s fiction can fall under the umbrella of commercial fiction. So my novel is commercial women’s fiction, right? Well …
Traditionally women’s fiction has a female as the main character. My book is in three parts, with three main characters. In two of those parts, the point-of-view character is female, but in the third, the pov character is a male. And this male character is present as a main character in all three parts. So does that disqualify the book as women’s fiction? Not according to this post by agent Jessica Faust.
So, if you need help identifying your novel’s category, click the links above to read the descriptions at Sharon’s blog and the AgentQuery site. As for me, I’m sticking with the women’s fiction category for my novel, though I may tack on commercial. Or I may not. I may lose my mind from this querying process. And then the title of my blog will no longer be literary—it will be literal. 🙂