Agent, Author, Editor, Fiction, My Books, Novel, Publish, Query, Rejection, Writing

Can you find an agent by cold querying?

The first agent blog I discovered was Nathan Bransford’s, and the first thing I read there were his posts on how to get agent representation. His number one tip: have a referral. For top agents, he said, that’s essentially the only way. I really, really, really didn’t want to believe that.

I don’t know any agented writers. I know of some. At least three have even commented on my blog, but I don’t know them in the sense they would refer me to their agent. Nor do I know any agents, editors, or publishers. My budget doesn’t allow me to meet them at conferences or seminars, not even online ones. I’m stuck out in the cold.

I believe my completed novel is a good one, but it’s not the novel of the century, a straight to #1 on the NYT bestseller list. No agent is going to read my query, or sample pages and synopsis, and declare, “I will die, absolutely die, if I don’t get to represent this book!” How close to a miracle will it be should an agent offer me representation, I wonder?

Tell me, fellow writers, do you know of any recent debut fiction authors who found an agent by cold querying?

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Fiction, Novel, Query, Writing

It’s not just a novel!

pinkquestionIf 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.”

greenquestionFor 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?)

aquaquestionSo 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.

bluequestionSo, 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. 🙂