Monday, May 21, 2018

Tip Time

It's Tip Time!  This month I thought I would talk about how to nail your genre.  

I see a lot of queries where authors get their genre wrong or in an abundance of caution, classify their manuscripts using the broadest possible strokes, e.g. "I am querying you because you represent fiction."  

This is a mistake because even though you may have a fantastically written manuscript, being too broad or just completely getting your genre wrong shows agents that you don't really know the marketplace, which is essential knowledge to have, since as we all know, promotion efforts will definitely fall on your shoulders when your project publishes, regardless of where you land.

To familiarize yourself with different genres, I strongly suggest taking the time to cruise Publishers Marketplace, to see the kinds of deals that are being done each day and note which projects are similar to yours and how they are being classified (you can either sign up for a subscription or receive a free newsletter).  For instance, you might think that your historical fiction about Highlanders belongs in the historical fiction category, but after scrolling through several pages, you'll probably see that anything about Highlanders pretty much automatically belongs under romance and that labeling it as anything else will be more of an uphill battle, both for you and for a potential agent.

Another easy thing to do is to just park yourself at a Barnes & Noble or your local library one day and walk the shelves.  You might see that instead of calling your book an adventure story, you should really label it as a thriller or that since your protagonist is going off to college, your book is really more New Adult than YA.  Looking at comp titles is also a great way to see where your book fits into the publishing landscape!

Doing this will help give an agent a favorable impression when you query them and help you determine which agents you should send to when looking at what genres an agent does and doesn't represent.  We're always glad to see authors who know what they're talking about and have clearly done their research!


  1. Great tips on classification. I agree that an author should know the genre of her work in order to query the right agent and promote it to the right readership after publication.

  2. Ah, the thorny problem of genre. The only thing worse (for me) than picking genre is picking comparables.

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