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Properly Identifying Your Book’s Genre

A few months ago BookEnds signed up for a new query system. Instead of email queries we switched to Query Manager and while the official review will be held in December, I think we’re all pretty happy with it.

One of the things I like is that we get to select the genres we’re currently accepting queries in and when writers come to each individual query submission form they will either find the genre that agent accepts or know to query another agent within the agency. This is a huge advantage to writers. Instead of guessing or hoping that Jessica Faust accepts YA Fantasy you can see very clearly that it’s not an option on her form and go back to the BookEnds Submission page to find who does have it as an option.

What kills me is the number of authors who decide that they’ll just choose another genre, instead of querying the agent who is looking for that YA Fantasy. It does you a disservice to try to force a round peg into a square hole. I don’t have YA Fantasy on my query form because currently I’m not looking to acquire YA Fantasy. It doesn’t mean I can’t sell it or don’t like it, but it does mean that there are other agents in the agency who are more enthusiastic about it and a better choice.

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6 comments

  1. What would you say is the difference between YA and Adult Fantasy? Surely, it can’t simply be the age of the protagonist?

    1. There’s definitely a voice in YA that adult books don’t have. So while the age of the protagonist is a factor, a young character doesn’t exclusively make a book YA. The voice will.

  2. Great post. It’s especially helpful for people like me, I think. I’m based in Germany, and I must say the German style permeated my very bones. I became to-the-point and rigid in quite a few ways. If I feel my books are romantic suspense, then that’s what they are, regardless of the few nuances from other genres. Some people told me this is a disadvantage, that I should be more “moldable” about these things. Now my spirits are back up 🙂 Thanks for all the information you share with us!

  3. Seeing the genre in the drop downs for each agent is definitely a benefit for writers on submission – it takes away any uncertainty. I’m surprised anyone would choose a different genre just to get it in a particular agent’s inbox. Surely you want an agent who is looking for that genre at the moment? Aren’t they the ones who are going to be excited by what you submit?

  4. Sometimes it’s a matter of confusion with websites such as Query Tracker and agents’ profiles/preferences listing outdated info and some manuscripts fitting into more than one genre. This can equal a misunderstanding rather than authors intentionally misrepresenting a genre. (I’m sure some do, but I hope a majority are more respectful of agents and their time). Also, some agencies’ forms vary with genres falling under the broad category for Literary or Commercial. So it’s not always clear from one agency to the next unless stated. This post has been very helpful. Thank you for making this clear.

  5. Okay I’m getting sleepy again so I may be missing the point but how does that even make sense in someone’s head?
    I have all the respect in the world for you Jessica and I would be honored to have you as an agent. But, if you’re not excited about reading my book/genre then you’re not going to love it the way I do. Someone who is excited about my genre is more likely to love my characters and my world.

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