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Choosing an Agent with A Wide Range of Genre Interests

A reader asks:

I went to one day ‘how to get published’ event on Saturday. The last part of the day was a panel of three agents from different agencies explaining how it works from their POV. About the only thing they agreed on was follow the instructions for submissions, everything else especially what to include in a synopsis was pretty much polar opposites, which is concerning.

One of them was very much, I don’t like XYZ but anything else send it in and give it as much consideration as anything else.

A lot of the people attending found that strange and in quiet groups questioned he reasons.

I found him, friendly, helpful and very encouraging (and he is interested in my MS when I finish polishing it).  You’ve just said that you’re #MSWL is more a guide than a tablet of stone. So an enthusiastic agent with a broad range of interests wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing?

Sorry for the long winded reply/question.

I included your entire comment because I think there is some interesting material here. However, I’m going to focus on your question about an agent with a wide range of interests.

Agents are readers first which means we often have a wide range of varying, and changing interests. Over the course of my career, I have represented everything from erotica to business books to YA to cozy mysteries. My range has been far and wide as are the many things in life I am interested in. My interests also change with age, the market, and what’s happening both in my life and at BookEnds. The same could be said of any agent.

I don’t think I’d be wary of an agent simply because she has a wide range of interests, but I would want to know what her sales record or experience is with my particular genre before signing. Having limited experience isn’t necessarily a detriment, especially if she’s an agent with a strong sales record who is attempting to break into a new genre. If she successfully did it once, with one genre, she’s likely to be able to successfully do it again and again with a new genre.

Ultimately though, if something an agent says or does is setting off a red flag for you then maybe, no matter how successful that agent is, she’s just not the agent for you.

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2 comments

  1. It’s the experience in a particular genre that has me querying, almost exclusively, agents listed with Romance Writers of America. I write only romance genre, so I’m particularly interested in agents who have sales experience, contacts with editors buying romance, knowledge of the romance market, etc. Which doesn’t mean they don’t have other genres they’re interested in, but I have the reassurance that they have the experience in the market I’m writing in.

  2. I really like your philosophy and am glad I stumbled across your Twitter-feed. Very helpful info! Will check out your agency to see if you handle the genre of my new manuscript – which happens to be about 81,000 words!

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