Wrong Genre

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Feb 11 2010

I have written three nonfiction books in which I have gotten good feedback for. The only problem is that when I look at the feedback they all say the same thing. Great ideas, great writing but wrong genre even though the agents submission guidelines say self-help nonfiction. What am I doing wrong? (your agency is included)

I have to say, it’s nearly impossible for me to answer this question without knowing more about your book or reading your query. Although I assume I might be the one who said that, I get literally 100 queries a day and there’s no way I’ll remember one (unless it was really wacky, or really great).

My guess is that if agents are telling you wrong genre, it’s the wrong genre. I have a couple thoughts on this.

First, take a look at your query. You say your book is self-help nonfiction, but do you present it that way in the query or does it sound more like a memoir or something else? In other words, are you properly presenting your book the way you want to in your query or are you giving the wrong impression?

I would also have you take a close look at the book as well as the web sites of the agents you are targeting. If people say it’s the wrong genre, then what they mean is you are targeting the wrong agents. What do they represent that’s self-help nonfiction and would your book fit into those lists? If not, then I think you are definitely targeting the wrong people.

And lastly, it is very possible these are simply polite form letters from agents telling you they just aren’t interested.


6 responses to “Wrong Genre”

  1. Avatar Kimber An says:

    Ooh, I hate this issue.

    Bites in the backside every single time!

    The trouble is when you read widely, across all genres and kinds of books, it's only natural to

    write widely.


    I am certainly not qualified to dish out advice on this one, but all my sympathies to anyone trying to figure it out.

  2. Avatar Jen says:

    Oh I hate that!!!! I wish I could offer advice, but I wouldn't have any idea what to tell you! Good Luck with your search to getting the genre figured out.

  3. Avatar Mira says:

    This is a tricky one, and I like how you thought this out, Jessica.

    I also want to say, kudos for all the nice feedback that the author is getting. Most authors just get form rejections, even for partials, so it sounds like once they submit to the right agents, they may have a winner on their hands!

    Good luck!

  4. Avatar Lucy says:

    Squirrels are rubbing their paws together as they sense a newcomer….

    If you want detailed feedback on your query go to https://www.absolutewrite.com/forums and register. Once you do, you will be able to post your query in the encouragingly titled Query Letter Hell section. It is protected with a second password available to registered members.

    The likelihood is that someone there will be able to help you. (And you will learn to understand all the squirrel jokes.)

    Hope to see you there. 🙂


  5. Avatar Nishant says:

    The trouble is when you read widely, across all genres and kinds of books, it's only natural to

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