Ask Daphne! Agent Switcheroo (but really about specializing)

February 25th, 2008 • Kate

GrammarGirl writes:

I have this “friend,” see. Her kind and warm agent found her after reading some of her work, saving my friend the stress of having to query many agents. At the outset of their relationship, my friend explained that she aspired to write novels for kids and teens, even though her day job was writing in other categories. The agent said, “No problem.” But my friend has noticed the agent has sold nothing else like that. Nor does the agent seem to really be into YA and MG fiction, at least not in the hopeless and irredeemable way my friend is. Finally, when my friend sent a brief synopsis of the YA novel she was writing, the agent didn’t respond.

My friend doesn’t like to nag. Nor would she expect someone to feign love for a book category to make a sale. Would it be better for my friend to seek another agent who specializes in children’s literature? Or should she just be glad she has an agent, and hope that when the novel is suitably polished, the agent will know which editor might like to buy it? The whole thing makes my friend’s stomach hurt.

Dear GrammarGirl — This is a tough call, but I think you have to go with what your agent has said. Just because an agent hasn’t done much YA or MG in the past doesn’t mean they won’t be absolutely fantastic at selling it in the future. If she’s already said your interest in other genres is great, and not a problem, then you get to run with that.

The fact that she hasn’t responded to your latest synopsis may not have anything to do with the category, and may be about being busy or just behind in her reading. Has it been a week or so? Send her a short email, confirming that she’s received the synopsis, and saying that you’re eager to hear her reaction. In the meantime, while you wait to hear from her, keep writing!

Finally, for all your writers out there of category fiction, whether it’s MG, YA, adult romance, scifi, or Cold War spy novels. Whatever. Yes, you’ll find agents who love the category that you’re writing in. You may also be lucky enough to find an agent you loves your book, regardless of the category. They’re not always the same person, and that’s ok.

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