Ask Daphne! How narrow should I be?

April 28th, 2009 • Kate

stuart_weitzman_narrowIt’s very difficult to find narrow shoes (I know, I’ve gone shoe shopping with my mom), but these Stuart Weitzman beauties do come in narrow, for S.M., who asks:

How narrow should the genre be in a query letter? Do I go for the most general genre (i.e., commercial fiction) or try and narrow it down to the finest point available (i.e., chick lit, or, in this case, chick lit w/a gay narrator , or is that automatically gay lit?)? Thanks.

Personally, S.M., I’m a medium, and would recommend that sort of a description in your query letter as well. Commercial fiction is extremely general, and may be hard for an agent to get a handle on. Likewise, “chick lit with a gay narrator” may unfairly limit your audience.

I’d call it chick lit, for purposes of quick description, (or gay lit, if you feel that better describes the story) but let the rest of your query letter illustrate what makes it unique within that medium-sized description.

My fear of trying to narrow your genre down too much is that you end up with the sort of multi-hyphenated category tags I dislike. Trying to get away with calling something a techno-military-thrilling-historical-romantic-comedy just gets long and confusing. As I’ve said before, figure out the simplest definition of your work, and find agents that would represent that.

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2 Responses to “Ask Daphne! How narrow should I be?”

  1. Liz S Says:

    Thank you for this advice! I wasn't sure how to classify my WIP; I consider it YA fiction, contemporary & historical fiction, and urban fantasy. I think I'm going to stick with calling it YA historical fiction and run with that genre since it best describes the story. Thanks again!

  2. Christina Farley Says:

    Great tip!