A Peek at the Query Inbox

September 6th, 2011 • Kate

GENREHello, readers! I feel like I know you all so much better after all your wonderful comments on Friday’s post. Let’s keep the conversation going, shall we? Today I want to show you a peek into my query inbox with a breakdown of genres and subgenres found within. This isn’t quite like a live blog, but it’s close! (I have to be out of the office for a meeting shortly, so we’ll get some done now, and more later this afternoon, so check back frequently!)

Let’s hit it!

1. MG Historical Sci-Fi
2. YA Paranormal (Angels)
3. YA Fantasy
4. YA Paranormal Thriller
5. YA Paranormal Dark Comedy

6. Adult MBS fiction (no, I don’t rep this)
7. YA Paranormal
8. YA Alt History (Paranormal)
9. “New Adult” literary novel
10. YA Historical literary fiction

11. Adult fiction (genre undefined)
12. YA fantasy
13. YA urban fantasy
14. YA Historical romance
15. YA fiction (genre undefined)

A couple of notes so far: “historical” is anything not set in the present day. So if you’re writing a YA romance set in the 70s or 80s, when you were a teen — that’s considered historical. Also, please don’t make agents guess what kind of a book your novel is. Granted, the two (so far) “genre undefined” novels on this list had a lot of other problems with the queries, but it should be among the first things you write in that letter to an agent — “I have written a [age range] [genre] novel”, i.e I have written a YA historical, middle grade mystery, adult romance. etc. You get the point. Moving on!

16. YA Dystopian
17. YA sports fiction
18. Adult sci-fi
19. MG literary novel
20. MG (but probably YA) “issue” novel

21. YA dystopian
22. YA dystopian
23. Adult fiction (genre undefined)
24. YA fantasy
25. MG Adventure

More later today! Please keep checking back, and let me know if you have any questions in the meantime.

And we’re back!

26. YA contemporary/”New Adult”
27. YA Multicultural fantasy
28. YA MG fantasy
29. YA dystopian
30. YA contemporary

31. YA dystopian
32. Early Chapter Book (don’t represent)
33. MG fantasy (Werewolves)
34. YA urban fantasy
35. MG fantasy

36. Women’s fiction
37. YA urban fantasy
38. YA contemporary
39. YA contemporary romance
40. MG paranormal (Aliens)

41. MG magical realism
42. YA paranormal (Shape Shifting)
43. Adult fantasy
44. YA dystopian
45. YA paranormal

46. YA paranormal (Mermaids)
47. Women’s fiction
48. Adult paranormal
49. YA urban fantasy
50. Adult fantasy

Ok, I’m going to call it there, and get some other work done. But first, let’s do a little tallying, shall we? Out of 50 queries, 31 were for young adult, 9 for middle grade, and 9 for adult, with one early chapter book. 32 queries had some element of the extraordinary — by which I mean paranormal, fantasy, or sci fi of some kind. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many different kinds of paranormals in my mailbox, for once — not just vampires, etc. Although some of the paranormals without a notation next to them had multiple extraordinary creatures, least you think I was getting lonely for witches or dragons.

And on the up side, I moved 7 queries to my other inbox for a closer read — of those, I may request partials on two, at most. Still, a good day’s work!

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31 Responses to “A Peek at the Query Inbox”

  1. T.T. Says:

    Great post idea! Loving it so far. Come back soon?

  2. Rebecca Enzor Says:

    I wasn't aware that you repped "New Adult" – or did that person just not read your submissions page?

  3. DaphneUn Says:

    I put it in quotes since it's not really an accepted genre, just a marketing initiative. The query in question was mostly YA, but reached into college, thus, "New Adult." I feel a little like Lacey Chabert in Mean Girls, trying to make "fetch" happen.

  4. Rebecca Enzor Says:

    Ahh ok. I hope the marketing initiative takes off, since my book could be classified as such. I will make "fetch" happen! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Deserae M. Says:

    Have any projects peaked your interest, yet, Kate?

  6. DaphneUn Says:

    I've moved a couple of these to my inbox for a closer look later, but this is the first, quick review, which usually involves decisions based just on the query letter. If that intrigues, then I move it to the inbox to sit down with it, and the sample pages, in more detail later.

  7. @embattaglia Says:

    Great insight! I think this calls for charts and graphs! It seems as though you're getting a lot of paranormal and fantasy. Is that a good thing because it's on point with what is being published right now? Are you relieved when you see an MG adventure or YA historical query?

    If I say my genre is "YA contemporary," is that specific enough? I noticed above that one submission is listed as, "YA sports fiction." Should I be more specific?

    Also, what qualifies as "literary"?

  8. DaphneUn Says:

    "YA contemporary" is totally specific enough. And yes, there'll be a chart when I'm done! And it certainly is a bit of a relief to see something outside the norm.

    As for "literary", I call it that when I'm being told more about the voice and the style than the plot, or when the author his or herself refers to it as such.

  9. @embattaglia Says:

    Interesting! Thanks for the response.

    *continues to muddle through YA lit lexicon*

  10. Koreen Says:

    Do you get tired of all the YA requests?

  11. DaphneUn Says:

    If I was tired of YA, I wouldn't be a very good agent for it, now would I? ๐Ÿ™‚

    So no, but I do get a little tired of seeing the same vampires/witches/werewolves/angels paranormals…

  12. Stephanie Scott Says:

    Thank you for clarifying historical. I'm writing a story taking place in the early 1960s, but when I think historical, I immediately think early 1900s or older. This seems very obvious now that you've said it, so thank you!

  13. Krista V. Says:

    Insightful post, as always. Thanks for sharing this.

    Do you think you're harder on YA queries because you see so many of them, or does it all come down to concept and writing? (And along those same lines, do you request more YA or MG, or do those numbers fluctuate?)

  14. DaphneUn Says:

    I hope it comes down to concept and writing, but I do fear sometimes that seeing so many in one genre does color my interest in reading another query on a similar topic. Which is why I try to limit how many queries I go through in a day.

  15. Krista V. Says:

    Makes sense. Thanks for responding!

  16. @acouchwriter Says:

    Wow, that seems like a lot. Is this just what you receive in one day?

    (And I think I'm one of those "YA Fantasy" queries. I'm going to try not to check my email every five minutes in anticipation or bite my nails down to nubs.)

  17. DaphneUn Says:

    Hmmm, no, this is a couple of days' worth so far. Although I have had days when I got this many, and more!

  18. Most Important Rule When Writing YA | Koreen Clemens Says:

    […] Testerman, literary agent extraordinaire) posted a list of her inbox today on her blog–‘Peek at the Queary Box’. Of the 25 letters in herย  inbox, 17 of them were YA (and 4 more were MG). Some people probably […]

  19. @maybegenius Says:

    Are there any genres that you don't see much of in your inbox, but you'd like to see more? Or it doesn't matter as long as you connect with the story?

  20. DaphneUn Says:

    I really am open to anything within the age ranges of YA and MG, but I do wish for more mysteries. I keep hoping for a renewal of interest in these!

  21. Shannon Says:

    Didn't you rep Women's fiction at one point? I didn't see it on your submission list, but I could have sworn you repped it before.

  22. Shannon Says:

    Never mind. I was mixing it up with Adult commercial fiction. Are you still repping that?

  23. DaphneUn Says:

    I did, yes, but I took it off my submission list since I never picked up a client writing women's fiction in several years. Though I still love the genre as a reader, I decided to only accept referrals for adult fiction, and concentrate on only queries for YA and MG.

  24. wandering-dreamer Says:

    Well I'm happy to see that people are at least writing New Adult books, also cool to mermaids in a paranormal story for once (and more mysteries would be lovely, I miss all the mysteries/historical novels/historical mysteries I used to read as a kid)

  25. Hope Says:

    Anything new and different that surprised you?

  26. Alice Says:

    Would you be able to tell us to which genres the 7 inbox hoppers belong? ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. DaphneUn Says:

    Sure! YA paranormal, YA alt history, YA historical, YA dystopian (3), and YA contemporary.

  28. Jameson Morrissey Says:

    I've taken a strong look at your submissions page, probably read it ten times tonight, but is there any particular genre you're leaning towards under the umbrella of YA? The novel I'm writing at present is probably going to be YA Fantasy-based, and I saw nine stories that didn't make the cut with "Fantasy" in the genre–although two or so were adult, which you've stated isn't really what you're looking for.

    I guess what I'm asking is this: is YA Fantasy a genre you see too much of, and tend to turn away from? Will that genre limit my chances at consideration of your esteemed representation? And if so, what besides mystery and comedic work are you in favour of at this time?

  29. DaphneUn Says:

    I don't turn away from YA fantasy automatically, but I am leery of what I'd call D&D-type adventures — that party of mismatched adventurers who must defeat a big bad with a unique combination of skills. What I like in fantasy is a unique idea… and I'm DEFINITELY still on the lookout for that!

  30. Jameson Morrissey Says:

    Perfect. In that case, I feel that I have something to contribute to you and your team. I'll work on wrapping up the first draft, get a word count and send a query in as soon as my schedule permits. I'm aware that you've been open for submissions for a long time now–should I be concerned with an unannounced, impending sort of "now seems like a good time to stop" deadline?

    And I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions.

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