if it’s too difficult for grown-ups, write for children

Ask Daphne! How to categorize the uncategorizable?

JM writes:

I have a completed manuscript in search of a hard-to-find agent. I am a first-time novelist with a 93-chapter epic that crosses genres: religious fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, thriller, contemporary and historical fiction. Using databases like agentquery.com and reference books, I have identified agents, but what I really need is a specialist in urban fantasy with a spiritual message told through character story. Any idea how to find one?

JM, I answered a similar question this weekend at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop LitFest, when an author asked how his “uncategorizable” manuscript could find an agent when all he had to go on were agents’ lists of those categories they specialized in. My answer to him, and to you, is to figure out the simplest definition of your work, and find agents that would represent that. Given that, you could look at agents who work with Urban Fantasy, or religious fiction, if those could be seen as the most general genres you’re working in. If the work is strong enough, you may be able to interest an agent who’d otherwise never look at one category or another.

All that being said, be careful not to overwhelm a prospective agent with a bold new genre like Urban-Religi-Fi-Fant-Contemp-Thriller. Remember my DON’Ts. Number 9, in particular.

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