Friday, March 21, 2008

Who Knows

Someone asked why I don't blog more about what I do want, as compared to writing about what I don't want.

The answer is actually straightforward. Just as writers should write about what they know, so should agents represent the types of books they know. I'm what is called a generalist. My reading interests are broad and eclectic, and I therefore feel comfortable representing varied genres in both fiction and nonfiction. Sure, I have my preferences, but I really do feel comfortable handling almost anything (with the exceptions being very traditional romance, erotica, poetry, short stories, novellas, and picture books).

That being said, there are some subjects that just don't appeal to me on a personal level, whether it's because I'm burned out on the subject, or because I feel that it hits too close to home to represent. But whatever the reason, since I truly believe that I need to be as passionate about the work as the author, I've turned down projects that were extremely well-written with a strong publishing viability if I didn't love them. Agents that do sign up authors and projects without feeling that emotional connection typically are the same ones that will bail on you if it doesn't sell after the first five submissions.

So what I can do is from time to time fill you in on things that I know I won't be able to represent passionately. For now, this includes books about the election, religion, the Middle East, business leadership books, and the Peace Corps.

BTW, I've got nothing against the Peace Corps. I've just gotten way too many submissions involving this in the past few months.


Adaora A. said...

Personally I like when agents say the stuff they don't like. It lets us know what to scrap and what to keep. You blogging agents do good work.

Anonymous said...

Novellas rock.
They are the wave of the future and the past. Some of the best arty works out there by famous authors of all ages.
this is an up and coming market.

But go ahead and ignore it.

But, ok, why?

Ryan Field said...

I thought this was a very nice post.

Mr. Grudge said...

"The answer is actually straightforward. Just as writers should write about what they know, so should agents represent the types of books they know."

As far as writing what I know, I am a former police officer who wrote three novels (all unpublished) about police officers. One cop went back in time, another had a near-death experience and saw Hell, and the other did nothing extraordinary except lose his wife and daughter to a drunk driver only to discover he has a long lost daughter from a relationship he had as a teenager. Oh, and she needs his bone marrow to survive. None of that happened to me, obviously, but for me "write what you know," means use your knowledge to create authenticity in a story and its characters. -Mike Mr. Grudge

Southern Writer said...

Could you kindly define "very traditional romance"? Do you mean genre romance such as the kind published by Harlequin, or single-title works such as those written by Nicholas Sparks, or Anita Shreve, or Audrey Niffenegger, for example?

btw, I too, liked this post. I like knowing what agents don't want to see.