Agency Lessons: Hiding your genre

I did not fall off the publishing cart yesterday.

If you follow the trends in publishing, then you know that right now there are a couple of genres that are pretty much DOA when it comes to publishing houses. In YA,  those are Paranormal and Dystopian. Next year they will be something else, and the year after that something else again. Just like fashion, genres go through cycles. So just like high-waisted pants and crazy print leggings, someday these genres will make a come-back. But until then, not so much.

So here's what I'm seeing. Queries from authors who simply call their manuscripts speculative fiction. This might make you feel better, it isn't going to improve your chances of getting a request.

These genres have tell-tale markers that most agents (and readers, for that matter) can spot from a mile away. You aren't going to be able to hide your out of style genre and trying to is a waste of everyone's time.

Here's the deal. I get it. I love a great Dystopian or paranormal. I completely understand the draw to write a story like this. Seriously, these are some of my favorite books. And maybe you started writing that Dystopian five years ago when the genre was still gaining ground. But, I can't sell them right now and most agents agree with me here.

So rather than spin your wheels querying a project that isn't going to get any traction, focus instead on what you can control. Writing a new story. Querying takes time, effort, and an emotional toll on a writer. I'm not saying you can't do it, but think carefully about how your time, effort and creative energy might be better spent.

You can always self-publish, an endeavor I support when an author goes in with the right information and realistic expectations. You can shelve that novel, work on getting an agent with another manuscript and then talk about options later. 

But don't try to tell me that your paranormal romance is an urban fantasy and then talk about how the MC falls in love with a forbidden angel.  Don't pitch me your SciFi and then talk about the Utopian society being destroyed by a power hungry dictator. Just don't. You aren't fooling anyone.

Side Bar: Do you hate me? I am so sorry that I missed the post on Friday and failed to upload a Hey, Sarah video on Saturday. The musical I told you all I'm in opens in less than 2 weeks (yeah), so my time is even more crunched than usual. I promise to make it up to you with something super exciting that I've been working on behind the scenes. It's still hush-hush at the moment, but I hope to be able to tell you all about it next week. Until then, thanks for being patient with me.