Agency Lessons: Why you don't want an agent to make an exception for your novel

Agency Lessons is a weekly post that gives authors and readers an inside look into the mind of a literary agent and a peek behind the curtain of how books are made.
I get a lot of queries for projects that are outside of areas I represent. I'm not talking genre, because genres are fluid and I think there is plenty of wiggle room there. I'm talking about age groups. Chapter books, NA, Adult. Areas that I try to make very clear I don't represent.

I don't know why people do this. Maybe they just got my name off a list and didn't bother to look at what I represent. Maybe they're hoping I'll love their book so much that I'll take it on anyway.

But authors, you don't want an agent to take you on as an exception.

There is a reason I don't take on chapter books and Adult novels. I rarely read in those age groups. I am not keeping up on their trends. I don't know what's in the market. I am not familiar with the editors who acquire those projects. I don't know the best houses for them or how to position them to editors. In short, I am a complete dunce when it comes to those books.

So why in the sweet heavens would you want me to represent you?

I get it, I do. Remember, I was once a fellow soldier in those query trenches. All we want is someone to take a chance on our story. And it's not a far leap from someone to anyone.

But an agent is more than just the next step toward publication.

Your agent will be your cheerleader, book champion, confidant and a guiding hand in your career. This is a business relationship and you need more than just another person to love your book. We have mothers for that. You need someone who can sell that book.

I'll never get mad at someone for sending me something I don't represent. Because I understand the struggle you are coming from. But you aren't doing yourself any favors, and are actually selling yourself short when you lower your standards to someone who is not in a place to help your career.

You are worth more than that. You should be more than someone's exception.