A Quick Word on Areas of Interest

29Jun09

After spending some quality time in the query trenches I wanted to address a (seemingly common) misconception about how an agent’s stated areas of interest should be interpreted.

On the Waxman site, my bio says:
She is actively seeking upmarket and commercial fiction, including women’s fiction, mystery, urban fantasy, romance, and YA, and voice-driven nonfiction projects, with particular areas of interest in narrative nonfiction, lifestyle, psychology, self-help/relationships, science, and practical spirituality and religion.

If you’re writing a project that’s any of those, query away. It doesn’t need to be all of them! I’ve been seeing lots of “My novel doesn’t have a religious element but I am hoping you’ll take a look anyway” or (worse) “My project crosses over all your areas of interest, from science to religion to self-help and urban fantasy.” You really don’t need to be all things to all people, and very few books are. So just pitch me your project as best you can, and don’t fret about needing to tick off every interest or affinity. It’s a menu, not a mandate.

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4 Responses to “A Quick Word on Areas of Interest”

  1. I have a question relating to the flip side of this. If I write YA, subgenre fantasy, is it okay to query agents that just list YA, but not fantasy?

  2. For me yes; the worst an agent can do is say no.

  3. 3 J.D.

    Hi Holly,

    Just discovered your blog. What a fantastic resource for writers–thanks!

    Was wondering if memoir fits into your narrative non-fiction category. Also, you mentioned (some time ago) that 60,000 words is the minimum length for an adult project. Is this a strict rule, or are there exceptions? I have a memoir that’s about 50,000 words, so I’m wondering if it’s worth sending out query letters.

    Thanks so much for your help.

    J.D.

    • Yes, all four of us have worked on memoir projects. 50k is on the short side but not out of the realm of possibility, depending on what it’s about and how it’s structured.


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