QueryTracker Blog

Helping Authors Find Literary Agents

Monday, April 26, 2010

Falling Right Back on Your Fanny

Fanny Brice, that is.

There's a scene I love in the movie, Funny Girl.

Fanny Brice (a young woman trying to break into show business just after the turn of the twentieth century) auditions for the chorus line in a theater production and gets promptly fired.

A production assistant hears her singing "The Greatest Star" and says, "You're no chorus girl. You're a singer and a comic. What made you try out for the chorus?"

And Fanny says, "Because that's what you were looking for. If you were looking for jugglers, I'd have been a juggler."

It's not so different, breaking into publishing versus breaking into acting. And I think there's a valid take-home point in that scene for writers seeking representation or publication.

A few weeks ago, I posted regarding determining the genre of your book. Towards the end, I touched on books that could possibly fit into more than one category.

If your book could truly be marketed in more than one genre, it's perfectly reasonable to do just that.

In other words, widen your query net... if you've written a paranormal romance that also happens to be an urban fantasy, query agents who represent both sorts of projects (just be sure to adjust your pitch as necessary).

Of course, your project must genuinely reflect the elements of the category you're using to describe the book. It won't help anyone to stretch the truth. Your project must deliver on the promise of the pitch.

But if you can juggle*, and they're looking for jugglers, you may as well get to it.

*Incidentally, I can juggle. My high school double-booked the swimming pool one semester during my junior year and, since most of the other equipment and space was already spoken for, we were asked to choose between juggling or hacky-sack. Your tax dollars at work. =)
H. L. Dyer, M.D. writes women's fiction and works as the Clinical and Academic Director for the Hospitalist Program at a pediatric teaching hospital near Chicago. In addition to all things literary, she enjoys experimental cooking and composing impromptu parodies to annoy close friends and family. Click to visit her personal blog, Trying to Do the Write Thing.


Elizabeth McKenzie said...

Good advice. I recently decided my writing was more literary with a twinge of mystery and romance.

Matthew MacNish said...

This is such a great point, and definitely applies to my WIP.

I think Cole Gibsen did a great job of describing her genre for her novel KATANA. You can read about it here.

Thanks for sharing H.L.

Angela said...

I can definitely relate to this post, so thank you for sharing it! I have queried my project as a "young adult fantasy" when in fact there is a very real paranormal element that is just as important as the fantasy element, but I didn't want my genre label to be confusing.

However, as you pointed out--as long as I can portray in my query the different genre elements, it does broaden audience appeal.

Stina said...

Great post!

I went the opposite way. I orginally thought my wip was YA contemporary. Someone pointed out it's more like YA romantic suspense. Talk about narrowing the genre down further.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a great post! I realized that my WIP could probably crossover from YA to literary fiction. I'll take your advice when I start querying.

Cynthia Schuerr said...

Great post for two reasons. I am a huge, huge fan of Babs and I cannot pass up anything, that has anything to do with her. So, here I am. Ahhh!

I like the idea of being able to query and submit to different genres. I love to write and I write what feels good to me. I don't want to be boxed into a certain category. Reading this, allows me to have a little freedom.
Thank you, Dr. Dyer:-)

Lisa K. said...

I've been embracing this philosophy myself. Last summer I saw an advertisement for a great contest for unpublished horror novelists. The only problem was that I didn't have a horror novel ready to submit. Then I thought about the novel I'd been trying to sell as a science fiction novel without any success. Sure it had definite horror elements in it, but could it be considered a horror novel? I figured why not. So I submitted it. And guess what? My novel is now one of four remaining novels competing for the grand prize! So it pays sometimes to rethink your genre.

Thank you for a great post