Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When Researching Agents, Don't Assume Anything

"When you assume, you make an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me'

I'm not sure who came up with that clever saying, but I have to admit, it's often true.  Case in point--I'm guilty of assuming something, and yes, I definitely feel like an ass. 

Confession--I assumed male agents wouldn't be interested in my manuscript.  Why?  Because it's a novel told from the perspective of a teenage girl, with lots of family drama . . . and romance (see the blurb for SPARK under "Projects").  I never thought a male agent would be interested in something like that.  I'm happy to say, I was wrong.

For almost three months, I carefully selected female agents I ASSUMED (there's that word again) would be interested in my novel--young, hip, lovers of dark/edgy fiction types (preferably).  It wasn't until later I realized everyone else was doing the same thing.  If everyone who writes dark/edgy YA paranormals only query those agents who are interested in dark/edgy YA paranormals, well . . . you get the picture. Those agents are going to be inundated with that stuff and aren't going to request anything unless it's absolutely amazing and unique.  Hence, my decision to try querying agents who [maybe] don't see my type of novel as often. 

About three weeks ago, I started sending out queries again--this time to female AND male agents.  The responses surprised the bejeezus out of me. I've already gotten four requests from male agents this month alone (and all four came within days of sending out the query), as opposed to just two from female agents.  Also, out of all the queries I've sent out since I started back in October, only two agents have given me PERSONALIZED feedback on my query/sample pages (which most of you will attest to is VERY rare), and both were male agents.

I'm not sure why my manuscript is appealing to the guys more than the ladies.  My only reasoning is that maybe there are other writers out there making assumptions similar to the ones I made.  Maybe male agents don't see novels like mine as often as other young, female agents.  I don't know the answer, but I'm glad I wised up, otherwise I would've lost out on the opportunity to have my work looked over by some really awesome [male] agents.  Obviously, it was stupid of me to make such an assumption in the first place.  Agents are professionals after all.  Their job is to find books they think they can sell.  Period. 

The lesson in all of this?  Don't be afraid to go outside your comfort zone--query widely!   I'm not saying writers shouldn't research agents--i.e., if an agent doesn't rep young adult, don't send them a query for a young adult novel--but don't ever ASSUME an agent won't like something just because they don't say they do.



  1. You are not alone babe! I queried for a Chick Lit--of course no guy is going to rep that, right? Until I came across a guy who ONLY reped romance! That was my wake up call.

    Glad you are seeing so much interest! Keep us posted! :)

  2. What an insightful post! Thank you for sharing this becasue I think we tend to classify people before we know them. Now I know better because of you!

  3. Congrats on the requested materials! That is so exciting! :) And good advice as well. I also avoid male agents because I write women's fiction, but maybe there are some I should consider. Best of luck Angela!

  4. @Marian--Glad I'm not alone ;) I'm really surprised by how many male agents take romance/women's fiction. I think we all have this romantic image of an agent falling in love with our ms, but really, he/she doesn't have to think it's greatest thing since sliced bread, they just have to feel confident they can sell it. Shame on us for stereotyping, lol!

    @Jenny Bennett--I'm always willing to share my experiences--no matter how dumb my mistakes, lol. If I can make this process a little easier for someone else, it's worth it :o)

    @Mer--Like I was telling Marian above, I was surprised by how many male agents take women's fiction! When I was querying my first book (women's fiction), I got three requests from male agents, and two of them gave me really good feedback (along with a rejection ;-)

  5. I totally did the same thing... I should probably rethink that and query some male agents. :) That is great advice!! And congrats on doing so well!

  6. Great post! Good luck with the querying and the requests. I'll keep this in mind when it's my turn to query. ;)

  7. Great post! You're absolutely right.

    I have left you some awards on my blog :)

  8. Very smart! And, I am thrilled that you got some requests! GO ANGELA!

  9. Confession time. I DID THAT, TOO!! I figured no guy would appreciate my girl's perspective. Probably because the one man in my life (the hubster) has a hard time dealing with MY perspective. HA!

    One of the editors reviewing my MS now is a guy...let's hope your good (male) fortune rubs off on him and I get a book deal!!!

  10. oooh...just realized "rubbing" and "man" and "good fortune" could be misinterpreted... *blush* sorry

  11. Thanks ladies! I'm thrilled with the requests (I currently have 9 outstanding subs!! EEK!), but trust me, I've gotten my fair share of rejections/non-responders ;o) At least at this point, the rejections just sort of roll off my back, lol.

    @Bethany--You crack me UP! Only YOU would interpret it that way!! lol!! Where's your mind at these days? ;-) Yes, hopefully these men will see what a great catch we are ;o) Hehe!

  12. I just found you via querytracker, and you know, you are SO right! Great (and unique) post, and I'm glad I found this blog. Best to you! =)