I spent much of yesterday researching literary agencies and managed to send out two queries. One of the things everyone in the book business says is to research agencies to see what they specialize in, to be sure you know what specific agents are accepting, all to see if they’re right for you. I get the importance of doing your due diligence. It weeds out the real idiots. If you want to sell a bible, you’re going to have a hard time selling it to someone with a bloody scythe in their hand, wearing a grin. However, it does become obvious after going through the titles that five different agencies carry that there is a trend and the trend is pretty much the same from agency to agency. Scifi/fantasy and romance are HUGE. Literary fiction (and where is the line between “mainstream” and “literary”, that’s something I’m very curious to know) is definitely not a large category for anyone. I am reading individual agent bios to try and figure out which ones are most likely to want to read and carry my book. It’s not that difficult to say why I would send my manuscript to one agent over another in the same agency, but why approach one agency over another? That I can’t answer. My chances of finding an agent increase in proportion to the number of agencies I query. All of them carry tons of titles in my genre.
Though, as always, I am having a very hard time accepting that Cricket and Grey is truly science fiction and it isn’t likely I’ll be writing any other science fiction novels. Or fantasy. Will an agent care if I want to skip genres? After the last bout of publishing research I became convinced of things I’m now unsure of. But those thoughts will keep for another post. Last night I discovered a couple of interesting trends in genres and I want to note them here.
In Science Fiction/Fantasy (not the same genre but lumped together as I believe there is much crossover and they share the same audience):
Vampires. Duh. You knew that. They’re everywhere in fiction. Good thing I didn’t write a vampire story because, surely, the market has reached saturation point with them? There are teen versions, urban modern versions, vampire detectives, vampires on motorcycles. You name it, there are teeth everywhere.
Werewolves. Well, that isn’t surprising either. I think it must stem from the same inspiration.
Girls in leather kicking ass: seriously, does it matter what they’re really doing in the story or who they are? The covers speak louder than the stories. Lots and lots of babes in tight leather in various stages of coverage. They are hot, they are fierce, they are hot, and did I mention the leather?
In romance there are some very surprising trends going on:
Tycoons. Mostly Texan Tycoons. I guess men from Texas are supposed to be super sexy and obviously they’re pretty much all either rich cattle ranchers or Tycoons in Stetsons (to remind us that they started off as cattle ranchers? What is it with the Texan love for Stetsons? I personally think they’re awful. But whatever. Of course I do. I’m a west coast girl.)
Vampires. Wait, what? Yep. Where “drink me” is both literal and metaphoric. Sexy vampires getting it on. Or sexy vampires trying to drink up non-vampires but getting distracted by all the tight leather (Yes, plenty of tight leather here too.) Seriously, I get the appeal. I was a huge fan of the Anne Rice vampire books when I was a teen. Those were very romantic.
Babies. This one freaks me the hell out. Women getting pregnant by their lousy ex-lovers and turning to their best guy friend (who is secretly in love with her, obviously) to do “the right thing”. Or, men falling for single mothers. Or a woman getting pregnant by the man she is in love with but who only meant to have an affair with her and she doesn’t tell him she’s carrying his baby but tries to win his love while gestating. Really? This whole thing with babies and pregnancy in the romance genre really freaks me out. I can think of almost NOTHING less sexy or romantic than being pregnant. And babies. NOT SEXY and NOT ROMANTIC.
This one is very surprising to me. The only place I’ve seen it is on a rack near the checkout at Winco*. They have at least 10 Amish themed novels. After eying them curiously for many months I finally read all the back covers to discover if they were steamy romances for regular women with an Amish fetish or if they are gentle stories written for actual Amish women. Do Amish women read mainstream fiction? These are not steamy books. They are very chaste and alarmingly gentle and Christian in flavor. I don’t know who’s buying them here in McMinnville but I’m pretty sure we don’t have any Amish nearby. There are many Mormons and Mennonites. Could it be that Mennonites are reading them?
I’m off to continue my agent and agency research.
*The photo in this post may or may not have been taken at a Winco or other grocery establishment with a strict “no camera” policy. No one is admitting anything here.