Recently, my assistant has been besieged with submissions that wasted everyone’s time. We’re not sure what triggered this barrage; but if these words save anyone a few moments, they’re worth posting.
Don’t submit works that agents aren’t seeking. Please.
I realize that perhaps you think it’s worth taking a chance. That agent specializing in Christian fiction and nonfiction is great, so surely he can make room for your secular children’s picture book, horror novel, or gift book.
Because your work is that good!
Your work may be that good! But if so, working with an agent who is passionate about your category of book is best for you. An agent who’s a star in representing Christian science fiction may or may not be a star in representing your work “Cooking in the Christian Kitchen,” even though everyone has to eat, right? If you’re pitching a cookbook, focus on agents who love representing cookbooks. Those agents will be on first-name terms with editors who buy cookbooks. I know of no editor in Christian publishing currently acquiring, for example, both science fiction novels and cookbooks. If you do somehow break through, why set yourself up to create a hot mess of a well-meaning team who doesn’t know best how to handle your project?
When you submit a project way off base to an agent, not only have you wasted your own time, but you have frittered away time at the agent’s office. The agent may just hit DELETE, and you’ll wonder why you never heard back.
Of course, you may want to query agents who might be eager for a unique but still appropriate project like yours. For instance, there’s no reason not to approach an agent who’s been successful with romance with women’s fiction or an agent who knows romantic suspense with a thriller; and an agent who’s been successful with category fiction may appreciate general fiction. Just please try not to target agents who have expressed no knowledge of or interest in your category. It won’t end well.
Other than reading agent blogs such as this one, how do you decide which agent will work best for you?
What are your favorite conferences where you can meet agents and editors for your category?