I have a couple of questions I hope you can help with. I’m a multi-published romance author (both smaller pubs and self-pub), with some minor success, but I’ve now written a psychological suspense thriller I’m quite happy with. Because it’s a new genre for me, I’d rather not go directly to self-publishing, hoping to get a second (third, fourth, fifth) set of professional eyes on the MS.
The publisher I’ve worked with in the past focuses primarily on romance, and though they’re open to other genres, their name is closely linked with romance and I think their readers would approach this book with genre expectations that simply aren’t met.
All the bigger publishers who work with thrillers, however, seem to require an agent to submit, and I am not represented. I have queried before (not for this book) and am willing to dive back into the trenches. But there’s a catch: I don’t expect to write any more thrillers. I wrote this because I had a great idea, and I’m happy with its execution and would like to give it the best chance at success, but I don’t consider myself a burgeoning thriller or mystery writer.
My first question, then, is this: How would an agent feel if I queried them for a MS when I had no plans to continue writing in that genre? Is it a waste of their time to work with me for one title? If there are people who are open to representing writers for one book, what’s the best way to approach it? Should I say so in the query?
My second question is whether I should tell them about my romance writing background and pen name, since the genre is different and the readers may not cross over. Can I say “I’ve written nine romances,” and leave it at that, without giving the pen name? Or is it important for them to be able to look me up? I’ve sold books in the thousands, but not hundreds of thousands, so I don’t think anyone will be blown away by what they find.
That odd sound you hear is rueful laughing from The Lair. I most often see things like "I plan a gazillion book series" which always prompts me to say "you gotta sell one before you can sell more." You can guess how well that goes over with enthusiastic writers.
This of course is the reverse of the problem.
Even if you think you're only going to write one, you don't know. Don't sabotage yourself by announcing your plans when you could change your mind. It's not as though you CAN'T write another one if you decided you wanted to.
So, just query this, and let tomorrow take care of itself.
I would query under your own name AND mention your previous books, but also include that you'd consider writing under a pen name if the agent thought it would improve the marketability of the new book.
That you've built a fan base, and had multiple books published is a good thing. That those fans may not come along with you, well, that's not a huge problem.