Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Question: writing first book in a different genre

I recently completed my first manuscript.  It is a story that was burning within me to tell, though it is of an entirely different genre than what I see myself writing in the future. This manuscript is a psychological thriller, and I see myself writing fantasy (perhaps with a mix of mystery or thriller).

Would you advise querying for the thriller knowing I don't plan on writing that specific genre?  I don't want to waste an agent's time, nor do I want to be pigeonholed into a genre I may have less love for than others.  The logic in my mind says I should wait until a second, more genre-accurate (fantasy) manuscript is finished and start by querying that one, rather than jump the gun and query the thriller just to be a published author.

There's a great truism from our guys in the military: "No plan survives boots on the ground."

Yours  is a classic example of thinking too far ahead to be useful.

You're assuming your thriller will be publishable and published. That's not a given.

You're assuming the unstarted/unfinished fantasy manuscript will get finished, and published. That's not a given. That's not even a reasonable bet at this point in time.

Right now the best thing to do is finish a book and query it. You'll learn a lot in the process and that information will be useful when you decide what to do for your second book.

Short answer: don't get ahead of yourself or you'll end up chasing your tail.

PS Don't ever think you're wasting my time by offering to let me read your work. Not now. Not ever. You're a writer. I'm an agent.  In the immortal words of the elegant John Keats "that is all   
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'"


Lance said...

This is great information. One presumes that this writer still has to study the reference materials here at your blog and write a great query letter. A not insignificant step. But a lot easier now that the writer has found your blog.

Colin Smith said...

Something else to consider: when you query this novel, give priority to agents who are interested in both psychological thrillers and fantasy. There may not be many, and if this proves fruitless, you could then look for agents who are part of an agency where both are represented. In my research, I've come across a number of agencies where there's a strong ethos of sharing among the member agents.

Most of the best agents I've encountered online are interested in your career, not just your first book.

France Rants said...

Janet – I’m vacillating between your blogs here…..and just want to say THANK YOU for all the invaluable information you provide to writers!

On that note, regarding Query Shark, I am somewhere between query #180 and #160. And the other thing I’m thinking besides ‘wow…I’m learning so much’, is ‘WHAT THE SH*T? SOME OF THESE QUERIES GIVE ME A HEADACHE.’

Thus it’s worth repeating, THANK YOU for all the invaluable information you provide to writers. We each owe you a coffee. Or an extra-large box of Sunset Blush Franzia.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Well, we all have to assume (read: hope) finishable and publishable, n'est-ce pas?

But, it's a question I've pondered as well. Just because one book is a fit with what an agent reps (a supernatural thriller) doesn't mean my subsequent trilogy (werewolves in the American South) does. But, an agent is the best judge of what said agent is interested in.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm back from never never land, with a laptop that is all better.

The book I wrote that got me an agent is currently inactive. In the meantime, I'm writing a completely different book, with his encouragement. Little did I know, I would actually prefer this sort of writing versus what I've done with my other two stories.

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

Can I say that your little PS is one of the reasons you are just so darn wonderful? It's these small things that really help reassure us neurotic writers. :)

Megan Sayer said...

Ohhhh, GUILTY! This post has been a breath of fresh air. Thank you! Think I'll print it out and put in on my wall. Stop. Thinking. Too. Far. Ahead. Just. WRITE!
Phew. Thank you!

Terri Lynn Coop said...

If book #1 gets the attention of a top-notch agent and you meet your deadlines and do your editorial work and are generally a joy to behold and never cause inbox-cringe-itis and you produce a second book in a different genre that is of equal or greater quality, you agent will seek out assistance with it. Because that's what good agents do.

Stephanie said...

This brings up an interesting question. I'm curious as to why this writer feels he needs to be faithful to one genre. Is an agent really going to care if a client writes a really good Thriller and then writes a romance novel? My assumption is that they just want to sell the book, no?
Who says you need to be only one thing? And if you know beforehand what category your next book will fall into, wouldn't it just make sense to query agents who accept both genres?

Also, how I wish you repped YA. If love to get a rejection from you;)

Mike said...

Interesting post. My first novel is a police crime, set in small town, with an invisibility power, some First Nations and and an evil spirit. Not sure what genre. Have published via a local micro-press. We're also publishing the second one, but after that I'm on my own. Have two drafts ready to edit - first is a twist on Grimm people trying to blend their powers into modern world, second is about a programmers dead wife that gets caught in the AI of her cell phone - and learns to live in there. Two new genre's, but I'm not worried about picking one yet as being 'mine'. Not sure if it's necessary.

Jenz said...

There was a #NaNoNewLeaf discussion on Twitter yesterday, and a ton of people asked about writing in multiple genres. I'm glad to see this today, because it sums up my gut reaction. I get the appeal of writing all kinds of books, but it's easy to start sounding like a starry-eyed kid when you haven't actually written any of that yet. Focus on getting it done first, THEN you can worry about managing your career.