Hello again after a three-week hiatus. During that time, I’ve busied myself with visiting the websites of literary agencies to determine which agents represent historical fiction. As I look at what each agency represents, I’m also interested in the following genres: memoirs, fantasy, and inspirational gift books.
Why? Because these are the categories on which I’ve been working the past few years. Let’s begin with the memoir.
My other blog is an online memoir. I hope one day to take the postings and shape them into one or two memoirs—depending on length.
Back in the early nineties, after the publication of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, memoirs really came to the fore in publishing. Rick Bragg’s All Over But the Shoutin’ and James McBride’s The Color of Water, both published a few years later, cemented the premier place of memoirs in the publishing world.
But so many memoirs have been published since then that the genre is not as popular with publishers as it once was. So some agents no longer represent this genre while other agents will say in their listings that they do not want “misery memoirs.”
I’m not sure what my memoir will have going for it. Nor am I sure what thread could hold the memoir together. Perhaps I will simply concentrate on the convent years, but I admit to wanting also to share the story of my mother’s influence on my life. I would also like to share some of the post-convent stories, especially those that have to do with peace and justice issues.
For the fantasy genre, I now have ready the first book in a trilogy. Judy King, who illustrated A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story, has done stunning pen and ink drawings for Book One. I’m nearing completion of the other two books in the trilogy.
The manuscript for the inspirational gift book A Celebration of Angels is also near completion. Recently, several friends read it and responded enthusiastically to varied aspects of the manuscript.
When I worked for Winston Press in Minneapolis in the 1970s and 1980s, all I knew of publishing was the developing, writing, and editing of curriculum for grade and high schools.
Today I know almost nothing about what’s happening in publishing: What are agents looking for? What kind of stories do editors want from agents? What are the developing trends today?
From a fairly thorough reading of the websites of many literary agencies, however, I have learned that some agents represent just nonfiction, while others represent only certain subgroups of fiction.
For example, many do not represent fantasy, sci-fi, poetry, Westerns, children’s pictures books, and juvenile books. Some agencies represent only “commercial fiction” or “literary fiction.” What do those two terms mean? I’m just not sure.
I do understand that agents are effective only if they know a wide group of editors at publishing houses. They must know what those editors are looking for with regard to manuscripts. If an agent doesn’t know many—or even one—editor who is looking for a historical novel, then she/he won’t be interested in A Reluctant Spy. The agent will look upon the novel as a dead end.
Many editors who retire or leave publishing become successful literary agents. Having worked in a publishing house, they know enough people to approach with a proposed manuscript.
That’s another thing I’ve been investigating on those web sites for literary agents: their professional background.
Lots to do. I’ll report more when I get a nibble or two. Peace.
Cat Photograph from Wikipedia