Q: I've been reading your blog and I've found it very eye opening. It's made me realize I truly do need to get more involved in the writing world beyond my computer.I have a couple of questions for you. One, how does an author who writes in a couple of different genres find an agent? I have a small non-fiction book published that has a highly specific market and am considering turning it into a series. For that I need an interested publisher to back me up. I also have a large quantity of (quality) short erotic stories, one full length erotic novel that's almost complete and two adult fiction - women's fiction - novels in the works. (they're two of a trilogy)
A: My advice is to find an area in which you feel comfortable and perfect that area. Too much switching around makes you versatile but adds no strength to any one area. Write non-fiction, for instance, and become an expert in one area of non-fiction. If you have a radio voice or a television persona, promote your expertise by building a platform and an audience there. If you have neither a voice nor a television presence, write articles for newspapers and/or magazines in you area of expertise and build an audience using these media. The idea here is to become known and thus gain some celebrity as an expert. Then, when you approach a publisher, you can bring your audience with you. Publishers LOVE established audiences. Mathematically speaking, established audiences=book sales.
The reason I chose non-fiction is that audience can be built in other ways besides publication. Conversely, the only way to build a fiction audience is through publication and, as you know, just getting published, the very foundation of audience-building in this arena, can be a long and arduous process.
You do have an advantage because you write erotica. This area, at present, is more open to new writers. Also, it is a good time in this area for those who write it well to establish a career. If, however, you wrote mysteries, for example, I would advise you to stick with non-fiction and follow the course laid out above, as mysteries are not selling as well right now. Because you write in two areas that have possibilities, I would choose one—not both—and write there until successful. The secret to writing success is in writing better than others and in knowing the marketability of your product. If you concentrate on these, the rest is easy.
Q: Two, I am 'shopping' agents now and I want to know if having these novels, or at least one of them, is a must before approaching. So far it seems that writers approach agents only after they've had their novels completed.
A: Having a novel completed is almost always a must when trying to find an agent. The reason is that you are new and untried and, because of this, we want to make sure you can complete your novel. Many cannot, consequently, most agents want a completed project (both fiction and non-fiction) before investing time to read and evaluate work from prospective clients. Some agents do take non-fiction proposals as opposed to completed projects, depending on the project—although we only review completed works—so it is imperative, as we have stressed before, to do your research and check submission guidelines before sending anything.
Q: And finally, I'm a Canuck and so far it seems like no Canadian agents deal in adult fiction. Are American agents willing to work with Canadians?
Thanks to the writer who sent these questions. If there are anymore "Q's" out there, please feel free to send them along and we will "A" them as time permits.