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The Blog of Anya Harker » 2012 » January

A Bit of Perspective

January 17th, 2012

Last week I began my semester-long internship at InkWell Management. Let me tell you, it’s been amazing so far. Promise it’s not a conflict of interest as I’m not planning on querying InkWell until I’m done with my internship (unless they give me permission to do so this semester). Also, yes, going into publishing is something I’m interested in beyond just getting published. I guess you could say I want to work both sides of the aisle. ;^)

Hey — if I can use my legal career and be an agent (or at a publishing house) by day and do my authoress thing by night? I will be thrilled. But career aspirations are not for this post. XD

In any case, last week was spent wading through the slush pile and I was given several manuscripts to read as well! Which, I must say, was much more interesting than my law reading! Note to self, reading on my iPad is SO much easier than on my mac.

However, I can also say that going through the slush pile has been a bit of a wake-up call for me as an author.

I’ve sent out a couple of test balloons over the course of the past couple of weeks to try out my query. Learned what I was doing wrong, mind, but that doesn’t make the rejections sting any less either. Yet as I’ve been going through the slush pile and pressing send on the rejection letters it really sank in just how subjective this business really is. For me, the literary fiction isn’t my cup of tea — after reading cases all day long, I want to get lost in a book… not have to read and figure out what I’m reading. But, again, personal choice. Just as I have things that aren’t my favourite, so too do the agents I’m reading for. Doesn’t mean that my rejections mean I’m doing a bad job — just that, even with all my research, I hit agents who don’t like my premise.

Which is totally okay.

Seeing the submissions inbox pile up? Yeah, I see how many submissions agents get day after day — and if it doesn’t strike your fancy, you hit next. There’s only so many hours in the day and you can’t go for anything that doesn’t grab you and won’t let you go until you’re at the end and still wanting more.

So yes, after one week the internship I’ve gained a lot of perspective on the other side and what the agents go through.

Doesn’t mean the rejections won’t hurt when they come, however — but it still gives a bit of perspective from the agent side to the writer side.

What’s My Genre?

January 3rd, 2012

As I get ready to start the submission to agent process in the next couple of months, I realized I hit a bit of a stumbling block: genre! Yes, I know when that magical time comes that I have an agent and an editor they will know best where to file my book — but at the same time, I need to have some idea of what my genre is for when I query agents. I don’t want to be THAT PERSON who queries 500 agents blindly without knowing what genres they do and don’t represent. I’ve done my research, baby.

However, that still leaves me with the question of what in tarnation do I call this thing? Fantasy? Paranormal Romance? Urban Fantasy? It’s So Good It Doesn’t NEED A Genre? Well… maybe not so much with the last one. Ahem.

The problem is, my book has a lot of elements of ALL those genres.

I’ve read on a lot of sites that, right now, paranormal and dystopian are a hard sell. Well, don’t care that much about dystopian as that’s not what I’m writing. However, I don’t know if I’d classify a book about magic and sorcerers as paranormal — it’s more of a fantasy book. BUT! on the other hand — my book does have romantic elements in it as one of the main plotlines… which doesn’t exactly follow fantasy either in my experience.

I also realize that calling it a paranormal fantasy romance would make me look like a right idiot trying to throw the manuscript and all the genres at the wall and hoping something would stick.

Tonight I was doing some reading over at the Query Tracker Forums and I came across a few interesting threads regarding genre — namely, one I hadn’t thought of: Urban Fantasy. I always had a preconceived notion that urban fantasy was the gritty fantasy set in the middle of a city… like, something that would be set in Harlem, NYC. Reading this thread, however, gave me a whole new appreciation for this genre.

In general, it seems like “paranormal” is generally applied to paranormal romances. Those are stories where the plot revolves around the failure or success of a relationship, so the conflicts and complications come from the interpersonal dynamics between the main characters. Urban fantasies can definitely have romantic elements, but in those stories, the main characters are generally teamed up and working together to overcome some outside obstacle bigger than their relationship.

An easy way to think of the difference is to ask yourself, “Are my main characters opposed and working hard to get together, or are they together and working hard to face an outside opposition?” — LisaAnn

I think I’m in love with this litmus test.

Urban Fantasy does have that little requirement of having a contemporary, real-world, urban setting (as opposed to Fantasy’s wholly imagined landscape), but I think most of us tend to have a sort of real-world setting… even if that real-world is imagined. Hm… a bit of a double-edged sword there, isn’t it? Don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t call LORD OF THE RINGS an urban fantasy novel, but I know I’d call THE FEVER SERIES (by Karen Marie Moning) a UF.

Looking at my plot, yes there are romantic elements in it — but in the end they’ll be working together to face an outside opponent. The romantic elements aren’t all there is to the story. A large part? Yeah, I’d say so — but the ultimate end is defeating the bad guy rather than the romance elements of “together-break-up-together-break-up-together-forever”… thing.

Of course, you read another blog and they say that urban fantasy is something dark and gritty — like how I initially pictured Urban Fantasy to be. *throws up hands*

Maybe it is time to throw a bunch of things at the wall and see what sticks.

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