Hi Miss Snark,
Now that I am in the active querying process, I look up agents on AgentQuery.com whenever I hear about them and they are not on my125-agent-strong spreadsheet. I've noticed something that I hope you canshed some light on: agents whose lists don't match the genres on their
Example: agent whose notation says "Commercial/Humor." Two of her listed novels fit clearly into literary historical. Now, I'm sure they must have commercial and humor merit to fit on her list. This, however, seems to indicate that careful research *doesn't* necessarily turn up the "right" agent. It would almost seem like a scattershot approach is better - meaning I'd be just as well off querying agents who look for "Literary/Commercial"
I know you get irritated by writers who query you for genres you don't represent. But sheesh, how do we make it easier for you and ourselves? How do we find that line between "good writing trumps all" and "not for my list"? It seems awfully broad and blurry.
Ok, here's the Snarkism of the Day: It's not a mortal sin to annoy an agent. It's not the first thing you want to do, or something you want to aim for, but there's a trade off here of risk and annoyance. I vote for risk at least 80% of the time: query widely. Which means querying someone who might think you're a nitwit for querying them but so what? There isn't a " nitwit query list" that all agents look at before signing people up. If Agent Annoyed doesn't take "commercial masterpieces" then she's going to say no, annoyed or not.
There ARE some annoying things a writer can do that, no matter how good the writing, an agent is going to show you the door, but querying for a genre s/he doesn't represent isn't even on the list.
Remember too, categories are fluid. What I think of as mystery/thriller may look like a tone poem to someone else. What's the worst that can happen? "Not right for me". If you query enough agents to find the right one, you'll get so used to "not right for me" that you'll never give it another thought.