Dear Miss Snark,
I've been happily reading your blog before querying agents, but I have a question that affects how I approach them, and it's one I've yet to see an answer to.
One widely agreed-upon bit of advice seems to be, "Narrow down your search for an agent by finding one or more who specializes in your subject matter" (the quote is from eHow.com).
Problem is, I'll be attempting to sell a golf novel, which isn't a full-fledged genre (or specialty, unless agents are, unbeknownst to me, incredibly specialized). I've found agents that have sold other golf novels, but I'm wondering how much that matters if I manage to sell the first and then novels two and three are on completely other subjects. ... Yes, I know it's optimistic to think that way, but what the heck.
Would you suggest following the "They've sold a golf novel" route, the "They do commercial fiction and look competent" route, or some other direction?
First of all, that's idiot advice you're reading. I never ever say "narrow your search to one or two agents". I say query widely. Query everyone who represents commercial fiction. Golf fiction isn't a genre in and of itself. Golf books can be everything from murder mysteries (Roberta Isleib leaps to mind with her spiffy golf series) to Pete Dexter's amazing tour de force Train, to Turk Pipkin's Fast Greens. Those books are as different from each other as can be and no one editor would probably acquire them all.
Write well, query widely. Ignore anything that says otherwise.