Blogger: Rachelle Gardner
Dear Rachelle: I am about to search for an agent. My first book is a memoir, and an agent said he would like to see it. My second book is a novel. Do I select an agent based on my memoir or my novel? Is it acceptable to shop the two books to different agents? Thanks.
If you write in multiple genres, you’re writing to multiple audiences; in your case, you’re trying to reach memoir readers and fiction readers. There’s probably some overlap, but from a marketing approach, they’re diverse. Rather than building and growing your audience with each book, you’re starting from square one and trying to attract a whole new audience with each book. All the work you do to build the audience for the first book only serves that book; then with the next book you start all over. From a publishing standpoint in terms of investment and return, it complicates things.
In addition, most writers simply do not have the time in their lives to do enough marketing and social networking in one genre, let alone more than one. It’s lovely to have interest and talent in many kinds of writing; and most writers are this way. However, being able to sell in many genres is challenging. On the plus side, if you’re going to write in two genres, memoir and fiction go well together.
These two projects need to stand on their own, and you should focus on one at a time, choosing your best and most marketable project first. Using whichever one that is, try to get an agent, then you can mention to that agent that you have this other project in your back pocket. They will have their own opinion about it. Most likely, they’ll want to help you strategize your writing career properly so that you have the best chance for success.
A good agent will be aware of potential landmines for you— not wanting you to get into a situation where you’re running yourself ragged trying to keep up with the demands of writing and marketing books for two publishers and serve two audiences.
I don’t recommend trying to get two agents simultaneously. When you’re discussing representation with an agent, you can talk to them about the situation and get their opinion.
Are you writing in more than one genre? How have you handled this?