1. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic Supporter

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    Queries/Submissions Using the Correct Genre Terms in Query Letters

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Seren, Jan 3, 2018.

    I wasn't too sure where to put this, so I thought I'd just stick it here. (Sorry.)

    I'm trying to prepare another batch of agent queries, and I suddenly started to wonder if I was using the wrong genre label (and if that had been a turn-off for the agents I've already queried.) I've been calling it a YA romantic fantasy, but it's actually a mixture of fantasy and sci-fi.

    It contains elements that are more on the sci-fi side of things: the end of the world, trying to defeat a machine that's pumping said end-of-the-world-chemicals into the air, in a fantasy country that used to be famous for its scientific discoveries and advancements. But it is a fantasy world, the chemical is actually a mixture of chemicals and magic, and things are powered by magic spells rather than steam or electricity or anything else. Plus, I've always aimed to be a fantasy writer -- several of my other stories (that I hope would also get published if I did get over all these hurdles to the end of the line) are definitely in the fantasy genre. So I'm not sure if labelling this one as sci-fi would mislead an agent as to the genre I actually prefer to write in...

    Now I don't know what to refer to it as. Is calling it fantasy/sci-fi (written exactly like that) unprofessional? Will the agents think I don't know what I'm talking about?

    Or should I ditch the fantasy and sci-fi labels completely and go for something more specific: YA romantic dystopia?
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    I would definitely avoid any combination of the words "YA" and "dystopia" - it's widely considered to be totally oversold and essentially a dead market.

    Based on your description, I think "YA romantic fantasy" works well enough. If you were writing to an agent you happened to know was looking for YA sci-fi, then maybe a switch would be merited, but otherwise? If there's magic, fantasy fits.
     
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  3. CoyoteKing

    CoyoteKing Good Boi Contributor

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    I have the opposite opinion... which just goes to show you how subjective stuff like this is.

    I'd go with "YA fantasy/sci-fi" for a couple different reasons.
    • I question calling it "romantic." It kind of implies you've got one foot in romance and one foot in your other genre, which doesn't sound appealing.
    • On the fantasy/sci-fi versus just fantasy thing: If your book has a mixture of both elements, IMO, fantasy/sci-fi is more accurate... plus, it makes your world sound more interesting, maybe a little bit more unique. Even if technically it leans more towards fantasy.
    Or you could go with "YA romantic fantasy/sci-fi."

    I agree about the "YA dystopian" thing, no. No "YA dystopian."
     
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  4. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    I worry that the fantasy/sci-fi line might make an agent think the author doesn't KNOW which it is or isn't bothering to clarify, rather than the story itself being a blend...

    I hear you on the "romantic" front, but... I don't know. I guess it depends how significant the romance is to the story. I was reading it as a romance novel set in a fantasy world, but if that's not the case, then you're right, it might need a re-phrase.
     
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  5. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I wouldn't call it fantasy/sci-fi. Those are two distinct genres, so you'll look like you don't know what you're talking about and/or that your book doesn't have a clear genre.

    I would keep it simple and call it YA fantasy. Both YA and fantasy are ever-popular with a bazillion agents representing them, so you can't go far wrong.
     
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  6. CoyoteKing

    CoyoteKing Good Boi Contributor

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    Yeah, I see what you mean about the sci-fi/fantasy thing.

    Hhhrm. There is not a good answer to this.
     
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  7. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic Supporter

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    All right, thanks, everyone! I'll go with the majority vote for labelling it as "fantasy".

    To address the new problem: I'd say the romance is a subplot, with the main plot being (in very loose terms) the characters trying to save the world. But it's a a very big subplot that impacts most of the protagonists' interactions with each other. Does that make using the "romantic" label okay, or would you still drop it as it's not the core plot?
     
  8. CoyoteKing

    CoyoteKing Good Boi Contributor

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    How important is the romantic subplot?

    Like... is it important enough to be in the query?

    If it’s important enough that it’s mentioned/alluded to in the query, I’d say call it romantic fantasy.

    If it’s not, don’t.
     
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  9. Seren

    Seren Writeaholic Supporter

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    I think it's very important. I guess if my novel was a pie chart, the main plot would be obviously the biggest slice, and then the romance would also be taking up a huge chunk that's not that much smaller than the main plot, and then there would be a couple of other subplots that would be more like little slivers. But I've realised I can probably talk about it elsewhere in the query without giving it that label. So...maybe that means I shouldn't give it the " YA romantic fantasy" label and I should just stick with "YA fantasy". Hmm. :confused:
     
  10. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I would drop it. The purpose of genres is marketing, and I don't think I've ever seen a "romantic fantasy" section in a bookshop.

    Most YA novels (hell, most novels in general) will involve some kind of romance.
     
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  11. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Digging out my Balzac Contributor

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    Yeah, this. Nearly all stories have some kind or romantic angle (or aftertaste) noodling around the plot, so unless the romance is the hook to draw in readers, I'd leave it out.
     
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  12. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I think you want to label it as little as possible. A list of three or four genres, does seem like a lot to me. If I were the agent, I would wonder which one it really is and why the writer doesn't know this. Yes, I am fully aware that there is genre crossover all the time. But there are ways to show what kind of book it is. Here's an example of what I would do to show that my novel encompasses all those things.

    "I am looking for representation for my young adult novel -- the story of 16-year-old Bob who has to battle aliens and monsters at the same time locking down a date for the junior prom."

    Now, why does that one line sound more interesting than my novel?
     
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