I’ve been reading literary agent biographies and blogs in an attempt to narrow my search and find a few I think would be a good fit for my novel.
While researching, I found myself going on-line and doing searches for words and abbreviations that were totally foreign to me: MG, Dystopian, MS, Upmarket, and so on. I guess I still have a lot to learn.
At any rate, I thought I could save you some time by sharing a list of not so common words and abbreviations that I found during my research.
- MS: Abbreviation for manuscript (the plural being MSS).
- MG: Middle grade-ages 8-12.
- YA: Young adult-ages 12-18.
- NA: New adult: features a protagonist 18-25 and focuses on the first struggles of adulthood.
- Speculative Fiction: Fiction that encompasses supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements.
- Upmarket: Fiction with a commercial appeal (book clubs) particularly women’s fiction.
- Dystopian: A futuristic, imagined universe, in which oppressive societal control and the illusion of a perfect society are maintained through corporate, bureaucratic, technical, moral, or totalitarian control.
- Literary Fiction: Serious fiction, style and technique are often as important as the subject matter.
- Commercial Fiction: Written with the purpose of attracting as wide an audience as possible. It includes westerns, romance, mysteries, and horror genres.
I’m sure I missed a few. Who knew there were so many different categories?
I guess I’m old school. In my day it was westerns, romance, mysteries, comedies, and horror. Oh yeah, you can throw children books and youth in there as well.
I have to be honest, I just want an agent to say yes, I will represent you. I’ve had my fill of rejections, but I know, just like anything else in life, you need to do your homework.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of a potential agent. Knowing the agents expectations in advance of agreeing to work together will help you avoid a nasty breakup.
Find someone who believes in your work, who loves your voice, and whose vision for your future matches your own.
Questions to ask:
- Does the agent require a signed agent-author agreement? If so, ask for a copy in advance and review it carefully. Also ask for a copy of the agency clause they will place in the publishing contract.
- How does the agent prefer to keep authors informed of submissions?
- What happens in the event of the agents death? Verify that the agent has provisions in place to protect your rights.
- How many authors does the agent and agency represent?
- Does the agent offer editorial feedback? Some authors like for the agent to critique their work.
- Does the agent offer career planning?
- Does the agent handle sub-rights, ancillary rights and/or movie rights?
- What novels has the agent or agency sold in the past year?
- What is the agents normal turnaround time for responding to e-mails and phone calls?
- How can the agent-author contract be severed.
There’s no right or wrong answer to these questions with the exception of question 8. The purpose of asking questions is to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision and to clarify expectations for yourself and your agent.
Something to think about.