People often ask me how to characterize their own works, and are also stymied by submission guidelines that stipulate certain genres. If you have a YA fantasy novel and an agency accepts young adult queries but not fantasy, can you still query them?
Here’s a rough and quick rule of thumb when you’re confused: go by the sections in a bookstore.
Where would your book be stocked in the bookstore? If it’s YA fantasy, it would probably go in the YA section, not the fantasy section, so it’s YA first, YA fantasy second. If it’s dark urban fantasy with paranormal horror elements, where do you think it would go?
Pretend you’re a bookstore employee. Don those black glasses, squint knowingly when people are talking to you, and make your best guess about where your book should go. Then write a little card recommending it.
So if an agency accepts YA but doesn’t list fantasy as a genre they represent, I would feel free to send them that YA fantasy query — the section of the bookstore is the most important distinction. This isn’t a perfect way of breaking things down, but it will do in a pinch.
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and consultations! And if you like this post, check out my guide to writing a novel.
Art: The painting collection of Johann Noë Gogel by Christian Stoecklin