Be Sure to Use the Appropriate Nasality

It's been a while since I've posted. I have a few drafts that I'll probably never publish (that happens from time to time), but I have a really good reason why. I've been writing like Robert E. Howard. Not specifically in his style, but when he wrote Conan, he said that the barbarian himself stood behind him, threatening to kill him with his axe if Howard did not tell his story. I started a new draft at the end of January and I fully expect to be finished by the end of February. We often do the numbers and say "If you maintain 1000 words per hour and write two hours every day, you'll have an 80,000-word draft complete in 40 days!" This is absolutely true, and 1000 words per hour is not unreasonable. But things happen. You don't necessarily write 2000 words on Saturday or Sunday. Or you make a mistake and have to rewrite a chapter. Whatever. Forty days is optimistic. It usually takes me three months to finish a first draft, which I still think is respectable. So finishing in one month is both exhausting and exciting.

What would make me stop this high productivity to post here? Well, I'd like to say it's my blog post on what kind of critique critism you should hope for and the dangers of positive feedback, but it's not. It's so I can whine!

A debut author's book is coming out. The cover is being shown all over the webs and people are posting its blurb and an agent says, a fantastic urban fantasy debut! So why am I whining? Because--by the description being posted--it's not urban fantasy! It's contemporary fantasy. Now you might not care for the arguments of what makes a book epic fantasy or what makes it urban fantasy (does it have to have vampires, blah blah blah), but if you're an aspiring fantasy writer, those questions are important. Because when you start looking for an agent, you will see time and time again that the agent is interested in urban fantasy but not other types of fantasy.1

Some agents will just say fantasy with a preference toward... or just fantasy. But that's less common than you might think. Books are shelved in sections. eBooks have metadata. We can be specific, and for personal preference or monetary interest, agents (and editors) specify what kind of fantasy they want. So when a genre is incorrectly shelved in another genre, two things will happen. First, people will be less interested in the story because they think they're buying something they're not.2 Second, people will say that the genre it should have been in is under-represented.

"No one is reading/writing contemporary. It's just too small a market." NUH UH! You're just shelving it wrong! waaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!! /baby

September marks my fourth anniversary of being a querying writer, so let me ask this anniversary wish. Don't make it harder for me to find representation than it already is. If a book is epic, it's epic. If it's traditional, it's traditional. And if it's contemporary, it's contemporary. Who knows, maybe you'll popularize a genre that hasn't been getting a lot of attention otherwise.

1 Urban was the cash cow for the last decade, so this isn't surprising. Likewise, after Game of Thrones hit it big on HBO, you saw a lot of agents add epic to their list of interests. This faded a lot faster because people who aren't used to reading epic discovered what a mountain of text comes with an epic manuscripts. If you're under 150,000 words, you haven't written an epic fantasy. Or at least, you haven't written it very epically.

2 See this post by Kristin Nelson to understand the importance of metadata.