When you read that an agent is looking for manuscripts that sound similar to yours, it’s perfectly normal to get super excited and shoot off an email query with your samples pages. But instead of the “yes, please send me the full manuscript” response you expected, you received a “sorry, this isn’t a good fit for my list,” if you receive a response at all. Obviously the agent was nuts. Couldn’t she see how perfect your story was?

Before you suggest the agent get therapy, take another look at what they wanted versus what you sent. On my bio page here at Fuse, I’ve tried to list the Romance sub-genres I’m hoping to find. The key point is I’m seeking romance. Are you certain that’s what you’ve written? One way to determine if your manuscript is a romance is to ask yourself two questions.

  1. Is the romance between the two main characters an integral part of the story? That’s a romance.
  2. Can you remove the romance plot completely and still have a solid story? That’s not a romance.

It’s not uncommon to have a romance subplot tied into a story. The main protagonists send shock waves through a room when they’re in it together. They have a sexual tension that’s impossible to ignore. It’s that strong connection that draws romance readers – and the agents, like me, who want romance books.

I’ve had queries cross my inbox that toss “romance” into the description to grab my attention, but the main description always reveals the truth. A romance query is all about the couple, their conflict, and how their love will change the world/save a kingdom/destroy the Big Bad. Woman’s fiction does not equal Romance. A military thriller where the hero has sex with someone isn’t a romance. A YA fantasy that’s all about the destiny of the main protagonist finding himself with nary a hero/heroine to love isn’t a romance.

So, before you send that next query out, take a deeper look at your manuscript and compare it to what the agent represents. Personally, I would prefer to say “yes” to a query. Make it easier for me to do just that.