Finding a literary agent for my book

In writing a book, there’s two connected tasks: writing the book and getting an agent and publisher. Writing is what we writers love, and the agent/publisher part of it is what we have to do.

One of the questions that literary agents will pose on their Web sites is “In what part of Barnes and Noble will this book sit?” They want you to know this before you send them the query, and they want to be able to really convince the publisher that it will, indeed, be competitive in that section.

The other thing they want is “platform,” that is, what is the writer’s current connection to the reading public. Ideally, a writer would be a renowned speaker who travels around the country speaking at conventions and putting on talks that always fill the hall, and who has a gazillion Twitter followers.

And I, Mr. Writer, am sitting here, wondering, “How am I supposed to know that? I’m just sitting at my keyboard trying to tell the truth about what happened!”

I am going through lists of literary agents on I also went to Barnes and Noble to try to find another author’s preemie story and get on that shelf, and there . . . wasn’t. The health and medicine section was a bunch of how-to manuals about how to deal with cancer and things like that. Then there was the inspiration section, which did have some stories of medical trials that families went through, but the general orientation of those stories was about “how this made me and my family a stronger person.”

In sum, there does not seem to be an obvious spot in a physical bookstore to pick up a medical memoir. I’m kind of wondering if any of them get sold there. The one exception I can find is Bret Baier’s Special Heart, a book about his son, born with a congenital heart defect. Baier is a Fox News anchor, and . . . how do I put this mildly? The book reflects the same literacy level as most of the writing on Fox News.

Typing “preemie” in to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and one finds:

And then, Amazon has a section called “Special Needs Biographies,” that contain stories of hope about children with special needs (and preemies certainly fit in to that category for at least the first few months of their lives).

So . . . where does this leave us? Our book is half-and-half inspirational memoir and explanations of trends and research in neonatal care. I hope I can find an agent that will take a book that’s two genres at once.


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