By Jennie Goloboy,
I’m not only an agent, I’m also a historian. How does this affect the way I approach queries? First, it means that I would like to receive more non-fiction queries, especially in the category of history that appeals to a broader audience. Secondly, I am totally, painfully, strict about good research. Here are some signs if a book idea is needing additional research:
1. The “medieval” world is just like the Renaissance Festival.
This one often becomes clear within the first few chapters of a book. If no one is farming or going to church, and everyone seems to spend all day in the pub singing jolly songs with the wenches, then it’s not really medieval!
Think about it– the beer has to come from somewhere.
2. Your knowledge of Japanese culture comes primarily from watching anime.
I would like to see more science fiction and fantasy novels with non-Western settings. Unfortunately watching anime and then writing a book set in Japan doesn’t work. It’s the equivalent of writing a book about New York based on a love of Batman.
It’s a good sign for if you:
(a) are a member of Culture X
(b) have lived in Culture X
(c) learned the language of Culture X and are a regular visitor there
(d) have some kind of credential indicating expertise in Culture X. (d) does not have to be academic– life experience counts.
To our readers:
Jennie will be teaching a class at the Loft on February 9th about Authentic Historical Settings. For the those who are based locally, it may be worth taking this class.