I Write YA, Not Porn

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Once upon a time –last year– I wrote a book. That book was called ON MOUNTAIN HIGH. You can read it chapter-by-chapter here! *Insert shameless self-promotion.*

For some time last summer, this book was on submission to literary agents, meaning that I gave them a formal email pitch in hopes they might want to represent me and my writing. We’re still working on that part, which is cool, but today I wanted to share with you the story of what I learned about emerging book genres along the way.

Also known as that one time I accidentally pitched my book as porn.

Let me set the scene for you. First-Time Author Lindsay had put in endless hours of work not only writing and revising the manuscript, but also researching the querying process, reading literary agents’ blogs for tips, and crafting a strong query letter herself. First-Time Author Lindsay was pleased to read about an exciting emerging genre, called New Adult. Its description was nebulous and murky at best, given that it was in fact so new, but the internet seemed to agree on at least one fact: that protagonists in the New Adult genre should be in their early 20s.

Great, thought First-Time Author Lindsay, that’s exactly what I’ve written! ON MOUNTAIN HIGH must be a New Adult novel! And so she proceeded merrily along her way of researching literary agents who were specifically interested in the genre. A few weeks passed, and through borderline stalker-ish tendencies, First-Time Author Lindsay compiled quite a list – around 40 New Adult literary agents in all. She couldn’t contain her excitement any longer. She was ready to query.

So query she did. To all 40 of those agents. The ones who were seeking New Adult manuscripts. All of whom were highly intelligent, incredibly talented people. Yes, First-Time Author Lindsay sent her manuscript –the one about a group of strangers on the hunt for a long-lost hidden treasure shrouded in myths of sinister curses, hauntings and murder– to around 40 of the country’s top literary agents in hopes of securing representation. She fired off the query emails and sat patiently – okay, fine, maybe not so patiently – to hear back. She waited. And she waited. And she waited some more.

Then, First-Time Author Lindsay began to receive a slew of rejection emails. She was devastated. Of course she’d read in her research that the odds were great that she would receive many rejections, so she tried not to take it personally and move forward. It was only several weeks later, when First-Time Author Lindsay stumbled across a literary agent’s (very wonderful and helpful) industry blog that she learned what the problem was.

New Adult was erotic literature.

It was an emerging genre so it was still somewhat open to interpretation, but New Adult had morphed into, predominantly, romantic fiction.

First-Time Author Lindsay had submitted her shiny, adventurous, very much not-at-all erotic novel to literary agents seeking the next Fifty Shades of Gray.

Now for the record, erotica is a widely respected and greatly enjoyable category of literature. It’s sexy, it’s fun and it can be very empowering. It just wasn’t what I happened to have written. And this, friends, is why you should never put all of your eggs (get it? like the ones you have for fertilizing babies? because SEX?) into a single emerging genre basket. After this shocking and entirely embarrassing realization, I reworked my manuscript to be good ol’ Young Adult, and completed the rest of my query process as such. Let this be a lesson to you all. I’ll just be over here, writing… not erotica.

But on purpose this time.

The end, thank you and goodnight.
—The Wife in Training

6 Comments

  • haha oh man. even though you’ve already told me this i still CANNOT believe that “new adult” means erotica! i am still shocked and it makes me blush. i sort of want you to now dabble in it, i mean you already have 40 agents’ names ready to pitch again :)

    • Reply February 24, 2016

      Lindsay Landgraf Hess

      We should co-author a REAL new adult book. It won’t be awkward or blush-inducing at all.

  • Reply February 18, 2016

    JERI LANDGRAF

    HILARIOUS!!!

    • Reply February 24, 2016

      Lindsay Landgraf Hess

      Just trying to make you proud, Mom.

  • Reply February 24, 2016

    Faith

    hahahahaha how did I not know this?

    #LindsayWritesPorn

    • Reply February 24, 2016

      Lindsay Landgraf Hess

      #LindsayWritesPorn
      #PornIsHard
      #GetItHard
      ????

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