Originally Posted by Anne Lyle
Thanks for your answers, John. I guess little has changed since Ursula Le Guin wrote her essay "Why are Americans afraid of dragons?" back in the 1970s
The reason I mentioned mainstream agents is I met an agent who has asked to see my book when it's finished, simply on the basis of the historical period (of which he's a fan), and he's very successfully sold a somewhat-closer-to-mainstream alt history in recent years. But I take your point that in general, mainstream publishers just won't be interested.
Two things there I noticed, 1. "Americans are afraid of dragons", but only in the literary world for some reason. In movies fantasy is a hugely popular genre and make a ton of money but they can go out of fashion quickly. 2. An agent liked something because he had a personal relationship to it. That speaks volumes and if one could find out the personal likes of an agent/publisher/editor and then, if it's decently written, a writer could be way ahead of the game. I find that (only in conversation) if someone has turned something down (because of subject matter, not writing) I always ask if they know somebody who might be interested in it. Often they are glad to help and mention a few names. Then when I go to the names mentioned I drop in the name of the person who recommended them! It makes people feel you are in touch with the business and as a result are slightly more open to approach.
John, how would a writer go about finding out such info on an agent/editor? I know that what they publish or who they represent isn't always what their tastes dictate, that there are other factors in play.