Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In response to an earlier comment

I believe I said, "that was time I won't get back again." and someone said, "but I thought that was what agents did?"

Yes, that is indeed what agents do, but I think the comment needs a bit of clarification.

I have absolutely no problem reading submissions. The deal is when you spend the time and energy writing letters to people, telling the writers the material isn't even material I am looking for, this is the time we can not get back.

I really don't mind sending someone a rejection for a piece of writing that is an attempt to do something that I want. I believe, that although I might reject someone, I might be able to assist that writer in a future project.

This all returns to the same issue I have brought up before. Do your research. I try to make it very clear as to the type of material I am looking for. I know a few other agents do the same thing. Sure I wish all did but I can't wish for perfection. The thing is, look at what a person is accepting and make sure before you fire off that manuscript.



  1. Fair enough, and much appreciated. Perhaps down the line you will address the subject of gender. Just as so many SF novels feature yet another morph of Sigourney Weaver in "Aliens" as the lead character, I've noticed that American women's fiction nearly always features a generic bright and fiesty female lead who holds her own against men and refuses to follow the rules for the women of her time. She always prevails in the end, and is respected and loved, rather than being punished for refusing to submit to male rules.
    While I doubt this represents most women of that period, or the reaction they received for refusing to knuckle under, it is always a winner with readers.
    So, unless one is writing a generic spy or military novel, can one ever use a male lead who controls most of the plot, and label and market it as women's fiction?
    Even if the female lead comes out well in the end? I notice many more male leads in novels by British writers, that still appeal to women.
    Are you, or the agents you know, only interested in stories that are written from a woman's point of view, and one in which the woman controls events throughout the book?
    I'm thinking once again of Abe's wildly successful Draikon series, in which her male lead, to me at least, carries at least half, if not much more of the action in the book, and yet it is marketed as a woman's romance in our big B & N store.

  2. I think the key to "Women's Fiction" is that it needs to relate to the female experience and what it is to be a female. At least, in my humble opinion, that is the way I would define it. In the publishing industry, we are not necessarily referring to what appeals to women, but what relates to women, especially when we are dealing with women's fiction.

    Now, as for what other agents are looking for, I really don't know. I can only speak for myself on that one. In fact, that is something I have tried to push for on this side of the business. I would love to see a bit more precise wording on the part of the agents as to their expectations in a story.

    Hope that helps.


  3. Hummmm....must think on this one. Many have noted that in the Twilight series, Bella is a very passive character, continually needing to be rescued, and simply reacting most of the time to Edward's moves. I only paged through the first book, but did rent the movie, and was taken aback again at how strongly the plotting smacks of fifties-era women, BUT, it also sounds like every young teen girl in love.
    I suspect this is one more case of women insisting they want one thing, but voting with their money and time for quite another. Hello Jane Austen...time to fall down and be rescued. Human nature does not change, nor male-female interactions.No surprise she is enjoying a revival, and well-deserved. Meanwhile, I can only hope that either Christoff or Zane will appear at the foot of my bed some night.
    Thanks for your thoughts.