Monday, February 12, 2018

Why Are You Sending Your Story To THAT Editor or Agent

Writers are simply making huge mistakes when it comes to the submission process. In simple terms, they have no clue why they would be sending that story to that particular editor or agent. Oh, they THINK they know. They many even come up with all of these specific reasons, but in readlity, those reasons are probably way off the mark.

I thought I would take the time to use myself and the Greyhaus Literary Agency as a model for this discussion today.

For most authors, they start with the simple submission list (or at least they should). This is where I have listed the things I acquire and the things I do not acquire. So let's start there:

The following is directly from the website. I have eliminated all of the specifics for each, but this is the list. As shocking as this may seem, I reject so may authors submitting things on that bottom part of the list.

Greyhaus represents both Single Title and Series romance/women's fiction.
Please note I ONLY acquire these two genres. If you submit something other than traditional romance or women's fiction, expect a rejection letter. 

Word Count should be according to the Harlequin Guidelines 







Single Title Inspirational
YA or Middle Grade
Picture Books
Urban Fantasy
Science Fiction
Authors interested in only e-publishing or self-publishing

For most authors,  

Writers need to go beyond this list. This is where you need to take the time to get to know the likes and dislikes of the agent or editor. Although we might acquire many of the same genres, we really do have different things we are looking for. This is where you have to spend the time following the agent or editor on social media, or even taking the time to visit with those people at conferences. 

So, when it comes to Greyhaus, let's talk about things that I like or don't like. 

HARLEQUIN STORIES: I like this company. I have spent a lot of time researching each of the lines. So, with that said, if you are someone who does not read this genre, then you might want to reconsider submitting stories. Now, with that said, I am someone who will reject a story that is just trying to copy plot lines from other books. The goal with writing category is to know the voice and the nuances, but develop your own voice. 

NEW ADULT: First of all, this genre is not simply teens having sex. This is  not just a tamer version of 50 Shades of Anything. These are stories about people making a transition between youth and adulthood. These are stories about people finding themselves in situations of "Oh S...T, Now what?" These need to be authentic voices. These need to be from the heart. These need to be stories people in this age group can relate to. Do not go over the top and dump EVERY teenage angst situation into the story. 

CONTEMPORARY: I say this over and over again. I want stories of REAL PEOPLE. Does this mean a fictionalized story of someone real. NO!!!!!!! I want to read a contemporary and be able to say, "I know people like this." One pet peeve I have here are stories that dump a ton of baggage on the characters. Not happening here! I will reject. I will also tend to reject the following tropes: wife finds that husband had an affair, stories about band groupies, and stories with adultery.

HISTORICAL: First of all, I have great historical authors so you have to be up to their standard. I can spot a mile away authors who write historicals from what we call "Source Books." These are the equivalent of Wikipedia. You have to know your research. Please also note, that some time periods just do not sell. At this moment, Victorian is making a comeback. Stores set in strange countries are not selling. Civil War is still a tough sell. 

PARANORMAL: I hate Vampire, Werewolf, Shapeshifter and Psychic stories. I think that sums it up well.

ROMANTIC SUSPENSE: I am going to reject stories that are unrealistic. A good example would be when someone being stalked from a sexually abusive husband suddenly is thinking of having sex with the detective. Also, dump those standard tropes of trapped in a remote location and then falling in love. Not buying it. 

WOMEN'S FICTION: Let me just say, this is not just large stories with female protagonists who are older. Women's fiction focuses on the female journey. These are stories that allow us to get into the female psyche. These are stories that any reader can connect with. I always use this as an example, even though it is not women's fiction - the novel, UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN. First of all, I am not talking about the movie, but the book. This story gives us a chance for the reader to relate to Frances Mayes through the analogy of renovation of a house. We get to see culture and others as she comes to understand who she is. 

Like the contemporary stories, I am going to reject stories such as road trips, husbands who are adulterous, overly melodramatic, and stories that are "not real." Please remember, when I use this phrase, I am talking about stories that people can relate to, not memoirs that have been fictionalized.

AUTHORS: I am also pretty picky when I see authors who simply have no clue about the business As an agent, I am here to assist with careers, hold hands in tough times and so forth, but, I am not here to teach you how to write. I am also going to reject a ton of authors who simply cannot follow directions. This would include, but no limited to:
  • Inserting your whole story, or even a partial in the query letter.
  • Using the submission form on the website to include information I have not asked for.
  • Attaching your general query letter you use for everyone as an attachment
  • Telling me how you are going to do things differently
  • Telling me you are the next great author and I will regret passing on your project.
  • Telling me you are currently being considered by major studios, the Nobel Prize selection committee or the like.

The point of all this is pretty simple. Get to know who you are sending the project to and WHY you and your story fits what that agent or editor is looking for in a client. If all you look at is your story matches the genre they have on their websites, you are SOOOO MISSING THE POINT!!!!!


  1. You wrote "As an agent, I am hear to assist with careers, hold hands in tough times and so forth, but, I am not hear to teach you how to write."

    Sorry, Scott, I'm an author and the grammar police. HEAR is something you do with your ears. The correct word in these sentences is HERE. I EXPECT an agent who deals with writers to know the difference.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Wow Hulagirl. That's a bold comment to memorialize on an agent's blog. I can only expect -- from the expert you claim to be -- that you have NEVER made a typo, ever. Not only is your comment inappropriate and disrespectful, it's downright mean-spirited.

    3. "Hear, hear" if you'll excuse the pun. All I can say is 'ouch' to this comment from Hulagirl. I've often found this agent's blog to be very informative. Seriously, who cares about a typo on a blog?

      My initial guess was that Mr. Eagan rejected your query and that's why this comment was left on his blog. But here's the irony. I noticed on QueryTracker that on the very day this comment was left, Hulagirl sent a query to Mr. Eagan. And he requested a partial on Feb 19th! Hope karma doesn't bite you.

  2. You are sooooo correct. Apparently brain and fingers were thinking two different things. Thanks for the great eyes to catch that!!!!!