Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tacky, tacky, tacky

This weekend I received the tackiest rejection letter to date, by far. I sent in only an email query--no synopsis, no material. This is the emailed reply, in its entirety:

Dear Alyssa,

You picked the wrong agent. No chick lit, no magic and no one who does not know that fiction novel is redundant.

[It was, of course, signed by the agent, nary a closing in sight]

I find this response wrong on so many levels. I would have been fine with a canned response--in fact, I expect that. I realize agents are overrun with submissions and have hardly any time for individual replies. But clearly, this one made time for me.

She mentions 'no chick lit', but I pulled the following list of acceptable categories for fiction submissions to this agent off of this agent's profile page on Agent Query today:

Chick Lit | Mystery | Commercial Fiction | Women's Fiction | Romance | Historical Fiction | Thrillers/Suspense | Adventure

Perhaps you can see how I might have been confused.

Her profile on Publisher's Marketplace indicates these fiction categories:


General fiction, Mystery, Romance, Biography, Business/investing/finance, History, Health, Lifestyle, Cookbooks, Science

And her agency's website says only this:
Agent X represents writers in many areas, including commercial women's fiction, historical fiction, and mystery to biography, history, health, and lifestyle.

Nowhere that I can find is there a mention of 'no chick lit' or 'no magic'.

Then there is her comment about my novel being redundant. Interesting. I'd be curious to know, not only which book I'm copying but how I'm expected even to be aware of it, what with the millions of books in print. I've queried quite a few agents over the last year or so, and a good number replied that they loved the idea and considered the premise unique and fun. Go figure.

You may be curious as to whether I wrote back. I did, but I kept myself in check, seeing as there were a great many things I would have liked to have said. I said only, "You might want to update your profile on Agent Query" (the one that specifies chick-lit). I also pasted in the info above. She wrote back almost immediately with the comment, "I did a while ago." A second email from her showed me what she believed to be the updated info:

Fiction Genres:

Action/Adventure, Commercial Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thrillers/Suspense, Women's Fiction

Don't know how the two of us are getting conflicting information, but either way, I consider this list inconclusive.

I really wanted to ask which novel(s) she had in mind when insisting that mine was redundant, but I didn't. I think my husband said it best. He thought I should reply with, "You're right. I did pick the wrong agent."

And so the saga continues.


Eileen said...

the redundant comes from the idea that a novel is by its nature fiction. You can't have a non fiction novel. (I learned this when I used to say my fiction novel and someone went off on me.) Apparently this drives some people insane. So you can say "my novel" or "my work of fiction" but avoid saying my fiction novel. Does this make sense? I'm a glass of wine in.

Or say whatever you like and think if they don't like it they can stuff it. This is also an option. : )

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Ahhh...I see!
This makes me wonder how I should have worded my query. It reads:

I’m seeking representation for my 84,000 word commercial women's fiction novel XXX...

If I left out the word 'novel' it wouldn't work, and 'women's fiction is a genre'. I'll have to give it some thought.

Thanks Eileen.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Sorry...I meant 'women's fiction' is a genre.

Sarakastic said...

That agent shouldn't be allowed around people or computers

Eileen said...

If you want send me your query and I'll take a peep. What the heck do I know- but I almost always have an opinion on things. : )

Elyse said...

What a jerk! I wish you would publish her name so we could all publicly chastize her rudeness. Who needs her anyway? I have some harsh words I'd like to share with her. Obviously, she has not a modicum of creativity in her; not only that, but she's oblivious to her surroundings. UGH.