11.24.2005

Agents can be idiots too

I just received a rejection on my full and they said it was too long. They also said that fantasy is not "selling" right now, so they would have a hard time getting an editor to look at it. My questions are - is that just another way of saying that they didn't like my ms., because if they did, they could have had me cut things, right? Also, is fantasy not selling? I just read an article in USA Today that said it is on the rise.


Not every agent is as up to the minute on what's selling as the estimable Miss Snark, and the devotion of Snarklings who read the news. Query someone else who doesn't have their head in their ...turkey.

13 comments:

Rick said...

Maybe the agent thought the book was too long, but also just didn't feel the love, and wanted to hint at a cut without inviting a re-submit.

But - horrid thought! - is it possible that the agent is right? Fantasy sales are up, but could editors be staggering under the sheer load of submissions? Miss Snark, you obviously hear the book buzz, but since you don't hustle SF/F yourself, would you know if editors at Tor or Daw are wailing "NOOOOO, not another fantasy!"

I'm cruisin' for a snarkin', and I sure hope I'm wrong. Anyway, my agent didn't say anything about trouble selling fantasy.

Irysangel said...

It might be just that they didn't love it enough to work with you on it, and the 'too long' part of the criticism is an effort to help you.

I've been working with a possible agent who's asked me to rewrite the first part of my novel twice now (to speed it up and add action). I was rather dismayed at this at first, but the more I hear, the more it sounds like a good thing. At least she's not giving up on me!

Anonymous said...

Here's a question for Miss Snark. How seriously to agents/editors take it when an author publishes with a very small, new press that's hidden in the hinterlands of America. I have a friend who sold to one and is convinced that he'll do just fine. They'd doing hardback for his book and he thinks he'll get reviews.

But really, does it count?

Anonymous said...

How long can one reasonably (and politely) keep an agent waiting, once the agent has offered representation? I have an offer from an agent I feel pretty good about,but he's the first agent I've had any extended conversation with. I've gotten some positive feedback from other agents, and have some opportunities to meet with others-- in a few months. For various reasons, the agent who's offered represenation wouldn't be able to do terribly much for me between now and then (project is not ready to be shopped immediately), but it feels weird to say hey, I need a few months. Would it piss you off if someone did that to you, or would you respect that they were taking time to consider all of their options?

Beth said...

Rick,

Not DAW--they publish sf and fantasy exclusively. The day they start hollering, "No more fantasy" is the day you know fantasy is dead.

Rick said...

Beth,

I think Tor is also exclusively SF/F.

Just speaking hypothetically, fantasy might be selling like hotcakes in bookstores, but not selling well to editors because they're getting swamped with fantasy mss, more than they could possibly published even with greater readership demand. I can even guess what might cause this - the LOTR movies came out over the last few years, putting fantasy on the radar for a lot more readers, but also a lot more writers.

(I've read that something similar - and even more horrible - happened to horror a few years ago. A surge in popularity led publishers to buy and publish mss right and left, most of which should never have been published. Quality went into the toilet, and readers quit buying because so much of it was bad.)

That's the theoretical bad news. The good news is, genre fantasy is more established than horror, and editors probably won't make the horror mistake. The other good news is the gatekeeper role of agents. The SF/F houses, I believe, still take manuscripts over the transom, and their fantasy slushpiles may be spilling into the hallways. If the fantasy samples at RoseDog are anything to go by, a lot of it gives slush a bad name. But agented submissions have (presumably) passed the sniff test and must still get a serious look.

commenter said...

Per USA Today: "Sales of science fiction and fantasy books have jumped 8.5% in the past five years — nearly double the rate for all consumer books."

http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2005-11-20-fantasy-genre_x.htm

This article and F sales are being discussed here:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22228

Sonarbabe said...

Tor has a romance line, but as you can imagine, it's sf/f oriented. Don't know what their current needs are for it, however.

I shiver at the mere mention of Rosedog. 99% of the ms I saw were pure drivel. That's not to say mine is a whole lot better, but the agents who have looked at my work hasn't cringed in horror. :)

Anonymous said...

I'll admit to knowing nothing about SF/F, but I wonder how much of the 8.5% can be attributed to same title sales, like Potter?

If Potter sales make up a bulk of the growth, the increase in demand is skewed, and public consumption may not equate to agent or editor interest.

Harry Connolly said...

The SF/F houses, I believe, still take manuscripts over the transom,

Tor and DAW are pretty much the only sf/f publishers that accept unsolicited manuscripts. The rest read only queries or agented submissions.

commenter said...

Baen also takes slush. But all three tend to have *very* slow response times -- Baen > 1 year, Tor up to 4 years.

roach said...

I'll admit to knowing nothing about SF/F, but I wonder how much of the 8.5% can be attributed to same title sales, like Potter?

I could be wrong but I believe that the Harry Potter books are classified as children's fiction. In that case they most likely be considered in the accumulation of SF/F books sales figures.

roach said...

I could be wrong but I believe that the Harry Potter books are classified as children's fiction. In that case they most likely be considered in the accumulation of SF/F books sales figures.

*sighs* That should read, "In that case they most likely ARE NOT considered in the acculmulation of the SF/F book sales figures."

That's what I get for trying to watch the baby, cook dinner and comment at the same time.