I offend you? I still want you to represent me!

I got my query back from an agent. He had nothing but kind words to say of my manuscript but chose not to take on the work because he said it "offended his sensibilities." I did my homework on this fellow, and my manuscript is not the kind of thing that's outside his wheelhouse. He has a large number of sales in the literary genre, and a lot of novel that he represented are similar to my own.

Is offending an agent's sensibilities really reason to reject a work he obviously liked enough to comment so positively on? I mean, if Bret Easton Elis could get American Psycho looked at by an agent and published, I don't see how my novel is more offensive.

I'm an agent, you think I'm going to say no? Of course it's a reason to not take something on. I wouldn't take on anything that offended my sensibilities either. I'm pretty much offended by dead dogs, (KY "yea!!!"), the conspiracy of the Jews to rule the world, the conspiracy of the Catholics to rule the world and kill the Jews, the conspiracy of the ...well, you get the idea.

Finding an agent to represent your work means finding someone who WANTS your work to do well. You absolutely do not want an agent who's holding his nose every time he says the title of your book, so this guy did you a favor.

Bret Easton Ellis didn't launch his career on American Psycho either. And it was published fifteen years ago....not the best comparison for today's market.


Anonymous said...

Are you saying a novel like American Psycho wouldn't be published in today's market?

Anonymous said...

Not unless they could REALLY verify all the facts... Nan Talese and Oprah wouldn't want another big scandal on their hands.

Feemus said...

As I recollect, Simon and Schuster cancelled American Psycho right before its original publication date and at least one person at S&S was fired for greenlighting an offensive project.

kathryn magendie said...

just stopping in to look about - seems every time I turn around, I see "Go look at Ms Snark's blog" -

I'd probably have come here less than a year ago with questions galore, but I consider myself quite squished down and pitter pattered upon by oodles of feeties, and have found out the answers to most of my writer's woeismeish questions just by being at turns an idiot, casual bystander, and queriererer of a few agents here and there and yonder.

Yet, I have to say, out of the twenty or so agents I've queried so far (and no, haven't done the 'send out to 100 of your 'best agent friends' yet as some advise), half of those left me with a smile on my face from reading their encouragement (which, of course, was followed by great sobs of rejection, but anyway...) Out of the rest, I received only four form letters, five 'if only's you'd've,'and one lovely smart-assed comment written in bright blue ink in tiny letters at the top of my so-very-sincerly-well-thought-out query letter *heavy sigh*-- but, I consider myself lucky.

shoot, now I don't want to hit send, for fear I've made myself look like an idiot...(said as she prepares to scroll down to put in the magic bean letters below)

Skylar said...

"Are you saying a novel like American Psycho wouldn't be published in today's market?"

I think she's saying that comparing your book to a book that was published 15 years ago when querying an agent is not a good market comparison; you should compare your book to books published more recently.

girl on top said...

You had to read between the website lines (which I did too late) to figure out that the Midwest literary agency that I sent the sample chapters from my erotic fantasy was Christian-oriented and more than normally prudish.

Sarah said...

Less Than Zero, anyone? There's a good reason Bret Easton Ellis has one of the best agents in the industry. I had (still have, I guess) a connection to her through another of her clients, but I am so terrified by the idea of even her assistant reading my work (I'm realistic), that I've been stuck in perpetual re-edit for more than a year. I freeze up and recite, OCD-ish, "I'm not Toni Morrison. I'll never be Toni Morrison. Or Anna Quindlen. Okay, maybe Anna Quindlen. No, probably not."

(on a tangent, thank you for all your AW support)