What’s this all about? Click here for Part 1 with an explanation.
Knowing that a lot of friends and followers found Part 1 interesting (especially the publishing folks who enjoyed the take from the other side), I thought it would be apt to follow up with this response I received from an agent back in January.
I think I’ve very little in the negative to say about your line by line writing – you do dialogue very well, set the scenes and place the characters in a clearly logistical, orderly, style – a rare thing. But, I think this is a case of us not being a good fit. I’m not as into the stranger arrives in a city, bringing change, type of story as I know a number of other agents are, and I really think it best for both of us to be fully behind a project before sending it out. That is to say, this felt strong, very American Gods (by Neil Gaiman), but American Gods isn’t really the book I read. I hope that makes sense.
In this case, all very positive notes for the most part. The agent actually doesn’t have anything bad to say about the writing, the story, the structure, or the tone (more on that in future installments). In this case, the agent is actually very up front about the fact that they just don’t represent this type of book. I’ll take “No”‘s like that from agents all year. Call me philosophical, but if anyone has nothing bad to say about my writing other than that the book is not their normal style, I’m good.
What makes this one interesting, in reference to the response from Part 1, is the difference in perception. The agent in Part 1 read the novel as a suspense thriller. This agent is reading it as a Gaiman-esque novel with supernatural themes and modern fantasy elements (pub industry folks: notice I didn’t use the word urban there). Same MS, two completely different reads. The first agent read it with an eye to how it will sell as a thriller. This agent latched more on to the supernatural elements that run throughout the novel and thought, “Gaiman’s readers, that’s the audience for this.” And yet, it is still a literary novel. Sure, there is murder, suspense, some events that defy a realistic explanation, and the presence of one character who may or may not be somewhat-supernatural. But there is not enough of any of those elements (well, maybe the murder), to make this a genre novel. As I keep discovering, it’s all in the perception.
Keep checking back. More to come…