Agent, Fiction, Novel, Writing

What did and didn’t happen

As you know, I entered two contests recently. I didn’t win, place, or show in either, but that was no surprise to me. What also didn’t happen is my own personal slide into my-writing-is-garbage-despair. Yay! I’m making progress.

What did happen is that the secret agent, who turned out to be Rachelle Gardner, said some nice things about the opening 250 words of my novel. And she said she’d keep reading, which means I’ll query her.

But comments in the secret agent contest also brought into question whether I’ve accurately “pigeon-holed” my novel. I see it shelved in general fiction. I entered it in this contest as “women’s fiction.” That genre is apparently evolving and means different things to different people. Some see it as narrowly as the new term for “chick lit”—which mine is not—and others see it as broadly as any novel that would appeal mainly to women—which mine is.

Spanning a decade, The Brevity of Roses is the love story of three people. One thinks he knows all about love, another believes she’s incapable of it, and the third fears it. Is this general fiction? Is this women’s fiction? Is this a romance? Most agents expect you to define your genre in your query letter, but some genre definitions are vague or in flux.

Is anyone else querying a novel that’s hard to categorize? 

22 thoughts on “What did and didn’t happen”

  1. Hi Linda
    I’m not at the query stage yet, but I’ve found it difficult to pigeon-hole my novel too so I can identify with your struggle.
    It would be helpful if these agents could publish a book on genre from their own perspective, because clearly women’s fiction means something different to them.
    Anyway, Linda, you’ve given me an idea for a post.
    Congratulations on keeping your spirits up. It can only mean good things for you in the future.

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  2. I haven’t stated it in my query. I didn’t even think about stating it. I kind of classify it in my head as women’s literary fiction. Can that be? Can it be women’s fiction and literary fiction? Yes, it can;)

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  3. I also hear the term upmarket women’s fiction, which means it’s a little more serious and deals with deeper issues. When I hear this term, it makes me think Lolly Winston and maybe Jodi Picolt (but is she more family saga?)

    That might be another genre to consider classifying your book as Linda because it has some pretty deep themes in it. And of course, by the time we all figure out the genre to query our book as, that genre will be obsolete and there will be a new one that agents are crazy about, right?

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    1. I considered that, Lisa, but then I read that “upmarket” is a term publishers use, but you’re not supposed to describe your work that way yourself! This is all meant to drive us insane, I think.

      And yes, probably they will switch genres classifications on us!

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  4. I’m very, very impressed … it’s not easy to overcome that slide into writing-is-garbage when things are … um … well, y’know. I do it. I haven’t had occasion to for a while, but I think my first rejection will be the real test. You know … rejection from a publication of some kind. (I’ve recently submitted a short story to an online magazine. We’ll see.)

    If I don’t tail spin after that, it’s time for one of those awesome blog parties you throw. 😉

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    1. Good luck on the submission. I have a few rejections behind me now … and that’s where they belong. Just throw them over your shoulder and keep your eyes focused on the next goal.

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      1. I’ll be sure to take your advice. I just got my rejection notice. 😉

        A teensy sting, but not too bad. The source bothers me most, I think. I thought I’d have a strong chance with them. Alas … meh. 🙂

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