Pub Rants

The Chick Lit Agent

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STATUS: Off to an early start. I must finish the final vet of a negotiated contract so copies can get mailed off to the client for signing. Then I’m having lunch with Kelly Notaras (formerly an editor at Hyperion until she figured out that the weather is WAY better here in Colorado and moved so she could be Editorial Director at Sounds True Audio).

What song is playing on the iPod right now? MISSING by Everything But The Girl

When I was at the Pikes Peak conference this weekend, a gentleman came up to talk to me and he literally started the conversation with, “I know you are a chick lit/women’s fiction agent and only represent women authors, but I wondered if you would still be interested in my project that has a male protagonist.”

Stop everything. I’ve been receiving email queries that reflect this same sentiment. I have to rant about this.

I only represent woman authors?

Wow this is news to me (and to the two guys who signed with my agency the week before last and the two male clients who are currently on my webpage and whose books I’ve sold).

I am the chick lit agent?

Folks, out of my 19 clients, only four of my clients (yes, count them, four) write in this field. Just because these gals are all rather high profile (bless their good-selling books), just means I’m good at picking what can work in this field but I’m not limiting what I represent to just that.

Now I do have to admit that in the last couple of years, it’s been easier to sell chick lit, romance, women’s fiction etc. so consequently, that’s what I’ve sold.

But I promise you. Nowhere on my website does it say I hate men, male protagonists, or male writers.

It says on my website that we are looking for literary, commercial mainstream, SF, Fantasy, young adult, memoir (as well as chick lit, women’s fiction, and romance) from all kinds of writers and for all kinds of stories.

I want diversity. I’m actively looking. I haven’t found that perfect project yet. The door is open.

22 Responses

  1. Jodi said:

    thanks to your wonderful blog i’m inspired to get that perfect project to you on a daily basis! thanks for all the advice!!!
    ~hopeful novelist

  2. Stuart said:

    Until I started reading this wonderful blog, I also was under the same impression.

    About a year or so, I started doing research on agents to figure out who to query. When I found your name (I think on Backspace), I was excited to find an established agent here in Denver. But then the site and your website gave the impression you only represented chick-lit/romance type books.

    I’m better informed now. 😉

  3. linda said:

    I only discovered your blog recently, and was thrilled to read about what you were looking for.

    When I first saw your listing on Agent Query several months ago, I checked out your website and got the impression you were mostly interested in chick lit. I’ve since learned you’re looking at a far broader range of projects.

    Very heartening, as you’re tops of my list!

  4. codyblue said:

    Honestly, I thought a similar thing, at first. But your blog is a wonderful learning tool for us writers, and promotional tool for you. Not only did I learn you are not just a chick lit agent, I have learned about what you like and what you don’t.

    Although you ranted (politely, of course)against an element in my manuscript, your ‘voice’ also convinced me to query you about that very manuscript. Not to mention the fact that everyone speaks highly of you. Since your partial inbox is scaring you, I guess I am one of many who hope that your fear is soon replaced by enthusiasm for at least one gem. 🙂

  5. April said:

    Just wanted to tell you that your blog is the best I’ve read. I am officially hooked. As a writer, it’s great to see things from an agent’s perspective.

    As a Western Colorado native currently transplanted in the desolate Mojave, reading about Colorado on a daily basis makes me even more homesick, more determined to be successful in my writing so that I can afford to move back there!

  6. Diana Peterfreund said:

    I think what’s going on is that Miss Snark called you an especially strong chick lit agent. But if people are so misinformed that they get their opinions from an anonymous blogger rather than from actually LOOKING at their website, you won’t ever be able to get through to them.

  7. nathanjfealko said:

    I’ll have to second (third? fourth?) that impression of the chick-lit agent. I actually read the website tho, so I knew you represented more than that; but with your success in that field, I did think that was your main focus.

    So, I think the guy who approached you was a little justified in his rash comment…

  8. December Quinn said:

    I know when I first found your website several years ago, I had the impression from it you were focusing on chick lit. I see that emphasis isn’t as strong now, but you have built a reputation as being especially strong with it, so there you go.

  9. Anonymous said:

    I also thought you were only interested in women’s fiction/chick lit because that’s what I saw under agency sales. I haven’t been able to find a list of what type of fiction you’re looking for on your list, and I’ve gone through all the tabs, but I’m glad that you’ve clarified this!

  10. PJ said:

    Funny that people would think that. A friend of mine pointed me to your website because she knows I write SF/F, and she had heard you were looking for SF/F submissions. I made sure to read your “Submit Manuscript” page, which very clearly outlines what you’re looking for.

    I wasn’t sure before I saw the page, though, as this friend writes romance, and therefore, tends to move in those circles.

    Thanks for being willing to come out here and tell us authors how it is – it helps us write and work better, and I hope, makes your job easier.



  11. Jennifer Jackson said:

    Welcome to the wonderful world of getting typecast. *g*

    The Spec-Fic Guru (also known as the Queen of Urban Fantasy)

    p.s. She (meaning me) also likes all sorts of other genres too.

  12. PRNewland said:

    I suppose its somewhat understandable given your sales in that genre, and the specific authors you represent in it seem to be doing quite well.

    But… I found this site after hitting either Agent Query or PubMarketplace (can’t remember which) after searching the keywords “fantasy” and “science fiction”. So some may just not be reading your site very thoroughly.

    & congratulations to you and your new assistant!

  13. Anonymous said:

    I think a lot of writers look more toward what an agent sells than what they say they rep.

    And your “clients who blog” list is all women.

  14. David the Multi-tasked said:

    Well from a male author who has submitted to you (and got my first rejection! YAY! lol) I can tell you that there was nothing here that said “Men need not apply”. In fact it was your site and your blog that made me want to submit to you! Maybe the fact that chick lit and romance sells so well leads that type of book to be seen here.

    Maybe you should just represent cave men who thump ladies over the head with a club and pick heir belly buttons all day long……not!

  15. an author said:

    Anonymous 5:51,

    Always do your research on agents before you assume anything. You could be missing out on an opportunity to submit to a great agent.

    Writers, you want give yourself the impression that you know what you are talking about when querying agents.

    I don’t want to sound stalker-ish, but also google the agent you are interested in. Often times there are interviews or articles on the agent and you can get more of an idea of what they are presently *looking* to rep, meaning they haven’t found it yet, but they want to. Sure, agents want to sell in the markets they’ve already sold but often they want to sell in other hot markets too.

    Basically research an agent like you would follow the market to find out what’s hot, or which pub house your book would find a home. Research is key and gives you a better chance with the agent you have your hopes on.

  16. Mr. Fishpatty said:

    Saw your post about Kelly Notaras. You Coloradans are lucky to have her. She’s a great friend of the Fishpatties, and, as I’m sure you know, she’s really nice and wicked smart. Did you know she has a blog? You’ll have to ask her about it. And, if you remember, say hello from the Fishpatties in Paris. That would be great!

    P.S. You have a great blog! Excellent links and advice. I’ve already added a bunch of the URLs to my favorites. Do you mind if I put up a link to pubrants?