Pub Rants

There’s No Escaping It! Embrace the Chick Lit Moniker.

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STATUS: A little annoyed. More to come in a moment.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? PAINTER SONG by Norah Jones

Ugh! Wasn’t I just ranting about not wanting to be labeled the chick lit agent?

Well, I did an interview for my local Denver magazine: 5280.

Yep, you guessed it. The angle the writer took was that I’m Denver’s Chick Lit Savant. That was even the title of the profile. Honestly, I talked about more than chick lit and discussed many of my other authors. But alas, I guess Chick Lit Savant sounds more “catchy.”

My favorite line from the profile? “Nelson specializes in the modern romance fiction genre affectionately known as ‘chick lit,’ so beach-worthy brain candy is her bread and butter.”

Kristin slaps head in resignation.

I specialize? I’m not specializing folks. I’m open to lots of stuff outside of the world of romance and chick lit.

“Beach-worthy brain candy”? Well, it does sound catchy. The writer obviously has not read any of my four chick lit authors because although they might be beach-worthy, not one of them is “brain candy.” They are smart, witty, and razor-sharp in their observations of what real woman must face.

Now I feel like I need to give a formal apology to my four chick lit authors and an apology for my fourteen other clients (who make up the majority of my list and are certainly part of my “bread and butter”) but who don’t write chick lit.

Sorry all. I’m not throwing in the towel and embracing the chick lit moniker. I will fight, fight, fight.


Ps. In this day and age, can’t they touch up magazine photos? For heavens sake, they shave off inches from Cindy Crawford’s thighs for the cover of Cosmo? Can’t they smooth out some of my wrinkles for 5280…

22 Responses

  1. Sue said:

    smart, witty, and razor-sharp is the definition of brain candy. When I come home from the big SF cons, like World Con, I tell everyone how WOW! it all was, there was so much brain candy.

  2. Linnea Sinclair said:

    Ah! Well, can’t find the article on line but speaking as one of your non-chick lit authors and perhaps more importantly, as a former (FORMER) news reporter… the trend seems to be (in news) to adjust the facts to fit the ‘selling point’, rather than cull the selling point from the facts.

    I tried very hard when I did features to make sure what the interviewee believed was their key component was also key in the article. But since journalism has, to a great extent, become more entertainment than, well, journalism, things like that have changed.

    You could, if you’re feeling snarky (though not channeling Ms Snark as this would not be a total snark-out) drop said reporter a note thanking her/him for the profile, saying you enjoyed meeting him/her and are much appreciative of the exposure, yadda yadda. Then near the end do the old Columbo-TV-detective swivel with: Oh and by the way… and mention that although this was a rip-roaring good time, you did feel the article wasn’t quite accurate as to your agency’s client list and goals and perhaps misrepresented the scope of your agency and gave a limited view of the talent you not only represented but are seeking.

    Or something like that. 😉

    Or not. Chalk it up to good fodder for another bumper sticker: Interviews Happen.

    Hugs from humid Florida, ~Linnea

  3. Bill Peschel said:

    Hmmm, judging by your recent sales list (heavy on chick lit and romance, light on sci-fi and non-fiction) and the subjects you’re interested in list — Women’s fiction, Chick lit, Romance — I can understand where the story’s thrust came from. It’s the Kristen equivalent of Monty Python’s spam routine.

  4. the green ray said:

    Dear Kristin:

    We all have an image, and the public seems to thrive on going along with that image, whether it’s true or not. Some people of reknown help to contribute to that image; Aliester Crowley, to choose a very different kind of example, thrived on his image as a “black” or evil magician, because it was what the public believed of him. Maugham wrote THE MAGICIAN based on this image about him; but if you read Crowley’s actual works, you would see that nothing could be further from the truth. The point I’m making (and I love your blog, read it every day), is that you yourself help to support this image, with your first seven listings on Agent Query as Chicklit, and the pictures of your books on your website. I’m not faulting you on this at all; you are just about the sweetest agent I know. But I’ve refrained from querying you (offbeat literary fiction) because I thought my novel just wouldn’t be right for you – probably. Your image, partly sustained by you, seems to go along with the Chicklit genre. More power to you! But please be aware that this is somewhat how you come off. No offense meant, and thanks for your wonderful blog. Would love to hear a classical symphony one day on the Ipod!

  5. solGreer said:

    I never would have read Shanna’s book, let alone bought seven copies for various friends and relatives, if it had amounted to no more than beach-worthy fluff. *snort* I know Shanna calls it chicklit, but I prefer to think of it as “smart heroine in urban fantasy where the point isn’t mr. right but learning to be ms right, first.” Now that, I’ll read.

  6. Jana DeLeon said:

    Jeeze, Kristin, you just can’t win for losing. But I did have a small laugh over the “brain candy.”

    Having read ALL of your chick lit authors, I know for a fact that you prefer strong, intelligent heroines and it’s reflected in the authors themselves. The women are smart and they write smart.

  7. Anonymous said:

    What the hell is wrong with brain candy. Can the same not be said of many many other genres other than “chick lit”?

    At least there was no mention of heaving bosoms…or throbbing members?

    The writer probably has a book in her hard drive she can’t sell…

  8. MTV said:

    Agree with green ray, Kristin –

    Look at the 5 covers on the home page for your site:

    1st 3 Definitely Chick Lit – next one probably Chick Lit, last one could be Chick Lit. Forget about the details as to what exactly they are – they look Chick Litish.

    Then there is the aspect of story spin – I had a genius idea once and assigned a reporter friend of mine to handle “story development” for the movie we were jointly writing. What I didn’t know about reporters is that they spin things as much as they “report” things. So rather than coming to the situation with an open mind – he was looking for things to spin. The angle he wanted to exploit. The result was it took over a year to correct the character arc problems this created. One character went from unredeemable to pretty unlikeable. My script consultant went bonkers on me. I thought he was going to beat me with the script!!! So, I understand linnea’s comment perfectly. Wow, and I thought what a genius idea – put a prize winning reporter on that part of the script. Hmmm … then not one but two script consultants tell me that how I saw it is how it should have been written … Mike pounds head on table but does not draw blood!!!

    So, yeah, reporters do not truly report – they report what they want you to see.

    Sooooo…. we have both learned a lesson – the hard way … in the school of life …

  9. pennyoz and Avery said:

    I agree with mtv. A lot of journalists have a mindset. They angle their views on preconceptions and are far less flexible than they should be.They prejudge and when you read or hear them discuss you kind of have to scratch your head becauseyou know this is not what they were told or said at the time.

  10. Becky said:

    Categories, schmategories. And we love doing it, don’t we? Oh, that? It’s another man-goes-to-the-Louvre-and-figures-out-Leonardo-da-Vinci-mystery-and-pisses-off-the-Catholics book. That one there–Die Hard in the City? Porn with a thriller twist.
    Personally, I had to stare at the 5280 before I got it. Oh yeah. I thought it had something to do with yardage for John Elway. I couldn’t get to your article, Kristin. I’ll try again.
    today’s my official pub date–why are there no parades in the street? Or at least my street?

  11. Jennifer said:

    And you think you have it bad.

    What happens when an author gets pigeonholed into one genre? We just have to change our name, that’s what.

  12. Anonymous said:

    Come on, Kristin, bite the bullet–stop the righteous indignation when a reporter tells you you’re agenting chick lit–that’s exactly what you’re agenting…you did a bit of a promtional thing with this:

    “Think how cool it will be when you can say you knew about and bought this little gem long before the masses and especially before the movie.”

    You push your chic lit authors just like anyone else would–but please don’t try to make it sound like this stuff is not what you’re selling–because you are. Own it, embrace it–we all realize this stuff has an audience but isn’t exactly high-brow literature you’re selling.

  13. Jana DeLeon said:

    anon – I don’t think Kristin ever tried to imply that she doesn’t sell chick lit – just that it’s not the ONLY thing she sells. She sold me and I don’t write chick lit. She sold Linnea and she doesn’t write chick lit – AND Linnea is up for a RITA.

    As for the book you’re talking about with the movie deal – it’s not chick lit – it’s YA.

  14. Anonymous said:

    Krisin is pitching my NF manuscript, a dark family memoir, at the moment. Her tastes do vary, just as she indicates on her blog and website.

    Now I have to the bookstore for a copy of 5280.


  15. Faith said:

    I’m tired of chick lit. It seems like that’s all I hear about. And so far, I haven’t found a chick lit novel to read that wasn’t all fluff.

  16. Anonymous said:

    I agree there’s too much chick lit. Every one I’ve read is fluff and boring and I can’t believe they’re killing trees to print it. Sigh.

  17. Heather Brewer said:

    Mmm…brain candy 🙂

    Like Linnea, I couldn’t find the article either. People are eager to slap labels on people, Kristin. Don’t worry. We all know you’re fabulously open-minded and represent many genres.

  18. Lexi said:

    Ouch! Sounds like a rough day. Just remember that in the long run, all that matters is you have a job you love! (And of course, try to set people straight along the way!)

  19. Michelle P. said:

    Get off your high horse people and stop whining. For all you “anonymous” posters and Faith who decry the “boringness” of chick lit – don’t buy it.

    Nobody cares what you like. I don’t like sci-fi, therefore I don’t buy it. I don’t say all sci-fi is unbelievable crap with made up garbage that could never happen. Everyone’s free to read and buy what they want and like – that’s why there’s a diverse crop of books published. But to put on your superiority cap and act like what you like is somehow better than chick lit is very presumptuous, not to mention just downright annoying to those of us who read it. If you’re so freaking discerning, can’t you find something better to do with your time than post to an agent’s blog???? Guess not.

  20. Patrice Michelle said:

    I think people are quick to apply labels because labels are an easy way to categorize a person. Kristin, the agent doesn’t sound near as specific as Kristin, the Chicklit agent. . Kind of makes you stand out, ya know. But anyone who takes the time to read your guidelines knows you’re looking to rep more than chicklit.

    I couldn’t get to the article either…

  21. Anonymous said:

    michelle p.,

    You’re absolutely right: my earlier slam on the boringness of chick-lit was unfair. I was having a bad day and lashed out at a genre that I don’t appreciate nor understand, and it was a waste of everyone’s time to do so. Apologies for the bad feelings.