Lesson: Always check and double-check submission guidelines before you hit send.
Lesson: AgentQuery, while awesome, isn't always the most complete source of information.
Too bad I forgot those lessons this morning.
Sure, I only did it with one query letter, but it was enough. AQ had a particular agent listed as accepting only query letters via email. As the agent in question point out in her rejection letter, her agency asks for 10 pgs and a 2-pg synopsis. D'oh!
Now, this is a big huge forehead smacking moment. Almost as bad as when I misspelled an important reference in my initial query letter for this book. (If you're an agent and reading this post, I'm not usually scatterbrained, my brain just scatters every once in a while - usually at the most inopportune times.) But that wasn't the worst of it.
You see, the agent in question somehow must've completely misunderstood** the intent of my book. This person either didn't bother to read past the subject line, or she skimmed the contents, and without the additional information, mistook what the book was about. I know agents don't have a great deal of time to read each query letter, so I don't blame anyone for skimming. The solution to that would've been in the materials, if I had been smart enough to include them. With a misconception like this person must've been laboring under, I would've sent a rejection, too.
What this person said was: "I've read too many novels that are similar and just come across as preachy."
First off, since I researched Amazon looking for similar books, and came up empty on any with this angle, I was stymied about the response. (If you know of any pro-choice speculative fiction set in America after abortion has been made a capital crime, let me know.)
Second, it's hard to be preachy when there's nothing to preach. The other side of the debate usually gets sole use of preachy. I'm just telling a story about one woman trying to make her own choices in a world that wants either her pregnant or dead, the man who falls in love with her, and their fight to make everything right again. Sure, there are ideas woven into the story, but the story is the main thing. There's action, there's romance, there's suspense, and like all my stories, a happy ending* (or if not exuberantly happy, at least positive).
Maybe I'll just resubmit with the appropriate materials and try to remedy the misconceptions. The worst that can happen is she rejects me again.
Your turn to chime in. Do you think any books with deeper ideas are preachy? Can books be both an entertaining read and thought provoking?
*As I've said before, books with a negative, depressing, unresolved or just plain unhappy ending irritate me to no end, so I don't write them.
**Of course, it's entirely possible that she didn't misunderstand, but instead wasn't in-line with the pro-choice philosophy. In which case, it's just as well.
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