My first novel was well received by agents, but I heard this more than a few times:
“I don’t know how I’d market this. Humor, or horror? It’s not at all scary.”
There is a reason it’s not scary: it’s not horror.
My first novel, Hell Comes with Wood Paneled Doors, is a humorous coming of age story about a family traveling cross country in a possessed station wagon. It’s not horror, but that didn’t stop some agents from treating it as such.
More frustrating than agents treating the book as horror while saying it wasn’t scary were agents who said:
“I really loved this book! It was a riot and so much fun to read!”
One agent told me that even after she decided it wasn’t for her, she kept reading. That’s a great compliment, but it also confused me — if somebody loves something, why not support it?
I know publishing is a business. I know there are books that sell and books that don’t sell. I understand agents are busy. I respect their time. I’m definitely not one of those writers who takes any kind of rejection personally.
While I was a bit confused to receive good feedback for something nobody wanted to represent, that’s cool — I don’t want somebody representing something I’ve written that their heart isn’t into.
Sometimes all I have going for me is heart, so I get that.
* * *
Looking ahead to this year, I’ll be pitching another novel.
This year, I’m not pitching a humorous coming-of-age story about a family traveling cross-country in a possessed station wagon; this year, I’m pitching a novel about a recently divorced celebrity chef who moves from Chicago to a small town in northern Wisconsin right about the time the most hated person in town goes missing.
Maybe it will suffer the same fate as my first novel; maybe I’ll hear, “It’s a mystery, but there’s also a little romance in it…and it really deals with some dark themes, despite a happy ending. It really reveals life in a strange, small town. But what’s up with all the wrestling and poisonous bugs?”
Maybe I’ll hear, “I really liked this — even more than the first novel I requested. But I’m not sure how to market this one, either.”
Or maybe I’ll hear, “Love this; I want to represent it.”
The only way to find out is to keep putting my work out there and never giving up!