A request for agents to de-fluff their wish lists
This has bothered me for a long time. Has anyone else noticed how agents’ agency profiles contain the same type of vague fluff against which they preach? Here are just a few, real examples from agents' bios and profiles:
“She is attracted to stories with strong visuals and sharp dialogue.” Well, thank goodness for sharing that, because my story has no visuals and boring dialogue.
“[agent name redacted] seeks projects that balance strong voice with gripping plot.” Good to know, because my characters’ voices are weak and the plot is plodding.
“She loves all things dark, gritty, and macabre.” Maybe we’re a good fit because I don’t write stories with rainbows and unicorns.
“[agent name redacted] is particularly drawn to voice and humor.” This is so vague I have no idea what she/he means.
“If you have a provocative idea, a grasp on your platform, and a fabulous title and hook, I’d love to see it!” Hmm, no author has any of these.
“He is seeking smart, fun, and heartfelt books.” My book is dumb, said no author ever.
“With books, there’s just something about strong female characters holding their own against the world.” I guess my female protagonist, who’s charged with maintaining the balance between good and evil, is too weak.
“In novels she likes…magical realism…” My magical realism novel must not be magical realism enough.
“[agent name redacted] is seeking bold voices…” Ahh, this “bold voice” thing again. Which means what, exactly?
“[agent name redacted] is looking for dazzling writing, original premises, and master storytelling.” Fascinating that this agent wants comps for an original premise.
“She loves strong voices and unique characters.” Really? This type of sentence would be edited out of a novel because it’s vague and weak.
“With fiction, I love quirky, edgy characters.” Sigh.
“I’m always on the lookout for fantastic projects…” Another sigh.
You get the gist. These wish lists provide no real insight into the agents’ actual preferences, and the overuse of adjectives is, well, ironic. Fantastic, quirky, original, unique, bold, fun, edgy. Most authors would say their work could fall into one of those categories. Oh, and I checked my own MS, and it contains none of those adjectives.
Agents, do us a favor, and mean what you say and say what you mean.