High Concept

I am behind on sending out letters to agents so I sent two today. One to Stacey Glick at Dystel & Goderich, which had a nice professional website. At one corner was a box describing what the member agents were currently looking for, and Stacey said “high-concept reality based YA.” So that’s how I described Chivalry for her. I was interested to see that a few of the member agents were looking for thrillers. It made me think that I need to spice up King’s Highway and turn it into a thriller. Why not? It’s just sitting on the shelf right now, and I know it could be better. I also know there’s some meat in there. I don’t want to distract myself from my current project, but it sure is nice to have a couple in the bank. King’s Highway and A Man Like Me both need work but have potential, and I need to get more of my work out to where people can read it. There’s no way of knowing which one will be the one.

The second agent was more difficult to pick out. I wanted to send out The Peaceful and Just, but in thumbing through the Writer’s Guide I was finding a lot of agents who didn’t seem to match. More seem interested in Chivalry. So then I wanted to query Anderson Literary Management, but they don’t accept e-mail queries. I was kind of shocked by that. They seemed promising, but there’s no website for up to date info. I may have to go ahead and do it the old fashioned way, but what a waste of paper, ink, and postage, although it is sort of nice to reminisce about actually licking a stamp and dropping a fat legal size envelope in the mail with a bunch of my words inside on water-marked linen paper. I am familiar with what comes back from those sheafs of hope. I have received a file cabinet’s worth of them.

Having decided not to print today, I sent one for The Peaceful and Just to Winifred Golden at Castiglia Literary Agency. Their website was in oriental script. No joke. There was not a word of English on it, except for the copyright. There was a picture of lots of pretty cherry blossoms. Thinking that was strange, I googled a bit more but only found other out of date sites and one saying that the website was down and they might be out of business. Because it all seemed so mysterious and Win’s bio in the Writer’s Guide was a match for The Peacful and Just, I sent it blind, three chapters and a synopsis. I called in a High Concept YA science fiction novel. Now that’s a mouthful.

At the TMCC writer’s conference one of the questions was, “What is high concept?” I guess a lot of agents are asking for that right now. Gordon Warnock explained it as a plot that you can describe in a single sentence. I think a world where the roads have all turned into broken matter transporters that make anyone who steps on them disappear is SUPER high concept. So that’s how I’m describing The Peaceful and Just in my query this week.


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