I’m about to begin querying my GenX novel After December to a small press. I made the decision over the weekend after considering, again, the response I received from an agent last spring.
Agent: Nobody wants to read about the 90’s. It’s too recent to be considered historic and too long ago to be considered relevant.
Fair enough. To be honest, I don’t remember that much about the 90’s. We have Trivial Pursuit: The 90’s Edition and it’s ridiculously hard. I spent most of the decade wrapped up in my own personal dramas related to high school, boys, college, and my parents’ divorce.
Also there was a lot of drinking and smoking weed.
But the next part of the agent conversation is what made me question why I was even interviewing agents:
Agent: Why can’t the main character just be 22 now?
Me: Like, a Millennial?
Me: But there’d be social media and a big part of the story is his detachment from his friends.
Agent: Maybe he’s just not into social media.
Me: A Millennial?
I know some Millenials and they’re basically good kids. But come on. They’re value system is very very different from ours. Stripping GenX from Brian Listo is like making Elizabeth Bennett a lesbian. While it might be a doable version of the story, it would be a very different story.
Finally, the agent asked who would read my novel. I said book clubs — you know, those GenX moms who drink wine and remember their high school boyfriends? Possibly college kids now — I read Ethan Hawke’s college-kid-finds-love-and-loses-it novel The Hottest State when I was in college and it resonated.
Agent: So Millenials are a target audience?
As if to prove her point about aging Brian into the now.
The Millenials I know think DiCaprio originated the role of Jay Gatsby. They don’t need modern-era novels. They just need something that confirms their own interests in self, fame, and partying.
So, okay, one agent who doesn’t get it is just a single strike out. Get back up there and keep swinging. What I realized, though, was that agents reflect what the publishers say they want. So I need to find a publisher who will buy my pitch.
Next blog: The Pitch.