Friday, July 13, 2012

An Agent's Update on Thrillerfest

by Josh Getzler


Agentfest was, as anticipated, fascinating. I met with more than thirty writers in 2 1/2 hours yesterday, and as always came out of it with an admittedly self-selecting and small sample-sized idea of What Folks Are Writing These Days.

1) Lots of financial thrillers. People in banks, businesses, large corporations dealing with financial malfeasance and conspiracy. Which is just fine with me! 

2) Somewhat unusual settings, frequently dealing with jungles in South America and Africa.

3) Still a TON of terrorism stories, mostly dealing with Islamists and the CIA. More often than before they're set in the US, and frequently have Muslim-Americans as the antagonists. These blend together, frankly, and need to be beyond-super in order to have a chance.

4) More YA thrillers--a good thing, in my opinion. Very fertile ground.

Now, for the other side: what I didn't see:

1) Nazis. Almost a complete absence of WW2 books.

2) Old-fashioned Spy novels. These days, it's mostly CIA agents or ex-CIA, often disgraced or alcoholic and not smooth or suave. Which is a shame--the new kind isn't as sexy as the old.

3) I didn't see any romantic suspense at all. Very few female protags, which, in my mind, is a real shame. There were several people who pitched me where I would have been a lot more excited if their protag had been a badass woman than a middle aged depressed guy.

As always, I was impressed and heartened by the general good cheer exhibited by the authors--everyone showed up with a smile and a handshake, and there was little grumbling over waiting time. Thanks to all the organizers for your hard work, and to the authors for your patience and perseverance.


Gina Fava said...

Thank you for the lovely meeting, Mr. Getzler, at Agentfest. I appreciate your thoughtful consideration of my pitch and your kind request to read my manuscript. I hope to quench your thirst for a strong female protagonist involved in a romance/suspense cocktail in my work entitled The Sculptor. Cheers!

YA Sleuth said...

Fascinating to look at this pitching from an agent's perspective--as a writer, I always assumed it's publishers' needs that set the trends, not what writers bring to the table.

And we do need more badass woman protags :-)

S.D. Skye said...

I'm soooo heartened by this. I just finished the first book in a series--an old fashioned Russian spy vs the FBI story. It features a thirty-something African American badass female protag (very loosely based on a real Special Agent). I wondered (and doubted and doubted) if there'd really be a market for it among publishers; however, this might explain why my publisher (which has an expiring option) has been holding on to it for so long. lol Maybe something good will happen after all. Well see! If not I know where to send it. LOL! :)

Nancy Naigle said...

Thanks for the to see what's on the horizon, and where the gaps might be.

jenny milchman said...

Thanks again for this informative series, Josh!

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

Thanks for the info. Good to hear comments from the other side of the fence - so to speak...