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Old 04-14-2007, 08:10 AM   #26
Kentuk
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What is the period? What are the possible events? Is there a way to do what he asks?
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Old 05-07-2007, 05:45 PM   #27
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Response at last!

Here's the response from the HNS team of editors to HN's original post.

The HNR editors recently discussed this issue on our internal e-mail list. As a group, we feel that such a definition for historical fiction is very narrow and, frankly, a bit bizarre. There are many examples of current historical novels that contradict these comments; just see many of the books reviewed in this May issue of the HNS REview! As one of our editors pointed out, “The joy of historical fiction is that its scope is wide.”

Rather, we suggest you read the agent’s rejection as a statement of the types of historical fiction he’s able to sell. Commercial historical fiction that appeals primarily to women (which is the same as, in some agents’ opinions, that with a romantic angle) is very popular in the US.

We’ve also seen some American agents mention that historical fiction should be strongly anchored to a well-known historical period.

The comments you received reflect these trends. However, all agents are going to have different tastes, and this is far from the only opinion out there.

In choosing agents to approach, you may wish to concentrate on those who have represented novels more similar to the type you’re writing.

— the eds.
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Old 05-07-2007, 06:29 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Histry Nerd View Post
The context of his comment is that mine is essentially an adventure/war story set in an obscure period, with little in the way of Big Events or Big Names to anchor it in history.
My thought is that you didn't make the time period interesting enough to be published (which is a high bar and not the same as saying your story sucked, because if it did the agent wouldn't have said anything.) Adding well known historical characters would be one way to fix that.

Your characters, and the conflict between them wasn't interesting enough either. More war or more romance would be ways to fix the problem. There are other ways.

I'd recommend you watch the HBO series Rome, if you haven't already. It does all three of the agents recommendations and is excellent. My 65 year old mother, and myself, both loved it. So if you implement all of the recommendations, you can appeal to a wide audience. Just adding more war, would limit your audience to people who are interested in war.
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Old 05-07-2007, 09:21 PM   #29
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Thanks, pdr, for getting that answer for us. That's pretty close to the answer I expected. I have some work to do--both in tweaking the story and in refining my agent search.

Thanks, too, to all of you who made suggestions. I'll be working on implementing my fixes over the next couple of months. Thanks for all the help!

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