View Full Version : Chick Lit - the elephant in the room

Chiquita Banana
04-15-2009, 06:22 PM
I'm grappling with the question of whether or not to call my work chick lit in a query letter. That's what it is, but is use of the term the kiss of death when it comes to some agents?

I have a long lists of agents to target who specifically state that they're looking for chick lit, but I was hoping to start with several other ones that definitely don't mention this even though they do rep the leaders of the industry. (Marian Keyes, etc.)

The genre has changed so much in the last few years. It's not all Manolos and ohmigods these days (and it certainly still sells!). I know that agents all know this, but I'm just worried about labeling it this way.

Would 'mainstream women's novel' do? I thought that might convey the fact that it's light, rather than heavy.

Any thoughts?

Many thanks.

04-15-2009, 06:50 PM
Definitely call it a chick lit for the agents who are looking for chick lit. As for the others, maybe you could use "quirky women's fiction."

04-15-2009, 07:21 PM
I agree with Erin. Although, agents don't always update sites. It may say they're looking for chick lit, but they might not call it that when trying to sell.

Chiquita Banana
04-15-2009, 07:47 PM
Thanks ladies! I really appreciate the feedback. :)

04-16-2009, 07:28 AM
I've also heard the phrase "contemporary women's fiction" batted around a bit these days.

04-16-2009, 05:54 PM
hey Chiquita,

As an aside, I get an amazing newsletter thru yahoo-Fiction That Sells. It used to be a chick lit newsletter but they changed the name. Anyway, check it out. There are some really great writers on there, with lots of knowledge and exp. And one of their threads right now is the discussion over whether chick lit is making a comeback.

Personally, I don't think it is. Not the chick lit as we knew it. But I do think funny might be, as evidenced on the newsletter and Internet-seems there's been a bit of sales/releases lately for "light or humorous women's fiction" and romcoms.

I also just saw a great article by Billy Mernit (I don't have a link, maybe Google it.) about trends in romcom. Granted, it's coming at it from the Hollywood perspective in the post, but I think it totally applies to novels. Basically, it says it's going to be about funny, but more importantly about REAL women. Real, relatable women and their stories.

I do hope so. But like most everyone else, I don't have a clue if it's true.

Anyway, I'd check them out. Lots of helpful and nice people into that genre. They might be able to help you more precisely. Good luck.


ETA: I found it. http://www.storylink.com/article/284 That's the Mernit article. His reg blog is awesome too. Again, it's mostly about screenwriting, but SO much of what he says crosses over. http://www.livingromcom.typepad.com

Chiquita Banana
04-17-2009, 04:54 PM
Twizzle, thanks so much for posting those links. Really great stuff!

alias octavia
04-22-2009, 04:01 PM
Kristin Nelson did a great post on Chick Lit in the U.K. and Europe today - check it out:

04-22-2009, 08:56 PM

Yes. It's much bigger there. Little Black Dress takes unagented submissions, Chiquita. Have you checked them out?

I love KN's reports back, but I still don't think stilettos and shopping are going to fly over here. I do think people might be missing funny and real, though. Hopefully she lets us know what they say in NYC.

04-22-2009, 09:10 PM
Just wanted to weigh in on the UK publisher thing...some UK publishers are asking for exclusive English distribution rights in Europe...which doesn't make US publishers very happy. If you would go ahead and sign a contract with LBD, for example, just be aware that issue might come into play if you're still looking for a US publisher.

And yes, I experienced some of this myself. It was sort of a weird situation. PM me if you are looking for more details!

Chiquita Banana
04-22-2009, 10:05 PM
Hello again.

Well no wonder I'm so determined to plow ahead with my book! I've been living in London for about two years now.

I have indeed checked out LBD. In fact, when I started writing the current novel, I tailored it to LBD specifications with outlining, pacing and whatnot. However, it's taken on a life of its own (I'm up to 97K now and I still have some key scenes left to write) so I'm planning on going for an agent first and if that doesn't happen, then maybe chopping it up and putting it back together for LBD.

MKL, thanks for the heads-up about the distribution rights issues. Hmm. I've been planning on going after British agents first and then American ones. I'm American and will most likely be heading back home this summer. But if the market is here in the UK, maybe I should make Brit agents/publishers more of a priority instead of just thinking 'oh, well I'm here for now. Might as well give it a shot.'

How interesting. MKL, I'll definitely PM you soon. Better get back the the story, though. I'm supposed to finish my book by the end of April, so I really shouldn't be lurking on AW. :)

04-27-2009, 04:43 PM
Here's a great article in the Independent about the evolution of chick lit/women's fiction. I don't like sex-and-shopping books much, but there are plenty of other good books that are categorized as "chick lit" but delve into weightier issues. Hooray!

Chick-lit has moved on since the early days -- the writers are getting older and the subject matter reflects their (and our) changing lives. Money and men still play a part in most modern women's lives but we have other concerns pressing for our attention -- ageing parents, childcare, infertility, infidelity, marital breakdown, menopause, divorce, troublesome teens, problems with our career and our work/life balance, illness and death.


Chiquita Banana
04-27-2009, 06:26 PM
Thanks for posting that link, Bubastes. So inspiring!

04-29-2009, 01:18 AM
Might be an idea to quarantine "chick lit" in inverted commas, which would show that you know it's not (yet) a universally accepted term.

05-04-2009, 06:40 AM
I'm curious--I have a YA novel that I'm querying right now. I originally called it YA paranormal chick lit--until I saw that chick lit was a bad thing to mention--and have since reworded it to read "quirky YA paranormal" and various other things. I guess my question is--what is the exact definition of chick lit? My novel is definitely light in tone and written in first person, but it's also not shopping and martinis, lo. So, maybe it was never really chick lit to begin with?