View Full Version : Chick Lit?

08-06-2004, 05:31 AM
That's a first. An agent sent me a rejection slip (a very nice one, actually, and she invited me to send her something else when/if I have it) saying that she doesn't represent chick lit, especially the male version.

Hmm.... now what exactly is chick lit? I doubt that mine is, but just for clarification.

Apparently she's looking for something more exciting -- action-packed, actually, like thriller/suspense/the next Grisham or Crichton... that's okay. When I write a thriller, I may try her again (she did compliment my writing skills, so that's a good thing).

Whew, one down, 600 more to go.

08-06-2004, 02:20 PM
'Male chick lit' doesn't sound like a very useful description, it could mean just about anything? bit of an oxymoron. (is that the right word?)

pina la nina
08-06-2004, 06:27 PM
Have you read Bridget Jones' Diary? (The movie doesn't count!) I consider that an example. Or the Nanny Diaries. those are some bigger name examples. Haven't read Sex in the City but I think that's in the category. My opinion is that it's often in the first person, frequently focuses on relationships (and bemoaning lack thereof.) They are character-driven, starring someone who really has to get their life together - be it job, family, sex, pets, weight, alcohol intake, etc. Often self-deprecatingly funny and not usually saccharine or melodramatic. Not a romance where everyone's gorgeous and wealthy. Not a grocery-store book but more a Target one.

I'd take that as a compliment, especially since I've read two reviews lately of hot "male chick-lit" books - both from the men's POV of course, but same vein.

08-06-2004, 11:18 PM
Being from a farm, the term "chick lit" always makes me think of a Foghorn Leghorn cartoon. The male version would be "rooster lit"?

Also reminds me of little rectangular pieces of chewing gum.

Sorry I'm of no actual help defining the term.

08-07-2004, 10:57 AM
Pina, with a broad stroke it seems like mine IS a male chick lit (1st person, contemporary, relationship/char-driven, self-deprecating, etc.) That in itself is very vague and generalized.

Would you say "About A Boy" by Nick Horby is a male chick lit?

08-08-2004, 04:19 AM
My rejection is getting better these days. I got this one today, after the initial query went out in February (yes, it took that long). The letter was very friendly and kind, and said that they "had a difficult time making a decision" but finally decided to pass. But they invite me to write them again about my other works. So that's good.

08-10-2004, 02:26 AM
Unfortunately, according to Bookscan, Publishers Weekly, and general book trade gossip, male chick lit isn't selling very well. Lots of great books by talented writers that are going nowhere because, apparently, guys really don't like reading about feelings and relationships when they can read about spies, vampires, and secret codes painted into masterpieces.

08-10-2004, 02:47 PM
But surely chick lit from the male POV is read by women? I own several books that seem to be in this sub-genre.

08-10-2004, 06:33 PM
That's what I think... seems that the target audience of a male chick lit would be women anyway.

In the movie front, many such movies are out now and getting good reviews: GARDEN STATE by Zach Braft, and WE DON'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE.

aka eraser
08-10-2004, 09:55 PM
Pigeonholing bugs me. Rounding off the corners of a manuscript to make it fit into a predetermined slot bugs me. The inability of the publishing world to stretch established parameters bugs me.

Yet I understand it. And that bugs me.

The marketing and editorial poohbahs at M-H decided my book was a how-to. It's not just a how-to I protested (time and again). It has stories. It has cartoons. It addresses issues like ethics and the anti's. It's funny. It's only partly a how-to.

I could see their brows furrow. They treated me like a delicate, but wayward child. Of course it's a how-to Frank my lad; you tell people how to catch fish.


My working title was one I was married to. I still love it. It was Sinkers & Jerks: A Pretty Good Book About Fishing. The aquisitions editor, with whom I worked most closely in the beginning also loved it. He hated telling me that Marketing nixed it. Their suggestion? How To Catch Freshwater Fish.

Can you imagine my pain?

Luckily, I'd nixed the clause in the contract that gave the publisher sole discretion as to title and insisted that the decision be mutual. I sent in several suggestions and they decided to go with the one I liked (2nd) best (after my original one).

(End Backstory)

It was a very difficult time for me but in order to understand their rationale I had to do what writers have to do all the time: I crawled into their little pinstripe-suited heads. They needed to sell the book after it was printed. They needed to tell bookstores where it fit. They could say "it's a fishing how-to" and in those few words the stores would know the target audience and the proper shelf for display.

I understand "simple."

But it still bugs me.

Maybe this belongs on the Screaming Thread on Take It Outside eh?

08-11-2004, 04:29 PM
Could it be that "male chick lit" is just a silly, meaningless phrase? Just a thought. Perhaps it should just be ignored, unless the next 10 agents all say the same thing, in which case you should revisit the topic.

Maestrowork, I don't know anything about your book (obviously) but it sounds like *maybe* what this agent meant, and expressed in a useless, lazy way, is books resembling those by Tony Parsons, Nick Hornby, Mil Millington...oh lord there must be others but I'm blanking right now...anyway, contemporary books about men and their relationships with spouses/partners/children/parents/hometown friends, tackling contemporary issues in a lighter way than those Philip Roth or John Updike-style "Death of Manhood As We Know It" tomes.

08-11-2004, 04:30 PM
...on getting positive feedback from the lazy "male chick lit" agent. Yay. At least you know she read it!

08-11-2004, 07:16 PM
LOL Frank! Your 2nd choice title is my favorite anyway. I'm still deflated that the suits at Hunter House gave my anxiety book the most boring title known to man (Conquering Panic and Anxiety Disorders)-- then gave it a vomit-worthy cover color scheme (orange, green, and red) that I had no say in. I still think it would have sold better under Slaying the Anxiety Dragon or any of the other titles I suggested.

08-12-2004, 01:10 AM
Frank, you're absolutely right. I understand that too but it also bugs me. However, it seems like agents/publishers need to pigeon hole in order to find a market. Cross marketing is just too expensive and risky for them.

And yes, if something like Nick Horby would be considered chick lit (the male "Bridget Jones")... but that's really pigeon-holing. I make no pretense in my query that it is a book about relationships -- like About Schmidt or About A Boy, and the synopsis says that. So it still baffles me that an agent would request the material, after reading the query, then say "oh, I don't represent male chick lit."

Lazy would be the word.

02-04-2005, 06:05 AM
Chick Lit? Heck, I'm writing hunk lit! What am I missing?

02-10-2005, 03:35 PM
Okay, here's what I heard on a radio show, so it might be something to go by.

Chick lit is a story of a woman, usually in her 20s (ambitious, career-oriented, usually looking for love). Unlike romance novels though, chick lit novels don't always have to end with the hero and heroine getting together.

Chick lit and women's fiction are often confused, but they're not the same.

What you're referring to as "male chick lit" is being called "lad lit" in publishing circles. Hate the sound of that, though!

For more info about this, definitely check out this link:
www.worldtalkradio.com/ar...asp?aid=19 (http://www.worldtalkradio.com/archive.asp?aid=19)

02-10-2005, 07:23 PM
A blast from the past... thanks for reviving this thread.

Lad Lit? Oh Lord.

Men and relations = BUST? Well, look how Sideways is doing. Not too shabby for a low budget film.

The good news is, my male chick lit has been accepted by a traditional publisher.

The bad news is, now I'm a nervous wreck.