A reference, of course, to the old Eagles' song, Lyin' Eyes.

My novel on submission (through a reputable agent), a PI novel, has gotten nothing but rejections so far. Kind words from the editors, but rejections nonetheless.

My questions to Crimespacers: Does the fact that my main character is a private investigator severly hinder my chances of getting published? Is the private eye essentially dead in the current publishing world? Would I be better off changing the character's occupation, calling him something else?

My agent still (very much) believes in the book, but I'm kinda freaking at these initial rejections.

Any help???

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I don't know that this is help, but consider that your agent - who sells her/his time and effort with the expectation of earnings - believes in your work. This speaks . . . uhhh . . . volumes. Well, at least one volume.

If you're getting kind words from editors, you're on the right path. They aren't in this business to write thank you cards. Editors don't waste their time with this; they protect their options.

Why would you think having a PI as your protagonist is a problem? It's a very American response to the classical Hero's Journey tale. As a people, we want to solve problems, solve riddles, save kids and kittens, save ourselves. The Hero's Journey changes shape and context, and then again it changes only its form - never its content. You can do anything within the tradition, and you can break the tradition, too.

Get back to work. Most of us will never get as far as you.
Thanks for the reality check, Tom. I guess the post does sound a bit whiney, something I have little patience for with other writers.

Being on submission is nerve-wracking, but I really do just need to get back to work.
Hang tough, Jude. Tom speaks with much wisdom about agents and editors. The only thing I will add is something my agent told me two years ago when she was shopping Big Numbers: Since three-quarters of all fiction is sold to women, male protagonists have a tougher time finding a home.
Thanks, Jack. Makes sense to me. And there are quite a few hardboiled female protags (Grafton, Lippman, Gerritsen, Konrath, etc) out in the market as well.

Guys like us--newbie male authors with male protags...

Well, it's a tough nut to crack.

No pun intended.
Speaking as a woman, I probably read more male protagonists than female (and, as it happens, out of my top 10 authors, 8 are male).

And if the PI is dead, then I am going to jump into the grave alongside him - I love PI novels.
Thanks, Donna. Good to know there are still plenty of PI fans out there!
Ditto! And while I'm female, my protagonists are male. Of course I haven't really reached best seller status, so maybe there is something to women wanting to read only about women. If so, that is really narrow-minded of them.
Some men are narrow-minded in the same way, I.J. I've known guys who refuse to try an author simply because she's female.

I think the stats on book buying are a little misleading, though. While it's true that 75% of all buyers are women, it's also true that 40% of all titles sold are romances--a genre targeted for, and almost exclusively read by, women. So, if you take romance out of the equation, the numbers (for crime fiction sales, for example) are probably much more equally divided between men and women.
Ah, I feel better. Thanks, Jude. And I do, in fact, read more male authors than female.
This is the mystery to me, Donna. You look at the bestseller lists, there are plenty of successful male protagonists. My wife is like you. Her favorites are Lehane, Crais, Leonard. But my agent wasn't making up her conversations with NY editors. I've met a few myself this year at conventions. Each said they'd take a look at male protags, but prefer females. WTF?
as long as your agent believes in it--isn't that enough for you not to have doubts? Your agent is in a business to know so he/she would have said long before this--gee Jude, don't think I can sell a p. i. novel. as for the editiors who have rejected it--what does your agent say? could it jsut be THEM? maybe they don't see it in their horoscope this year--them taking a P. I. novel. just the very fact that your agent is making the rounds means he, as you say, believes in it. so stand by it! you know you're a good writer. you know how you felt when you finished it. your agent believes in it. so don't beat yourself up. I have a short story in for submission. far cry from a novel i know. the first story i sent in, even though i thought it was well written--a===I woulnd't have stood by it. it was rejectd and i took that on board. this second one i wrote i'll stand by it always. it was the best damned story i could have written. don't know yet what the verdict is -- but goodness. writers like myself look up to people like you--and even if i over reacted earlier--with some frightened, horrified posts to your question ==because i am in the midst of writing a pi novel, i still look up to guys like you! all the best, jude. xxxx i mean it.
Thanks, Carole. Best of luck with you short story submission, and with your novel!


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