Monday, March 16, 2009


Our reader Rebekah posted the following message today regarding my comment about "the dreaded sword and dragon" books:

Why are "sword and dragon" fantasies dreaded? We all have our own personal tastes, but it does seem a little inappropriate to casually trash an entire subgenre as though its uselessness were widely-known fact. There are approximately 77 kajillion people "dreading" the release of George R. R. Martin's next sword-and-dragon fantasy right about now. What will it take for people to quit treating this kind of fiction like the redheaded stepchild of the publishing industry? Not only that, but people seem not even to worry about the political incorrectness of publicly making their feelings about heroic fantasy known. It's considered gauche and unprofessional to mock, say, bodice-ripper romances (equally rife with cliches and slush-pile-fodder) in a blog like this, so why is it that writers and readers of heroic/historical fantasy are still treated as second-class citizens unworthy of the most basic, polite "to each his own" treatment?

Rebekah's comment and questions are valid, so important that I thought others would want to see what all the fuss is about. Before I begin, let me say once again that just because I don't represent a certain genre, it does not mean, necessarily, that I don't like, even love and respect that genre. It simply means that I CAN'T SELL IT. As a matter of fact, the first book I took on as an agent was a sword and dragon fantasy. It was beautifully written and I fell in love with it. I thought it would be a cinch to sell. It wasn't. Nor were the other books I've tried in this venue. Other agents are successful selling sword and dragon fantasy books; I am not. Therefore I've moved on.

Just because I dread the arrival of yet another S&D query does NOT mean that query is unworthy. It simply means I don't represent this genre and I'll have to reject the query.

Politically incorrect? Perhaps, but certainly not my intention. ("Bodice-rippers" politically incorrect--damn, I love that term!)

On the bright side--Jon still considers S&Ds. Send your queries to He says that he's waiting for the best-written, unique take on this genre. When he finds it, you'll hear about it here. That being said, please don't send him "rehashes of the same old thing."


Rebekah Mills McDaniel said...

Wow! Thank you for treating my little tantrum with undue respect and courtesy. Being a fan/writer of a largely disdained subgenre can make a person a little touchy, as you can see.

I regret and apologize for my overreaction, but I'm glad it gave you the chance to clarify your stance, so that future fantasy fans won't make the same mistake I did on a casual read.

P.S. I love the term "bodice-ripper" too.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for clearing that up - I was wondering the same thing, but didn't have the guts to say anything...

If I may suggest... Why not state this in your submission guidelines on your website? Would it be better for you if dragon and science fiction queries were sent directly to Jon?

kae said...

To Annonymous:
It's a long story. Presently our site is "hosted" by a client and changes are cumbersome. It will soon be under our control and we'll make that change. But, yes, for the present, send any swords, dragons, wizards, etc. to Jon. Kae