Sports Fiction: Is there any point?

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Sports Fiction: Is there any point?

Postby miltongs » 20 Nov 2012, 02:29

Dear All,

I'm new to this forum (as of this morning) and was wondering if anyone could help.

I was reading Nathan's comments re: sports novels with great interest as it seems that no-one seems to be remotely concerned about them here in England!

I have written a fiction work (111,000 words) on women's rugby union (the timing seems appropriate with the American Eagles ladies' team currently smashing their way through Europe!), following my experiences of coaching a female rugby team in London for a year. Whereas sport is the central theme, other important themes are why the girls decided to play rugby in the first place, in general against the wishes of virtually all the people in their lives, especially boyfriends, fathers etc. There are a whole host of issues going on in the background and, thankfully, I think it's rather good!

However, here in the UK, no agent seems to share my opinion in the slightest.

My Acceptance Stats (I know, I know, it should be "Rejection Stats" but I'm putting a positive smiley face on here) are 8,4,4,4,0 but before I plough ahead flooding the world with my now much-improved Query Letter and Synopsis, I thought why not ask:

1) Is it worth seeking a US agent interested in the Sports Fiction genre, as the number of US Sports Fiction films (A League of Their Own, Any Given Sunday, Jerry McGuire etc) dwarf UK ones by approximately 73,000 to 1?

2) If so, are there any you could suggest or can anyone give any indication of how to go about finding one?

If anyone has any other advice, please do not hesitate to let me know!

Thanks in advance,

Miltongs
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Re: Sports Fiction: Is there any point?

Postby Shipple » 15 Dec 2012, 17:35

Hi Miltongs,

This is COMPLETELY my own opinion (and it may be wrong), but we just don't know rugby in the U.S. It's not a sport we follow, and we don't know its rules. We know it's kinda like football but with a bigger ball (American football, of course). I'm familiar with the fact that it can be a pretty rough sport, and that about sums up my knowledge. Sorry-that may be offensive to people who actually know what rugby is about/like. But my guess is that this would be an even harder sell in the US. But it does sound like a really interesting idea.
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Re: Sports Fiction: Is there any point?

Postby miltongs » 18 Dec 2012, 14:38

Thanks for the response Shipple,
Yes, the sport is virtually unknown in the US, but I'm hoping that neither the sport itself nor particular knowledge of it will be really relevant (like say Dodgeball or Roller Derby have all been successful subjects for books and later films).

What I'm trying to get across is the reason why these young ladies would throw themselves into something so dangerous: what it brings to them and how, for many, it's a means of trying to obtain something else that they're looking for (which varies between players).

You've made me think though; I definitely need to emphasise that the game itself is more an escape route from or to other things in the lives of the players (paternal approval, rebellion against gender stereotypes, personal empowerment or just an excuse to release working-week frustrations by simply smashing someone!)

Plus, the book is funny: well, at least I think so!

Thanks for your comments and all the best,

Milton
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Re: Sports Fiction: Is there any point?

Postby Shipple » 22 Dec 2012, 09:26

Now, obviously, I know nothing about your books, but have you considered trying to pitch them more as a, say, chick lit type series only with a setting of Rugby? That may not appeal to you at all, but I just thought I'd mention it b/c I've definitely seen rugby in some series romances, but, of course, the focus of the book was never on the rugby. It was on the people and their romance.

If you possibly can, I'd try to find a genre to fit your books into that isn't sports. It definitely sounds like you've got the potential for some serious female-empowerment stories, but if the focus is too heavily on the sport itself, I'm not sure how the US would take that.

Also, just so you know, I had to play dodgeball in elementary school gym class. I think it's pretty much a gym class standard, so we're all pretty familiar with the stupid sport. Ugh. Gym class. And that movie was definitely a comedy, not a sports movie. Not sure about the Roller Derby phenomenon, though.

Good luck!
"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." - J.K. Rowling (an awesome opening line)
Me: http://sarahhipple.blogspot.com/ and http://shipple.tumblr.com/
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Re: Sports Fiction: Is there any point?

Postby thewordsmith » 05 Mar 2013, 11:45

Well, I wrote a semi-lengthy response to your question and then promptly lost it in the nether world as I hit the wrong key! So, here, in abbreviated form, is my reply.
Rugby is not just for Brits anymore. Although Americans have known about rugby for some time, the game saw a resurgence in the 1950s when US soldiers came back after WWII and, when their own children got old enough to learn, those vets taught it to them. In the 70's, as those same "kids" grew up and had children of their own, many still enjoyed the testosterone-laden, "he-man", just for guys type sport and shared it with their own kids. Of course Viet Nam got in the way and much of the interest faded. But, by the late 80s and early 90s, rugby saw yet another renaissance in America in schools as well as community leagues. Going to work the next day with a black eye, sprained ankle, or a broken finger became a badge of honor! (One of my favorite bumper stickers has always been, "Give blood. Play rugby." :D ) That 1990s resurgence resulted in professional leagues which, as you have already discovered, miltongs, are even making a mark in Europe. I even recently heard a commentator mis-use rugby terminology in describing a fight in a hockey game as a scrum. I had to laugh but, at least he knew the sport (or so I am assuming).

As to your initial question... If there is more to your story than just the sport, if it's got a good plot line and the story is interesting enough to hold the readers interest, now might be just the right time for it. Go ahead. Get it out there. All you need it the right agent and enough faith in yourself and your writing.
You never know what can happen if you believe in yourself! good luck
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Re: Sports Fiction: Is there any point?

Postby xcaliber » 14 Jul 2013, 12:20

For anyone interested, we have set up a squash short story contest.

Stories must have at least a glancing relationship to the sport of squash. (No major familiarity with squash is necessary.)

All stories will be posted on the two main worldwide squash sites, and there will be awards for the top three.

There is no entry fee - it will be a friendly event!

http://dailysquashreport.com/7_7_13_con ... cement.htm
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