Please, please, please tell me I am not cracking up.
Please, please, for the love of all that is scary, tell me that YES, there IS a difference between the genres of HORROR and THRILLER!
I know that they are not the same.
Other writers and authors who write in the genres know they are not the same.
But why, oh Mary Shelley, why do some agents not?!?
I can't tell you how many rejection letters I have received over the past two months that say "sorry I don't represent that genre" when (*clears throat*) YES YOU DO, IT'S ON YOUR AGENT PAGE, I DID MY RESEARCH!! Agents list HORROR and THRILLER on their info page, but when they are sent an actual true for real horror novel they reject it with the "I don't represent..." form letter.
Now, perhaps a good indicator that some agents have no clue what they are talking about is when they dare put a diagonal slash in between the two genres like such - HORROR/THRILLER. They are NOT the same and that little line seems to say that they are darn near interchangeable. They aren't.
HORROR = a genre of fiction which is intended to, or has the capacity to frighten, scare, disgust or startle its readers by inducing feeling of horror or terror. Horror writing may include elements of the fantastical and supernatural, (i.e. swamp monsters, werewolves, brain-eating aliens, blood-thirsty agents and the like).
THRILLER = a broad genre of fiction designed to elicit feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. Thrillers do NOT include any fantasy/supernatural elements and have a villain-driven plot, whereby he or she presents obstacles that the protagonist must overcome. Thrillers are also set in the real world and utilize such literary devices as red herrings, plot twists and cliffhangers.
While some might argue that both genres share some similarities (albeit SLIGHT), they are not the same.
Am I possessed? Am I crazy? Am I wrong? Horror and Thriller, they are different. Right??
Unfortunately, until there is a clear consensus on the matter, it seems that my MS's will continue to get rejected because my blood-thirsty agents from the underworld of Rejectomondus should instead be a drunk riding a train, looking out of the window at her old house, seemingly glimpsing a crime going down in order to get a request.
I would love to hear what you think on the matter.
I think you're going nuts, but not for the reason you think you are. When an agent says I don't rep Horror/Thriller, they're not conflating the two. They're telling you they don't represent either one.
Much like I might say "I don't represent romance/women's fiction" and hope you won't jump to the conclusion I think they are one and the same.
As to why any agent's page says they represent a category and authors get a form letter saying they don't, well, we should all update our pages more often, or pay more attention to which form letter we're sending.
I also think your definition of thriller is a bit narrow and as proof, let me just offer up one of the best thriller writers I know.
To the larger question however: your cris de couer is EXACTLY why I advise writers to not mention the category of the book NO MATTER WHAT THE GUIDELINES SAY until the closing paragraph of the query.
The reason I advise this is to tell an agent about the story first, before you give them a reason to hit the pass key.
I generally do not take on horror novels. I represent Laird Barron and he's all the cosmic dread I can handle.
When a query letter arrives and the first thing the author tells me is "this is a horror novel" I generally stop reading.
If the story intrigues me, and I haven't gotten to the bad news yet, I might read pages even if I don't think the book is for me, because you guys get the category wrong A LOT.
So, here's what you need to remember: even though I KNOW you get the category wrong a lot, I still stop reading. I don't pause to think "oh maybe this isn't really horror, it's a thriller." I just move on to the next query.