Looking at the wish list I posted here back in January, I think it’s time for an update. Let’s take a look:
Middle-grade fiction! Especially…
- Funny, contemporary stories about real kids in real situations.
- Stories that feature a strong sibling dynamic.
- Adventure stories.
- Literary fiction with a strong voice.
Yep, yep, yep. I still don’t get nearly enough MG in my submissions.
Young adult fiction! Especially…
Romance, either contemporary or historical. Sigh. I still want romance. But it’s got to be seriously swoony, people.
Funny contemporary fiction with a ‘hook’ — think ROCKOHOLIC: ‘Girl kidnaps the rock star she’s obsessed with and hides him in her garage!’ I got a submission not long ago that quoted this entry on my wish list and totally hit the spot. More, please!
Well-researched historical fiction. This is a perennial favorite of mine, and I’m pleased to say that I have a couple in my to-read queue now. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want more.
Thrillers. These have been so hot in 2013 – publishers have been snapping them up all over the place. If I get a fantastic thriller in my submissions, I’ll be…thrilled. (Sorry.)
Gothic novels and straight-up ghost stories (not to be confused with paranormal romance) – think THE DIVINERS. I’ve had a few of these, but none of them have been quite what I was hoping for. Which means if you’ve got one, send it over.
Stories set in wartimes real and imaginary, with high stakes – think CODE NAME VERITY or HOW I LIVE NOW. I never get tired of war stories. I’d love a British homefront novel, or a World War I story.
Stories about religious sects and cults. My holy grail. You wouldn’t believe how many editors say they want one of these! What does that say about the sort of people who work in publishing?
A story set in a theme town. Still looking. You know, like Solvang, Calif., or Leavenworth, Wash. Where there’s a bit of a zany, almost-Stars Hollow vibe. I don’t expect many people will get what I mean, but I’m hoping there’s someone out there who does.
A story that P.G. Wodehouse might have written…if he were writing for children in the 21st century. This is a tough one. Wodehouse was a genius, and yet his genius was entirely accessible. He poked fun, but he was never mean-spirited. A tricky balance – are you up to the challenge?
And New Adult fiction! Romances or thrillers, please. I’m still looking, but I need the writing to be really, really strong.
What I’m adding to that list: Middle-grade and YA non-fiction. The market is opening up a bit here, and I’ve always loved factual books for young readers: narrative non-fiction, biography, how-to, serious, funny. I’m not looking for books for the educational market or reference books; I’m thinking more along the lines of the great Russell Freedman, or how-to books that can be published in an innovative, fun format.
As for what I’m not looking for, it hasn’t changed much. I did want to clarify my aversion to paranormal romance/urban fantasy, though. Werewolves, vampires, angels, demons, characters who start out ordinary but are somehow tapped to become a Grim Reaper (I’ve seen dozens of those), anything undead — they’re just not my thing, and these kinds of stories are increasingly hard to sell to most mainstream publishers. I’ll be honest; I often reject queries for PNR without reading the sample pages. There are other agents who are looking for it; try them instead.
I should also add Dystopian YA to the list of what I’m not looking for. I enjoy reading dystopian fiction, but most publishers have all they need on their lists already. I deflate a little every time I open a query for a dystopian novel, even if it sounds fantastic. That doesn’t mean I won’t read it, but it does mean it would have to be mind-blowing to catch my attention.
If you’ve got a project that you think I’d like to see, send it along. And if you’re not sure, send it anyway. Sometimes projects that defy description are exactly what I want to see!