Literary Agent Wish-y (Washy) List

binosHappy December!

I’m (almost) done eating turkey and I’ve given out (almost) all my Hanukkah presents. I’m still searching for some  topics to blog about this month (a little help, people?!) and figured I’d do an updated “what I’m currently looking for” post. I beg you all not to repost this 6 months from now when I’ll probably be looking for something else. But for now, here’s what I’m looking for and representing:

At the moment, I’m all about fiction. I’m NOT looking for memoir, narrative nonfiction, self help, spiritual, parenting, cookbooks, etc… I want stories! What kind of stories do I like?

Well, I’m open to all types of stories but I’m not open to all genres of writing. So although I love romantic stories I’m not a big fan of romance novels. You get the difference? I like speculative fiction (and social science fiction) but I’m not a big fan of science-based stories. Social sciences are things like anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, environmental studies, linguistics. See? Stories that deal with those issues are interesting to me.  I know political science is a social science, but I’m not particularly interested in political stories.  Stories that are strongly based in hard science (chemistry, physics, biology, etc…) are also just not interesting to me. I like fantasy but I’m not looking for elves, dwarves, dragons, etc… So no high fantasy or epic fantasy. If you’re familiar with Emma Newman’s Split Worlds trilogy or Stefan Bachmann‘s The Peculiar, you’ll get the kind of fairies I like. (Neither of these authors are my clients, but I admire their writing very much.)

Another genre that I’m not particularly interested in is mystery. BUT, give me a great character driven MG or YA story with some kids who have to figure something out? Yes, I’m in.

I’ve said in the past that I like spiritual stories or stories with Jewish themes, but as I’ve grown to learn, I’m not particularly partial to overtly spiritual or Jewish stories. If you don’t know the difference between an overt theme and a story that has hints of that theme, or can’t tell where your story falls, your manuscript is probably not for me.

I still like stories with strong girl characters and deep friendships. But I also really like stories with strong boy characters and friendships. I also still like GLBT stories, but let’s face it, if your work is too similar to the work of my present clients, I’m probably not the right agent for you. I have a small client list and I don’t need or want to represent a bevy of authors all writing the same stories (as if anyone could write the same stuff as my talented clients!).

I’m NOT currently looking for picture book authors, but if you’re an author/illustrator (that means you’re an illustrator AND a writer) who writes stories that appeal to my weird sensibility, I would like to hear from you. I don’t currently have any graphic novelists on my list, so if you illustrate AND write graphic novels (also must be the kind of stories that appeal to me) I’d like to hear from you, too. But do NOT pitch me graphic novel manuscripts unless you also illustrate them.

I wish I knew how to put into words exactly what “my weird sensibility” is. It’s hard to pin down though. So a little bit about myself: I’m a proud, boot stomping feminist (and not sorry for the dirty word, new millennium ladies and gentlemen); a child of the 70’s; environmentally concerned; politically liberal; an advocate for the GLBT community; appreciate clever and beautiful writing. I’m not drawn to dark or gritty. I don’t like experiencing fear or too much anticipation when I’m reading (i.e. don’t enjoy thrillers or scary stories).

Sorry for the rambly, all over the place musings that aren’t really a “list.” I’m sure I’ve left tons of stuff out. And because I’m fickle, this may be outdated by next month.

Any questions? Ask away!


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10 responses to “Literary Agent Wish-y (Washy) List

  1. Pingback: Best Books 2013 — Goodreads Choice Awards | What Made me

  2. Thanks for the list, Linda. I think this is why it’s hard to write for agents as your intended audience. Each agent has different tastes and interests. But your list seems very open in the sense that it’s genre-defying, which is how I like to write. So far, I’ve written psychological suspense, romantic whimsical, contemporary fantasy and something that from one perspective is liberal/feminist and from another angle conservative/family values, depending on how you view the main character. So, what do I look for when I write? Basically, intriguing, unusual characters in uncomfortable situations from which they attempt to extricate themselves in ingenious ways. This leaves the matter of genre wide open. Depending on how a story evolves, it could end up anywhere on the literary map. My only question is whether there truly is a GLBT culture. I know I’m risking antagonism, but I have lesbian friends who don’t really associate with gay males, and I’ve know gay males who don’t have much to do with transexuals, etc. It just seems a lumped together category. But I may be naively missing the point of seeing it as a literary as well as sociopolitcal community.

  3. Sheila Kelly Welch

    Thanks for this informative post. Now if only I had a graphic novel to send to you . . .

    I’m looking forward to reading your suggestions for the best time to send queries.

  4. wcdameron

    I have a question. Who said a memoir was not a story? Augusten Burroughs certainly told a good one when he wrote his memoirs (“Running with Scissors” and “Dry”) and Tobias Wolff weaved a pretty good tale in “This Boy’s Life.” I completely get that you want a story. You want to be swept away into another world, but I believe that a good story is a good story regardless of whether it is fiction or non-fiction. At least that is what I’m telling myself as I labor away on my memoir…. 🙂

    • Nobody said a memoir isn’t a story. I just said I’m not looking for memoir clients at this time. And then I said I’m looking for stories. So, what’s your question? Why am I not representing memoir at this time?

      • wcdameron

        It seemed like the implication was that memoir, along with the other non-fiction categories, were not stories, but sure, why not memoirs?

      • Nah. I’m not implying that at all. You’re being too sensitive. 🙂 Not memoir for me because I’m already repping everything from PBs to adult lit and it’s not in my client’s best interest for me to spread myself too thin. It’s not easy forging the relationships with editors that are needed to sell a manuscript, and I just don’t have the bandwidth right now for coffee, lunch, etc… with nonfiction editors.

  5. Linda, I do have a general question that I think could make a good post. I’m sure this differs for everyone, but in general, when is the best time to submit a query? Or, when are the worst times to submit? Or, when are agents most/least busy? I won some auction items–critiques at a recent conference and I’d like to send my material at a good time for the agent but don’t know if December is wise. Maybe waiting until Jan is worse?