Tag Archives: what I’m looking for

Why Did You Pass On My Query?

no-thank-you.jpgI finally finally made a dent in the queries that hit my inbox in January, when I was open to submissions for a short window of time. It is intense. There are a lot. I’m still getting through them, and reading some full manuscript requests as well. And I still have to get through many of the Open Call to Muslim Writers queries. I don’t have the time, sadly, to go into specifics of why I’m passing on individual manuscripts. It would take so much time to do that. My first priority is taking care of the clients I already have. After that I have room in my brain and my day for looking for new clients.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about near misses… about manuscripts that I almost want to represent. Sometimes I pass on a project that seems like it would be perfect for me. Maybe it’s poignant and odd and funny and smart. Maybe it’s super queer. Maybe it’s beautiful. Maybe it’s ridiculous in just the right way. And it must must must be well written. But then I pass anyway.

I can hear you, right now.  You’re saying, “Oh my God! Why?! Why would you do that?! Is it my manuscript you’re talking about? I want an agent!!!!” Just sit down. You’ll be ok. Listen to me. Take a breath.

Here’s how it is: I already have clients. I love my clients. I work really hard for my clients. I have a small client list because I know that’s what I can handle. My clients are at many different stages of their writing careers. Some of them have been with me for years and we haven’t sold anything yet. I say yet because I’m pretty sure we will. They are talented writers. I’ll stick by them if they stick by me.

But I do take on new clients. What makes me do it? What has me make room for them, squeeze another writer in? Well, when I read a manuscript that feels essential, like I must have this. Must! When I feel like I’d fight other agents (I hate fighting other agents). When I’ll put everything aside for it (at least for a moment). When reading it sets up a humming in my body. When I start thinking about editors I’d like to send it to. That’s when I make an offer of representation.

So to answer the question, “Why did you pass on my query?” That’s why. Because that’s what I’m looking for and it’s not easy to find. It’s why I pass on most things, and why I don’t often ask to see full manuscripts. Because if I don’t feel like there’s a magical imperative to me having it? Then I’m not the right agent for you. And I know that’s disappointing, but that’s the truth.

 

 

 

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What I’m Currently Looking For

il_340x270.457543657_n4i3Non-fiction: I’m not currently taking on new non-fiction projects.

Memoir: I’m not currently taking on new memoir/narrative non-fiction projects.

Short fiction/Essays/Screenplays: I don’t represent these.

Picture books: I like them quirky, offbeat, and funny. If it’s going to be sweet, make sure it’s not saccharine. If it’s going to teach a lesson, it shouldn’t be didactic and preachy. If you use rhyme, have the rhyme serve the story, not the other way around. If you don’t know the difference, it’s probably not a good idea to send it to me. If you’re not an illustrator, don’t include pictures or illustrator notes (unless they’re integral to understanding your story).

Middle grade: As with everything I’m looking for, I’d like to get a story I’ve never heard before or an old story told in a new way.  I like boy main characters and strong girl characters. Yes to historical. Yes to realistic contemporary. I’d like to get a great MG scifi. Fantasy’s ok but  I’m not partial to portal fantasy or “found an amulet that takes us to a new world.” I’m so tired of nerds overcoming bullies (in fiction, not real life). Please don’t compare yourself or your work to Roald Dahl. You’re not and it’s not. It’s a rare story featuring animals that I’m drawn to, but if yours is extraordinary I’ll take a look. I like nerdy MG mysteries (think Blue Balliett and Ransom Riggs).

Young adult: Basically the same as MG. I’m not a “gritty and urban” lover. I’m the wrong person for sex and drugs and violence and abuse, so if it’s dark, have it be dark for other reasons. The dystopian ship has sailed (as has paranormal romance) so unless you’re bringing something totally new to that conversation, don’t send it to me. I’m pretty bored with “and then she/he finds out she’s/he’s got to save her/his “kind.” I do like retellings of myths, fairytales and legends. Think Malinda Lo’s ASH or PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS (which is MG but you get my point, right?), but put a new spin on it and find something not yet done. How about a feminist tilt? Think MISTS OF AVALON for teens.

Adult: Yes, same as YA and MG! What I don’t represent: thrillers of any sort; most mysteries; anything overtly/covertly pushing any religious point of view. Fantasy? Yes, but again, no portals or amulets. Sci-fi? Yes, but low on the sci part. I’m not as smart as you think I am. I like family sagas. I like historical fiction where famous historical figures show up (think Barbara Kingsolver’s THE LACUNA or SEX WARS by Marge Piercy). I like magical realism (think Alice Hoffman’s PRACTICAL MAGIC or Sue Monk Kidd’s THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES). I like most of the books on this Goodreads list, which includes many different kinds of fiction (don’t get fooled by the title).

How to submit to me? Short, snappy, professional query letter with the first 20 pages of your manuscript in the body of your email. Don’t send me an email asking me if it’s ok to query. Don’t ask me in the comments section of this post whether <insert what you’re writing> would be something of interest to me. Put “Query” and the title of your manuscript in the subject line. Send it to QueryLindaEpstein (at) gmail (dot) com.

If you’re not sure whether you have something I’d like, do your research. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, have been interviewed, and have blogged enough here that you should be able to get a sense of who I am and what I’d like. If you’re still not sure? Just send it. What do you have to lose?

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

What I’m Currently Looking for

il_340x270.457543657_n4i3Non-fiction: Not currently looking for new non-fiction projects.

Memoir: Not currently looking for new memoir/narrative non-fiction projects.

Short fiction/Essays/Screenplays: I don’t represent these.

Picture books: I like them quirky, offbeat, and funny. If it’s going to be sweet, make sure it’s not saccharine. If it’s going to teach a lesson, it shouldn’t be didactic and preachy. If you use rhyme, have the rhyme serve the story, not the other way around. If you don’t know the difference, it’s probably not a good idea to send it to me. If you’re not an illustrator, don’t include pictures or illustrator notes (unless they’re integral to understanding your story).

Middle grade: As with everything I’m looking for, I’d like to get a story I’ve never heard before or an old story told in a new way.  I like boy main characters and strong girl characters. Yes to historical. Yes to realistic contemporary. I’d like to get a great MG scifi. Fantasy’s ok but  I’m not partial to portal fantasy or “found an amulet that takes us to a new world.” I’m so tired of nerds overcoming bullies (in fiction, not real life). Please don’t compare yourself or your work to Roald Dahl. You’re not and it’s not. It’s a rare story featuring animals that I’m drawn to, but if yours is extraordinary I’ll take a look. I like nerdy MG mysteries (think Blue Balliett and Ransom Riggs).

Young adult: Basically the same as MG. I’m not a “gritty and urban” lover. I’m the wrong person for sex and drugs and violence and abuse, so if it’s dark, have it be dark for other reasons. The dystopian ship has sailed (as has paranormal romance) so unless you’re bringing something totally new to that conversation, don’t send it to me. I’m pretty bored with “and then she/he finds out she’s/he’s got to save her/his “kind.” I do like retellings of myths, fairytales and legends. Think Malinda Lo’s ASH or PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS (which is MG but you get my point, right?), but put a new spin on it and find something not yet done. How about a feminist tilt? Think MISTS OF AVALON for teens.

Adult: Yes, same as YA and MG! What I don’t represent: thrillers of any sort; most mysteries; anything overtly/covertly pushing any religious point of view. Fantasy? Yes, but again, no portals or amulets. Sci-fi? Yes, but low on the sci part. I’m not as smart as you think I am. I like family sagas. I like historical fiction where famous historical figures show up (think Barbara Kingsolver’s THE LACUNA or SEX WARS by Marge Piercy). I like magical realism (think Alice Hoffman’s PRACTICAL MAGIC or Sue Monk Kidd’s THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES). I like most of the books on this Goodreads list, which includes many different kinds of fiction (don’t get fooled by the title).

How to submit to me? Short, snappy, professional query letter with the first 20 pages of your manuscript in the body of your email. Don’t send me an email asking me if it’s ok to query. Don’t ask me in the comments section of this post whether <insert what you’re writing> would be something of interest to me. Put “Query” and the title of your manuscript in the subject line. Send it to QueryLindaEpstein (at) gmail (dot) com.

If you’re not sure whether you have something I’d like, do your research. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, have been interviewed, and have blogged enough here that you should be able to get a sense of who I am and what I’d like. If you’re still not sure? Just send it. What do you have to lose?

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized