Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What I'm Looking For

Yesterday’s post on queries and my reporting of them reminded me that it’s been a long time since I’ve updated you on what I’m looking for these days. Of course I’m always looking for everything on my list (for those who haven’t made it to the About Us page on our web site, that means romance, mysteries, thrillers, women’s fiction, and a variety of nonfiction). But as with all agents, there are always times when you decide you would like to see something specific, when you’ve talked to editors and know what they’re hungry for and just hearing about it makes you hungry too.

I’ve had some really great luck lately with nonfiction, and while it’s been a bit of a new direction for me I’m loving it. Two recent sales include Frederick Lane’s People in Glass Houses: American Law, Technology, and the Right to Privacy, an examination of whether privacy still exists in a world of vast consumer databases, growing government surveillance, and exhibitionist television shows. I sold this book to Brian Halley at Beacon Press. And while on a trip to a conference recently I spent much of my time negotiating the deal for Lewis Maltby’s The Vanishing Constitution, an investigation into how the restriction of our constitutional rights are impacting the workplace. Lewis Maltby is head of the National Work Rights Institute, a division of the NAACP, and gives the reader a very scary look at how constitutional rights have no effect in the private workplace. The book won’t be published until at least 2009, but should be must reading for everyone. This book was sold to Tim Sullivan at Portfolio.

Those two sales have really inspired me and I would love to see more current affairs/investigative-type titles. I love books that can open our eyes in a new way. Maybe they look at the history of a certain product or business or make us realize something that maybe we thought, but never really grasped (like the lack of privacy in today’s society). Keep in mind that both authors of the above-mentioned books are nationally recognized experts in their fields. In addition to bigger business and career books, I would love to see issue-oriented titles or investigative titles on things like food, consumerism, or the government (among others, of course). Some recent titles that have caught my eye in these areas include Julie and Julia, Kitchen Confidential, Nickel and Dimed, and Fugitive Denim. Obviously I have a lot of other interests, but that might get you thinking.

I think my preferences in fiction are a little easier to describe and really don’t change too much for me from post to post. I would love to see more women’s fiction (light or heavy). I tend to be very attracted to stories about friendship, marriage, and parenting (from both sides of the issue). I’m a sister, but don’t have a sister, so for some reason sister stories rarely grab me as much. I like lighter stories (although not chick lit) as well as those that can make me sob from page one.

I’ve also been a fan for a long time of historical mysteries, and yet, I don’t have one on my list. I would love to see a historical thriller a la Caleb Carr or a quieter, softer historical mystery. To me a historical really needs to capture the mood and atmosphere of the period and make me feel like I’m there. That’s what makes them so great. And I have a softness for historical New York.

In romance I’m still hungry for a great romantic suspense and big, sexy historical romances. Of course, I like the other genres as well, but those are the two areas I’m gravitating most to right now.

Now that summer is on us, what are you in the mood to take on your summer vacation?



Chro said...

You're a sister, but you don't have a sister? I'm a bit confused on that one.

I've narrowed it down to: you didn't proof that sentence, you're a nun, or you're a redneck. ;)

Anonymous said...

Chro...I think Jessica means, she has brothers...but no sisters!

Thanks for the insight on your interests, Jessica.....as for summer reading....I'm looking forward to Sherri Kennyons Ash story coming out and the fourth book in Stephanie Meyers Twilight series....

Mark Terry said...

Hmmm, I might have an NF proposal for you in a couple weeks. We'll see.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I need that fast-pace thriller to try to take me away from my day job for a while.

Keri Ford said...

I got a big TBR I plan to work through this summer. It's a split between historicals and contemps.

How much begging would it take for us to get Jacky and Kim in here to give their wish list?

Anonymous said...

Summer reading: The Missus surprised me for a recent birthday (mine, not hers :) by acquiring four HARDBACKS for me: Douglas Preston's MONSTER OF FLORENCE, David Sedaris's WHEN YOU ARE ENGULFED IN FLAMES, Stephenie Meyer's THE HOST, and Dean Koontz's ODD HOURS.

I'm gonna have to read them fast if I hope to choose any summer reading of my own.!

Appreciated your account of your current "targets." Not only did you list topic/genres, you provided examples of all of them.

(And I don't know if it's by choice or chance that many of them -- certainly the non-fiction -- focus on timely issues like Constitutional rights and government surveillance. One can only hope to see MORE books on these subjects, which have been shamefully overlooked among the public distractions of the last 5-6 years.)

Angie Fox said...

I find myself going for a lot of cozy mysteries this summer. Also, paranormal romance, usually the lighter books. I just discovered Kathy Love's vampire books and have been burning through those. The great thing about discovering an author late is that there are plenty of books out. I'm not the most patient reader when it comes to holding on for the next book.

Chro said...

Just goes to show how my mind works. o.O This is what I get from growing up with a lot of siblings.

Melinda Leigh said...

I just finished JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I'll have a hard time finding something that'll hold my attention right after finishing those.

Any suggestions?

Anonymous said...

What is lighter women's fiction if not chick lit? I know chick lit is taboo in today's market, but whenever I read a book of women's fiction I think - what are they talking about? THIS is chick lit. I like intelligent chick lit - and I'm 44 - so stories of 20-ish women do nothing for me - but I'm not sure I see the difference.

"I would love to see more women’s fiction (light or heavy). I tend to be very attracted to stories about friendship, marriage, and parenting (from both sides of the issue)... I like lighter stories (although not chick lit) as well as those that can make me sob from page one."

Karen Duvall said...

I'm in the mood for something fast-paced AND well-written as well as thought-provoking. It's often hard to find a book that does all three. I thought I was in the mood for something funny, but the book I tried to read was rotting my brain so I gave up.

Anonymous said...

bKim's wish list (Don't have to twist my arm!) --

Honestly, though, I'm going to be on maternity leave in a couple of weeks, so if you're ready to send something out now be prepared to wait on a response.

Still, I'll play...

I'm craving a lot of the same things as Jessica, actually.

I continue to look for emotional women's fiction. I'm a bigger fan of the weepers than the lighter fare. And I like to read about any kind of family relationships.

There is one exception to my preference for darker stuff...I do love fun, quirky Southern women's fiction. So don't be afraid to send me a book with lots of eccentric characters in a bold story with lots of heart.

In terms of romance...I'm trending toward historicals too, for some reason. Maybe because I've seen a few great ones recently. I prefer a really rich, authentic historical voice.

That said, I'd love to find a straight contemporary romance that knocks my socks off. I don't often pick up contemporaries that aren't romantic comedy or romantic suspense, because I think I'm going to be bored. But I know there are good emotional stories out there. I LOVED Susan Elizabeth Phillips' AIN'T SHE SWEET. While Susan can be a very funny writer, and there are bits of humor throughout that book, I wouldn't categorize it as romantic comedy.

I'd also like to see some contemporary romance that straddles the category with women's fiction. I have a couple of authors who've written really broad stories with issue-driven themes that also contain a really strong romance. Those types of books really hit all of the buttons for me...

That's it for now. Thanks for asking!

Anonymous said...

You're a sister, but don't have a sister, which either means you have brothers or you're a very witty gay man incognito :)

Spy Scribbler said...

I love the sister riddle thing, LOL. :-) Someone should write a book with those word puzzles. I used to love figuring those out.

I'm on a Dickens/Bronte/Irving kick. Can't get enough. I miss stories that went from childhood into adulthood, where you feel you've lived their life, not just an episode.

Anonymous said...

"You're a sister, but you don't have a sister? I'm a bit confused on that one."

Is she black?

Gabrielle said...

Summer reading means "Breaking Dawn." Of course, I'll be in a town with only one bookstore. A delightful bookstore, but one that sold out of "Eclipse" faster than ice cream sundaes last year, although my friends and I trooped back and forth every night to see if there was some lonely copy.

I also just finished "Atonement" and "Under the Tuscan Sun." Both beautiful pieces of literature, although very different. Talk about the definition of "Modern Classic!"

astrologymemphis.blogspot.com said...

I'm pretty sure Anonymous @ 8:33 has it right. I'm guessing Jessica only has brothers (unless I missed something.)

Spyscribbler said:

I love the sister riddle thing, LOL. :-) Someone should write a book with those word puzzles. I used to love figuring those out.

Here's one for you spy: My friend married when she was 16, but she's neither divorced nor married now. So where's her husband?

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Santa said...

I use summer time reading for most of my re-reads, that is to say, those books I return to again and again that never fail to draw me into the stories no matter how many times I've read them. So this summer I'll be re-reading 'Persuasion' and taking it with me to my writer's conference. I'll also pick up (again) the Count of Monte Cristo. Someone mentioned AIN'T SHE SWEET by SEP which I've just re-read. She's an inspiration to me.

Other than the above, I'll be in line for the latest from Teresa Mederios and Eloisa James to name just a few.

Oh and one of the best 'how-does-that-work' books I've ever read is 'The Psychology of Everyday Things' by Donald A. Norman.

Anonymous said...

Makes me a bit sad really that you describe what you are looking for -which is exactly what I submitted and you never even responded. My contemporary romance has humour but a dark side too and has made everyone everyone who read it sob (because they liked it!!!) and it has a happy ever after. It's not chick lit but the characters are young. It deals with family issues and friendship so I guess I must suck at queries or something.

My summer reading list - trereading the latest Susan Elizabeth Phillips, The Host, Ritual - Mo Hayder, Second Chance - Jane Green and Ransom by Jay McInerny plus about 50 others.

Julie Weathers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sandra Cormier said...

Anon 6:06 -- fire them an email to see what happened.