Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What I'm Looking For

Spring and fall, post-holidays and post-summer, the time when editors step forward and make lunch appointments and send out wish lists. Well, I guess it’s my turn too, and after looking at the wish lists of others as well as reading reviews of some recent releases, I definitely have some ideas of what I’d like to be seeing these days. As always I want to add the disclaimer that this in no way means I’m not looking for everything I list on our Web site at, it simply means these are things I’d be ultra excited to see right now.


I have a lot of cozy authors on my list, and while I’m always open to a new, very different, very fun cozy hook, what I’d really like to see is a fresh new, dark, and scary mystery or, preferably, thriller series. I love female protagonists, but will certainly not rule out a sexy new man. I tend to lean toward protagonists that are officially involved in the case. Give me forensics or the dark side of things, like bounty hunters. I’m not a huge fan of the PI, but of course if it’s great I’ll always consider.


I just love romance. I would love to add a few new sweeping and sexy historicals to my list, and of course I’m always looking for that ultimate scary romantic suspense. I think like a lot of agents and editors I’m feeling paranormal fatigue these days. What that means is that while we’re looking for something amazing, we see so much of it that it truly has to be amazing. Right now I’m leaning toward paranormal romance that crosses with urban fantasy.

Women’s Fiction

Women’s fiction is so dependent on voice, but like everyone else I’m looking for a book with that strong voice. I love stories about friendship and relationships. I love women who are older, wiser, and looking at life in a new way, and I love women’s fiction where women are facing some of our deepest fears and rising above it all.


I’d love to see some financial books dealing with the down economy, but of course they would have to be written by top people, and I’m always interested in current affairs and more controversial subjects—more narrative than self-help. I would love to do some food memoirs or food writing books.


My focus in fantasy is really urban fantasy and I do tend to lean toward the strong female heroine. But surprise me. This is still an area I’m exploring and falling in love with more and more.

I’m hungry for something fresh and exciting and the best I can say is that I’ll know it when I see it, so don’t be afraid to send it my way.



Kimber An said...

I'd love to help you out, but I've got nothing on your list right now. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Maybe next year I'll have a Women's Fiction to send your way. I haven't decided what to polish up next, only that it must be one of my stories which fits neatly into a genre/subgenre which is selling well.

In the meantime, I'll go on appreciating the fine education this blog provides.

Inez Kelley said...

Hey! Kim still has my query! I'd be glad to fill a spot for you! ROFL

Keri Ford said...

Thanks, Jessica. Things like this always great to hear and makes it easier to pinpoint and not to mention personalize! I do hope Kim and Jacky are taking tomorrow and the next day to hand out their christmas lists too.

Julie Weathers said...

"My focus in fantasy is really urban fantasy and I do tend to lean toward the strong female heroine. But surprise me. This is still an area I’m exploring and falling in love with more and more.

I’m hungry for something fresh and exciting and the best I can say is that I’ll know it when I see it, so don’t be afraid to send it my way."

I have a lady warrior who has a friend with a Cajun dragon named Phideaux. Is that surprising enough?

Yeah, you're right. Everyone names their dragon Phideaux.

Ok, I guess it's just a regular old epic fantasy.

Cat Schield said...

When you refer to Historicals, you say you are looking for "sweeping". When I think of sweeping I picture Gone With The Wind or huge family sagas that last 3 generations. Can you define "sweeping" for me? Thanks.

Robena Grant said...

This is fabulous. Thank you. I worked on a query letter to you last night. Need to put a final polish on the work then I'll query and see if it intrigues you.

Yvette Davis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yvette Davis said...

Let me try this again.... spell check can be a dangerous thing!

Can anybody define urban fantasy for me?

Is it futuristic sci-fi in an urban setting?



Karen Duvall said...

Yvette, urban fantasy is "fantasy" set in an urban setting. The main point is that it's contemporary, and the urban part can be debatable, though small town's are rarely the focal background for a complex UF. The books are usually written as a series and typically feature a mystery of some kind. Wizard detectives and necromancing bounty hunters are not uncommon.

Urban fantasy used to be primarily vampires and werewolves in the big city, but it's evolved to include all manners of fey, gargoyles, demons, witches, and I have modern day female knights who are half angel in mine (which my agent is cheerfully shopping and getting great response, fingers crossed). The best way to familiarize yourself with the genre is to read it.

My personal favorites are Rachel Caine's Weather Warden series (djinn), Kim Harrison's Rachel Morgan series (witches and everything else you can think of), Vicki Petterson's Zodiac series (superheroes & supervillains), and Liz Williams Detective Chen Mysteries (paranormal set in China and Hell is prominently featured with all its lovely denizens - yummy!)

Sky's the limit as far as imagination. My WIP is a steampunk urban fantasy featuring half demons and demonic powered machines in a 21st century industrial age. Kind of noir and very fun to write.

Amy Nathan said...

And now you are on MY list! :)

Shaun said...

I have an urban fantasy planned after a couple of S&S fantasies. Unfortunately, I only have the opening chapter written (not to mention the first two waiting to be published), so I'm a very long way from even a query letter.


jnantz said...

I must be honest, with so much Fantasy garnering headlines these days, it's nice to see that good ol' fashioned breakneck-paced thrillers, especially of the mystery persuasion, are still in demand. Otherwise, I'd be a very sad mystery/thriller writer indeed.

Thank you for being so informative and explicit in terms of what you seek. It's a huge help to us, the unpubbed masses. Much thanks.

Angie Ledbetter said...

What a good and concise post. Glad I found your blog. Will be back.

AstonWest said...

Still no science fiction or space opera...bummer! :-P

Melissa Blue said...

I have a chick-lit voice and I've queried Kim before on my WF. So, I'm sure the other hundreds of aspiring authors can kill your submission e-mail account.

Maybe next time...

Yvette Davis said...


Thanks for the info!

I think I know of what you speak. I just read several of the Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs. That's a contemporary werewolf & vampire series with a romance thrown in and some mysteries/murders along with it.

At the same time I'm reading Great Expectations by Dickens. Sigh...what happened to books without vampires? I don't know if I'd respect myself in the morning if I turned into Gena Showalter.

My idea of an urban drama would be one set in the future after the end of oil and the collapse of the economy, and involve how people survive. Might be possible to add a love story to that, but definitely it wouldn't be ala Ish and Em from Earth Abides. That was so stuffy I couldn't even read it!


Anonymous said...

I always wondered about that word 'sweeping' in regards to historical. And like the other commenter, I think of Gone With the Wind. I get the feeling it's supposed to span a generation (or at least a long period of time).

Anonymous said...

Your Women's Fiction needs encouraged me. I'm halfway through a manuscript that deals with several of those issues.

Karen Duvall said...

Yvette, ooh, you're describing apocalyptic fiction! And I've been hearing about it more and more among SF writers and editors. Lots of interest springing up for that subgenre. You could definitely have something there. Give it a go, and good luck!

Ella said...

My series looks like it'd be right up your alley. Mystery wise. Every Witch Way but Dead sounds like everything you're looking Books one (out now) and two(out in Nov) are done but I'm working on number three.


Anonymous said...

What about a genre that's not on your list, but the book's well-written and interesting?

Or what if the genre is not on any other agent's wish list?

Remember, there is always a first for everything.

From a writer who does not write the genres on your list.

Diane said...

I love when you give us updates like this.

I've almost finished Out of the Shade to submit for the Urban Fantasy category.

*head*desk* ugh and the query...


Yvette Davis said...


Cool! I didn't know that genre had a name and now I do!



John said...

In response to "Anonymous", the genre of a book is all about where it will find the most buyers, which doesn't necessarily mean that it tidily fits into the traditional bounds of the genre.

For instance, Donald Maass discusses choosing the genre for the "Vampire Files", which has vampires (paranormal), a strong romance (romance), a murder mystery (mystery/thriller), and is quite dark and scary at times (horror). And they stuck it in plain old "fantasy" and its done quite well.

My basic advice would be that if you have anything in your novel that doesn't fit in the real world (vampires, monsters, aliens, etc.) or anything that hasn't actually happened (the world ending, apocalypse, etc.) stick it in science fiction/fantasy. If a romance is the PRIMARY story, and not just something to spice up the more important plot arc, then its romance. And so on.