Monday, September 12, 2011

What I’m Looking For

Though I’ve only been with BookEnds since April, I’ve already made some shifts in what kinds of projects I’m looking to represent. Some of this has to do with changes in market trends, but a lot really has to do with my personal reading preferences. I want to be enthusiastic about each and every book I work on, and if I’m just not getting excited about submissions in a particular genre, I think it’s better for everyone if I concentrate my energies elsewhere. With that said, my focus is absolutely still on a wide variety of full-length, adult romance and women’s fiction. I’m not actively looking for YA, novellas, or nonfiction.

To help give you a better idea of what I’m looking for, maybe I should tell you about some of the clients I’ve taken on. I have a bit of a spread. So far, I have clients who write historical romance, historical erotica, paranormal erotica, category romance, romantic suspense, women’s fiction, and African literary fiction.

That last one may have surprised you, right? It’s actually not quite as outside of my stated interests as you might think. While I am looking to focus on commercial fiction, I absolutely love women’s fiction set in exotic locations, and would love to receive more projects set abroad. I have a special interest in books set in Iran, India, and Southeast Asia, but would also welcome more submissions set in African or European countries, or set in the US but with a focus on immigrant communities.

I’m looking for a wide variety of contemporary romance, but I’d particularly like to see more small-town books in which the town and community are richly developed. Southern settings and New England settings work particularly well for me. Overall, I tend to gravitate toward darker voices and storylines, but quirky, comedic stories can be great, too.

With historicals, I have a strong preference for very sexy Regencies and Victorians. Also, it’s probably worth noting that I tend not to enjoy historical fiction as much as I do historical romance. As with contemporaries, I tend to like darker voices in historicals, and I like books with seemingly insurmountable obstacles to the protagonists’ relationship—like a story about a duke and a fishmonger’s widow.

While I still am looking for paranormal romances, I’m no longer looking for urban fantasy. I love kick-ass heroines, but I prefer to see them falling in love. What I really want in paranormal is something so different and original that I’m incapable of even coming close to now imagining what that might be. I enjoy a good vampire or werewolf tale, but the market (and my in-box) has been so saturated with them that it’s difficult for me to find something I get excited about.

For erotica, I’m mostly looking for books in which the central storyline is m/f. These can be contemporary, historical, and/or suspenseful or paranormal, but I’m probably not the right agent for anything futuristic or sci-fi. A few things that are absolutely necessary to me in erotica are emotional depth, rich characterization, and an actual plot. I may live to regret saying this, but it’s pretty darn hard to shock me with erotica. Graphic, kinky novels are welcome.

The above doesn’t encompass everything I’m looking to represent, but I hope it gives you more insight into my preferences. As always, I look forward to reading your queries!

Jessica A


Unknown said...

This was very insightful. I appreciate you taking the time to show us what you're most interested in! It's always great to see an agent take a few moments to share a tidbit about their current interests!

Have a fabulous week!

kellye said...

I write YA but read everything. I'd love to hear any titles for "very sexy Regencies and Victorians" that you've enjoyed and recommend (but no pressure, of course). Good luck building your list!

Anonymous said...

Jessica, this is very helpful.

I've read the submission info on BookEnds' site, but I wondered if in addition to the query you would also look at, say, the first ten pages of a manuscript in order to make your decision? I've noticed many agents asking for the first 10 or 20 pages of a novel to get a better feel for the writing and story.

— Mary

Stacy said...

Very interesting, thank you for taking the time to share it with us. I have a question, actually. My critique partner, beta, and myself all feel like my novel is romantic suspense that would fall in the guidelines of Mira's romantic suspense books. But I've got a proofer/editor suggesting that it's really women's fiction, because we have a sense of who the bad guy is. She says editors are so inundated with romantic suspense queries that it's better to query as women's fic. What are your thoughts? Thanks!

Kelly said...

" I may live to regret saying this, but it’s pretty darn hard to shock me with erotica. Graphic, kinky novels are welcome."

I feel a challenge here. :)

Amber said...

Darker erotica? I may have just found my dream agent.

G. B. Miller said...

That definitely sounds interesting and helpful. Most agents, I think, have a tendency to shy away from erotica (I could be wrong on this so if I am, feel free to correct me), which is why I've been concetrating on small to medium sized publishers with my work.

But now knowing this, it will definitely give me something to think about.

Leslie Deaton said...

Thanks for sharing your interests, it's so important to know what each agent is seeking. This list makes me smile, such variety. I am all smiles today, my book trailer came out today for A Marked Past.

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Anonymous said...

Do you differentiate between erotica and erotic romance? Just curious; I've heard other agents and publishers distinguish between those terms before.

Vonnie said...

Insightful post, Jessica. Thank you. Not looking for an agent at the moment since I'm up to my ears, but in the future I shall know who to submit to.

Thanks for doing the sensible thing and letting us all out here know what suits you.

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Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Jessica,
That was a great blog, very informative. Thank you so much or letting us know what you are looking for.
Kind regards

giora said...

Interesting that you only list South East Asia. If you like to expand to China, my contemporary commercial (with erotica) fiction might capture your interest. It's improving every month. Best wishes in finding great books to represent.

Jan Springer said...

Thanks for the info! :-)