What I’m Looking For

As we move further into the New Year, and battle through yet another snowstorm, I thought it would be a good idea to take Jessica’s lead from Back to Blogging and let our blog readers know a little bit more about where my interests are these days as far as new projects go. I can’t quite believe it, but I’m coming up on my 12 year anniversary with DGLM and my list has changed quite a bit during that time, in many cases reflecting my personal and professional interests simultaneously.

Narrative nonfiction is an area of my list I’ve worked very hard to develop over the last few years. I like a wide range of narrative nonfiction topics (politics not being one of them), and recent titles I’ve responded to in the marketplace are The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Unbroken, two books that uncover a fascinating, little known and inspiring person or story with a strong narrative arc.

I am always interested in memoir, even though they’ve become increasingly difficult to sell. I’ve had great success with an usual hybrid — the mother-daughter memoir. And I’m especially interested in parenting memoirs, which are almost impossible to place, but with the right combination of elements, they can work big. Recent titles I would have liked to represent are Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (even if I don’t entirely agree with all of her parenting choices!), Poser by Claire Dederer, and Devotion by Dani Shapiro.

Food has always been, and continues to be, a passion of mine. Cookbooks are still a staple on my list, and I’ve also been selling a lot of books by food bloggers. It’s competitive, but authors with a big or growing website and blog can definitely find an audience. Baking books continue to work well, even though most publishers say there are too many of them. Too many great titles to name, but if you want to pitch a food book, it’s really important to have a persuasive concept, pitch, solid recipes, and the platform to back it up.

I still represent a good amount of practical nonfiction outside of food as well. The category has become increasingly difficult, and platform is really imperative for these titles to work. But I am always open to a great health or fitness title if it’s well positioned and executed. Carb Lover’s Diet was a great easy-to-digest concept, and hit a chord with readers.

Craft is another category I’ve had a lot of success with. Two of my books were on Amazon’s Top 10 list for 2010, and I am open to hearing about more fun, smart, unique how-to ideas.

I’m signing up a lot less adult fiction, because it’s so hard to sell but also because my time is limited and fiction can take a lot of work to develop. And I’m not really looking for genre fiction right now. My taste in this area tends to gravitate to contemporary mainstream fiction with a psychological backbone, like Room by Emma Donoghue or Laura Lippman’s I’d Know You Anywhere. Dark is good.

Even though I’m scaling back on adult fiction, I am actively developing and selling more young adult and middle grade fiction. It’s an exciting category, and one that feels less limiting than many areas on the adult side. Reality-based teen fiction is a hard sell, but paranormal is still working well, and I have a big middle grade fantasy series upcoming with a male protagonist, so that’s an interesting area too. There’s a lot of competition, so I think it’s just about grabbing me with a strong cover note and a perfect voice, combined with a story that offers something we haven’t seen before. High concept is definitely a plus. The Suzanne Collins trilogy worked well for me, as well as James Dashner’s The Maze Runner (represented by Michael) for great original ideas.

Thanks for listening, and I hope I’ll hear from some of you with new projects, ideas, proposals, or anything else you want to bounce off of me!

6 Responses to What I’m Looking For

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention What I’m Looking For | Dystel & Goderich Literary Management -- Topsy.com

  2. Dorian says:

    When one person throws a platic bottle in the ocean, it isn’t a big deal. If one million people do it, we have a problem. If one literary agent helps publish junk, it isn’t a big deal. When all agents do, well, we have a pollution problem. I understand that you have to make a living, but at what cost? Paranormal, Tiger mom, really?

    Do you agree that there needs to be balance between commercialism and art? I know you feel publishing taking on water, yet you don’t care. Saturate it, bleed it, kill the beast….

  3. Stacey says:

    Thanks for the comment, Dorian. Thankfully, there is room in the marketplace for all types of wonderful books, both literary and commercial, and everything in between, allowing all of us to pick and choose those that speak to us personally or professionally. Those choices are completely individual and subjective, and it’s one of the things I love most about my job — being able to consider and develop a wide range of projects that span categories and genres. Sometimes I read books that I wouldn’t sell, and sometimes I sell books that I wouldn’t read. That’s what keeps it interesting!

  4. Draven Ames says:

    Great post. It is good to see how tastes change over time, even with an agent. It’s sadly realistic though.

    More and more agencies are saying no adult fiction. It is shrinking an already small market, making it harder for people to find the next great writers.

    Less people panning will bring less gold.

    My hope is that more agents will take gander at us newer writers. We might have a little for them. Most people that I know admit they buy YA novels because they are easier to read. Adult books can be made easier to read too.

    I’ve wondered if a new category for adults should be opened. It would be about adults but written for speed and ease of reading. Call it something like “Speed-read.” Have you seen the new ‘speed-read’ by Patterson?

    Anyway, great post again.

    Draven Ames

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