One of the greatest things about being an agent is that we constantly get new submissions. Seriously. I love getting queries and manuscripts and proposals, not knowing when I might find the next big thing, the next great thing, or the brand new thing. And right now, I’d really like the last thing on that list.
I see a lot of material. A lot of it looks pretty much the same: the humorous but touching memoir, the dystopian or paranormal YA, the adventurous middle grade. And all that is just fine, and you should keep sending it! But I’d love to see something truly weird or off-beat. We’re updating our staff picks on the website, and you’ll see that my latest pick is Andrew Smith’s The Marbury Lens. If you haven’t read this book, do! And if you have, you know just how off-beat and original it is, both in content and form. I would love to see some YA that really breaks the rules, whether that book is fantasy, paranormal or even contemporary. A.S. King, an author of mine, is another example of someone with a unique approach to form that I love–each of her books is a surprise.
I recently read Aimee Bender’s amazing The Particular Sadness of Lemoncake, another example of a book that doesn’t quite fit into any category. Depending on how you read it, it could be women’s fiction, magical realism, or a coming-of-age story, and it’s somehow all of these and none of these at once. And I loved it so much I couldn’t drag myself away from it, even when I needed to.
On the nonfiction front, I’d love something akin to the recent Area 51 by Annie Jacobsen, which isn’t so innovative in its structure, but certainly covers some odd territory. Not only is the book about one of the most written about places that supposedly doesn’t exist, it also makes some pretty jaw-dropping claims. I love off-beat topics for nonfiction, and it’d be great to see some more of those.
So give me your strange, your bizarre, your weirdo manuscripts striving to find publication. I’m in the mood to be surprised.