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Calling all queriers!

As rights director for the agency, I’m grateful for the freedom to both work on subrights and maintain my own small client list. I love subrights—the nuances of various markets are really fascinating to me, and it’s amazing to be able to call up an author to tell them people in a country they barely know exists want to read their book—but it’s also exciting to be able to shepherd authors on my own list through all stages of their career.  I’ve been really happy of late to be extremely excited by what I’m reading, both published and looking to be published, and it’s really helped me narrow down what I am, right now, most interested in seeing more of.  So without further ado:

 

  • The thing I’ve always wanted, but rarely found, is popular science.  I am a science nerd but also easily confused by it, and my brain shuts down when things get too tricky.  My litmus test for pop sci is: Am I excited about this?  Do I know what I’m excited about?  If you’ve got the project that can get me to say yes on both of these, please, please, please send it my way.
  • I’m likewise interested in pop psychology—if you’ve got the credentials and the voice to talk about why our brains do what they do, I want in.
  • Beyond our own minds, I’m interested in the world at large.  I’m always on the look out for accessible, important, well credentialed reportage.
  • As I think so many of us are, I’m also looking for those books that are nebulously described as “Big Think” or “like Malcolm Gladwell.”  One of the things that I’ve always wanted to be able to do better is to draw together insights from different facets of life to put things into context, so I love interdisciplinary nonfiction that makes me think in ways I would never have come up with myself.
  • I have also been looking for a long time for some serious but irreverent cultural study of the internet age—I’m endlessly fascinated by the politics of online communities, the way people interact online, the strange ways that social networks transform our thoughts and speech, the impact of the digital age on how we integrate perhaps unreliable information, etc.  Someone with the vision to unpack all of that in an engaging and relatable way would be very welcome on my list.
  • And on a similar note, I’m always fond of treatments of pop culture that take things just shy of too seriously.  There’s nothing I love more than nerdy obsessiveness with things that theoretically don’t matter, but can give us insight into the world if given their due.
  • Of course, I’m also still looking for fiction, which I do get a ton of queries for, running pretty much the full span of genres, which I appreciate.  Right now the two things I don’t think I’m seeing as much of as I’d like are middle grade adventure and grounded YA.  As with anything else, I’m looking for something that’s got the whole package, whether commercial or literary:  voice, characters, and plot.  Why settle for one when you can have all three?  And I remain a sucker for an exquisitely executed sentence.

 

So writers, start your query engines.  I’ll be waiting for you at labramo@dystel.com.  (Personal preferences:  Email queries, please, with the query in the body of the email, sample material in an attachment, in Word if at all possible.)

7 Responses to Calling all queriers!

  1. Diana West says:

    Lauren,

    Could you explain what you mean by “grounded” YA? I assume that means realistic fiction as opposed to futuristic worlds or vampire characters, but maybe that isn’t what you had in mind.

    Thanks!

    • Lauren says:

      That’s more or less it, though I would say that something could be futuristic or paranormal and still largely grounded. I guess what I mean is that I’d love to see more YA queries that don’t rely on some set of special rules or powers to drive the story or define the characters and conflicts.

  2. Wow, Lauren. I definitely want to join your book club. Everything you are looking for sounds great!

  3. Giora says:

    One way to combine your work on subrights and as agent is to take ficion set at least partly in a foreign country. At least publishers in the foreign country will be interested. Are you open to sell a book first to a foreign publisher, e.g. Bertelsmann AG, and then to subright it to an American pubisher? It’s nice to read that you look for more realistic YA fiction.

  4. Giora says:

    Thanks, Lauren. It’s in your inbox.

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