What I’m looking for now

With this October marking my third anniversary here at DGLM, I’ve been in a reflective mood. I’ve been thinking about how my client list has developed, how it’s changed over the years, and what kinds of projects I’d like to represent going forward. In that spirit, I took a gander at my old blogposts, and I realized it’s been almost two years since I published a wish list—yikes! I really didn’t mean to let it go that long, especially because last one I published drew plenty of interesting submissions, not to mention a few clients…

So, without further ado, here’s what I’m looking for now, by category:

PICTURE BOOK AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATORS: Picture books have always had a special place in my heart. In fact, they’re one of the main reasons I stuck it out in children’s publishing for so long. And to my great joy, it seems like picture books are cycling back into favor–we’ve had a couple of major picture book deals here at DGLM recently. So if there are any author/illustrators out there with a fun, character-based story to tell, I’d LOVE to see your work!

MIDDLE GRADE FICTION: More than any other category, it seems like children’s book editors are hungry for middle-grade these days in any form—realistic, fantasy, sci-fi, boy- or girl-focused, you name it—and I couldn’t be happier. Ever since HARRY POTTER ended, I think publishers have been searching for the next classic, and with YA in flux (more on that below), the search has become a top priority. Personally, I’m most interested in realistic, contemporary MG a la WONDER. (Can’t argue with those numbers!) However, I’m more than happy to look at anything fantastic that fits the category, so if anyone’s got a great 8-12 character (or a great YA character that can be aged down), bring it on!

YOUNG ADULT FICTION: YA has been a puzzle for the last year or so. On the one hand, we’ve got John Green waving the banner of realistic, issue-driven YA; on the other, there’s DIVERGENT and now STEELHEART fanning the flames of sci-fi/dystopia/fantasy. My feeling is the fantasy side will keep lumbering on, but the bar for originality has never been set higher. So while I’m certainly open to fantasy/sci-fi, it really needs to be something special to have a chance. At the same time, contemporary YA seems to be in demand, though again, originality is the key. But on both sides, strong characterization trumps all–without that, we won’t get anywhere.

ADULT NARRATIVE NON-FICTION:   As I said last time: “If there’s an amazing book-length true story out there, I want to hear it. History, memoir, sports, music, immersion journalism, popular science, health, animals—whatever the subject, if you’ve got the credentials to write about it, send it my way.” To this list, I’ll add military history and politics, as well as a request—whatever the subject, try to make it as expansive as possible without losing the main narrative. A favorite rejection line from editors is that a subject is too narrow… so go wide!

ADULT MEN’S FICTION: When I first started at DGLM, I signed a number of adult fiction clients without much understanding of the categories or market, and after a number of misses, I decided to steer clear of adult fiction for a while. Three years on, I think I’ve got a better handle of how things work, plus our independent publishing program provides a viable alternative for projects that can’t find a traditional home. So, once again, I’m on the look-out for high-concept, character-driven narratives, be they thrillers, suspense, literary, commercial, horror, what have you—happy to take a look.

Thanks for giving this a read. Can’t wait to see what comes in!


3 Responses to What I’m looking for now

  1. Kevin A. Lewis says:

    When I was working at Borders for 20 years or so, (glub, glub, women and children out of the way, please) we called stuff like WONDER and THE FAULT IN OUR STARS “castor oil books” because they were invariably bought by humorless adults who hope to arm-twist howling kids into reading them “for their own good”… Nonetheless, a sale is a sale, one supposes…

  2. Andrea says:

    Speaking solely as a reader of YA fantasy, I’m just desperate to find a novel that’s not trying too hard to be original and impress me with world-building, but instead offers some depth and great characters who stay with me after I’ve put down the book. Admittedly, I am nearly twice the age of the targeted age-group, but I’m having such a hard time finding YA fantasy novels whose characters (or even their names) I still remember a few days after finishing. And one of the reasons I prefer YA fantasy over adult fantasy is the focus on character development rather than an epic plot.

    Where are the novels like Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, Garth Nix’s Abhorsen trilogy, Alison Croggon’s Pellinor books, or even Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain?

    The last six YA fantasy novels I’ve read were all first books in a trilogy and none of them were memorable enough for me to want to read books 2 and 3. All of them made very obvious attempts to be original. All of them were traditionally published by big publishing houses.

    I love fantasy and the potential of the genre, but I’ve almost lost hope that I’ll ever find another fantasy novel, YA or adult, that I can fall in love with. Recommendations welcome.

  3. Kevin A. Lewis says:

    What you’re experiencing, Andrea, is the flameout end of a wave that stared about 7 years ago, when kids waking up and discovering that they are descended from Egyptian Gods and have a Great Mission To Fulfill, (or variations thereof) were a serious newsflash. Now, all the hunky shirtless Mormon werewolves have left the building, and nobody’s come up with a replacement that flies more than 15 feet from the signing party. John’s problem is more serious; the blog we all read in PW informs us that “realistic” fiction is now the benchmark, however, that’s usually interpeted as bleak, humorless, and depressing, and at the end of the day, there’s only room for one John Green out there. Nonentheless, DGLM inboxes are rapidly filling up with what I call Sick & Sad Lit, and most of our hosts probably realize that no matter how many Iron Chefs labor on it, a keopectate latte is still just a keopectate latte, and not likely to be something you’re going to sell on every street corner. Add to the mix the fact that a lot of gatekeepers consider humor to be a dangerous controlled substance that kids need to be protected from, and you’re pretty much painted into a corner. I’d love to help, but you guys have robojected that option out the door, so good luck with all that, as the redoubtable Mr. Seinfeld used to observe. I’ll be watching to see if anybody around here can find their way through this maze, so all the luck in the world to ya, eh, what?

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