My 2015 Wish List

Jumping on the bandwagon to tell you all what kind of projects I would love to see fly into my inbox!

(Reminder: Submission guidelines here. )

  • Historical fiction with a believable voice like Vanessa and Her Sister and Euphoria. It’s not easy to get the dialogue right when you’re setting your story in a century you never saw. Even manuscripts with every detail perfect from shoe buttons to breakfast menu have lost me the second the characters opened their mouths (visit our archives for more from Rachel on this). So if you have a fantastic historical setting and you’ve really nailed your characters’ thoughts and conversations…I want to read it!
  • Narrative nonfiction with a personal angle like Brain on Fire, Full Body Burden, and Irritable Hearts. If you are the right person to explore a little-known story, expose an injustice, or explain something fascinating, and you can blend your expertise and careful reporting with the emotion and passion of memoir-type nonfiction…send it to me!
  • A smart, edgy literary thriller that I can’t put down and can’t stop talking about like Dear Daughter and The Weight of Blood. A story that will make me scream “whaaaaaaaaat!” or “NO!!!” when I’m reading on the train.  I’m a complete sucker for unreliable narrators, and would also love some more procedural but still twisty mysteries like the work of Tana French or Brad Meltzer. (BONUS: combine bullet points 1 and 3 for an authentic historical suspense like The Paying Guests and I will love you forever.)
  • Nonfiction on any of the following topics: feminism/gender politics, contemporary religion, little-known historical figures with a BIG story.

Of course, if you have an absolutely fabulous project that you’re sure is right up my alley, send it right along even if its category is not mentioned above.  Find me at spelletier@dystel.com.


I can’t wait to see all of your fantastic (and carefully proofread) queries!


2 Responses to My 2015 Wish List

  1. I’m not sure I got the point about the right/best way to address an agent in the query. If your name is Shaun Simons, can’t I address you as ‘Hi Shaun’ or ‘Dear Shaun’?

    Second, I have a British English (rather than American English) background and this is reflected in my spellings: centre, honour, Mr, colour, etc, as against center, honor, Mr., color, etc. How big a handicap is this, and do I have to dress up my Mss strictly in line with the American convention?

    Anaele Ihuoma,

    Port Harcourt.

    • sharon says:

      Hi Anaele, “Hi Shaun” or “Dear Shaun” are perfectly fine! The point here is that misspelling the agent’s name, or using the wrong name, is an indication that you haven’t done your research, or don’t take the time to proofread.

      And British spellings are just fine! Speaking for myself, this is not a handicap.

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