Category Archives: what we’re looking for

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At year’s end

I’m finding it very hard to believe that 2013 is already coming to a close. It’s been quite the year, and I’m thankful to all of my clients, the dedicated editors and other publishing professionals with whom we work, and most of all my colleagues at DGLM, who always welcome me with open arms (and loads of snark) on my trips back East.

Though I’m sad to see 2013 go, I’m also looking forward to what promises to be a very interesting 2014. My clients have some amazing books coming out, and I’m eager to see the first feature film based on one of my author’s books.

So what’s missing from my 2014? Some new clients! Though I have a fantastic roster of authors who keep me busy, I’m always on the hunt for the new and undiscovered. As always, I’m on the hunt for middle grade and young adult books, the more challenging, daring, unique and spectacular, the better. If you’re flouting conventions and pissing people off, I’m in.

But I’d also love to see more narrative nonfiction submissions, particularly in science, technology and cultural studies. If you’ve got something on space or physics, that’s probably at the top of my list. I’m fascinated by the recent discoveries related to the Higgs boson, as well as experiments trying to prove that the universe is actually a hologram. If you can make my brain hurt but also teach me something, I’m in!

I hope all of our blog readers have a lovely holiday, and I’m looking forward to seeing you all again in 2014!

5

All I Want for Christmas

As every year, by mid-December I am hardcore entrenched in the holiday spirit.  I’m a curmudgeonly grump 11 months of the year, but when December 1st hits I throw on my favorite Christmas albums (John Denver & the Muppets, Vince Guaraldi Trio, Phil Spector, and all of those woven with very frequent repetition of the pop perfection that is Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You”), throw some lights around the place (my aims tend to outpace my follow through so nothing too many at Chez Lauren), and watch all the best holiday classics, especially the woefully underseen The Christmas Toy, which is basically Toy Story before Toy Story and even better (yeah, I said it). It takes a hardcore assault of holiday cheer to turn that frown upside down, but I am up for the task.

So though we have a full week left of work before it really becomes Christmas, I’m pretty much thinking of nothing else.  Thus, here’s what you should feel free to give me for Christmas, if you are so inclined:

  • A universal Schedule A. For the uninitiated, by which I mean lucky, Schedule A is shorthand for the list of countries at the back of a US or UK contract that spells out which countries the UK publisher gets exclusively.  So US contracts have either exclusive or non-exclusive rights in everything except the Schedule A in their contract, and UK publishers have exclusive rights only in the Schedule A in their contract, which means that if there are separate US and UK publishers, they have to have matching Schedule As (Schedules A?).  Which would be a lovely system if I didn’t have to spend so much of every year fighting the same fight about which places should be in that Schedule A.  It’s not that hard, and yet…(No, really, guys, I ask for this every year for Christmas and for my birthday, and no one ever gets it for me, but it is my super duper #1 wish and please, please, please.)
  • A month off to read my towering piles of pleasure reading and work reading and magazine reading and everything else reading.
  • An engrossing, compelling, clever, and mind-blowing popular science proposal.  I’ve found some close-but-no-cigars in 2013, but I think 2014 is going to be the year.
  • Fiction to represent that is so captivating that it can keep me awake on my pre-coffee morning commute or on my couch later that night after a long day at work.  If unputdownable were a word and not a horror show inflicted upon society by sadists, I would want something unputdownable.
  • Santa’s elves to come vet any contracts, send any mail, read any queries, and answer any emails that might come in while we’re closed for the holidays, so that the blank slate I will work so hard to achieve next week won’t be completely eradicated by January 2nd.
  • Peace on earth, good will towards men, the criminalization of animated GIF making, you know, the biggies we all agree on.

 

Thanks in advance, you guys!  And happiest of all happy holidays to anyone with anything to celebrate this month.  If you don’t have a holiday to celebrate, I recommend inventing something.  You, too, deserve baked goods, presents, and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Ice Cream and Violins Day is You.”

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!

 

0

Something “new” for me

This piece from last week’s  New York Times attracted my attention and although I totally disagree with the notion that just because the facts concerning a non-fiction book have changed since its original publication, its content should be arbitrarily updated, it did make me think about non-fiction in general.

For many years, most of what I represented was non-fiction and then recently and very deliberately (and because I truly love it) I have been concentrating on fiction, all kinds of fiction – commercial and literary – and have had great success with indie authors and more traditional types.  But my yen for good narrative non-fiction is still very strong and I would love to see some new ideas.

Of course, as you all know, in this category the author needs to have a solid platform and the credentials necessary to write authoritatively on a subject – these things have become increasingly important. And there has to be a great story, one with a beginning, a middle, and an end. With those elements, I would love to consider some compelling new nonfiction in the areas of science, history, biography, politics, and business.

I hope that some of you reading this blog will keep this in mind, send me your work, and spread the word.

3

All I Want for Christmas

In honor of the holidays, I thought I’d share with you my Christmas wish list:

  • A universal territory schedule: If you have a book deal in English, you might’ve seen a long list of countries in the back of your contract, often labeled Schedule A.  That’s the territory schedule, my nemesis.  You see, the world gets carved up into blocks by the publishers buying rights, so there are a variety of territories you can sell, most often World (which includes translation rights as well), World English, US/Canada, or UK & Commonwealth.  Anything excluded from that is either reserved to the author, licensed exclusively to a second publisher, or part of the Open Market, which is primarily the world’s non-English-speaking countries, where US and UK publishers are typically free to distribute competing editions.  Sounds simple enough, right?

Except that apparently we can’t just agree that when we said UK & Commonwealth, we meant, you know, UK & Commonwealth.  There are the most common exceptions, like Commonwealth Canada going on over to the US side and non-Commonwealth Ireland getting grouped in on the UK side, for proximity reasons.  And then there are the many inane fights I have every year about whether Malaysia is Open Market or Commonwealth.  Hey, guess what debate is easily settled by the Commonwealth of Nations website?  (Fortunately we’re not believers in granting exclusive Europe to UK publishers, because otherwise I’d have to add “Israel is not in Europe” to my list of regular grievances.  This isn’t Eurovision or UEFA, my friends.)  And yet, we must argue these things all the time.  If you want to fight with me about whether or not you should get to sell books in Tristan da Cunha, I need you to fly me there and show me your distribution chain.  I will then contemplate your argument for several days on the beach and get back to you when I’ve decided.  Alternatively, I’d accept a Universal Schedule A that all of us in publishing agree to now, so we can stop having this conversation ad nauseam.  Then anyone who wants to pretend South Africa’s not a Commonwealth country or Iran is will have to say so, up front, when making their offer.

  •  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Popular science and interdisciplinary nonfiction.
  •  Mandatory naptime.  Look, I work in foreign rights, and it’s really important for me to be in tune with cultural differences.  So I’m going to start taking siestas.  I really think it’s going to do amazing things for our list in Spain.
  •  A robot that can be programmed to clear up my office clutter to my exact specifications each night when I leave, because I am very very particular, very very busy, and very very sick of tripping over the books that I knock on the ground each day.
  •  A wall-sized magnetic world map and teensy tiny book cover magnets so that when I sell a book, I can put it in the appropriate country, because how cool would that be?
  •  Peace on Earth, good will towards men.
  •  My two front teeth*
  •  You**

 

*Worst Christmas song ever?

**Best Christmas song ever.

7

The self-published author—what does an agent look for?

Last week, Laura Howard, an Indie author, asked whether I would write about what an agent looks for when offering representation to someone who is in the self-published community.  Since we represent a significant number of authors who originally were/are self-published, I was delighted to accept her request.

The first thing I look for in any author, self-published or not, is the quality of the writing.  If the work is poorly written, then we cannot represent it no matter how strong the sales are initially (substandard writing will not sustain high sales in my opinion).

An author’s sales numbers and how they build over time are also very important.  Unit sales are critical but so is the author’s position on the lists of the various e-tailers—Amazon.com; BN.com, etc.  A prolific author will often see each subsequent book in a series build up the sales of the previous books.

The author must be very active on social media—having an effective, accessible website and/or blog is important, as is a solid presence on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and other networking sites.  Positive reviews of the author’s self-published books by the target readership are critical as is a willingness to interact with and be supportive of other writers in his/her category.

Finally, I always like to talk with prospective self-published clients to make sure that what we think we can offer them matches their expectations; we try never to over-promise although we do assure all of our clients that we will do our very best to help them build their careers and have a positive experience doing so.

The goal is to sign up writers who have a solid future in Indie and traditional publishing, or a mixture of both.  So far, it’s working out very well for us and we’ve learned a tremendous amount.  I am happy to answer any questions regarding this subject which is becoming an important one in our business.  Let me hear from you.

5

Fall for Fiction

Trees are ablaze, apples are sweet, air is crisp, and for me, fall spells fiction.  My to-read pile is as deep and inviting as the leaf pile on my lawn, with Salman Rushdie’s Joseph Anton, an ARC of Claire Messud’s The Woman Upstairs  and Hilary Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety.  Reading good books makes me hungry for new projects.  Very hungry.  It’s not unlike having a tapeworm.  So e-mail me your queries, attach your first chapters, and know you have an interested audience.  My tastes are wide ranging—recently I’ve liked The Forgiven (shades of Paul Bowles and Laurence Durrell) the twice Bookered Hilary Mantel’s Bring up the Bodies, Ann Patchett’s glorious State of Wonder  and  J. Courtney Sullivan’s intergenerational tale, Maine, whose  characters were as real (and prickly) as folks I know.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m always on the lookout for smart nonfiction, but today’s post is an open invitation to the novelists among you.  I do represent polemics on my nonfiction list, but I am suspicious of novels conceived to further an obvious agenda—whether political, humanitarian, or spiritual. When a query letter begins cause first, story second, I worry. In the framework of a novel, it seems to me that readers care about characters and not issues, and nothing is worse than a story inhabited by sock puppets, each rehearsing the arguments of their author.  I am a fan of historical fiction, characters that travel to far flung settings, first person narration, and rueful humor (think Lorrie Moore).

I’d love to see a well-turned spy thriller, a literary fantasy along the lines of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians or Susanna Clarke’s masterful  Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell,  or a novel that plumbs the relationship between sisters (I have three) .  I have trouble with high fantasy and space opera—my knowledge of the genre is just too shallow–and I am too lily-livered to linger much with horror, serial killers or kids in peril.   So with those few caveats, drop me a line. I’d love to see my inbox ablaze with fiction!

Stacey Glick interview at Writer’s Digest

It’s been a while since I wrote about the kinds of projects I’m looking for, and since I answer that question and many others in an interview I did that was recently published on writersdigest.com, I thought it would be nice to share it with our loyal blog readers.

The interview goes into some detail on my background, my list, and my thoughts on many different aspects of the market, where it is now, and where it is going.

I thought Ricki’s questions were really targeted to my interests and as a result we managed to squeeze a lot of information into a fairly brief interview.

I hope it’s useful to anyone reading, and if I didn’t answer all of your questions or you have others you’d like to ask, ask away and I will do my best to respond to each and every one. Promise! Enjoy.

7

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.)

Hello World!

It’s my very first blog entry as a full-fledged DGLM employee! However, I’m not totally new to the office and have been around for quite some time. I’ve been working in the office as the Project Manager for DGLM’s digital publishing program, and before that I was an intern in the office. Until recently, I was focused solely on developing the digital program, but I’m branching into agenting now, and I can’t wait to get started.

As a reader, some of my favorite books have been historical fiction—Les Miserables, Atonement and Gone With the Wind, to name a few. But I also love a book that challenges me, like Lolita, the His Dark Materials series or Last Exit to Brooklyn. For more about me and what I am interested in reading, check out Who We Are and What We’re Looking For.

My very first experience with a literary agency was here at DGLM, and I am so grateful to have been able to turn my internship into a position at the company. I’ve always wanted to work in publishing and I am very excited to be a part of this team.