Thursday, November 1, 2007

What Are Agents Looking For Right Now?

by Heather Moore

This is a tough question. You can browse Writer’s Market, subscribe to Writer’s Digest, search through, read submission guidelines . . . all great sources. But lately I’ve found many interesting tidbits on BLOGS. Yes, there are some agents who run blogs and they have fabulous information.

On October 25, Johnathan Lyons of Lyons Literary said he’s looking for the following three books:

“A serious treatment on the rise of cable television, filled with behind-the-scenes interviews with both the suits and artists who made it happen. Journalism credentials necessary.

American history in the 19th century. The issue chosen needs to be specific, but with enough umph to carry a whole book. I also think that there's room for more history books focusing on a single year or even a few months (April 1865 is a great example).

A gritty, hard-boiled urban fantasy mystery series. Imagine Lehane or Connelly, but paranormal. Must be set on earth in the present or very near future.”

On October 8, the agents at BookEnds Literary said they are looking for:


“I would love to add some really strong and scary romantic suspense to my list, and when looking at paranormal I have been gravitating toward work that leans to fantasy. I’ve also noticed an upswing in the historical market and I’m very excited about that.

I’m most actively looking for suspense and thrillers—books that make my heart race and my eyes widen with excitement. I would love to find a fresh new voice that could be compared to Karin Slaughter, Lisa Jackson, or Barry Eisler.

Women’s fiction is probably one of the harder genres for me to break down. What do I look for in women’s fiction? I think it’s the relationship. I love Elizabeth Berg, and Jennifer Wiener for me has been hit and miss (I did like Good in Bed, but not In Her Shoes). I like characters who are obviously flawed but who we can all relate to. I love stories about friendship and women who break out of a mold. Either way I want to see the heroine grow and change throughout the book.

For those writing nonfiction the key is platform, platform, platform.

And as for YA. I don’t represent it. I believe I’ve gotten on some YA lists so there’s obvious confusion, but it isn’t something I’m actively looking for at this time.”


“I am looking for fiction with a strong hook and voice, including mysteries of all kinds, romantic suspense, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, thrillers. I am open to seeing young adult fiction that is edgy, hip, or topical. I haven’t represented any Christian fiction, science fiction, and spiritual fiction. I look for highly commercial books that will appeal to a wide market. I prefer a brief email query to see if I’d like to take a look at more. I’m attracted to fiction on the dark side; however, I represent a number of cozy mystery writers whose stories are light and often humorous.

In nonfiction I am looking for health and wellness, business, psychology, parenting, career, finance, self-help.”


“I represent a wide range of genres, including westerns, romance, women’s fiction, crime novels, cozy mysteries, true crime, and pop culture. However, the areas in which I’m currently interested in expanding are women’s fiction and romance.

I gravitate toward the more serious women’s fiction in the vein of Jodi Piccoult. I’d love to see more great Southern fiction. I’m also in the mood for great romance. Lately, I’m hungry for more terrific historicals.

I, too, would love to find a great romantic suspense author. I love Lisa Jackson and Sandra Brown. I think the “ultimate” book for me would be a romantic suspense that’s reminiscent of those old gothics I loved by Phyllis Whitney, but modern enough to succeed in today’s market.”

(If you are interested in submitting to these agencies, please read their submission guidelines in their entirety)


Lu Ann Brobst Staheli said...

Thanks, Heather! Great sources for the future. said...

As a writer, the first thing I or any writer should consider, is who cares what you have to say, especially if he or she plans to sell their work? Is there a market or niche to be filled?
I couldn’t help but notice that the listings of the various desired genres did not include a single mention of black, urban, fictitious, street life novels. The kinds of material that Donald Goines wrote, and who by the way, became a Times best seller.
Should I assume, by the omission of that particular genre, that there’s no longer a market for that type of work? I can say with confidence that there is definitely a niche for that type of material, the type of material I write as indicated by my web site;
Way back in 2001, when I began my writing career, I wanted to research my competition. Wanted to see who was issuing the same kind of material, and what kind of material they were offering.
Instead of going to the big box book stores or the library, I wanted to go to where many black readers bought their reading material, those being the book sections of neighborhood pharmacies such as CVS, and Right Aid, and to stores such as K-Mart and Wallgreens.
To my surprise I found that I couldn’t find a single black experience novel, not one. Not a single work such as Whores’s Son, or Trick Baby, or Black Man’s Grief. The kind of material I and many of my acquaintances read as a younger individuals wanting to get lost in the fictitious, and sometimes factual based worlds of lives and situations we would never experience, and were able to find, at that time, on the selves of the locations above. I Couldn’t find a single black fantasy work, the kind of works I am offering.
When I approach someone browsing the book section of those stores, and ask them if they might be interested in the kind of novels I write, they always wanted to know when my work was coming out and where they could buy my books.
You can’t tell me that there isn’t a vast market waiting for the type of fast reading, insightful, sexually spiced, black urban experience, exposé I write. That there isn’t a market in bus stations, airports, or hospital books stores, and indeed, the neighborhood pharmacy book shelves. Not everyone wants to read self help, or romance, or spy novels. There are many who want to read about the hood, the dope houses, the prostitution, the in’s and out’s of black street life. Am I wrong? If I am overlooking an agent who handles that particular genre, will someone please direct me to them.
I wasn’t sure to whom I should address this question, so I’m leaving it open to anyone who might want to comment.
And finally, any publisher who is in the business to make a buck, and not a statement, would be wise to take advantage of this under appreciated market.

Heather B. Moore said...

Mojo7: These are only a handful of agents that I found with one search.

When I was at the 2008 Book Expo in LA, there were plenty of publishers who were promoting the genre you are writing in. The most important thing about researching agents is making sure they are legit and they have a good track record. Or you can always submit directly to the publisher. Good luck!