Manuscript Wishlist (MSWL)

Last updated: September 2021

Mission Statement:

I look for books that delight readers, that help inspire wonder and imagination, that foster deep empathy and compassion for our fellow human beings, that provide rich character representation of marginalized people groups, that take the reader on an adventure, that uncover fascinating stories from history’s footnotes, that explore issues of faith, that make people laugh or cry or jump from fright, that celebrate women and the female experience, that ask nitty gritty questions and don’t settle for easy answers, that make people disappointed when they have to close the book and go to bed, and books that add a touch of magic to readers’ lives. 

What I represent, in general:

  1. Picture books
  2. Middle Grade
  3. (Select) Young Adult
  4. Adult Fiction (as of 2020!)
  5. Graphic Novels (MG/YA/Adult)
  6. Quirky gift books
  7. Devotionals for the Christian market
  8. Books for both the general market, and the Christian market

Visual MSWL—If you’re a visually minded person like me, head over to Pinterest to see my “visual manuscript wishlists.” I have one for kid lit, and one for adult books.

Client Books—If you’d like to see some of the books I’ve represented, head over to my Amazon list. (But if you don’t already know about Bookshop.org, check them out too! They are a fantastic online book retailer that supports brick and mortar bookstores.) I also have a Pinterest board of books I’ve worked on.

Submission Guidelines—check out my submission guidelines on my agency’s website.

PICTURE BOOKS:

  1. Picture book author/illustrators. I’m open to receiving submissions from authors, but I’m primarily looking to sign more author-illustrator clients. I’m open to many different illustration aesthetics from hand-drawn to digitally rendered to collage to unconventional mediums. I love having a wide range of styles on my list, and the main thing I’m looking for is a unique, distinctive look. Some of my favorite illustrators include Juana Martinez-Neal, Vashti Harrison, the Fan Brothers, David Litchfield, Anne Lambelet, Brian Selznick, Carson Ellis, Frank Morrison, and Emily Winfield Martin.
  2. Family Narratives—I love books that reflect families and their beautifully ordinary everyday experiences, particularly families and characters who haven’t been represented as much as white families traditionally have in picture book. Examples: Hair Love, My Papi Has a Motorcycle, Honeysmoke, Under My Hijab, Alma, Julian is a Mermaid, Tell Me a Tattoo Story.
  3. Humor—I want the next hilarious, commercial-feeling, NYT Bestseller. It’s important to me that kids really love and are delighted by the books I represent, and humor is also a great entry point into reading for kids who are intimidated by books, so I take silly books seriously. 🙂 Some of my favorite humor-driven books are:  We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, Dragons Love Tacos, The Bad Seed series, Where Bone?, When Unicorns Poop, The Day the Crayons Quit, Maria the Matador, Mabel: A Mermaid Fabel, Miss Hazeltime’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats, and Rot: the Cutest in the World.
  4. Magical books—I love magical stories that feel like the type of book that will stick with a child throughout their life. Anything by The Fan Brothers, David Litchfield, and Emily Winfield Martin. A few of my favorite magical books: The Night Gardener, The Antlered Ship, Ocean Meets Sky, The Bear and the Piano, The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore, and Lights on Cotton Rock.
  5. Mermaids—Send me all of your mermaids!!
  6. Karaoke—I’d love a joyful picture book about karaoke, sort of like the karaoke equivalent of Hip-Hop Lollipop.
  7. Traditions—I love picture books about family traditions/cultural traditions, especially when there is food, cooking, baking, or recipes involved. (Think Fry Bread, Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao, Tomatoes for Neela.) I’d also love to see other family traditions, like holiday traditions (loved Night Tree, Mooncakes), house-cleansing or blessing ceremonies/traditions, etc. I also love books like Home and A World of Cookies for Santa which shows how people around the world do the same kind of thing in different ways.
  8. Atmospheric—I love a unique atmosphere/strong sense of place in books across the board. Because picture books are fully illustrated, they create the unique opportunity to create a really visually dazzling atmosphere, and I’d love to have more atmospheric picture books on my list. I loved Hello, Lighthouse, for example.
  9. Spooky—I love spooky stories! Ghosts, haunted houses, cobwebs. If it was somehow possible for an author/illustrator to do a spooky-yet-entirely-kid-friendly picture book about rusalka, I would die of happiness. Some of my favorites include How to Make Friends with a Ghost, and The Ugly Doodles.
  10. Raccoons—I know that raccoons can be vicious and terrifying… but they can also be so adorable! I’d love to have a raccoon picture book on my list. Preferably a funny one!
  11. Creativity—I love picture books about art and creativity, like the The Dot, Ish, The Ugly Doodles, The Wonder and Beautiful Oops.
  12. Funny Christian picture books—I would love to see more funny and charming Christian picture books in my inbox! They must feel contemporary and appealing to this current generation’s Christian parents. I loved how The Inventions of God (and Eva) and My Breakfast with Jesus accomplished this!

MIDDLE GRADE:

  1. Own Voices—I love slice of life stories with a strong voice, like Front Desk, and Stand Up, Yumi Chung! I’m eager to have a diverse swath of identities, backgrounds and experiences represented on my list, but they do not need to be stories centered around identity per se. Andrea Davis Pinkney once said, “We need to see more Black kids riding dragons” and I couldn’t agree more. Also: I really love this take on representation in media.
  2. Magical Realism or Contemporary Fantasy—I love any stories with light touches of magic or fantasy that are still accessible to readers who aren’t “genre readers.” Some of my favorite magical MG tales include Circus Mirandus, and No Ordinary Thing.
  3. Graphic Novels—Some recent faves of mine were Pashmina, Making Friends, Witch Boy, and Fish Girl. I’d also like to put out into the universe: I would love to find the next Brian Selznick type of creator. I love that his books feel so beautiful and special, that they could almost be family heirlooms passed down from generation to generation.
  4. Historical Fiction—I am a history lover and enjoy historical fiction that feels like it’s uncovering a fresh story, especially a historical footnote or narrative that has been glossed over in textbooks. I’m open to historical fiction novels in verse, as well. I love Brown Girl Dreaming, Ship of Dolls, House Without Walls, and Indian No More.
  5. Mystery—I’m hungry for a good mystery! I will never forget reading The Dollhouse Murders when I was in fifth grade and having to close the book for a moment because I was so scared. I want to work on books that inspire that same level of book-induced fright! Give me an Agatha Christie-esque whodunit.
  6. Epistolary Novel—I’d love an epistolary novel between two pen pals, or some sort of unique format.

YOUNG ADULT:

  1. A note about YA: I only represent a small amount of YA, so I am extra picky here because I’ve found it to be such a competitive market. If you’re looking to have a career mainly rooted in YA projects, I’m probably not the right agent for you!
  2. Graphic Novels—I am really eager to acquire more YA graphic novels. Recent faves of mine include Pumpkinheads, and The Prince and the Dressmaker. I’d love to find something equally as atmospheric and fun as these two.
  3. Mermaids—Like I said up above, I’m looking for something very specific here! I’m not looking for the falls-in-love-with-a-human trope, the human-discovers she’s a mermaid trope, or an epic fantasy that features wars and kingdoms and sea politics. I want a quiet mermaid novel that shows what life under the sea is like in a dreamy, magical, lyrical way. Something that a non-genre reader could get into.
  4. Unique Format—I love stories that are told in unique formats like verse, or stories told in epistolary/e-epistolary formats that include letters, emails, texts, etc. in the vein of Technically, You Started It or The Truth Project.

ADULT:

  1. Thrillers—I love pageturning thrillers, and want to work with people who want to build their careers around writing them. I love Gillian Flynn, Jessica Knoll, Lisa Jewell, and I’m excited to see what Samantha Downing and Wendy Heard write next. I would love to see a fresh take on the genre from a POV we haven’t seen featured as prominently. Some of my favorite thrillers include Luckiest Girl Alive, The Woman in Cabin 10, Final Girls, Sharp Objects, Dark Places, Then She Was Gone, My Lovely Wife, and Hunting Annabelle.
  2. Book Club Fiction—If you dream of Reese Witherspoon or Oprah ushering you into her book club, then I want to see your work! I love the feeling of when I finish reading a book and immediately need to talk to someone about it. I love interesting voices/POVs, dual timelines with a historical feel, rhythmic language, and anything that is both an engaging and accessible read, while being thought-provoking and layered at the same time. Some of my favorites include The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, The Dollhouse, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Where’d You Go Bernadette, Daisy Jones & The Six, Room, The Girls, The Mothers, and Anxious People.
  3. Romantic Comedies—I’d love to work on “frothy beach reads” that have both humor and heart. I love a strong voice + unique perspective. I need a commercial hook here. Some of my recent favorites include Beach Read, The Unhoneymooners, Real Men Knit, Maybe in Another Life, The Rosie Project, Waiting for Tom Hanks, The Proposal.
  4. Unique Form—I love stories that are told in unique formats, whether that be epistolary, e-epistolary (I loved Where’d You Go Bernadette), transcripts (like Daisy Jones & The Six), a unique POV (think Room), etc. If it’s slightly outside a traditional novel format or voice, send it my way!
  5. Graphic Novels—I’d love to find some interesting contemporary graphic novels for adults. I’d be interested in nonfiction, humor, or romance. Epic fantasy or space operas likely won’t be the best fit for me, but I’m open to projects with speculative aspects, and I’m happy to receive a wide range. If you’re not sure, send it to me anyway! I’d also love a really unique format outside the box of the traditional graphic novel format, something like Caroline Preston’s books The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt and The War Bride’s Scrapbook.
  6. Quirky Gift Books—I represented The Compendium of Magical Beasts, which is all about the anatomy of magical creatures, and would love to represent more gift books like this, especially a concept with series potential. I would love to see humor here, paired with a concept that makes it an irresistible impulse buy. I’d love to build an empire the way Austin Kleon has built an empire around his Steal Like an Artist series. I also love books that toe the line between gift book and lifestyle/cookbook/craft book like The Year of Cozy, How to Hygge, and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. I’m open to different topics and styles, but here are a few topics I’m specifically interested in: linguistics, pop science, historical footnotes. I’m also open to interactive journals with a great concept.
  7. Concept-Driven Photography Books—I’d love to do a drone photography book, for example. I’d also love to do something with a humor angle, like The Art of Clean Up. If it feels like a photography-driven book you’d find in a gift shop, then I’d love to take a look!
  8. Devotionals—I’d love to represent more concept-driven devotionals with unique hooks for the Christian market. I represented a knitting devotional called Knit, Pray, Share and loved the specificity of it. Christian publishers are often looking for a large platform/social media presence from devotional writers, so that is always a plus, but if you don’t have that, then an incredible hook that will easily “find its readers” is fantastic.

NOT QUITE MY CUP OF TEA:

  1. Memoirs
  2. Sports stories (I quit tee-ball when I was 4 and faked stomach aches in P.E., I am not your gal.)
  3. Erotica
  4. Space operas
  5. Amish Fiction (query my colleague Lindsay Guzzardo, though!)
  6. Angel/Demon narratives
  7. High/Epic Fantasy
  8. Military Thrillers

18 thoughts on “Manuscript Wishlist (MSWL)

  1. I’ve been trudging my way through scads of (oh-so-dry) MSWL this week, and none have been particularly exciting or inspiring until now. This! This is how picture books should be! Full of substance and delight!

    My background in public health has already inspired me to start working on picture book ideas for 6, 10, 15, and 22. I’m a bit giddy to see someone else in this industry with a passion for diversity, science, Christ, social justice, fair trade, and glow worms! You’ll be hearing more from me in 2018.

    Like

  2. It made my heart smile to read your request for books on applying Christ’s teachings as well as books on the Jewish tradition. That is Christ’s teachings in action. I’m cooking up some sticky spaghetti to gently toss at your lovely wall. Julia Richardson

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Should I just e-mail you my query? I didn’t see any submission guidelines, and I want to make sure it gets the the correct place. Thanks so much!

    Like

  4. I have the same question as Lindsey Slater (above). What is the best way to get a submission to you? Thank you, and God bless.

    Like

  5. I just started doing some research on Literary Agents and stumbled upon this post. I’ll definitely be adding you to my shortlist of agents for a Rom-Com/Underdog love story I’ve written.

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  6. I don’t think this is an overstatement: You have the most thorough and helpful submission guidance and visual wish list of any agent ever in the history of agenting. Usually it feels much more cloak and dagger:)

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  7. I just finished No Ordinary Thing at the recommendation of this blog post. I couldn’t put it down.

    It was everything I loved in a middle grade novel and more. All the mystery and sadness and intrigue and beauty, but just a little too much of each. But not too much to not love it. Like when your food is a little too spicy and you still crave it, or there’s a bit too much pepper in your chai but it’s still amazing, or you love someone a little bit more than they love you, so that hurts but you don’t stop loving them. It was like that, almost too much but still the right amount. 

    I really wanted him to accomplish his goal, to change something, save someone….but in the end I held the book and pondered the breathless beauty of life. It changed the way I thought about events in my own life that I have wanted to change.

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