Manuscript Wishlist (MSWL)

Last updated: June 2022

Mission Statement:

I look for books that delight readers, that help readers escape, that help inspire wonder and imagination, that cultivate empathy and compassion, that comfort readers and make them feel safe, that take the reader on an adventure, that uncover fascinating stories from history’s footnotes, that make people laugh or cry or jump from fright, that ask nitty gritty questions and don’t settle for easy answers, that inspire reflection and conversation, 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. Graphic Novels (MG/YA/Adult)
  4. Adult Fiction
  5. Quirky gift books

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. If you are an author/illustrator please include a link to your portfolio.

A note to writers considering querying me: I hope you do. 🙂 I love, love, love receiving submissions. It’s an ongoing honor and delight to me that everyday, people scattered all over the world, send me their stories to read. What a privilege! If you’re on the fence about whether you think your project is the right fit for me, but you think we’d make a good team—my vote is you just go for it. Your submission is never an email clogging up my inbox—it’s a gift that I can’t wait to open. I opt to refer to my slush pile as a “treasure trove because it doesn’t feel like wading through slush to me, it feels like sifting through gems. I can’t wait to see what you’ve created!

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 everyday experiences. For me, the more specific the story, the better. 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, Miss Hazeltine’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!! (What kind of mermaid have you not seen before? I love when fantastical stories are pure fun but can also provide representation.)
  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), faith traditions, house-cleansing or blessing ceremonies/traditions, etc.
  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 think Hello Lighthouse is a great example of this.
  9. Spooky—I love spooky stories! (And I loved them as a kid too.) Ghosts, haunted houses, cobwebs. Some of my favorites include How to Make Friends with a Ghost, and The Ugly Doodles and the upcoming book Knight Snacker.
  10. Creativity—I love picture books about art and creativity, like the The Dot, Ish, The Ugly Doodles, The Wonder and Beautiful Oops.
  11. 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 children and their parents that value diversity and inclusivity. I loved how The Inventions of God (and Eva) and My Breakfast with Jesus both accomplished this in different ways. Here are a few of my other favorite Christian picture books.

MIDDLE GRADE:

  1. 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.
  2. Voicey—I love contemporary 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. I really love this take on representation in media.
  3. Graphic Novels—Some recent faves of mine were Pashmina, Witch Boy, and Measuring Up. I’d also like to put out into the universe: I would love to find the next Brian Selznick type of creator that doesn’t shy away from hybrid, unconventional formats.
  4. Historical Fiction—I am a history lover and enjoy historical fiction that feels like it’s shining a spotlight on a piece of history that’s been glossed over in textbooks. I want to see a hook/premise that I think will appeal to young readers, and an engaging voice. I’m open to epistolary novels or 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. (But I loved it.) 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 (a story told through texts, etc.).

YOUNG ADULT:

  1. Graphic Novels—Right now in the Young Adult space, I am primarily interested in representing graphic novels. I’m open to a wide range of genres and art styles here. Recent faves of mine include Pumpkinheads, The Prince and the Dressmaker, The Girl from the Sea, Isla to Island, and Batter Royale (which I represented and love so much). A couple specific things I’m looking for in this space: 1.) Something very atmospheric where the setting is a crucial element to the story. 2.) Something related to fashion design or sewing in some way. 3.) Something in the vein of Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls show.

ADULT:

  1. General Fiction—If you dream of Reese Witherspoon 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, and that’s what I’m looking for. 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. The biggest thing I’m looking for is a good hook and a distinctive voice. Some of my favorites include The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, The Dollhouse, Violeta, Where’d You Go Bernadette, Daisy Jones & The Six, Room.
  2. Thrillers—I love pageturning thrillers, and want to work with people who want to build their careers around writing them. I’m really looking for a hook here. 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, and Hunting Annabelle.
  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 really need a high concept commercial hook here. I welcome tropes of all stripes, especially enemies to lovers, slow burn/friends to lovers, fake relationships, and so on. Some of my recent favorites include Beach Read, The Unhoneymooners, Real Men Knit, Maybe in Another Life, Read Between the Lines, The Rosie Project, Waiting for Tom Hanks, The Proposal, and The Ex Hex.
  4. Speculative—I am looking for adult fiction with very light touches of magic/speculative elements. Mostly magical realism/grounded fantasy. I loved The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina, and The House in the Cerulean Sea.
  5. Unique Format—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!
  6. Graphic Novels—I’d love to find some interesting contemporary graphic novels for adults. I’d be interested in humor, romance, nonfiction, or just contemporary stories in general. I’m open to projects with speculative elements but epic fantasy or space operas likely won’t be the best fit for me. If you’re not sure, feel free to 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.
  7. Historical Fiction—I love historical fiction and am especially fascinated by lesser known historical occurrences or anything really “specific” like the focus on the Barbizon Hotel in The Dollhouse, and the focus on the Trinity Test in Come Down Somewhere. I’m a sucker for a dial timeline. I’m open to any era, but I’m probably not the best fit for “ancient” historical fiction.
  8. Christian Fiction—I am open to Christian fiction of all stripes and genres, especially in the areas of upbeat voicey contemporary romance and hook-y historical fiction. I am not the right fit for Christian fantasy, paranormal, angels/demons, spiritual warfare, basically anything speculative.
  9. 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 loved Floriography. 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. In the same vein of “quirky gift book” I’d love to do a concept-driven photography book, like The Art of Clean Up. Or a drone photography book. If it feels like a photography-driven book you’d find in a gift shop, then I’d love to take a look!
  10. 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., so I’m afraid I am not your gal.)
  3. Erotica
  4. Space operas
  5. Amish Fiction
  6. Angel/Demon narratives
  7. Ancient historical fiction
  8. High/Epic Fantasy
  9. Military/FBI/espionage thrillers

22 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.

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  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!

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  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.

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  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:)

    Liked by 1 person

  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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