Below is a list of things I am currently wishing for, but it’s not a definitive list. Sometimes I don’t know I want something until I see it! This list is a result of my musings and it’s a living document.
What I represent, in the most general terms:
- Picture books, including baby books (both from authors and author-illustrators)
- Middle grade fiction and nonfiction, including early readers and chapter books
- Young adult fiction and nonfiction
What I would love to come across in my email box right now (but not limited to):
- One of the most important things I am looking for in any YA or middle grade novel is a STRONG VOICE. This is a big requirement for me. I also love imperfect characters that readers can really root for.
- I’m interested in promoting diversity in children’s literature. Across all genres, I am interested in characters and voices that are not often heard from. I’m from a multicultural family myself, and know what it’s like to be a kid and not see yourself represented in the books you read. A book like Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown would have been so important to me!
- I am very keen on developing my YA clientele. I’m mostly interested in commercial, reality-based YA featuring a strong voice (high importance!), memorable characters, resonant themes and a pitch perfect premise. I’m always into humor.
- Middle grade requirements same as with YA! Although I am more open to fantastical elements and adventures. Illustrated, funny MG is very cool with me.
- I always appreciate YA or MG stories that have a basis in history or true events–as long as the time period is thoroughly researched. Unusual or unsung parts of history are always interesting to me.
- Anything space. This upcoming generation will know space travel in a way we will never know! Interested in space-based fiction and nonfiction across the age genres.
- International stories. Both of my parents are immigrants, from different continents, and I have a great appreciation for international stories. I prefer contemporary international stories here — not historical fiction.
- Literary YA or MG.
- This is a biggie for me: YA or MG memoirs or narrative nonfiction. Specifically, I would love to see a YA memoir related to the modern Native American teenage experience. An author with a great personal story and a great platform.
- Authors/illustrators with a large social media following, Instagram, Snap Chat and YouTube in particular.
- YA or MG magical realism a la Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Isabel Allende. If you don’t know what I am referring to, then your book is not magical realism. A good recent YA example of this style is The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender.
- Charming, quirky, tongue-in-cheek YA similar to the movie Amelie
- Quirky, funny picture books that feel thoroughly modern.
- A picture book featuring alternative/cool parents like Tell Me a Tattoo Story (Chronicle 2016).
- Okapis are my favorite animal. I’d love to do a quirky, funny book about an okapi! Think the humor in DIARY OF A WOMBAT.
- A metaphorical “we love you” picture book for parents who have children using alternative methods (IVF, adoption, surrogacy, etc.) a la WISH by Matthew Cordell.
- Nonfiction for all age groups and genres! Educational, memoir, historical, biographical, STEM-related. I do a lot more nonfiction than the average kid lit agent and I’d like to keep it that way.
- Nonfiction teaching kids in a clever, unconventional way like the recent Never Insult a Killer Zucchini or the upcoming Who Wins? 100 Historical Figures Go Head-to-Head.
What I am not looking for (sorry!):
- Adult anything. If you have an adult nonfiction query, consider my colleague, Sharlene Martin, who specializes in that genre
- Christian books. We have a new agent for that! Check out Adria Goetz, who is representing adult and children’s Christian fiction and nonfiction books
- New adult (college through 20s character experience)
- Hard fantasy or sci-fi (not my thing)
- Protagonist finds out she/he has a magical/paranormal ability on his/her birthday YA or MG (flooded/fatigued market).
- Dystopian YA or MG (flooded/fatigued market)
- Picture books where the moral leads the story, lesson-based, didactic books (trade publishers don’t want these either)
- Rhyming picture books (I most often find them cloying, sorry!) unless you are a VERY thoughtful and creative rhymer who has studied the art.
- Manuscripts that have not been through a thorough editing process, that have not been seen by eyes other than the author’s
Check out my submission guidelines at my agency’s website: http://www.martinlit.com.