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 random thoughts. Let’s call it a living document!
Please don’t query me if:
You have not become an expert in the genre that you write, i.e. have read dozens (hundreds!) of books in the genre you write published in the last few years to get a really solid understanding of the modern bookscape and what it calls for.
What I represent, in the most general terms:
- Picture books (both from authors and author-illustrators)
- Middle grade fiction and nonfiction
- Young adult fiction and nonfiction
What I would love to come across in my email box right now (but not limited to):
- One of my main goals as an agent is to promote diversity in children’s literature and help give voices to characters and authors who have not often been hear from. I’m from a multicultural, multilingual 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! Diversity comes in a lot of forms and I’m open to all of it, across all kids and teen genres, with special interest in Own Voices writing.
- Picture books (fiction): I am kept very busy by my current picture book clientele so I am being extremely selective about taking on new picture book clients. I am most open to modern-humored author-illustrators who have an established following on social media (like Instagram); books that take on a universal theme but from a fresh, new angle; modern, commercial books about nature and the environment, tolerance, non-traditional families and outer space always pique my interest.
- Picture books (nonfiction): Again, I’m being super picky here, but I’m interested in COMMERCIAL nonfiction picture books (books for the trade market, not books for the educational market), including picture book biographies–especially unsung heroes and moments in history featuring children, women, people of color, individuals with disabilities. I’d be happy to see educational picture books for the COMMERCIAL TRADE market (so not straight informational books), coming at a subject from an unexpected, interesting angle that a kid would read for fun, not just for school. OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW by Melissa Stewart or THE BLUE HOUR by Isabelle Simler are good examples.
- Very specific picture book interest: 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.
- I am actively looking to expand my middle grade and young adult author clientele. 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 am very keen on developing my YA clientele. I’m mostly interested in commercial, reality-based YA featuring a strong voice, 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 novels 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. I would love to represent an author like Lauren Wolk. I love her two middle grade novels, WOLF HOLLOW and BEYOND THE BRIGHT SEA. I also like novels that come to a story through a very specific, unique lens where the reader gets to learn about a world or topic they didn’t know much about. A great example is THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH by Ali Benjamin.
- YA novels that feel really timely or topical like Angie Thomas’s THE HATE U GIVE are very compelling to me.
- YA or MG memoirs. 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.
- I WANT THIS THE MOST!!!! YA narrative nonfiction. Ideally, a journalist who has covered a story involving young people and there’s more to tell–in novel form. THE 57 BUS by journalist Dashka Slater absolutely blew me away and I desperately want to represent writers like her and stories like that!
- Authors/illustrators with a large social media following and impressive platform, Instagram, Snap Chat and YouTube in particular.
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.