Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

What 2 Lit Editors Bought Recently

STATUS: It’s already halfway through October…

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LUKA by Suzanne Vega

When I’m in New York, the info I glean is obviously going to be skewed by which editors I see and what genres they represent. After all, it’s only 5 days. I can only see so many people in that short time frame.

For this trip, I focused on meeting some children’s editors I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting in person and I also talked with quite a few editors in the adult literary fiction realm. I really really really want a another commercial/literary author for my list. looking for a really good

Part of that is in celebration. It’s official. Jamie Ford’s HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET has officially been on the regular and/or extended New York Times Bestseller list for 53 consecutive weeks.

One year and some change!

And not only that, this past week, Jamie cracked the top 10 again (currently at #9)—a year after publication of the trade paperback edition. I probably don’t need to tell y’all just how rare that is….

So join me in offering a HUGE CONGRATS to Jamie!

So as I said, I was in NYC at the beginning of October as I wanted to get a sense of what editors had bought recently in this field.

One editor is building a literary list at a house she just recently moved to. She’s only been there a month but in that time, she bought two books. The first a novel from an author whose work she started tracking when she read short pieces in the Paris Review. Interestingly enough, the book is literary but has a paranormal element and is set in the American West.

In a sense, not a surprise when looking at the success of THE PASSAGE. I think lit editors are looking for more of that genre blending for the literary realm. We haven’t seen a ton of that. Heck, I’d be game to see some of that! Her second buy was a narrative nonfiction work based on a true story.

Another literary editor I met up with had also just moved to a new house not exactly known for their literary bent. Obviously she was hired for a reason. (And yes, it was deliberate on my part to meet with two editors who had recently moved to new homes. After all, they are looking to build their new lists.)

For her, she had just recently bought a literary novel where the main story is driven by a murder but this is in no way a mystery. In fact, the contemporary story line alternates with a historical narrative that illuminates the contemporary unfolding of the murder and why it happened.

Kind of cool.

And all I can say is why aren’t I seeing those books? Wink.

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13 Responses

  1. Kristan said:

    Congrats to Jamie and you and HOTEL! It’s a wonderful book, and its success is no surprise to me. Heck, I recommend it all the time!

    As for those crossover/blend books… I’ll get on it. 😉

  2. Kathryn Paterson said:

    I’m so glad to see you say that you really, really really want another literary/commercial, and that this whole post in general makes me feel a little more hopeful as I continue to revise, revise, revise my own lit/comm work. I spent so much time in grad school hearing that my work was too commercial, etc. etc., and now I’m starting to think I might just (fingers crossed) be coming in on something. But my question to you is where IS that line???? Right now I’m not even sure how to pitch my current work, as it’s in some ways suspense and in some ways literary. I worry it will be too detailed and/or complicated for suspense, but too “commercial” for literary. And then there’s an added mystery element as well.

    But thanks. I really, really needed to hear this, especially today.

  3. April Henry said:

    Hey, I think I know who the guy with the paranormal element is. I sat next to him at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Author Feast dinner. Sold it on 60 pages at auction. Wow!

  4. Julie Kibler said:

    I’m coming into the home stretch on my commercial/literary novel with blended historical and contemporary timelines! This post thrills me. Can’t wait to be ready to submit. 🙂

  5. Jen Zeman said:

    Congrats to Jamie!! What an awesome accomplishment. I wish I was literary material, but that’s not who I am. So instead of trying to fit in I’m sticking to what seems to come naturally – YA commercial fiction. But I’m sure you’ll discover a fabulous new literary masterpiece soon Kristin!

  6. Yvonne Osborne said:

    Congrats of course to Jamie. I hear his novel mentioned all the time. You want to see more commerical/literary blends? You need another such author for your list? Shoot, that’s me! Don’t you want to take another look?:)

  7. Some Screaming Fangirl said:

    Yay Jamie! *throws streamers*

    By the way, love the subtle wink at the end. To all your continued success! It would be a little amazing to see blends like that though. Nothing wrong with cross-breeding.

  8. Layla Fiske said:

    Congrats to Jamie. I have to say that his book is at the top of my fav list!

    And I too, am glad to hear that there is renewed interest in literary/commercial. It’s my favorite to both read and write.

    Thanks for sharing the info.

  9. Hank Rickenbacher said:

    Literary genre-mashing is nothing new. Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem, David Mitchell, et al have been doing this for years. These are very well-known authors. Perhaps agent-seeking writers of such novel are dismayed by your ignorance of such work, and that’s why you don’t seem to be seeing any of these manuscripts.

  10. Elaine said:

    Congrats to Jamie! And here’s to hope for all of us literary people with slightly blended MSs (mine has some hints of magic realism and is set in Asia…literary and multi-culti up the wazoo!!) Revise, revise, revise…

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