Pub Rants

Random Thoughts on What Editors Are Looking For

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STATUS: Had a fabulous day because I accepted a pre-empt for a project that went out on submission last Monday. Watch deal lunch for an announcement.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? I’m too tired to think let alone listen to TV (or anything else for that matter). My head is longing for the pillow but alas, must blog.

Had lunch with Rose Hilliard from St. Martin’s yesterday. It was kind of fun to hear that editors are still open to chick lit—albeit for more mature topics and characters. Shopping and man or job searching ain’t going to cut it.

Not like that’s really a newsflash but it’s nice to know that if the voice is right and the story original enough, editors are open.

Also, what fun to hear a romance editor talking about wanting to see historical romance again. Let me tell you. It’s been a while since an editor has asked, “what do you have going on for historicals?”

Could it be a turning trend? Too soon to tell.


Chatted with the publisher of Dutton Children’s—Stephanie Lurie Owens—and I think we might have coined a new YA phrase for what Dutton is looking for:

The 80s John Cusack Syndrome

I just have to smile. You know how an 80s John Cusack film just has a certain heart-warming level of honesty, sentiment, and reality? There is such an emotional connectivity to his character despite foibles and mistakes. Well, that’s what they like for their list.

Gossip Girls—not for them. Too mean.

Not that edgy won’t work it just needs that certain level of compassion.

And I got a chance to meet a new editor (to me anyway). Lovely, lovely person by the name of Ali Bothwell Mancini at Viking/Plume.

Not that it’s any big surprise but historicals are hot and editors are actively looking for original voices—both for big women’s fiction historicals but also for what I call “straight” historicals (especially if they have some sort of intrigue or mystery bent).

Think a more commercial Umberto Eco.

Must sleep now….

17 Responses

  1. S said:

    Yay! Thank you for staying up and letting us in on what editors are looking for–this is the kind of info writers need, and have a hard time finding. Everyone says to “write from the heart” and worry about the market later, but if you’re trying to decide on your next project, trying to pick from several ideas, why not go for the one editors are more likely to want? Really, thanks- you’re a gem.

  2. Maprilynne said:

    Wow, since I started querying my historical romance a few weeks ago I have been hearing that from everybody! Agents and editors alike seem to be on the prowl for historicals. I’m not chasing trends here, but, boy, I think I have good timing.
    I love finding out what editors are looking for . . . and what they’re not looking for.:) I sure wish I could be the proverbial fly on the wall and come with Kristin to New York. Not just to find out what editors want–because she shares that pretty freely–but just to see how the whole agent operation works. It’s all very, very fascinating to me.

  3. Drew Blackstone said:

    You have no idea how good this post makes me feel. I have just started pitching my ms as The Anti-Gossip Girls. I thought that the market had had enough of the hard stuff and that people wanted a tamer sort of YA. I have nothing against the Gossip Girls etc., but it’s nice to hear that my stuff might sell.

  4. Manic Mom said:

    Thanks for checking in with us before you hit the sack! This is very cool of you. Your readers are grateful!

    Saw Rose speak with Margaret at the Chicago Spring Fling–fun to be familiar with the people you mention!


  5. Colleen Gleason said:

    I’m so gla do thear this! For years, we’ve been hearing the historical is dead, or the market is tougher than usual…but, wow, am I glad to hear that’s not so!

    As a historical author, I’m thrilled to have confirmation!

  6. Anonymous said:

    Thanks so much for posting this information, Ms. Nelson. I write only historical fiction and I would even if it wasn’t in demand. I hope my agent is getting the same information you are and she thinks my new book is something she can sell.

  7. Susan Adrian said:

    Woo-hoo! Since I happen to be querying a commercial/women’s historical fiction book just now, this is encouraging news!

    Thanks for letting us know.

  8. Alli said:

    Thanks Kristen, this is a HUGE help! It’s great to have you share this information with the readers of this blog – let’s hope you find a few gems in your query pile that fit what you’re looking for!


  9. Kalen Hughes said:

    Glad to see someone else (someone on the other side of the fence) saying that historicals might be on the upswing. That’s certainly what it’s been looking like from where I’m at (no less than 7 historical first sales in the crowds I swim in the past few months; and all of them are “straight” historicals).