Pub Rants

In The Children’s Realm

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STATUS: Computer stuff is ongoing and will spill into tomorrow. Oh Joy. (Love the new monitor though!)

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ON THE RADIO by Donna Summer

Because I promised to share my notes (and I only have about 10 minutes to blog), here is what I have scribbled down from the children’s editors I talked to. In no particular order:

–Looking for contemporary stories with a paranormal element. Contemporary main story with just a touch of paranormal.

–voice and character driven fiction (isn’t that what all editors want?)

–a family-oriented story with complicated relationship between main character and parents or main character and siblings etc.

–gritty fiction

–novels where the reader watches while the main female protagonist makes bad choices or learns to survive

–quirky funny, outcasts, dark but weirdly funny

–MG fantasy

–literary voices in YA or MG, well-crafted stories

–more Meg Cabot-type stuff

–hip or hot topics

–MG or YA with boy protagonists

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18 Responses

  1. ChristaCarol said:

    Thanks for listing these, it’s giving me something to ponder over. I’ve had an idea for an MG fantasy and this might spark some plotting. Have a great Friday!

  2. Vacuum Queen said:

    And my 10yo boy is constantly searching for the MG or YA novel without any sci-fi aspect. Sports, dorky funny, and maybe a smallish mystery. 200 pages. Make it a series. Perfect.

  3. Sarahlynn said:

    Thank you! I’m suddenly feeling quite motivated to write another chapter of my NaNoWriMo novel!

    “Looking for contemporary stories with a paranormal element. Contemporary main story with just a touch of paranormal.”
    “a family-oriented story with complicated relationship between main character and parents or main character and siblings etc.”
    “MG fantasy”

  4. Anonymous said:

    I find the last one about “boy protagonists” really funny. I’m on submission with my agent now and the book we’ve subbed is a “boy book.” The passes so far have all been absolutely glowing, but ultimately they pass because they don’t know if they can sell a book with a boy protag! It seems that editors all want boy books but then when they get them, they’re afraid to actually take them on.

  5. Anonymous said:

    Every time I see these lists I get depressed. I’m a previously published author with a top house and am agented. I and had a contemporary story with a slight paranormal element that got rejected by every editor in New York. I had a well-crafted lit type book (that “got” me an agent) and it got rejected as well. Maybe I was a year too early in sending them out? Who can tell in this business.

    Not to knock your notes or your time in bothering to offer them, but I truly think it doesn’t matter what editors SAY they want. I think I’ve used this analogy before, but it’s like a girl claiming she wants a tall, dark and handsome man (because that seems ideal) but then falls in love with a short, curly-headed blond guy that makes her laugh.

    I know you don’t answer comments, Kristin, so I’ll pose the question to the rest of the commentors: Do editors who make these “lists” EVER end up with these type of books? Either the lists are so generic — I want good writing. (duh) Or they are too specific — I want a slight paranormal where the main character also plays the tuba and has a sister who he finds out is really his mother.

    Here’s what I want: An editor that reads a book with an open mind instead of giving lists of requirements about books that don’t exist — or if they do exist, you’ve already rejected them a year ago.

    Can someone find me one of those? She can be short, tall, fat, skinny, blonde, black, blue or purple. Loud, quiet, daring, timid, gorgeous or plain. All welcome to apply!

  6. Haste yee back ;-) said:

    –a family-oriented story with complicated relationship

    LOL… stop right there. I don’t know ANY family free of *complicated relationships*

    Whether the agenda is overt, ie alcoholism.

    Or covert… “Momma. Can I go swimmin?”
    “Sure, dumplin, but don’t go near the water!”

    Haste yee back 😉

  7. Anonymous said:

    Does this list correlate with what you are looking for? Or are there some things on the list that aren’t really your cup of tea?

    I’m finishing up a MG (that’s Middle Grade, Vanessa) boy book that’s a family oriented story set in a sort of dystopian future, that’s why I ask.

  8. Anonymous said:


    Maybe the troll has gone? Perhaps we should try automatic comments again? I for one miss the dialogue with the other commenters. It was a valuable part of the blog…

    Thanks 🙂

  9. Anonymous said:

    Ooh, Anon 1:09, I agree completely. It’s pretty hard to carry on any type of back and forth with commentors when we have to wait so long between being confirmed. That’s why I’ve stopped commenting for the most part.

  10. AmyB said:

    My 10-year-old absolutely eats up MG fantasy like Ranger Apprentice and The Lightning Thief. I can’t keep him in books! I’m always on the lookout for more.

  11. ALC said:

    Hi! Thanks so much for this post. I am currently shopping out a MG, contemporary, paranormal novel.

    The main protagonist is a twelve year old girl, but the cast of mc’s include her eight year old brother & his best bud.

    How, exactly, would I go about “finding” the editors/agents who would be interested in taking a look at this particular sort of novel?

    I have been querying agents that want MG & YA fiction (especially those that make mention of supernatural/paranormal/suspense type fiction), I’ve gotten some positive feedback but, as yet, no takers.

    Any suggestions?

    (Oh, and I’m currently in the middle of another MS which is a sequel to the one for which I am currently seeking representation. It is book two in either a three or four book series. And, yes, I realize that there will be no takers for the following MS’s if no one takes on the first, and that even if someone wants the first there’s no guarantee that they’ll have any interest in subsequent novels. But, I have to tell the stories that are in my head and I won’t be content until I’ve completed these MS’s for my own peace of mind.)

    Thanks so much!


  12. Anonymous said:

    ALC — go to and type in “middle grade” novels in the search spot. It’ll give you a list of agents that want them.

  13. ALC said:

    I have been using that tool for my querying, but I haven’t found any agent/cy website that offers such a detailed accounting of what they’re looking for.

  14. Stace said:

    Hi Kristin,
    Just a quick question if you have time…

    When does YA become adult literature? I have two protagonists. One is 16 but the other is her teacher, 25. Half the book is from the teacher’s POV. I’ve had comments from teen critiques saying that although they like it, this is not technically YA.

    Are they right?