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I Am Reopening to Queries on October 2
Yes. For real.
As hinted to paid subscribers in last Thursday’s newsletter. I’m finally reopening to queries after <mumble mumble> years closed, on October 2nd1. Tl:dr on why is that even though it will be a heckuva lot of work, I’m excited by why I might find. I’m nervous! And excited! Just like you!
This post is going to be a nuts and bolts post about how to query me, what I want, and what I don’t want.
The biggest change is that I will be using Query Manager2 instead of my inbox to manage queries. I’m super excited about this because all my agent friends sing its praises and I absolutely cannot deal with queries coming into my inbox ON TOP of all the other email I get. If you send me a query via email, you will likely get an auto response that says something like NOPE! Send this again via Query Manager. After a while I will probably stop sending those auto responses and it will just get deleted. This is how I will manage the workflow of reading a bunch of queries. Please respect this request.
I considered putting this next part at the end, after all the info about what I’m looking for, but I think it’s important enough to put it right up top. Guys, I’m not taking on fifty new clients in the next year or anything. I’m going to be very, very, very choosy. VERY. I absolutely do not have the time to take on tons of new things right now, but I do want SOME new things. Don’t just dash off a query to me or send something half baked. (This is true for all agents, not just me.) Gimme your best shot and we’ll see if we’re a good fit. But the truth of the matter is I’m not going to be taking on a handfuls and handfuls of new clients. No, I don’t have a number in mind. It depends on the types of projects I see and how much time they will take to bring to market. (That also doesn’t mean I want to take on a bunch of things that will be “quick” to send out. Nothing is “quick” to send out.) Most importantly, I want to be EXCITED about new books. That’s what I’m going to be looking for above all.
Does this discourage you from sending me a query? That’s ok. You’re allowed those feelings. The good news is there are HUNDREDS of other agents out there, including HMLA’s own Eric Showers, who you should absolutely query if your work is right for him. (Eric is still taking queries via direct email.) I am not the only agent in the world! I am not even offended if you’re like heck no to sending me a query! You are in charge of your queries. Do what’s best for you.
And before I get to what I DO want, let’s look at what I DO NOT want in my query inbox:
Children’s picture books: I know! I’m sorry. I have sold a handful of picture books and even tried to write some myself. My current clients will continue to write and sell picture books with me. But I am not looking for new picture book authors. The market is too crowded to me. I’d rather focus my efforts elsewhere.
Poetry and screenplays: I never rep these and am not starting now.
Political books: Is your book about government, public policy, the way things are now, the way things SHOULD be now, or even has a whiff of punditry? Not for me. This also goes for satire. I do not gravitate toward political satire of any kind. Your book about Monald Rump or Shmoe Fiden is not for me.
Mysteries: I don’t represent mysteries, and by that I mean books that would very clearly go on the Mystery shelf at the bookstore. That means books where the central concern is whodunit, with main characters that are likely law enforcement/CIA/FBI/detectives/PIs. That would be called hard boiled or even cozy. They’re just not my jam. As I’ve said before, you don’t want me as your agent for your Mystery.
If your book is predominately another genre (historical, fantasy, romance, etc) and has mystery elements in it, and even a secondary character who’s a PI or FBI or something, but would NOT go on the mystery shelf, that’s ok to send. You will know this because you will have already done a bunch of reading in your chosen genre and you’re like oh yeah, duh, my book is not a mystery instead of being like well it could be a mystery if you wanted!!!!! I don’t want to make your book into a genre I represent just so I can include it on my list. Your book is the genre you intend it to be (most of the time). If you are confused about your genre, read more books (or at the very least 100 reviews of other books) in the genre you think your book is, and check back in with yourself.
So what do I want?
For adults: NOVELS!!!!! I am falling back in love with adult fiction of lots of stripes after some years spent reading a lot of YA and selling a lot of non-fiction. (I still want YA, MG, and non-fiction.) I want contemporary and literary fiction where stuff happens (big or small), so like with at least a whiff of plot. I like weird stuff, so if it’s weird, give me a shot at it. I love historical fiction, specifically set between the Gilded Age and the 1960s, often in the US but not exclusively, but that does NOT center a world war in the plot. I love a book where a woman has been told she can’t do something (often a job) and her reaction is WATCH ME. I love fantasy and science fiction and the newly coined romantasy, all of many stripes. I like fantasy that feels more like Practical Magic and Buffy and Lost and Good Omens more than Lord of the Rings. I like space opera that feels more like Star Trek (all flavors), Arrival, The Expanse, For All Man Kind than Star Wars. I like all kinds of horror. I don’t usually love epistolary novels but I’m happy to be proven wrong. I would absolutely read a SFF/horror novella (sorry, there isn’t much of a market for other genres at that length right now). I’m growing to love a long book, but it is very, very hard for me to take on VERY long books, which I clock at 125k+ words. If you have a 200k word opus, it’s probably not for me (and I don’t have time to help you edit it down and no you can’t just split it into two book). Series are great, and so are stand alones.
In adult non-fiction, I like memoir and essays and platform-driven prescriptive non-fiction in craft, cooking, self-help, and other kinds of how-to. Confused about platform, read this. Heavy or light, gimme a try. I do not want diet/fitness, interior design, politics, or self-help without a platform.
I like graphic novels and graphic memoir and graphic non-fiction for all ages. I don’t love superhero-adjacent stuff, very gorey/bloody/militaristic/everyone’s at war and killing each other stuff. I will consider just-scripts queries, but I tend to gravitate more to either author/illustrators or proposals with illustrated pages included.
I like YA and MG novels and non-fiction. This is actually a wide open category for me and it’s easier to tell you what I don’t want than what I do. I don’t want any book where your main goal is to teach a kid a lesson. (Your goal should be to tell a story. The kid figures out any lesson from that without you trying.) I like non-fiction a lot of kids, so information is fine, but not a lesson about how they should or shouldn’t be. IYKYK. I do not like gross out/potty humor stuff for MG. Not even if you’re the next Dog Man. I absolutely love books by, about, and for marginalized voices, but would love stories highlighting joy.
Some random likes and dislikes: I LOVE a book about publishing and books and writers, for better or for worse, lol. I am a sports fan, so am generally sports-friendly in books. (Anyone got a book about competitive cheerleading that’s NOT about mean girls or jocks vs nerds?) I don’t love a here’s all the cool stuff I’ve written over the years; I just want to put it all in a book kinds of books, unless you’ve, like, won a Pulitzer. I’ve always said, too, that if your book would make a good cover story for the The Economist, it’s probably not for me. I like gift books and journals, but there really needs to be a platform behind it. I like tarot and astrology and woo woo stuff. I also work well with brands/institutions/etc. POC, queer, and trans folks can come sit next to me.
This list is not exhaustive. If it’s on Query Manager, it’s free game. If you see an old interview or post from nine years ago that says I do one thing but it’s not on QM, assume QM is right3. You won’t get blacklisted if you send me something I don’t rep; you’ll just get a rejection, which is fine. There will be more rejections than offers of rep, but that’s true all the time for everyone.
I made a Bookshop.org storefront with books I love and/or wish I had represented myself. This should give you a non-exhaustive list of my tastes. How you interpret this is up to you. You do not have to send me something exactly like these books. This is just more information to digest.
Are you excited???? Scared? Daunted? Trepidatious? But still excited? Me, too.
Here’s to a few good books,
It’s not cute to send something early and be like just wanted to beat the crowd!!!! You can’t do this until Query Manager opens anyway, but if you have the urge to send me a query to my email before this date (or at all), it’ll just get deleted. You cannot game the system. The system is there for a reason.
This link will be live and submittable on Oct 2.
I will also be updating the Morhaim website and various other online sources that I am able to update in the coming weeks so sit tight. I will make the least amount confusing as possible.