Agent Elaine English stopped by the offices last week, and we were talking about the value of an agent really knowing an editor’s tastes.  It’s one thing to know what genres a house is acquiring; anyone can look that up in the Literary Market Place or on a publisher’s website.  But it’s a different thing entirely—and quite an impressive skill—to be able to match projects with individual editors’ preferences.  There’s no handy-dandy chart for that one.  

I work on just about any kind of romance.  As I’ve mentioned previously, we’re a bit full up on romantic suspense and mystery romances right now, but beyond that, I know it can be hard to get a sense of what would be a good fit.

So to go beyond “fantastic writing” and a “fresh voice,” a few specific things I tend to enjoy:

Some kind of fairy-tale element (like in Kathryne Kennedy’s Relics of Merlin series or Jennifer Ashley’s Nvengarian books)

Warrior women (like in Eve Kenin’s DRIVEN or Bettie Sharpe’s “Like a Thief in the Night).  I was a huge fan of Alias and still watch the DVDs.

Assassins (male or female)

A thrilling, unrelenting pace (like COUNTDOWN by Michelle Maddox)

Adventurous, Indiana Jones-style quests (like SIREN’S SONG by Trish Albright or Elisabeth Naughton’s STOLEN FURY)

A first-person voice with quirks enough to make me laugh out loud (like Angie Fox, Gemma Halliday or Leslie Langtry)

Witty, dialogue-driven Regencies (like Emily Bryan or Alissa Johnson)

Unusual elements in a historical – setting, situation, writing style.  Ones I’ve particularly enjoyed lately are Joanna Bourne’s THE SPYMASTER’S LADY, WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS by Carrie Lofty, both of Sherry Thomas’ books, and the upcoming THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE by Jennifer Ashley.  These are all meaty stories that go beyond traditional historicals.

A gothic tone (like PHANTOM by Lindsay Randall or Eve Silver’s historicals)

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Gemma Halliday is organizing an a blowout auction for a wonderful cause. So far, they’ve collected donations of agent critiques, editor pitches, website design, tarot readings, artwork, jewelry, handmade quilts, and tons and tons of autographed books, so there will be a lot to choose from. Read more about the auction and find out how to participate at Killer Fiction.

Also this week:

1/9 – From Publishers Lunch: Vivian Chum has joined Prospect Agency as an agent. She is seeking romance, young adult fiction, literature, thrillers, and science fiction, as well as nonfiction projects.

1/8 – Check out the new section for reads that are free or cheap. 

1/7 – Vote for your favorite titles, bookstores, websites and more at the annual Preditors & Editors reader poll. 

1/6 – Romantic Times announces finalists for Career Achievement and Reviewers’ Choice Awards. 

1/5 – Borders replaces top management.