Fun fact: My mom and her two sisters are teachers. Mom’s a kindergarten teacher, Heather teaches 8th grade history and Deb taught adaptive P.E. before retiring to run her nonprofit TASK… I, however, was once voted “least likely to ever be a teacher”
What can I say? Years of helping in non-air-conditioned classrooms, getting that stupid bulletin board paper hanging just right so there weren’t any wrinkles (only to realize the stapler is out of reach), trying to decipher the unique language that is “kindergartner writing,” and one seriously ill-fated day when I volunteered to help in Mom’s classroom on 100 Day really showed me that, despite how much I love kids, I’m SOOO not cut out for that job.
However, one really awesome perk is that I have always had a pretty solid working knowledge of the children’s book market. I’ve also never felt that apparent shame some people feel when others see them reading children’s books in public (is that really a thing?). So when I had to decide what kinds of stories I was going to work with as an agent, I knew children’s publishing was exactly where I belonged.
Middle grade stories are wonderful and they’re the reason I’m a reader today. But young adult stories are what got me into publishing. Obviously, I don’t fit the definition of “woman of few words,” so I’ve written up Extended Editions for my interests in these categories. You’re reading my wish list for YA. If you’re in the wrong place, here’s a quick link to my MG list. Otherwise, here we go!
I’d love to see a light and fluffy story that’s “geeky” or “artsy.” I love the super sweet stories here and would be so incredibly excited to see disability/special needs rep in these stories. A bit like Switched at Birth. I’m not interested in the Sarah Dessen or John Green comps here.
As per usual on my list, I’m looking for survival stories, adventure, and maybe a spy or heist story. I have a weird love for stories that take place in boarding schools and have a weakness for unexpectedly strong characters such as Jessie from Ransom by Lois Duncan (See my post about thrillers for more on that).
Outside of what I’ve listed above, my tastes in YA books are a bit darker. I am DYING to see a super gritty YA contemporary. Psychological thrillers, mystery, suspense, literally anything. Maybe your story is about a character who survived a trauma and the bad guy is back? The court case goes viral? Send it to me! Maybe your character is stuck in an awful situation and has to use their wits and strength to survive or escape? Send it to me! …What can I say? It’s Fall and that sudden onset of I-need-more-dark-stories-in-my-box-itis is flaring up again.
Magical Realism & Paranormal
Continuing on the “dark” theme, Magical realism and paranormal (pretty much limited to ghost stories) that are absolutely dripping with atmosphere and have a setting that gives you goosebumps are also at the top of my list. I believe in a former #mswl tweet I called it a creepy, fog-in-a-haunted-graveyard feel. I would love to see anything in this realm. If you’re not sure, send it! I’d rather see too many submissions in these genres than not enough.
Another big one for atmosphere is historical. I absolutely loved The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd with its dark themes and vivid setting. I’d kill for a historical paranormal mystery where the characters stumble onto something more gruesome and terrifying than they ever expected. No vampires or werewolves please.
If you’re a YA fantasy writer, you’ve come to the right place! Most of the agents at my agency enjoy this genre and we all have just slightly different tastes in these stories. Check out all of our profiles here.
For me, I’ve always had a soft spot for retellings of unique or little-known myths and legends. Or super clever retellings of known myths/fairytales. (Disclaimer: I am super done with Peter Pan retellings) One of the retellings that I absolutely adored and have read more than once is Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh.
I really enjoy epic fantasies with a unique world and magic system. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is one of my favorite fantasies of all time. I also enjoy contemporary fantasies, but am not a huge fan of demons versus angels or anything taking place in the afterlife.
In science fiction I especially like near future, but I also will read the occasional space opera. I grew up watching Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis with my Dad so anything comparable those are always welcome.
I’d also love to see the next Airborn by Kenneth Oppel (anything comparable to Treasure Planet will do), and I loved The Finishing School series by Gail Calliger.
For the most current MSWL tweets, check out my twitter page @kortney_price. If you want to go back into the archives a bit and see what else I’ve posted, you can check the MSWL site. Otherwise, check out my page at our agency website.