We continue our pitching-advice series today with Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary. Suzie will be accepting pitches at our 2017 Fall Philly event, and you can register and reserve a pitch with her today! But first, read below to find out what she’s looking for.
LB: Hi Suzie! What is your best advice for crafting a strong pitch?
ST: Use concrete and concise language focusing on Who and What. Who is your main character and what is their main conflict. Don’t worry about the hows and the whys and all the complexities. While those elements make your story great, you can let them speak for themselves after someone has requested the manuscript.
LB: What are you looking for/not looking for right now?
ST: I’m looking for Women’s Fiction, Psychological Suspense, Romance, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult and literary Middle Grade. I’m especially looking for inclusive and diverse stories with new and unique voices in all genres and age groups.
In Women’s Fiction, I’m interested in upmarket bookclub fiction, historical that explores cultural heritage particularly untold non-European historical events, contemporary fiction that exposes a new light on a topical issue, or that features quirky, dysfunctional families. I also love magical realism in the vein of Sarah Addison Allen or Alice Hoffman. And I’m especially interested in Psychological Suspense featuring strong and complicated protagonists who have dark secrets.
In Romance, I’m a fan of strong characters with agency who are proactive participants in their own stories. I enjoy when the heroes/heroines act against their stereotypes and surprise me while still being swoonworthy. Some of my favorite historical romance authors are Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, and Courtney Milan. In contemporary, I love high concept trope driven stories like those by Christina Lauren and Jill Shalvis, and I’d love to a great and dark romantic suspense series like Karen Rose and Elle Kennedy.
In SFF in both the Adult and YA spectrum, I love strong characters and voice-driven stories that break out of the typical tropes of their genres. I’m a huge fan of expansive world building and atmospheric settings. I’m excited about stories rooted in history, mythology and legends, especially those that are lesser-known or underrepresented in traditional publishing.
In contemporary YA, I’m particularly looking for authentic teen voices and raw emotional stories that will make me laugh, cry, and swoon, as well as novels that tackle social justice issues with nuance and empathy. Some of my YA favorites are The Sun is Also a Star, I’ll Give You the Sun, All the Bright Places, Before I Fall, Where She Went, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Hate U Give.
And in Middle Grade, I’m looking for literary and character driven stories with poignant prose, whether it’s historical, contemporary, magical realism, or even fantasy. In addition to the novels I’ve worked on, some of my favorites are Savvy, When You Reach Me, Summer & Bird, Lost in the Sun, The Thing About Jellyfish, Brown Girl Dreaming, Inside Out and Back Again, The Girl Who Drank the Moon, and Wolf Hollow. I’m also an animal lover and a sucker for beautifully written emotional stories that involve animals like A Dog’s Way Home and Pax.
In the end, I love novels with a commercial hook, compelling storytelling, and beautiful writing, and I’ll follow a character that I love anywhere. I’m excited to add more writers of diversity (including, but not limited to, all ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental and physical health, and socioeconomic status) to my list.
LB: Are you open to representing picture book authors and/or illustrators?
ST: Not at this time.