Ok, so a lot of people are asking for more specific information. Do I like this, that, or the other genre or aspects. So I figured it might be helpful for those on the fence about submitting to me if I spell out as best I can what I like, love, and hate (or at least, things I’m tepid on or tired of).
Things I absolutely LOVE:
*Tense plots- Keep those pages turning. Make me want to stay up past my bedtime. I have piles of books (and hopeful books) waiting to be read. Make me forget about them. The easiest way to do that?
*Stakes- Note: This doesn’t mean things have to be exploding in your novel. But I want there to be something more at stake than simply pride.
*Characters who come to life- Especially in scifi/fantasy, the characters are how we relate to the world. It’s not enough to simply have dolls moving around on your page and spouting your script. They need to feel like they have motives and intentions that come from who they are and are authentic to the world they live in. If you created a world where everyone was a clone, discriminating against people based on their basic look wouldn’t make sense. It’s easy, especially if you come from a position of privilege, to not see how much of our perceptions of people is based on things like race, ethnicity, gender, and other physical things we don’t control. Even things we have influence over, like socioeconomic class, aren’t entirely under a person’s control. Scalzi’s “difficulty setting” is the best metaphor for these kinds of issues. Now note how that theory would work (or not?) for your world. Scifi/fantasy are best when they’re also ways to push the boundaries on our world.
*Humor- If you can make me laugh, it’s noticed. Yes, I like dark, but any book that can manage to make me laugh aloud is pretty quickly recommended.
*Complexity WITH high concept- Ok, I’ll freely admit, it took me a while to learn about High Concept. I rolled my eyes, I sighed at the absurdity of it, and thought it laziness. But then I realized, when I was struggling to identify in a quick bite to a friend what a novel I read was about, that THIS is why those things exist. “A woman risks almost certain death to save her sister and starts a revolution” is a lot easier to get people excited about than a long winded “And then these things happen.”
*Romance with realism- I’m bi, I’ve had polyamorous and monogamous relationships over the years, some with people I shouldn’t have been involved with if sense had anything to say about it, others that have withstood the tests of time, in some form or another. I LOVE complex relationships. Don’t limit yourselves to love triangles. There are so many more interesting shapes out there, and that’s a very underserved market. Also, I REALLY can’t emphasize my love for angstless GLBT. Emphasis on B and T and etc. My realizing girls as much as guys? “Oh, she’s hot. …Oh, okay. I like girls too. Ok, whatev. She’s awesome and hot.” That was IT. No coming out narrative, just a momentary light bulb, then back to drooling over the picture she sent me.
Things I’m ok with that some may not be:
*Not Happily Ever After
Things I’m tired of and don’t want to see:
*Greek/Roman/Egyptian myth inspired CHOSEN ONES- Ugh. I love the mythologies, but people keep over simplifying them. Exceptions: If you focus on minor deities of these pantheons, or give realistic depictions of modern neopaganism that reflect the “All religion is a reflection of the human subconsciousness” kinds of theories.
*Dystopian/post apocalyptic/zombies- I liked Girl with All the Gifts, purely for the voice. Plot wise, I saw it coming in chapter 2 and was surprised by none of it. (Side note: coolest thing ever: I read this in ARC format, as a PRINTOUT of the MS mailed to me after ALA midwinter. Because they ran out of proper ARCs but still wanted to get the story into the hands of other professionals and interested folks. High praise to the sales reps at Orbit who arranged this. Ya’ll are amazing.) I see a LOT of this stuff in my internship. No, sorry, yours is probably NOT a special snowflake that will break through the ennui of this trend.
*Vampires/werewolves/demons and assorted immortal characters- So over them. I love the Anne Rice kind of mopey, dickhead kind of vampire over the JR Ward style immortals. I never want Twilight kinds of immortals in my inbox. (Also, if a character would rather die than go without their crush of the moment for a day, it’s not for me.)
*Angst and problems that could be solved with a conversation- Simple enough. Pride and prejudice would have been 20 pages long if they had simply been forthright. I love GLBT stories, but enough with coming out. It’s both more complex than those stories ever convey, and yet more simple. As GLBT has become more acceptable in our society, we need to branch beyond that narrative to the complexities of navigating professional and social spheres. What about trans folks? Bi folks? How does it intersect with race, ethnicity, class, and hobbies? Depth is DESPERATELY needed here.
DO I WANT “X Y OR Z GENRE?”
I don’t really care what genre it is. I’m looking for something that has complexity, and voice trumps all. I want to forget about all the other books I should be reading when I pick yours up. Draw me in. That’s KEY.
Hopefully this helps. Questions? Shout them in comments.