SUBMISSIONS GUIDE

Catherine Cho: What I'm looking for

My list is mostly fiction; I am looking for reading group fiction, high concept novels, page-turners, and literary fiction. I am particularly looking to work with debut writers. For me, it’s not about genre, it’s about the story, I want to find a novel that I can’t stop reading, the kind of book you immediately want to tell people about. I’m looking for a story that will transport me, a story that makes an emotional connection. I suppose I’m looking for a word spell.

I am looking for character-driven novels – an unforgettable character with a distinctive voice. I loved Amor Towles’ Rules of Civility, A History of Love by Nicole Krauss, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld.

I am fascinated by novels about families and relationships. I adored Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half and Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko. I would love to find a novel that follows multiple generations or a family drama set in a multi-cultural place like Hong Kong or Lebanon. I am always drawn in by a compelling voice, like If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha.

I do love novels that weave in strands of history or have a ‘high-concept’ link, such as A History of Love by Nicole Krauss and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I loved Maggie Shipstead’s Great Circle. Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life is a dream novel for me.

I read everything by Elizabeth Strout, Anne Tyler, Chimamanda Adichie, and Ann Patchett. I admire the precision in their language, the way they’re able to capture such depth in their characters. I loved Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane. Katherine Heiny is a favorite author of mine, I laugh out loud when I read her novels, I thought Early Morning Riser was perfect. My favorite re-read is Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld, I love all of her books. I loved Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason, it was so disarmingly funny, and so powerful in its exploration of mental illness. Other authors I admire include David Nicholls, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Maggie O’Farrell, and Celeste Ng.

I love reading high-concept novels like Sea of Tranquility and Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. There’s something about being transported by a story, and I love that feeling of disappearing into someone else’s world. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is another favourite – love stories are so powerful, and themes I enjoy are concepts of time and loss. Gabrielle Zevin’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow shattered me. I admire Claire North and Susanna Clarke (Piranesi and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell are two of my favorite novels), I adored Babel by RF Kuang.

I have always been a sci-fi and fantasy fan, but for my list, I’m looking for the ‘human element’, something that is character-led like Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series, Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary or Naomi Novik’s Uprooted. Robin Hobb’s series is one of my favourites, it’s such a rich world, but with such incredible characterizations.

Some of my favourite novels are speculative fiction – Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and Oryx and Crake and The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. I am fascinated by mythology and magical realism, and I loved Madeline Miller’s Circe and The Song of Achilles. Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for Time Being is a book I’ll never forget.

I am also looking for some suspense and thriller, but for me, I would be looking for something that is ‘elevated’ in that it is character-led, has an unusual structure, or a distinctive place. I admire Liane Moriarty, Gillian Flynn, and Harriet Lane.

I am looking to take on some Young Adult fiction, in the crossover space and mostly fantasy – like Leigh Bardugo and Sarah J Maas. I was a huge fan of Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley growing up, those are books that I will always remember. I loved The Hunger Games, and I think it’s a wonderful example of rich worldbuilding that transcends genre and has a propulsive and escapist quality.

I am looking to take on a select number of narrative non-fiction and memoir – personal stories that have a universality. Joan Didion is one of my favourite writers. I admire Elizabeth Gilbert, Cheryl Strayed, Lisa Taddeo. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi stunned me. I recommend Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott to every writer, and I read everything Leslie Jamison writes.

Katie Greenstreet: What I'm looking for

I’m building a list of quality commercial and upmarket/book club fiction, with a select number of memoirs and non-fiction projects also in the mix.

Psychological suspense is my first love as both an agent and a reader, and I am desperate for a locked room mystery a la Lucy Foley or The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse, with bonus points for glamorous or escapist settings. I also love a wicked protagonist you can’t help but root for, as in The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton, White Ivy by Susie Yang, andYou by Caroline Kepnes. On the lighter side of crime, I adored The Maid by Nita Prose and would love to find something with a cosy element that offers a fresh take on the genre.

I’m keen to sign more literary suspense as well, and some recent favourites in this space include Girl A by Abigail Dean, Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam, Who is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews, Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin, and the forthcoming Deep Water by Emma Bamford.

I am also on the hunt for sweeping, weepy love stories – whether truly high concept like In Five Years by Rebecca Searle and The Time Traveller’s Wife, or somewhat more grounded like early Taylor Jenkins Reid. I would also love fresh takes on romance and romantic comedy in the same vein as the Crazy Rich Asians series and Emily Henry’s Beach Read, or a clever retelling of a classic story as in Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible.

Please also send me your lighthearted family novels – think Emma Straub, Katherine Heiny, or The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo.

I’m also keen for historical fiction that brings a previously unheard perspective to the table, especially that which focuses on character and relationships and wears its research lightly. I’m a forever fan of all that Paula McClain writes, and would love to see novels that shine a spotlight on women overshadowed by larger than life partners, like The Paris Wife, Love and Ruin, or Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.

On the non-fiction side, my focus is on memoir that pulls back the curtain on a world previously unknown to me, or that sends me somewhere new on a journey alongside the author. If you’ve written a Kitchen Confidential for your industry/passion/hobby, I would love to read it. Some other favourites include Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, and Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah.

As an American in London, I am always open to reading stories that take me ‘home.’ I’m partial to Southern settings, campus novels, and will drop everything to read a classic New York story. I’m still looking for the millennial answer to Jay McInerney.

*Please note that while I try not to be precious about genre, I am not the right agent for YA, children’s, or SFF submissions.

Jenny Simpson: What I'm looking for

I am looking to build a list of commercial fiction and non-fiction books on health and wellness. As for my commercial taste, I am always looking for the next family drama, particularly stories that artfully weave in alternate perspectives from different generations. PINEAPPLE STREET by Jenny Jackson was one of my favourite books of the year, but I also love MALIBU RISING by Taylor Jenkins Reid, HELLO BEAUTIFUL by Ann Napolitano, and THE MOST FUN WE EVER HAD by Claire Lombardo. 

I am on the hunt for funny, contemporary romances. Beth O’Leary has the most wonderful way of crafting modern love stories that are uplifting, relatable and full of humour, as does the fabulous Emily Henry. I also read everything by Curtis Sittenfeld, and ROMANTIC COMEDY was a masterpiece in my eyes. Coming-of-age stories will always have my heart, and MARY JANE by Jessica Anya Blau took my breath away. 

THE VERSIONS OF US by Laura Barnett is one of my favourite books of all time, and I am constantly thinking about how a single decision can spur so many different life paths. For that reason, I am always excited to read stories with time loops for that Sliding Doors-esque quality. A few wonderful examples include, MAYBE NEXT TIME by Cesca Major, WRONG PLACE WRONG TIME by Gillian McAllister, IN FIVE YEARS by Rebecca Serle, and OONA OUT OF ORDER by Margarita Montimore.  

I am also looking for books that tackle the nuances of adult and female friendships with some humour and insight. By way of example, I adore OLIVE by Emma Gannon, EXPECTATION by Anna Hope, FRIENDS AND STRANGERS by J. Courtney Sullivan and anything by Holly Bourne and Dolly Alderton. 

I am an American who grew up in the United Kingdom, so any story that elaborates on the expat experience will always be up my alley. I tore through THE EXPATS by Chris Pavone and would love to find a more commercial version for my list, particularly with a focus on the impact of big overseas moves on marriages, family dynamics and friendships. Similarly, I will always want to read books set in boarding schools. I HAVE SOME QUESTIONS FOR YOU by Rebecca Makkai, FOSTER DADE EXPLORES THE COSMOS by Nash Jenkins and PREP by Curtis Sittenfeld are some amazing examples to name a few. 

In the nonfiction space, I am similarly interested in food-adjacent, health and wellness topics. I have long admired the work of Jessie Inchauspé, “The Glucose Goddess” and would love the opportunity to represent books that use rich scientific analysis to improve everyday health and wellbeing. To that end, I will always reach for books on productivity, in the vein of James Clear’s ATOMIC HABITS, that inspire simple practical changes. I also love to consume narrative nonfiction accounts, whether in memoir or essay collection form, on navigating therapy, anxiety, and self-discovery, such as GROUP by Christie Tate and DRINKING GAMES by Sarah Levy.