Here’s some really oddly specific stuff on my manuscript wish-list. Updated according to whim.
– Well-researched historical fiction set in a lesser-known time and place (the Khmer Empire! The reign of Queen Tamar of Georgia! Late Edo-period Japan! Literally anywhere except the court of the Tudors or Victorian London!). I’m particularly interested to see more diversity in historical fiction – not everyone in history was straight and abled, and even in mediaeval Western Europe not everyone was white.
– Anything that could be described as post-post-apocalyptic: the disaster happened a while ago, and now people are learning to cope with the change, and trying to create a new society that fits their new circumstances (e.g. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, Warren Ellis’s Freakangels, the TV show Defiance).
– Science fiction featuring complex and truly alien societies (think Embassytown by China Mieville, A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias, Tk’tk’tk by David L. Levine).
– Steampunk set anywhere other than the US or Western Europe – preferably that confronts, subverts or otherwise examines the colonialist aspects of industrialisation.
– Anything that could be described as ‘solarpunk’.
– A good, nuanced depiction of religion, religious faith or a religious community in a science fictional or fantasy setting (or in a real-world setting, actually).
– Sports stories about imaginary/SFFnal or little-known sports. If you’re writing about the Iditarod IN SPACE, or the Greatest Airship Race, or a story of rivalry and revenge at at the Circumpolar Northern Games (though I hear there’s usually more of a friendly-competition vibe, so maybe not that – but I think I’d read anything set at the Circumpolar Northern Games), I’d love to see it.
– Stories about the ordinary people of a science-fictional or fantasy world, and the things that matter to them. I’m not really drawn to world-ending conspiracies or mysterious prophecies needing to be fulfilled – I prefer to read about characters I care about encountering their own obstacles and accomplishing their own goals.
– Biographies of interesting historical figures from marginalised groups (this is the only place on this blog where I’m counting ‘women’ as a subset of ‘marginalised groups’, which means that well over half the human race fits into this category).
– Travel that has some kind of point beyond ‘these are some adventures I went on’ – I particularly like travel books that contain some history/biography (like Tim Mackintosh-Smith’s trilogy about Ibn Battutah).
– History or popular science with a narrative bent (The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean, The Ancestor’s Tale by Richard Dawkins who I know is awful but that book was very good).
– I just like reading books by knowledgeable people writing about their passions. There’s so much out there I don’t know anything about. My current non-fiction clients have taught me a lot about Shakespeare, booze and cephalopods, but all other subjects are up for grabs.
A short list of stuff I don’t like: I don’t tend to get on very well with urban fantasy or romance. Pretty much any spin on the “Chosen One” trope is a turnoff for me (even if it’s the Chosen One discovering they’re actually not so good at being Chosen after all, for a variety of humorous reasons). I also would prefer not to get any more queries for books where the main character is secretly part-alien – which seems like an oddly specific request, but I have seen so many of these recently.