GUEST POST: The Literary Games – The Hunt for New Genre Talent

I’m Harry Illingworth, Associate Agent at D H H Literary Agency, and I’m still on a hunt. A dangerous one. I’m looking for authors…

Before Christmas, Alasdair Stuart was kind enough to post a blog piece that I wrote, my Christmas Wish List. I also wrote a separate piece for the D H H Literary Agency blog with similar information. Well, I’m back here today with Geek Syndicate to tell you that even though submissions like that were what I wanted then, I’m greedy, and even though Christmas is over I still would like more of the same.

The information I gave in my Christmas Wish List still rings true. I’m looking for solid world-building, strong hooks, morally dubious characters, dark and edgy fantasy, high-concept science fiction and more. Please do refer to the list on Alasdair’s blog or my post for D H H for more detailed information on all this, just think of it as more of a New Years Wish List… Whatever you want to call it, the message is this – If you think your novel is right for me, I am desperate to read it.

After writing for Alasdair and D H H, I was thrilled with the reaction that the posts received. I wrote these articles so that writers could determine in as close a way as possible just exactly the kind of books I love, and the kind of books I’m looking to represent. I think that they most certainly worked. In the weeks following the post I have had a much higher quality of submission, and very importantly, a much more directed submission. Practically every submission that came my way mentioned the piece I’d written, related their own book to the piece, and exactly why they thought it might be for me. This was so encouraging, and it meant that reading the cover letters was immediately giving me food for thought before I’d even opened up the accompanying attachment. Knowing that an aspiring author had taken the time to do their research and find that they thought I was the right agent to submit to, which all writers should do regardless of who they are sending their book to, was a success in itself.

The more detailed the comparison was the better, and I have found myself calling in more full manuscripts than I was before. There are certainly some very high quality submissions coming my way, many that have a lot of potential. However I very much hope that by writing this, I might encourage even more writers to send me their novels, and we can reach the next step; a full working partnership.

In terms of what I have been receiving, I’ve certainly had more fantasy than science fiction, which I’ve no issue with as I do generally read more fantasy, but it is interesting to consider these things. A good number of writers have sent ‘literary sci-fi’ books my way, but again, my very own Station Eleven has not yet arrived and I’d certainly like it to. I also mentioned in my blog for Alasdair that I wanted to find women who write fantasy and whilst I’ve certainly had a good number of submissions from women, I’m yet to find ‘the one’ that really stands out. So, regardless of sex, if you’ve written a fantasy (or SF) novel then I’d certainly like to see it, especially if it’s full of interesting magic and characters, possibly with a side dish of revenge.

I have found that since I started accepting submissions I have always had a very high number of YA fantasy novels sent my way. This has not changed since my posts before Christmas and nor do I expect it to. This is a genre that is highly popular for readers and writers alike and whilst I’m more than happy to receive submissions like this, I’d love for one to land in my inbox that has that something extra. I think it’s easy for writers in this genre to fall too easily into stereotypes and I would love something ‘different’ to come my way – something that takes all the tropes of this genre and does things differently and makes it its own. I always go back to Pierce Brown and his Red Rising Trilogy but this is because he sums that thought up. He takes a known genre, stamps it into the ground and takes it for his own.

I could continue all day about the authors I love and what I’d like to find but I’d hate to bore you. Please just remember this; I am actively looking for new genre clients and I’d love for you to consider me when you’re looking at agents to send your manuscript to. If you think your novel is right for me, please follow our submission guidelines and send it over. I am waiting.

Submit to Harry: [email protected]

Follow Harry on twitter: @harryillers



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