Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Greyhaus 2018 Wish List #MSWL

It is that time of year when I look back over the submissions I saw and the trends I saw, so that I can start shaping how the next year will look. This year, I am going to take a slight twist and discuss the things I am going to be looking for in the authors and projects that come across my desk. I am not going to go into what I think are "potential trends." This is directed more to the authors and the voices of the stories. Here are 6 ideas to consider:

Authors with patience
I saw this a lot from authors over the year. These are people who wrote a book, tried to sell it to editors and got no where. So they immediately ran to self-publishing services to prove to the world they could be published, only to find the book isn't selling there.

This business takes time. There are a lot of authors out there and only so many readers. This is an issue of supply and demand and it is currently not balanced. This means that the books that are being bought have to be AMAZING. It also means that authors need to take the time to get it right.

The patience issue also plays into people who submit a manuscript to an editor or agent and then, within a week are immediately writing back to see if the project made it to their "to be read" pile. Remember, editors and agents have a lot of reading and work to do. They have a lot of clients. Some even have other jobs. Translation = they are busy. Oh, and they probably have a home life and family that they like to see every now and then.

If you are someone who expects everything to happen on your time line and everyone else around you has to adapt to it, then publishing is probably not the industry for you.

Authors who have taken the time to learn to write
Yes, there are some people who are "natural storytellers", but I am sorry to say this, 99.9999% of you out there are not that type of person. Just because their are opportunities out there for you to be published does not mean you are ready to be published. This again plays into the time issue. You have to learn how to write.

Think of it this way. My son wants to do some work in the biochemistry field. So what is he doing? He is in college right now "learning" the basics. He will eventually be "learning" to do lab work. After that, he will "learn" how to craft his own labs. He is not going to go out there, right after high school and get a job.

And neither will you as a writer.

You have to go beyond simply knowing that books have chapters, plots, settings, characters and dialogue. You have to know how to put all of those ideas together effectively.

I should also note that editors and agents are not there to help you learn how to write. They are there to shape the writing that you are already doing well, into something that sells.

Figure it out before you submit to anyone!

Authors who have taken the time to learn the business
Another learning moment here.

My wife and I had a friend who was getting to graduate from my wife's college with his BA. He was all excited because he knew he would be getting a 6 figure salary immediately upon graduation. So, after the professors and everyone in the room got off the floor laughing, we had to break it to him. For his career, that was NEVER an option.

He did not know the business.

For an author to be successful, you have to know how everything works. You need to know all the components and cogs in the big publishing machine to get your 75,000 word manuscript to the bookshelf.

If you think it is:
  • Author types story
  • Author sends to publisher
  • Publisher prints book
  • Author makes a ton of money
Then this is not the business for you.

Authors who are not looking for the short cut
I have seen a lot of authors this last year looking for short cuts. They start stalking us on all social media outlets and then attempt to by-pass the submission process. They think they are being aggressive and showing persistence. In reality, they are giving us one more reason to reject them.

This last year, I was at a conference where an author showed up, but did not pay to attend the conference. She did not go to the sessions to learn the craft. She just hovered around the lobby areas and watched for the editors and agents. When they were alone, she would immediately "go in for the kill" attempting to sell her project to them. Of course she got no where. But here is the kicker. About a week or so after the conference, she submitted a project to me saying, "I loved the conversation we had at the conference about my book, [insert title]. After seeing your excitement over the book, I am submitting it for your consideration."

Ummmm, no! Immediate rejection.

If you cannot follow the rules. If  you think rules and submission guidelines are for the weak and only those how can show the initiative to "be different" will make it in this world...

Then this is not the business for you.

Stories that don't rely on clichés and gimmicks to make it interesting
I am so tired of this. In this situation, it comes back to the idea of learning how to write. These are the authors who read another author's book, borrow a cliché or gimmick and just shove it in their book. The problem is, they have no clue what they are doing.

Since I only focus on romance and women's fiction, let me tell you the following ideas are not the only way to make money:
  • Secret babies
  • Women's fiction where the wife, after an amazing life, finds her husband in bed with another woman (or even guy)
  • She is a secretary with an Associate's degree but wants to become a lawyer with a full law firm and thinks working for a hot lawyer will get her what she wants.
I am simply not looking for authors who seem to think stringing together a ton of these will make a story.

Stories that are realistic
I say this over and over again. I want stories that are real.

Now, before I go any further let me say something really clear here.

Greyhaus Literary Agency ONLY focuses on traditional romance and women's fiction. This is ALL fiction. That is it!

I said it this way because every time I say I want real stories about real people, I end up with a ton of memoirs, true-life crime, biographies, auto-biographies and so forth. I also end up with people who say, this story is about my grandmother but I fictionalized some of it. Not fiction.

The key to a successful romance or women's fiction is the connection it makes with the reader. They want to feel all of the same emotions and passion the characters feel. To do this requires the things happening in the story and the people living these stories to be realistic.

We want characters who get angry for a real reason. We want characters who will not violate their work ethic for some random reason (just read one where a pastor swore like a sailor and his relationship reminded the reader of a BDSM story).

The stories too need to be realistic. We have to know that something like this "could" happen.

So, hopefully this will give you some things to think about, not just for what I am looking for in a project, but for what, I am sure, other editors and agents are looking for.


  1. Mr. Eagan, Thank you for this essay. It is brilliant, particularly the part about learning the craft of writing. I have put this to "save" on my computer, and will be referring to it time and again in my own journey as an author.
    Mary Ann D'Alto

  2. I laugh. Not because you're wrong:

    (Secret babies
    Women's fiction where the wife, after an amazing life, finds her husband in bed with another woman (or even guy)
    She is a secretary with an Associate's degree but wants to become a lawyer with a full law firm and thinks working for a hot lawyer will get her what she wants.)

    ...but because these sell SO well in mainstream indie romance. But I agree with you. They are tired and overdone, and don't interest me at all as a writer. Still... you can (unfortunately) almost never go wrong with a secret baby or the hot lawyer scenario. lol

  3. But ... but ... I was about to send you my Meghan Sparkle with a secret baby romance with the lawyer she works for because the opening chapter has her finding her husband in bed with his best friend. Smashing hopes and dreams into the mud with my stiletto heels right now. :P:D

  4. The author showing up and waiting to chat sounds terrifying! But good read over all, and it prompted me to submit. Happy holidays sir.