Where to Query Your YA Horror Novel (Part 1)
I have a campy YA horror novel that is struggling to find a home. The market isn’t as strong for YA horror as it is for say, contemporary romance. I know what you’re thinking–but what about authors like R.L. Stine or Stephen King? Darling, they are outliers.
Sometimes when I go to ALA or other conventions and ask publishing houses about current YA horror that I should have on my radar, they’re not as quick to have recommendations for me as they are for other genres. Not always, of course. Sometimes they grace me with a zillion recommendations and it’s lovely and feels like Christmas. But other times, I’m met with a blank stare or a shrug because I get it, not everyone likes horror.
That said, I wanted to give you a list of agents you can query with your YA horror novel. Obviously the market changes and tastes change, so I implore you to use as a guide but also do your homework. Follow the links I’ve given you and check up on agent wish lists. Look at their projects and their agent style to see if it aligns with the style you’re looking for. I’m certain there are plenty of agents not listed here or agents listed here who made have changing tastes down the line. I plan to do this for several genres and ages, so this likely wont be the last.
Ready? Let’s go.
Agents to Query With Your YA Horror Novel
Adriann Ranta Zurhellen – According to the bio section of her agency’s page, she is “… actively seeking projects in all genres and for all age groups, but has a penchant for edgy, dark, unusual voices, unique settings, and everyman stories told with a new spin.” Details on how to query her can be found here. This agency has many notable clients and sales, one of which is Kendare Blake, who broke out in the YA scene with Anna Dressed in Blood.
Lynnette Novak – I’ve seen more than one call for horror from this literary assistant at the Seymour Agency. She’s growing her client list and is newer to the scene which is why you may not find her with a giant list of sales on Publishers Marketplace. That said, she seems awesome and has listed on her Twitter her wants which I’ll paste below. The agency guidelines are here.
Adult: thriller, fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, contemporary romance, & romantic comedy.
YA: thriller, fantasy, sci-fi, mystery, horror, historical, & contemporary.
Christa Heshcke – Consistently I see her calling out for horror manuscripts on Twitter. Which is awesome, of course. And on her blog, she specifically mentions loving Veronica Mars, Lois Duncan (who is my hero), and specifically mentions loving gothic horror or titles like Anna Dressed in Blood (which is freaking fantastic btw). Check out her wish list here, and then review her query guidelines here.
Eric Smith – I see Eric often posting hilarious things on Twitter but also a shout out for horror! He has his own website where you can look at some of his agenting work. Because he is equal parts efficient and awesome, he also has his own website header called MSWL (manucript wish list) where you can peek exactly what he wants. You can check out his agency’s guidelines here.
Moe Ferrara – I also see Moe on #MSWL calling out a variety of horror things she’d like to see, most recently asking for YA horror a la Twilight zone (which I’d love to read too, btw). You can check out her agency guidelines here. You can also follow her wants via Twitter and the MSWL hashtag or her submissions page that shows a little blurb on what she wants.
Carlisle Webber – You can read more about her on the Fuse Literary website. She is an associate agent and there isn’t much sales history on her via Publisher’s Marketplace. But just because someone doesn’t have a huge list of sales, doesn’t mean that they won’t in the future. You could be part of a growing list and an awesome opportunity. I love her bio which straight up mentions R.L. Stine and Stephen King. You can spy her #MSWL list here and her submission page here.
Mandy Hubbard – She is an author of 11 novels and also an agent. She founded Emerald City Literary Agency and has a sales history–some over 6 figures. Her About Me section includes a list of what she wants and you can spy her submission page here. She maintains a Goodreads list of the books she has sold and you can see them here.
Laura Zats – She is a podcaster and an agent. Currently as I write this she is ranked as a #5 dealmaker in teen fiction on Publishers Marketplace and I remember seeing some of the books she has agented on my recent trip to ALAMW. You can follow her on Twitter here and check out specific wants on her agency website. You can see their submission guidelines here, toward the bottom.
Maria Vicente – I’ve followed her for a long time on Twitter and she seems to love dark, twisty YA as much as I do! She has her own website where she posts what she’s looking for (in addition to Twitter #MSWL) and you can check out her submission guidelines here on her agency’s website. You can look at her current client roster here.
That’s it for today! I plan to do a few of these for varying horror genres. In addition to reading agent bios, a great resource is to go on Twitter and search the hashtag #MSWL and a keyword from your book (example: #MSWL ghost) and see what comes up. More often than not you’ll find an agent or editor asking for more submissions like it.
If you’re an agent who would like to be included in the future, feel free to contact me via Twitter or email at jolene dot haley at gmail.com.
Readers, let me know if there’s anyone I missed in the comments below. I’ll add them on my next post when I include more. If you’re an agented writer and your agent loves horror and you do not see them listed above, feel free to also let me know. If you’re querying a YA horror novel, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below!
And of course to all of us in the query trenches, good luck! Good writing. And may the words be ever in your favor!
Awake at Midnight
Thanks, Jolene– These are some great referrals! I’ve found a few other agents using the Twitter #PitMad at PitchWars.org, but it is astoundingly difficult to find anyone who identifies as looking for YA/MG horror despite almost all published works having some element of scariness or supernatural in them!
Fantastic list – thank you! Just to update, on Eric Smith’s MSWL he lists horror under ‘What I’m Not Looking For.’ He says he likes horror novels but that he doesn’t know what makes a good one.