Jessica Faust: Achieving Goals & #MSWL

Last week I talked about my semi-annual goal review and how it’s going. Originally I was going to include an #MSWL in there, but the post as it was got too long.

So here it is…more goals.

When I first set my goals in January, I had a vision not just of how many books I’d like to sell but what those books would be. I wanted an idea of what I would focus my sights on in my Query Manager.

While I continue to seek upmarket and literary fiction, suspense, and of course nonfiction, there are always specific desires that help further define what I’d love to find.

First and foremost, as I mentioned last week, my top goal is to create a list where marginalized authors are in the majority. So in all wishes and genres, I am looking for authors of color, LGBTQ authors, and neurodivergent authors (and of course characters).

When looking at any agent’s wishlist, it’s important to remember that this is not the sum total of all our desires. The books we fall in love with the hardest are often those we never saw coming or didn’t even know we need. This should just give you a sense of who I am and what sparks my interest.

For those looking at numbers, my original goal was to sign 12 new clients this year. I’m terribly behind.

Fiction #MSWL

In fiction, in the genres I’m seeking, I would love more books on marriage and motherhood. Ultimately, family stories, including found families.

And as with anything, I want the unexpected. I want to see things that haven’t been done before or if they have, are done in a completely new and different way.

I also want more books that create a social conversation. Think of books like AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE or THE OTHER BLACK GIRL. Great stories that tap into what we’re talking about and today’s social discourse.

Books that touch on identity, race, and feminism. This goes without saying, given what I said above, but I guess I felt I needed to say it.

Unusual relationships–those that aren’t what we expect. Sister relationships or marriages with a twist.

Dark. I like dark. I definitely do okay with light, but I find that so much of what I lean to is darker.

Midwest tales. As a Midwest girl forever and always, I like to read about the world I grew up in, but not necessarily the world I know intimately.

More magical realism. I can’t help it; while I’m not a fantasy girl, I love a contemporary with just a hint of magic.

Nonfiction #MSWL

I really wanted to fill my list with about 50% nonfiction. My goal for this year was and is 6 new nonfiction clients. I’ve definitely fallen behind.

My nonfiction list is pretty narrow. I like books that make me a better person–typically those I’d buy for myself.

The bulk of my list includes books on leadership, business, and career. I also like personal development and anything with an action plan. Books on habits, finance, or with a journaling aspect really grab me.

I’d love more books on leadership in today’s new world (aka remote work) and those by and about women at work, but not just for women at work. I especially want more books by and for women of color.

My number one goal with my nonfiction list is to bring more authors of color and women into the conversation. For far too long, they’ve been sidelined to talk only to other people of color or women. It’s time they are not just made part of the larger conversation but are the larger conversation makers.

With nonfiction, the platform is important and I’ll be honest, I care less about your social media and far more about your workshop, speaking or consulting schedule. Of course, a good social media platform helps.

I’m also open to being surprised–a journal, a health book, or a book for teens might grab me. Typically though, I don’t gravitate to memoirs.

And that’s my goal update for mid-year. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m dedicating myself to digging into my inbox and reading and exploring. It’s always like a hunt for hidden treasure and I never stop loving it.

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5 comments

  1. I love that! “The books we fall in love with the hardest are often those we never saw coming or didn’t even know we need.” Same thing tends to happen with friends and lovers, too, doesn’t it? 🙂

  2. This is an interesting read. It’s cool to get some insight on the goals and thought process that drive a successful agent/agency. Also, I learned something new- I’d never heard of the concept of neurodivergence before.

  3. Hi Jessica
    I love that you’re systematic with your goals. I work off of a small Moleskin that keeps me focused on my aspirational goals; the day-to-day takes care of itself. Regarding your fiction list, you just sent me a very nice note declining my novel “The Other Tall Girl,” which I named prior to the publication of “The Other Black Girl”. (TOBG started well but the whole hair product thing was a copout don’t you think?) “The Other Tall Girl” doesn’t start as well, but it does resolve better. Perhaps you could take a second look at it?
    By way of analogy, when I was director of the think tank, The Center for Best Practices, I had to decline thousands of resumes a year. I knew that there were good candidates among those that I declined, but hiring begins as a process of subtraction. I expect that reviewing potential clients is much the same way. Sometimes, an applicant would send me a follow-up. Personally, I appreciated the initiative. I hope that you do as well.
    If you’d like, I’ll be happy to send you the entire manuscript of “The Other Tall Girl”. If not, let me say that your rejection letter was the most gentle one that I received. Thank you for that!

  4. I’m editing my psychological suspense now and will be querying you soon! I love the YouTube videos! I follow you on Twitter @Patienc77732097.

  5. Hi Jessica. I appreciate all you do to help marginalized writers. Thank you. I have Deformative RA but manage to write every day. I never mention it on queries but want you to know we who have to work a little harder appreciate that you care!
    I follow you on Instagram and YouTube. I’m (winstypug) on Instagram. I admit, my main motivation is Olive. LOL. I can’t help it, she’s adorable.
    I am going to be resubmitting a rewrite soon. I have beta-readers looking at it right now. When I resubmit may I send it to you? I’ve completely removed the second chapter that went far too deep into my protagonist’s past. It’s cleaner and reads so much better now.

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