How Jessica Faust’s #MSWL Changed During Covid-19

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Apr 13 2020

Our world will never be the same after the Covid-19 Pandemic. In publishing we’re seeing lay-offs, furloughs, moved release dates and I imagine we’ll see publishers and agents close. It’s a scary and difficult time for all of us.

It seems like a lifetime ago that I wrote my last #MSWL. One for fiction and one for nonfiction. How was it only six weeks ago? As the world changes so does my #MSWL. So does everyones. While some of this will remain the same, some will have changed, especially my nonfiction list.

#MSWL Fiction

In fiction, I still have a passion for dark, emotional upmarket and literary fiction. This could be a thriller, suspense, or women’s fiction. I’m not afraid to tackle the big issues that might include loss and sadness.

I’m still seeking domestic suspense but would love something that shifts away from the traditional male/female marriage story. I’d like to see parent/child, friends, work-life, and we definitely need more LGBTQ and POC characters and stories.

I’m not afraid of a pandemic story. I know a lot of agents and editors are moving away and warning against these tales, I’m not. I’ve always had a problem following the crowd. That being said, I don’t want something typical. I’d like to see another Seven Days of Us — something that looks at the more personal nature and the toll of a pandemic. To me, there are so many stories happening inside our homes. The joke that either this will bring a baby boom or a divorce boom is all too real.

I read Dear Edward during this time and I picked that book up because it’s about a plane crash survivor–a subject I’ve long sought a book about. To me, there are so many varied stories there. The survivor lost in the wilderness, the one wanting to disappear, or the one, like Dear Edward, who just needs to survive.

And yes, that brings me to my wilderness stories. My obsession with Alaska, my desire for stories of damaged people in remote places. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of these.

Much of what I said in my last #MSWL is still true and I, like many, would like some stories that are light, easy reading. Books like those written by Abi Waxman or The Last Mrs. Parrish which I read in a night.

Also, you might notice a trend. I tend to like a lot of the same books as Reese Witherspoon. If you think your book would be a good book club fit for her, I’m probably your gal.

#MSWL Nonfiction

Nonfiction is an interesting subject to write an #MSWL on since it’s less likely to come to us and more likely something that agents seek out. That being said, some of my best clients came to me first.

My nonfiction #MSWL has probably changed the most since February’s post.

I’m still seeking books on leadership, that discuss issues of culture and society, alternative health, women’s health, and personal development. The change is in the types of books which are those that fit our new world.

It’s clear we need more remote leadership books, books that challenge the way society works and us — books like So You Want to Talk About Race. I also want more books for women and marginalized communities in business, health, and life.

I’d like books like The Vagina Bible, Essential Oils, and You are a Badass. How’s that for a random collection.

But I do really want books for this new world. Books for anxiety, home offices, leading a remote office, and anything else you can tell me I need.

The world has changed and publishing is changing with it. One reassuring thing about all of this is that there is and always will be a need for books and while my list has changed a bit, so much of it remains the same. I want books to disappear from the world in and I want books that will guide and support me through changing times.

Check out this video on the BookEnds YouTube channel to see what the agents here are looking for!

5 responses to “How Jessica Faust’s #MSWL Changed During Covid-19”

  1. Avatar leila klasse says:

    I have been reading your blog, I appreciate your sincerity. I have just completed a novel. The Book of James. James is a 20 year old boy raised by feminist women and struggling to find his voice in a world dominated by greedy and selfishness. His journey into the dark world of drug addiction and distribution is disturbing, accurate, and at times, amusing as well. Set in the world of middle class Minnesotan, the physical world turns white while the story grows darker. How does such a tale end? You will have to read that yourself.

  2. Avatar Irene Lee says:

    Thank you, Mrs. Faust, for posting this and for the videos and tweets you and all Bookends agents have been posting. They have been an invaluable resource. They answer a lot of questions during these uncertain times. Much appreciated!

  3. Avatar Kenneth Walsh says:

    Hi again.

    First, let me say that as an aspiring writer it was very heartening to find Book Ends Literary. My intent is to submit a query in the very near future, but even if nothing comes of it, the things I have learned from following your social media presence has been quite beneficial. I, and am sure many others appreciate the lengths you go to to educate up and coming writers. Thanks for that.

    My question is, I am currently working on two manuscripts, one paranormal thriller and the other thriller/fantasy. Have you ever received query’s for two books at the same time?

    Thanks again.


    • Avatar AJ Blythe says:

      Kenneth, you only query one book at a time with any agent. So you could query both books but you would have to have two query letters and send them to different agents.

      Jessica has talked about it here and in the comments here.

  4. Avatar Sherry Ladd says:

    Dear Ms. Faust,

    I really can’t say how happy I am to read this post. The pandemic unfolding has pushed my writing in new directions, but it looks like most agents wouldn’t give my manuscript a second glance these days.

    This was the sigh of relief I needed. You could be describing my book. Even if if you never represent me, I know at least one reader might pick up a domestic thriller set during the pandemic about a fraught mother/daughter relationship and the unexpected dangers of being locked away at home.

    Thank you so much for the unexpected encouragement. I do hope our professional paths cross. Barring that, I hope to write something you enjoy.

    Hopefully, you’ll be seeing it soon. Thanks again.