Courtney Miller-Callihan

Handspun Literary

My Manuscript Wish List®

Hi! I’m Courtney. I founded Handspun Literary Agency in 2016 and have been working in publishing for over 20 years, somehow. My list tends really eclectic and really commercial, with a strong emphasis on work from underrepresented voices. I love and work on relationship-driven fiction, romance and rom-coms, science fiction & fantasy, mysteries, book club fiction, historical fiction, horror, YA novels, humor, and nonfiction.

Real talk: I’ve been doing this a long time and my list is pretty full. But please send me your manuscript anyway.

An incomplete list of things I love:

  • speculative fiction (all genres) that draws from the author’s culture, background, identity, and experience, especially stories that don’t (sorry) center an ordinary white boy who turns out to be the Chosen One TM (again, sorry).
  • tropey love stories with a REALLY fresh take on their concept, particularly with historically underrepresented characters at their center
  • cross-genre elements sprinkled into a story where you might not otherwise expect it. We watch a lot of Christmas rom-coms at our house (don’t judge me) and an example of what I mean there would be “and also Santa is real.”
  • I pretty much want a love story in everything. I ship Murderbot and ART, so if you do too, let’s be friends.
  • Really voicey, character-driven novels
  • “Marmite books”
  • I’m a sucker for a heist story, especially if you’re rooting for them to get away with it (I adored Grace D. Li’s Portrait of a Thief)
  • Ensemble casts, especially in a found family/chosen family situation
  • Stories that make me cry (but you have to earn it– I hate crying)
  • Cozy and feelgood– with settings that you want to just move into
  • Romances where the characters have really worked for their HEA or HFN (no “simple misunderstandings,” please)
  • Books that are so out there that I’m left wondering “HOW did the author make this work”

An incomplete list of things that are not my thing:

  • Apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic/dystopian stories, almost without exception (though I loveloveloved Monk and Robot)
  • Dubcon and non-con
  • Violence against children (and probably against animals as well– I’m struggling to think of an exception to this)
  • Trauma porn, particularly if it’s not your trauma
  • This is a really broad statement, but: anything that holds up MAGA values
  • Stories that start happy and end sad

Submission Guidelines

Please fill out this form on Query Manager:
For fiction: please have a query letter, short synopsis (ideally 5 pages or less), and the first three chapters or 50 pages of the novel, whichever is more. Attachments are best; we prefer Word docs to PDFs.

Guidelines & Details