Susan Hawk

Upstart Crow Literary

My Manuscript Wish List®

In middle-grade and YA, I’m looking for something that makes me laugh out loud, I’m a sucker for bittersweet, and I can’t resist a character that comes to understand how perfectly imperfect the world is. I want a book to stay with me long after I finish reading, and I’m looking for powerful, original writing. I’m open to mystery, scifi, humor, boy books, historical, contemporary (really any genre). My favorite projects live at the intersection of literary and commercial. In non-fiction I’m looking for books that relate to kid’s daily lives and their concerns with the world. In picture books, I’m looking particularly for author-illustrators, succinct but expressive texts, and characters as indelible as my childhood favorites Ferdinand, Madeline, George and Martha.

Here’s more!

  • MG or YA with magical realism.
  • MG or YA where main character is first generation American.
  • I’d love a YA set in 1980s Moscow, against backdrop of Perestroika and Glasnost.
  • I’d love, LOVE to find a YA contemporary with female MC, who’s passionate about science, math, engineering, ie STEM.
  • For instance, I would very much like a lush, atmospheric, historical YA novel, with edge-of-your-seat tension.
  • Also really love conceptual picture books.
  • Also hungry for new PB writers and writer/illustrators. Want smart, funny, character driven stories.
  • Books that take a secondary figure from a classic/popular novel and tell their story.
  • Layered stories that are equally funny and heartbreaking.
  • MG or YA fantasy based on American folklore.
  • Always been a sucker for an epistolary novel, MG or YA.
  • I love books that wrap a story within a story, for MG or YA.
  • Literary, smart, intense YA that is about more than romance.
  • I’d love a MG caper novel, esp if it has a historical element. Maybe a la Ocean’s Eleven?
  • Always open to MG mystery/detective novels, again esp with a historical element. Fast-paced please!
  • Again for MG, send me contemporary with a magical/fantastical element that feels fresh. Always with a lot of heart.
  • I’m fascinated by selkies! Send me MG or YA about that.
  • Am always interested in books with LGBT protagonist or characters, in YA and MG.
  • Edgy, dark MG that pushes the boundaries of “upper MG.”
  • YA about the families we’re born with and the families we find.
  • YA about food, a character that’s into cooking.
  • A sharp, irresistible, crush-worthy but unreliable narrator in YA.
  • YA stories set in small communities with their own, peculiar culture. Think boarding school, or perhaps a cult.
  • Also, I really love musical theater. If you’ve got a story for kids that’s set in that world, send it to me!
  • Epic, sweeping YA fantasy with richly detailed world & killer characters. Esp that doesn’t pull from West European history/folklore.
  • YA or MG that uses an inventive storytelling device, plays with the structure of a novel.
  • Books that take a secondary figure from a classic/popular novel and tell their story.
  • Man, do I love a funny book! Works best, IMO, when it feels as though the humor is the expression of a very particular character’s POV.
  • Also love witty, smart humor that cuts to the bone.
  • I’d love MG or YA historical fiction that’s set in the 20th C.
  • A story that makes use of found documents: diaries, lettters, etc in YA or MG.
  • Most of all: beautiful, transporting, delicious writing. Literary projects, with a lot of heart. Characters so alive they jump off the page.


Submission Guidelines

Submissions should be emailed to

  • Submit a QUERY and TWENTY PAGES of your manuscript.
  • Please put your query and sample in the body of the email. We will not open emailed attachments.
  • Author/illustrators: NB—Please include a link to your online portfolio and/or to your downloadable dummy. (Thank you!)

If your submission is received by our system, an automated response will be emailed to you.

Guidelines & Details

Vital Info