Submissions wishlist: Upmarket women’s fiction

Upmarket women’s fiction, to me, means books with female protagonists where the primary plot doesn’t focus on men, marriage, or babies. I am looking to acquire romance, but I don’t consider romance and women’s fiction to be the same thing. When I think about the kind of women’s fiction I like to read and want to represent, the best I can explain is that I want books about women, married or not, with children or not, who go through any number of life’s regular dramas. I want books told from women’s points of view that are about love, adventure, family, work, and personal goals. I want books that pass the Bechdel test, but I won’t automatically reject a book that doesn’t. At the end of the book, I want to see that the main character has achieved something that doesn’t involve acquiring a boyfriend, husband, or baby. If your book’s central plot revolves around a woman’s struggle with infertility, for example, I am probably not the right agent for you. Within this realm I especially love stories about sisters and changes within women’s friendships.

Books that fit the description of “upmarket women’s fiction” are usually standalones, though sequels are not unheard of. They’re a balance of literary and commercial and make for great book club selections. They’re often, but not always, set in the real world. They can incorporate elements of mystery, romance, history, pretty much any genre.

Some recent examples of upmarket women’s fiction include:

and some “classic” examples of upmarket women’s fiction include:

I’ve enjoyed these women’s fiction titles, some more upmarket than others:

With upmarket women’s fiction, as with all genres, I like distinctive voices, a clear vision of what’s at stake for the main character, commercial viability, and literary style.

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5 thoughts on “Submissions wishlist: Upmarket women’s fiction

  1. Pingback: What’s Upmarket Women’s Fiction Isn’t | Barefoot and Breathless

    • I wouldn’t. Christian fiction can have many of the same hallmarks as upmarket women’s fiction, but it’s bought and sold by different publishing arms/houses to a different audience. The two audiences can certainly cross over, but I think most agents and editors who have an interest in Christian fiction will specifically mention it.

      • Than you for your reply.
        I am still in the process of putting it all together. I don’t like the preachy christian books, personally, but definitely like the hope they offer throughout the stories. I am in the process of researching the direction I will take. I found your reply helpful 🙂

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