11.41: The Editor’s Wish List, with Navah Wolfe

Navah Wolfe, an editor at Saga Press, joined us to talk about the manuscripts she would really like to see. Ordinarily we don’t encourage people to write to the market, but Navah asked specifically for the opportunity to tell our listeners what she’s looking for. As it happens, tracking Navah’s wish list as you write is unlikely to send you haring after the latest trend—you’re far more likely to develop some new writing skills that will make your work more enjoyable, more fulfilling, and ultimately easier to sell.

Spoiler Warning: In three weeks we’ll be doing a Project in Depth on Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal. If you want to get the most out of that episode, you have three weeks to acquire and read the book.

Credits: This episode was recorded aboard Oasis of the Seas by Bert Grimm, and mastered by Alex Jackson.



Write two different “this meets that” pitches, once with a focus on the emotional heart, and once with a focus on set dressing.

The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, edited by Navah Wolfe (available October 18th, 2016. No audio version available yet.)

9 thoughts on “11.41: The Editor’s Wish List, with Navah Wolfe”

  1. First time commenting, just want to say i really love this podcast and all of you guys. I always eagerly look forward to my late Sunday nights to watch the newest episode.

  2. This was an incredibly timely podcast for me. Since I am pretty new to actually writing the stories in my head I haven’t thought a lot about pitching any of my work yet. But I can see how the simple act of phrasing your pitch (as with this exercise) could reveal strengths to build on and weaknesses to work out.

    It was also a learning experience as I hadn’t heard the term unreliable narrator before – and it seems like it might be perfect for a story I have been considering.


  3. To clarify something, the reason why we (the audience) started laughing when Navah began mentioning the pitch for Mage Against the Machine was because we’d already heard about it in a class taught by Dongwon Song, and totally knew what she was referring to before she revealed the title.
    Which, by the way, is an amazing title.

  4. I just wanted to come on and say a word in defense of writing to the market.

    It isn’t the opposite of writing what you love–one project can easily do both.

    And my personal break-in story is one of writing to the market so heavily, that I’m a borderline pirate. I chose to do a comedy take on the second most profitable public-domain character in history, after Santa. Was it hard to get editors and agents to care about me when I was writing comic fantasy? Yes. But when I waved Warlock Holmes around it didn’t take JABberwocky and Titan very long to say yes. Now the book is doing well enough that it will probably be much easier to get editors to pay attention to me, for the rest of my life. I chose to do it, because I knew the market would support it. But guess what: it’s still comic fantasy, my first love.

    So I guess I just wanted to say to the people who are trying to write a book many people will want to read: don’t be ashamed of that. Is it wrong to go into writing, wanting to make something lots of people will love?

    P.S. Howard, my ears were burning last week with the catharsis thing. Oh God, please don’t hate me…

  5. Would you like to know what a real editor is looking for? Well, that’s good, because the foursome sat down with Navah Wolfe to talk about what’s on her wishlist? The answers? A lady bro heist from a closed room spaceship with an unreliable narrator? Well, sort of. Read the transcript, in the archives or over here


    and find out just what Navah hopes to find in her stocking (or over the transom and through the agent).

  6. FIrst of all thank you for the entertaining podcast. It is nice to be able to connect with some of my favorite authors in this way. I was wondering if the “Mage Against the Machine” book is real or an example? I found a book with that title by Ethan Somerville but I don’t think it’s the same..

  7. Oooh! I have a recommendation for an unreliable narrator!

    The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner. It is an epic fantasy, and it’s even sort of a heist! There’s political intrigue also, which is awesome. This is one of my very favorite books. I love Ms. Turner’s writing style. Every. Single. Word leads to the perfect twist ending. It’s MARVELOUS!

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