What One Editor Is Looking For In Graphic Novel Pitches

Carolina Ortiz announced her promotion at Harper Children's Books to full Editor this week, tweeting out "I am never without unannounced publishing secrets anymore, but this has been certainly one of the hardest to keep! So happy to finally share with the world that I've been promoted to editor". As well as adding "Also, seems like the perfect time to share my #MSWL [manuscript wishlist]… Looking forward to seeing those submissions come in! And agent colleagues, if it's been a minute since we've connected or have never had the chance before, I'm always up for a call or zoom coffee."

What New Harper Children's Editor Carolina Ortiz Looks For In OGNs
Carolina Ortiz illustration by Emma Cormarie

And that includes graphic novels as well… here's what she's looking for. Worth a pitch from any of you fine folk? You can also see our list of successful graphic novels to publishers, editors and agents over recent years as well…

Carolina Ortiz's Manuscript Wishlist

I'm looking to acquire middle grade and young adult fiction, as well as graphic novels. My interests cover a variety of genres, including—but not limited—to contemporary, romance, fantasy, historical fiction, magical realism, horror, and adventure/action stories. As long as a manuscript has a strong voice, I'm always willing to give the submission a read. I always enjoy stories with found families, coming-of-age themes, unbreakable friendships, witty narrators, and strong worldbuilding. But I have a special place in my heart for Latinx and queer stories, and, overall, I'm always especially interested in seeing projects by creators from the margins. I would love to acquire titles that reflect the diverse world around us and allow readers to feel seen in the books they read.

Middle Grade and Young Adult

  • Adventure/fantasy/magical realism stories inspired by non-Western traditions, folklore, and myths
  • Stories that engages with the experience of being first or second generation
  • Projects centering friendship with an all QBIPOC or BIPOC cast of characters
  • Novels in verse
  • Multigenerational BIPOC family stories, think One Day at a Time, Blackish, or Fresh off the Boat 
  • Stories about mental health issues
  • Stories with strong themes of intersectional feminism
  • Found family stories, a la Steven Universe 
  • Horror stories featuring non-Western monster lore
  • Historical fiction focused on non-Western cultural turning points
  • Insider/outsider story about returning to an ancestral home
  • Contemporary projects set in non-Western countries, centered around characters who are native to the location
  • Historical fiction or contemporary fiction that deals critically with the often ignored, parts of American history
  • Projects starring genderqueer, non-binary, and trans protagonists
  • In general, BIPOC authors take on vampires, werewolves, sirens, witches, and any manner of myth/supernatural always interests me
  • I did my college honors thesis on Japanese American literature on internment and I would love to see any projects that engage with this part of history from an Own Voices creator
  • If something has "already been done" but it's never been done with characters who hail from a marginalized backgrounds, I want to read it

Young Adult

  • Latinx fútbol-centric stories and if there's a queer romance subplot thrown in all the better
  • Diverse Regency, Gregorian, and Victorian YA
  • Girls rebelling against patriarchal systems, think Mad Max: Fury Road but for teens
  • Broad City for teens
  • Reimagining/retellings of anything in the Jane Austen canon
  • Elevated horror stories that comp to Monkeypaw Productions
  • Subversive stories about the Catholic school experience
  • QBIPOC or BIPOC rom-com
  • Interracial romances, where both characters are BIPOC

Middle Grade

  • Projects with strong queer themes, think LumberjanesThe BackstagersThe Witch Boy, or The Cardboard Kingdom
  • Projects that deal with puberty in a humorous way for girls

Not a Good Fit for the Following

  • Thrillers
  • Anthologies
  • Nonfiction projects
  • Greek and/or Roman mythology inspired stories, with the exception of a queer Medusa project
  • Military focused projects centering on the European theatre in World War I and II
  • Highly sports centric stories (but very open to projects where sports are in the background and a vehicle to tell stories focusing on internal and interpersonal conflicts )
  • Contemporary mysteries akin to Nancy Drew

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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