For the May 8-9, 2020 Atlanta Writers Conference, the editors and agents below have provided the genres they are seeking to acquire or represent, in their own words–and they often identify specific genres they are not seeking as well, to decrease ambiguity. Please pay attention to these details to avoid wasting your time and money! In addition to reading this information, you also should review their agency/publisher websites, do an Internet search on them–their manuscript wish lists, Twitter/Instagram feeds, interviews with them and/or what other agents, editors, and authors have written about them–and make sure you’re a good fit with their tastes and attitudes.
At every conference, a few participants are disappointed because they paid to get a critique from, and/or make a pitch to, an agent or editor who isn’t interested in their genre. This occurs because the participants did not read these descriptions. Again, don’t be like those people! Read the agents and editors’ bios carefully, research them, and select accordingly. Also, if you want one or two manuscript critique(s) and pitch(es) be sure you select a different agent/editor for each activity. Don’t waste your money by seeing the same person for a manuscript critique as well as a pitch, because they both serve to introduce the agent or editor to you and your work. With the manuscript critique, you get the added value of receiving that individual’s feedback about your writing; it doesn’t make sense to also pitch that individual about the same book, because you can ask at the end of your critique whether they’re interested in receiving your partial or full manuscript.
What if you have two different book projects? It’s still a risk to pitch the same agent or editor you’re getting a critique from (just as it’s a risk to get two critiques or two pitches with the same person), because if this person is interested in the first book project, they will want to focus on that one with you rather than tackle two projects simultaneously. If that person is not interested in the first one, there’s a likelihood they won’t be interested in the second one either. So, as you’re reading the descriptions below, please consider as many individuals as possible rather than setting your sights on just one. During the registration process, you will see who has spots remaining for each activity and you can choose accordingly. That record of open spots is always up-to-date.
What if you have a self-published book you want to pitch and/or get a sample critiqued? If agents and editors are open considering a previously self-published work for traditional publishing, you will see this noted in their bios below. Be aware that most industry professionals prefer to only consider never-published manuscripts so they don’t have to deal with copyright issues and other problems that already-released books present.
NOTE: At the bottom of each editor/agent bio, we indicate if manuscript critique and/or pitch spots are full and waitlists are available. There is no charge for waitlist spots, so there is no risk in registering for one; if a spot opens for you due to another participant’s cancellation, you will be informed by email and will pay for the activity at that time. If you want to put your name on any waitlists, you must register for those just like any other activity–please go to the Registration page and use the Cvent system link provided there to do so.
See the bios below for complete details about the editors and agents and what they are seeking to acquire or represent, respectively. If spots are full for all the editors and agents who are a good fit for you and your work, contact Atlanta Writers Conference Director George Weinstein at email@example.com to request recommendations about which ones have the shortest waitlists.
Lisa Abellera, Literary Agent, Kimberley Cameron & Associates
Lisa joined Kimberley Cameron & Associates in 2013 with a background in management, marketing, and finance. She earned her BA in Strategic Management from Dominican University and MFA in Writing from University of San Francisco.
She enjoys stories with high personal stakes, characters with deep inner lives, lush world-building, and fiction that explores the human condition, especially within family and close relationships.
Lisa is seeking:
- Upmarket fiction
- Women’s fiction
- Romance, if this is an element or sub-genre*
- Historical fiction
- Science fiction
- Fantasy except paranormal (no vampires, zombies, werewolves, etc.)
- All Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction genres
* This means she is looking for stories where romance is not the primary genre. An example is romantic suspense, which is considered a sub-genre of both the mystery genre and the romance genre. Lisa is also looking for genre fiction with romance, like an epic fantasy or historical mystery with romantic elements. In other words, stories with romance that is not the primary driving force of the story or main characters.
She is especially looking for stories by #ownvoices authors and writers from marginalized or underrepresented backgrounds.
Lisa can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
Lisa’s manuscript critique and pitch spots are full, but waitlists are available.
Lashanda Anakwah, Editorial Assistant, Simon and Schuster
Lashanda Anakwah joined Simon and Schuster in 2017 and assists Carina Guiterman and Emily Graff. A graduate of Ithaca College, Lashanda is a New York native. She’s looking to acquire a broad range of narrative-specific genres.
In fiction, she is seeking:
- Upmarket fiction (think An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis-Benn, Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner, Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Less by Andrew Sean Greer, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple)
- Commercial fiction (think Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, The Lido by Libby Page, Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion)
- Literary fiction (think Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall, We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas, Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday, Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane)
- Speculative fiction with a dash of magical realism, narrative
- Experimental genre-bending writing
In nonfiction, Lashanda is seeking:
- Voice-driven essay collections
- Nonfiction with a focus on socio-political issues
- Memoirs reflecting on unlikely circumstances (think Heartland, Educated)
She’s especially drawn to projects that describe the usual in unusual terms.
Lashanda can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
If she is interested in acquiring a project, she would refer the participant to an agent.
Jess Dallow, Associate Literary Agent, Brower Literary & Management
Jess Dallow is looking for young adult (YA) and adult fiction, as well as select non-fiction. She loves:
- Thrillers (serial killers; child psychopaths; domestic suspense)
- Mysteries (but no cozy mysteries)
- Contemporary (especially with romance/relationship elements)
She would love to get a contemporary YA or adult fiction novel that has a romance she can fall in love with. She’s big into friendship stories: the close bond between women, male and female platonic relationships (especially looking for this right now), bromances, and a big group of friends and those interwoven relationships.
In YA, she’s also looking for a thriller, something along the lines of the movie Scream. It doesn’t have to be a serial killer, it can be something like ONE OF US IS LYING or TWO CAN KEEP A SECRET. She just loves suspense and smart characters.
In addition, Jess would love to see a YA novel that has a protagonist growing up with the help of the fanfiction/fandom world. The friendships that form, the easy way relationships can form over the internet. And along the lines of FANGIRL, she’d love to see snippets of the fanfic writing and the crazy comments that can come along with it.
In Adult fiction, she would love a novel like BABY TEETH about a child psychopath. She’s also a big fan of domestic suspense and thrillers.
In non-fiction, Jess is looking for:
- Pop Culture
- Psychology, including Anxiety
- True Crime
- Some Memoirs
Jess is NOT interested in middle grade, picture books, sci-fi, fantasy, or the supernatural.
She can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
If she is interested in acquiring a project, she is willing to work directly with the author or help them find representation.
Sean deLone, Assistant Editor, Atria Books, Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Sean deLone began his editorial career in 2017 at Atria Books. He holds a B.A. in economics with high honors from Guilford College and is a graduate of the Columbia Publishing Course. In his time at Atria he has supported the publications of New York Times bestselling authors Fredrik Backman, Joseph Kanon, Isabel Allende, Thomas Keneally, among others. He’s also worked on the New York Times bestselling This Tender Land: A Novel by William Kent Krueger and Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, and One Lawyer’s Twenty-Year Battle Against DuPont by Robert Bilott, whose life story is the basis for the film Dark Waters.
In general Sean is open to most any category/genre of fiction so long as it is a well-executed version of that form, and it can transcend the hardcore audience of the genre. To put it another way, literary fiction with commercial appeal.
He is actively looking for:
- Literary novels that would appeal to commercial readers, book clubs (a strong sense of story but with interesting structure, language, or milieu)
- Genre books, primarily mystery, science fiction, psychological suspense, and historical. He is open to fantasy and horror as well. Thrillers are really the only no-go for him.
- Dry-humored novels that are from the point of view of one character
Sean is interested in nonfiction that’s more descriptive than perspective on balance, including things like:
- Books rooted in the soft sciences (economics, sociology, psychology) that focus on big issues such as inequality, climate change, privacy, etc.
- Hidden histories
- Pop culture (sports, movies, and music)
- Memoir (excluding stories about illness or illness-related tragedy)
- Books that focus on the natural world/animals
He can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
If Sean is interested in a participant’s nonfiction project, by and large he would recommend them to an agent. For fiction, he always would.
Sean’s manuscript critique spots are full, but a waitlist is available. He has open pitch spots.
Abigail Frank, Associate Agent, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates
Abigail graduated with a degree in English Literature from Swarthmore College and worked in healthcare before pursuing her passion for books. Find her @abigailcrfrank.
She is seeking in fiction:
- Picture books that feel entirely original
- Chapter books with big personalities
- Stories for Middle Grade and Young Adults, especially those that are hilarious, poetic, quietly heartbreaking, and/or swoon-worthy with unforgettable teens falling in love.
- Rom-com-y commercial fiction for adults
In adult nonfiction, she is seeking narrative nonfiction, especially if it explores pop culture, healthcare, or higher education.
Abigail cares about voice, above all. She is committed to advocating for the work of marginalized authors and artists, and she’s actively looking for stories that allow readers to recognize themselves in the books they love.
She is NOT the best fit for hard science fiction or high fantasy.
Abigail will consider both unpublished and previous self-published manuscripts.
Sarah Grill, Editorial Assistant, St. Martin’s Press, Macmillan Publishers
Sarah Grill has been working in publishing since 2016, interning at Harvey Klinger, Janklow & Nesbit, and Writers House before joining the editorial staff at St. Martin’s Press in 2018. In a past life, she lived in Los Angeles and worked in development at Alloy Entertainment, packaging, adapting, and pitching books for films and TV shows.
Some recent and upcoming titles she’s worked on include Shamed by New York Times bestselling author Linda Castillo, Anything for You by Saul Black, The Escape Room by Megan Goldin, Where There’s Hope by New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Smart, and Secrets of a Marine’s Wife by New York Times bestselling author Shanna Hogan.
Sarah is looking to acquire:
- Upmarket Women’s Fiction
- Psychological Thrillers
- Elevated Mysteries (No straightforward procedurals or hard-boiled detective stories; the focus should be equally divided between character development/introspection and plot—more of a Tana French feel than a Michael Connelly or JD Robb)
- Narrative Nonfiction (smart journalism that examines issues in pop culture, dating, psychology, crime, education, and generational issues, particularly for millennials)
- True Crime with a Literary Edge
She can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
If Sarah is interested in acquiring a project, she is willing to work directly with the author or help them find representation.
Natalie Hallak, Assistant Editor, Park Row Books, HarperCollins Publishers
Natalie works on a broad range of commercial/literary fiction and nonfiction and has worked on books by bestselling authors such as Pam Jenoff, Mary Kubica, Sarah Haywood, Heather Gudenkauf, Phaedra Patrick, Amy Meyerson, and Jason Mott. Prior to joining HarperCollins, Natalie developed her editorial skills at Simon & Schuster, Putnam, and Writers House Literary Agency.
Natalie is building her list in the following genres and topics:
- Literary and upmarket fiction—a commercial hook with literary execution, stories that are both wildly entertaining and thought-provoking that would be perfect for book clubs
- Narrative nonfiction and memoir that would be perfect for book clubs
- Underrepresented perspectives and distinct voices
- Projects that speak to the millennial experience
- Fresh literary suspense
- Compelling family dramas
- Books that fearlessly blend genres
- Healthy dose of humor and wittiness
- Emotional plot that may make her ugly cry
Natalie can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
If she is interested in acquiring a project, she would refer the author to an agent.
Natalie’s manuscript critique and pitch spots are full, but waitlists are available.
Cate Hart, Literary Agent, Harvey Klinger Agency
Cate joined Harvey Klinger Literary Agency in 2019 after five years with a New York agency. She is particularly drawn to oft-forgotten stories of the past and underrepresented voices.
In fiction, Cate looks for a stellar, unforgettable voice, plot and character driven narrative, and a high-concept premise. She is particularly looking for:
Middle Grade (MG)
- Contemporary with or without a touch of magic
- Fresh perspectives and voices in historical
- Graphic Novels
Young Adult (YA)
- Contemporary, light and fun, RomComs
- Fantasy, but beyond the medieval and Eurocentric feel
- Urban Fantasy
- Accessible and relatable Historical
- Thriller, and darker, grittier—close to Horror without gore
Upmarket, commercial and genre-leaning Adult
- Women’s Historical Fiction
- Family sagas and buried secrets
- Historical Romance, outside of Regency
- Fantasy Romance with a strong high-concept
- Thriller, especially psychological and family drama
Nonfiction in Adult, MG, and YA
- Pop culture
She is NOT looking for picture books, memoir, hard-boiled detective stories or mysteries, political or environmental thrillers, epic fantasy, or Civil War narratives.
Cate can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
MJ Johnston, Associate Editor, Sourcebooks and Sourcebooks Landmark
MJ acquires a wide range of adult fiction and nonfiction titles. Some of her favorite authors she didn’t publish include Madeline Miller, Bryn Greenwood, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Josie Silver, Ken Follett, and Kevin Kwan. She is always on the lookout for fresh voices, characters that sweep her away, and relationship-driven or family-focused fiction with a fresh hook.
She acquires a wide variety of books in adult fiction, including:
- Psychological suspense
- Women’s fiction, plus romcoms and other things that fall on the romance side of women’s fiction
- Book club fiction
- Historical fiction
- Mystery, mostly in the cozy space
In nonfiction, MJ is also looking for:
- Science and history narrative nonfiction.
- Female-driven memoir that tells a universal experience through an interesting personal lens—no travel memoir, illness-related memoir, or public/celebrity memoir, please
She does NOT acquire young adult, romance, poetry, or science fiction. In nonfiction, she does NOT do parenting, business, religion, or mind/body/spirit projects.
MJ will consider both unpublished and previous self-published manuscripts.
If she is interested in acquiring a project, she is willing to work directly with the author.
MJ’s manuscript critique spots are full, but a waitlist is available. She has open pitch spots.
Alex Larned, Assistant Editor, Del Rey, Penguin Random House
Alex works on fiction titles in the sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and speculative spaces. He has worked on books by Naomi Novik, Pierce Brown, George R. R. Martin, Chuck Wendig, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Josh Malerman, Paul Krueger, Simon Jimenez, and Kevin Hearne. Prior to working as an Assistant Editor at Del Rey, Alex worked as an Associate Publicist at Crown, also an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Alex is building his fiction list in the following genres:
- Literary science fiction/fantasy and speculative fiction
- Commercial and Young Adult crossover science fiction/fantasy with a strong voice
- Fabulism, fairy tale, and magical realism
- Stories with magic, science, and folklore from non-Western cultures
- LGBTQIA voices in genre fiction
- Elevated horror
He is generally NOT interested in historical fiction, thrillers without a speculative element, or romance.
Alex will consider both unpublished and previous self-published manuscripts.
If he is interested in acquiring a project, he would refer the participant to an agent.
Ashley Lopez, Agent & Rights Manager, Waxman Literary Agency
Ashley Lopez joined the Waxman Literary Agency in 2015. She received her MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College and is a founder and the managing editor of Pigeon Pages Literary Journal.
Ashley is seeking the following in fiction:
- Literary fiction
- Upmarket women’s fiction
- Young Adult with crossover appeal
In nonfiction, she is seeking:
- Narrative nonfiction
- Cultural criticism
For more details about her interests, see https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/ashley-lopez/
She does NOT represent middle grade, picture books, sci fi/fantasy, romance, or thrillers.
She can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
Carolina Ortiz, Assistant Editor, HarperCollins Publishers
In addition to her position at HarperCollins Children’s, Carolina is a Public Relations, Communications, and Events Committee Director at People of Color in Publishing, a subcommittee member of Latinx in Publishing, and a member of Representation Matters Mentor Program’s reading committee.
Carolina is currently acquiring middle grade and young adult fiction, as well as graphic novels. She does have some picture books and board books on her list of acquisitions and, while she is not actively seeking more, she’d definitely advise participants about other editors who could be a good fit if she isn’t interested.
For middle grade and young adult fiction and graphic novels, her interests cover a variety of genres, including:
- Historical fiction
- Magical realism
- Adventure stories
Carolina does NOT acquire thrillers, narratives primarily focused on sports, or anything containing graphic depictions of trauma in a contemporary setting.
She can consider previously self-published works as well as unpublished manuscripts.
If Carolina is interested in acquiring a project, she would recommend the participant find representation so the agent can negotiate the contract.
Ann Rose, Agent, Prospect Agency
Ann Rose is one of Prospect Agency’s newest agents, but she isn’t new to publishing. Over the last few years she has been exploring this field by working and mentoring with literary agents in various capacities. Everything she has experienced from editorial work to the magic of finding the perfect match between author and editor has hardened her resolve to join this wonderful profession. Now she’s thrilled to be building her own list and is actively seeking clients ready to grow amazing careers with her. Ann’s perfect manuscript is a character-driven story that isn’t afraid to push boundaries. She loves an unlikable character — even though she is incredibly likable herself!
Ann is also the author of two YA novels with Entangled Teen—Road to Eugenica and Breakout—and writes under the pen name A.M. Rose.
Ann is seeking Middle Grade (MG) and Young Adult (YA) through Adult fiction – almost any genre (see below):
- In kidlit (MG-YA), she loves books that push boundaries and aren’t afraid to discuss topics kids are dealing with today. Anything from sweet contemporaries to seat-clutching thrillers are a go. Fantasy and science fiction stories from contemporary to epic as long as there’s superior world building—if it’s based on non-western traditions/folklore/myths that’s a bonus. Basically, any genre in kidlit. She’s even open to horror as long as there isn’t too much gore.
- She’s always looking for strong characters who are willing to stand up for their convictions—whether it be with their brains or their brawn. Give her fabulous friendship stories (and some not-so-fabulous ones). LGBTQIA+ stories are more than welcome.
- She really would love a story where two girls are running against each other for class president and fall in love. And she is also still on the hunt for a YA version of Clue complete with three “alternate” endings.
- Books that can incorporate unicorns or gnomes will always make her take a closer look.
In adult books:
- Romance—anything from a sweet romance where they may only kiss to steamy. Just not true erotica—that’s a little too hot for her to handle. Enemies to lovers and slow burn romances will always be her cup of tea. She likes it when couples have to fight to be together. If it’s too easy, it doesn’t hold her interest.
- Give her fun, unique meet-cutes and Happily Ever Afters. LGBTQIA+ romances are always welcome. So are cinnamon roll boys. Leave the toxic masculinity out, and don’t forget consent is sexy as hell.
- In Science Fiction and Fantasy, she prefers things on the lighter side. If there are pages about how the flux-capacitor works or the differences between water magic and earth magic, it’s probably not the right fit. Again, if it’s based on non-western traditions/folklore/myths that’s a bonus
- Retellings that haven’t been done before or that are approached in a new and exciting way will always grab her attention.
- Show her characters who are beautifully flawed doing the wrong things for all the right reasons. Give her body positive main characters.
- Unique sports books—Crossfit, ultimate Frisbee, rock climbing, mountain biking, roller derby, and even speed walkers.
- Oh, and twins – good twins, evil twins, twins that get along, twins that don’t, rom-coms where twins switch places and hijinks happen… anything goes.
- Historical novels that tackle things other than WWII—bonus points if there are badass women.
She is always looking for unique voices, diverse perspectives, vivid settings, and stories that explore tough topics. Give her your dark and edgy stories with unlikable characters—that underneath, are totally likable. Take her to new places to explore different cultures and beliefs. She has never really traveled abroad, so books are the only way she can get there.
If you are going to discuss topics like suicide, make sure you’ve done your homework—proper language matters. If you don’t know what this means, Google is your friend.
Above all she’s looking for VOICE. It’s the characters themselves that will make her fall in love or not. Plot can be fixed if you have just the right characters to tell the story.
Ann is NOT seeking:
- Picture books
- Poetry (books in verse are the exception)
- Stories that start with a character waking up
- Stories with graphic rape
- Misogynist stories—or stories where the woman NEEDS the man to save her
- Stories that depict animal cruelty—if the dog dies, she doesn’t want it
Books set in the 80s-90s – Unless there’s a darn good reason. If you can pick up the plot and move it present day, you probably should.
For more information on her likes/dislikes check out her agency website at http://www.prospectagency.com/agent.html#ann_rose or on Manuscript Wish List at http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/ann-rose/
Ann can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
Ann’s pitch spots are full, but a waitlist is available. She has open manuscript critique spots.
Eva Scalzo, Literary Agent, Speilburg Literary Agency
Eva joined the Speilburg Literary Agency in 2013 and began accepting clients in November 2017. She was born in New Jersey to Puerto Rican parents, and has lived in Houston, Buenos Aires, San Juan, and Boston before settling down outside of Binghamton, New York. She has a B.A. in the Humanities from the University of Puerto Rico and a M.A. in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College. Since graduating in 2002, she has spent her career in scholarly publishing, working for Houghton Mifflin, Blackwell Publishing, John Wiley & Sons, and Cornell University in a variety of roles.
Eva has a strong interest in diverse voices and represents authors of Romance, Science Fiction/Fantasy, and Young Adult fiction.
Within these fiction genres, the following is Eva’s general wishlist (not exclusively what she will consider, of course, but the following is what she’d love to see in the genres she’s specified):
- #OwnVoices #Latinx stories, please! Especially from authors of Puerto Rican, Dominican or Cuban descent. She’d love to see her culture represented in books she reads, but she also just wants to promote authors whose voices and stories can reflect the diversity in our world, a diversity that is still lacking in publishing.
- Beyond #Latinx voices, she wants to see multicultural, diverse fiction. #OwnVoices for people of all cultures, races, ethnicities. She is committed to making sure underrepresented voices have a seat at the table.
- #LGBTQ stories of all flavors, but especially f/f and bi/pan/demi/ace. She’d also love to see trans characters written by trans voices.
- In either Romance or Young Adult, she really wants to see a summer/vacation story. It can be at the beach or by the lake, or while on travel in an exotic city. She wants to see a story about falling in love and figuring out what happens when summer/vacation ends and going back to “real life” means having to make difficult choices.
Specifically in Romance, here is her wishlist:
- Rom-coms are still hot, but she’d like to see some heart and depth along with all the humor. Slapstick isn’t what draws her in, but she delights in the absurd; think Bridget Jones’s Diary for moments that inspire outright laughter.
- A F/F sports romance. She’s shipping Megan Rapinoe and Sue Bird, so if you have a story you’d comp to their story, please consider her in your selections.
- She enjoys paranormal and urban fantasy and thinks a new take on vampires or shifters is always something worth a read. Strong female characters are a must for her in these types of stories; she’s not interested in damsels in distress.
- In historical romance, her tastes tend to Regency/Victorian England, Gilded Age America, Highland (any era). She’s not really looking for American West or Civil War. Other time periods/settings are fine, but the hook and writing must be compelling for her to want to read on.
- High-concept romantic suspense, where the characters are in dire straits and must work together in order to save the day and get that HFN/HEA. Again here, no damsels in distress. She wants strong, capable leads who figure out how to work together and complement each other’s strengths and balance out their weaknesses.
In Science Fiction/Fantasy:
- All things urban fantasy, but she wants to see high stakes worlds with diverse supernatural beings and kickass female characters (i.e., no damsels in distress).
- Anything with a fairy tale at the root of the story is fair game, but also any retelling of a classic story in either sci-fi or fantasy would be right up her alley.
- She’d love a good space opera, especially one with a strong sense of adventure and a sharp sense of humor. Think more Star Wars/Star Trek than Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on the humor front.
- Military Science Fiction/Near Future/Climate Fiction with a suspense/thriller bent, with strong female characters in the cast as well as diverse voices.
- Historical Fantasy with a diverse bent and lots of magic.
In Young Adult:
- A friends-to-lovers, teenaged popstars love story. She’s also shipping #Shawmila (Shawn Mendes-Camila Cabello) and if you have a story you’d comp to their story, she’s probably going to be sold. Big plus if this is #Latinx, #OwnVoices.
- Open to almost all subcategories, but stories must feature a strong romantic element. She’s not a huge fan of coming-of-age stories, especially if they are boy narratives. Historical YA must have an incredible voice/hook for her to take the risk on it.
Do NOT select her for:
- Inspirational Romance (Sweet Romance is okay, it’s the prayer/God stuff she doesn’t want.)
- Any nonfiction (and please don’t pitch her your memoir as fiction; it’s not).
- General fiction or women’s fiction that does not include a strong romantic element or a happy-ever-after. (If she falls in love with characters, for the most part she wants them alive and happy by the time “The End” rolls around.)
- High or Epic Fantasy is not a good fit. (If you’re comping George R.R. Martin or Tolkein, it’s just not something she enjoys reading.)
- Motorcycle Club Romance (unless you’ve managed to write the MC f/f romance with no overt sexism/misogyny! Bonus if the characters are #Latinx).
- Middle-grade/chapter/picture books (she is not looking for characters under the age of 14).
Eva can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
Melissa Ann Singer, Senior Editor, Tor, Forge, and Nightfire imprints, Tom Doherty Associates
Melissa began her career at the Berkley Publishing Group and has edited virtually every type of category/genre fiction there is, from westerns, mysteries, and thrillers to horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Books she has edited have appeared on The New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists and have been finalists for or winners of awards.
She is actively seeking writers from under-represented and diverse populations and backgrounds.
Melissa is looking for:
- Horror fiction of all types, supernatural and non-supernatural, monsters as well as “the evil that men do.” Almost anything, as long as it’s scary, unsettling, or creepy. She is particularly interested in #ownvoices horror and horror that draws inspiration from non-Christian traditions, but Melissa casts a wide net in horror. (Caveat: Melissa is not the right editor for horror in which either Satan or the Christian deity appear, or for “left behind” fiction.)
- Fantasy: Melissa is a big fan of muscular/epic/adventure fantasy. Armies and/or battles, competing magic systems and/or religions/deities, seagoing adventures, conquering forces and rebellions, disrupted inheritance, culture clashes, etc. Tired of pseudo-European medieval worlds. Fond of retellings of and new spins on legends, folk tales, and fairy tales.
- Science Fiction: Melissa takes a fairly positive view of science fiction and likes sf novels about exploration (not exploitation–though pushing back against exploitation is cool), trade, cultural exchange, different races helping each other out (fending off mutual enemies, perhaps). That said, she is also interested in the sf-equivalent of the types of fantasy mentioned above. And, in a limited way, sociological sf (see: Thinner Than Thou or The Baby Merchant, both by Kit Reed).
- Mystery: In this area, Melissa tends to prefer professional sleuths/investigators, such as members of law enforcement, private investigators, scientists, and attorneys. No cozies, please, and nothing humorous. Spies welcome. Kidnappings/disappeared people, custody battles, tangled wills; not everything has to be a murder.
- Thriller: natural or man-made disasters. Science or medicine run amok. No political thrillers and no Islamic terrorists.
- She is always looking for a good caper novel in just about any genre.
- Historical: Melissa is looking for trade route fiction from an #ownvoices perspective. In addition, she is interested in alternate history and in historical novels set outside Europe or the major cities of the US. Melissa is interested in Jewish historical fiction that is not about Ellis Island immigration or the Lower East Side and that addresses some of the breadth and depth of Jewish history beyond the Holocaust.
Melissa does NOT edit books for young readers and will NOT consider middle grade or young adult projects.
In addition to unpublished manuscripts, she will consider self-published work in fantasy, science fiction, and horror, depending on sales to date.
Melissa is willing to work with authors directly. If an author prefers to sign with an agent after she has made an offer, that’s fine too.
Melissa’s manuscript critique spots are full, but a waitlist is available. She has open pitch spots.
Saba Sulaiman, Associate Agent, Talcott Notch Literary Services
Saba Sulaiman is an agent at Talcott Notch Literary Services, a boutique agency located in Milford, CT. She holds a BA from Wellesley College and an MA from the University of Chicago, where she studied modern Persian literature.
In children’s literature, she is particularly interested in contemporary, realistic stories in the following categories:
- Picture Books
- Middle Grade
- Young Adult
She is also open to the following in adult fiction:
- Category romance (all sub-genres except paranormal)
- Commercial fiction
- Tightly plotted, character-driven psychological thrillers
- Cozy mysteries à la Agatha Christie
Being a first-generation immigrant who is constantly negotiating her own identity and sense of belonging in a place she now calls “home,” she is committed to highlighting more diverse voices with compelling stories to tell; stories that demonstrate the true range of perspectives that exist in this world, and address urgent and often underexplored issues in both fiction and non-fiction with veracity and heart. Follow her on Twitter @agentsaba.
For a deeper insight into the themes/concerns that appeal to her:
Saba is looking for a fresh premise, a dynamic voice, and very strong writing. She enjoys all kinds of stories, but she’s most drawn toward character-driven narratives that familiarize her with the inner workings of characters in unique (and preferably high stakes) conditions, and stories that explore complicated relationships and morally gray situations. In terms of themes, her taste runs the gamut, but here are some that come to mind: she enjoys stories that involve, explore, or meaningfully engage with feminism and the way we think about gender; the increasing pervasiveness of technology on society; the quest for individual power and control and how it affects one’s personal relationships; how methods and styles of communication and popular culture have evolved over generations, and its effect on the widening generation gap; and the process and consequences of migration, particularly with respect to how one reinvents and renegotiates one’s identity after being displaced from a familiar environment, whether by choice or by necessity.
Saba is NOT looking for the following:
- Any kind of adult nonfiction, including memoir, cookbooks, self-help, and business books
- Fiction narratives with military or supernatural themes
- Stories about animals in any category
There are exceptions to these rules, of course (she’s always open to surprises!) but by and large, she’s found these guidelines to remain largely true since she began building her own list.
Saba can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
Please contact George Weinstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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