For the November 6-8, 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) (and add a third critique and/or pitch after your registration by contacting George Weinstein at email@example.com) 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.
Due to COVID-19, our guest agents and editors will be making phone calls to the participants who selected them for manuscript critiques and/or pitches as well as the randomly assigned participant/agent and editor matchups for the query letter critiques.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Lauren Bieker, Literary Agent, FinePrint Literary Management
After a brief career in the fashion industry, Lauren made her move to publishing as an intern for agent Paige Wheeler. She moved to FinePrint to assist with day-to-day administrative tasks but has been developing her client list for the last three years. Lauren writes during her free time and has been published on various online platforms. She has attended many writing workshops and intensives, including the National Academy of Writing’s intensive at Cambridge University in the UK.
In fiction, Lauren is seeking:
- Commercial women’s fiction
- Young Adult
- Select science fiction
- High concept and literary fiction works
She appreciates great storytelling and is a “sucker” for outstanding writing and convincing characters.
While primarily interested in fiction, she will consider nonfiction proposals. She is looking for #ownvoices stories, Feminist lit/#MeToo stories, and LGBTQIA+ authors in both fiction and nonfiction. Her goal is to “hold the mic” for authors to tell their stories and be a helpful support system.
Her message to querying authors: Have fun with your pitch–if you’re passionate about your story, she will be too!
Lauren is NOT looking for religious fiction, horror, fantasy, or political/military fiction.
Lauren can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
Lauren’s ‘s manuscript critique and pitch spots are full, but waitlists are available.
Savannah Brooks, Literary Agent, The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency
Savannah Brooks joined the Jennifer De Chiara team in 2018 as an associate agent after interning for a year and a half. She earned her MFA, focused in creative nonfiction, from Hamline University and her BS in marketing management from Virginia Tech.
She mainly represents middle grade and young adult, both fiction and nonfiction. She loves books that teach her something new, challenge societal norms, and have a good amount of snark. With middle grade, especially, she’s looking to be taken on an adventure—preferably one outside of the Western world. She’s open to the whole gamut of sub-genres but has a more difficult time connecting with high fantasy and sci-fi, and if a project has a heavy emotional edge, she always wants it partnered with humor.
Savannah is also interested in acquiring very, very select picture books and adult projects. For picture books, she loves food, STEM, and any broadening of cultural horizons, in both a fiction and nonfiction format.
For adult projects, she’s interested in contemporary fiction that’s lighthearted and makes her laugh but also really think.
She is not interested in looking at adult nonfiction, including memoir, at this time.
Savannah can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
Savannah’s manuscript critique spots are full, but a waitlist is available. She has open pitch spots.
Penelope Burns, Associate Agent, Gelfman Schneider/ICM
Penelope Burns joined Gelfman Schneider/ICM Partners as an intern in 2012, after graduating from Colgate University and attending the Denver Publishing Institute. Now an associate agent, Penelope is building a list of her own. She is interested in books that keep her up at night because she just has to read one more chapter in literary and commercial fiction and nonfiction, as well as a variety of Young Adult (YA) and Middle Grade (MG).
In fiction, Penelope is interested in the following:
- Young Adult
- Middle Grade – anything with humor and a great voice
- Anything with a swoon-worthy romance
- Mysteries that blow her mind
- Coming-of-age novels like PREP or TELL THE WOLVES I’M HOME
- Psychological thrillers.
For non-fiction, she focuses on adult memoir like Leah Vernon’s UNASHAMED: MUSINGS OF A FAT, BLACK MUSLIM.
She does not represent picture or chapter books.
Penelope can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
Penelope’s manuscript critique and pitch spots are full, but waitlists are available.
Brenna English-Loeb, Literary Agent, Transatlantic Agency
Brenna English-Loeb comes to Transatlantic after working for several years at Janklow & Nesbit Associates and Writers House, where she had the pleasure of working with New York Times bestselling and award-winning authors across multiple genres. At Transatlantic she’s excited to grow her list of speculative and suspenseful fiction in both YA and adult, as well as adult nonfiction.
Raised on an eclectic blend of Jane Austen, Terry Pratchett and Ursula K Le Guin, Brenna has always gravitated to unique stories with a strong point of view. She is specifically looking for works of YA and adult science fiction, fantasy, and suspense, as well as some adult literary fiction. She loves space operas, myth and fairy tale retellings, survival stories, epistolary novels, and heists. She also has a soft spot for stories that blend multiple genres and for works by and about underrepresented groups and identities.
Aspects of a work that are sure to catch her eye include: evocative atmospheres, character-driven plots, a sense of adventure, and narratives that reveal a deep knowledge of a particular subject. She also loves old tropes made new again, unreliable narrators, and power imbalances.
For nonfiction, Brenna is looking for serious, groundbreaking sociological work that holds our culture up to the magnifying glass. She also loves accounts of historical events and people that deserve to be better known, as well as unusual and influential object histories.
Brenna can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
Brenna’s manuscript critique and pitch spots are full, but waitlists are available.
Nettie Finn, Assistant Editor, St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan Publishers
Nettie Finn is a graduate of DePauw University and the Columbia Publishing Course. I’m on the lookout for fiction and nonfiction.
In fiction, Nettie is seeking:
- Domestic thrillers
- Sharply plotted mysteries
- Well-written cozies
- Unconventional sleuths.
- Commercial and upmarket fiction with a focus on strong women
- Anything with a powerful sense of place, such as international and historical fiction.
Though you can never go wrong with a bit of the fantastic, she is NOT the right fit for intense science fiction or genre romances.
On the nonfiction side, Nettie is interested in acquiring the following:
- Page-turning memoirs with a strong narrative voice
- Pop culture
- Feminism-focused books.
She can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
If Nettie is interested in a participant’s project, she would be happy to work directly with the author.
Nettie’s manuscript critique and pitch spots are full, but waitlists are available.
Mary Gaule, associate editor, acquires for Harper and Harper Perennial. Her interests include literary and upmarket commercial fiction and she is particularly interested in books that offer unique perspectives on women’s experiences and relationships, as well as projects that shed light on marginalized voices.
In fiction, Mary is seeking:
- Literary fiction or upmarket commercial fiction with themes of female friendship, complicated families, and mother daughter relationships.
- Books that are grounded in the real world (nothing speculative or dystopian) and are especially focused on the everyday interactions and moments that speak volumes. Think Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney or Friends and Lovers by Lily King.
- She would love to find upmarket commercial fiction in the vein of Liane Moriarty that a features characters of color.
- Slightly off-beat, strange and unexpected fiction, episodic or otherwise told in an unusual way like Dept of Speculation by Jenny Offill or Grief Is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter.
- Though she is not really interested in thrillers, something with an angle of domestic suspense is interesting again, like Liane Moriarty’s books. A domestic story with a tinge of darkness.
- Books about complicated family dynamics.
- Anything set in California.
In nonfiction, Mary is seeking the following:
- Memoir and narrative nonfiction.
- Women’s stories.
- Stories from marginalized voices.
- She also loves when a writer can cover so-called “high and low culture” a la Jia Tolentino etc.
She is NOT seeking science or serious history.
Mary will consider both unpublished and previous self-published manuscripts.
If she is interested in a participant’s project, she would refer the author to an agent.
Mary’s manuscript critique and pitch spots are full, but waitlists are available.
Ronald Gerber, Literary Agent, Lowenstein Associates
Ronald Gerber joined Lowenstein Associates in 2019 as a literary agent and manager of foreign rights, permissions, and contracts, following several years in literary scouting. Ronald is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock and received his B.A., summa cum laude with high honors, from Clark University. He is a proud native New Yorker. You can find him on Twitter @RGerberAgent.
In fiction, Ronald is seeking:
- Grounded science fiction
- Middle grade
In nonfiction, he is seeking:
- Narrative nonfiction
- True crime
He is NOT looking for religious fiction, erotica, practical nonfiction (i.e. business, advice, hobbies, DIY), textbooks, or picture books.
Ronald will consider previously self-published work.
Ronald’s manuscript critique and pitch spots are full, but waitlists are available.
Jennifer Grimaldi, Agent, Chalberg & Sussman
Jennifer Grimaldi is an agent with Chalberg & Sussman, where she first started her publishing career in 2012. At St. Martin’s Press/Thomas Dunne, she edited and acquired S. Jae-Jones’ New York Times bestseller WINTERSONG—a Labyrinth-inspired gothic YA—and worked with numerous bestselling and award-winning authors. Jennifer’s broad exposure to the domestic and foreign publishing markets as a scout with Barbara Tolley & Associates further shaped her taste for the eclectic. Across all genres, Jennifer loves strong, voice-driven novels, dark and romantic themes, and books that make her think—and learn. She is particularly excited by books that explore gender and sexuality, especially those with diverse, LGBTA+ leads, and own-voice writers.
Aspects sure to delight her include: cities and urban-planning, anecdotal histories, that trope where there were supposed to be two rooms at the hotel but they’re all booked up so the leads have to share, spies, thieves, mythological retellings, witches just trying to get by, weird obsessions, and puns.
In fiction, Jennifer is seeking:
- Science fiction (YA and adult)
- Fantasy (YA and adult)
- Horror (in YA, MG, and adult)
- Romance (YA and adult)
- Rom-coms (adult)
- Historical fantasy (YA and adult)
- Historical (adult)
She is not currently seeking nonfiction.
Jennifer will consider unpublished and previously published manuscripts.
Jennifer’s manuscript critique and pitch spots are full, but waitlists are available.
Kaitlyn Johnson, Literary Agent, Belcastro Literary Agency
After receiving a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College, Kaitlyn refused to leave the concept of nightly homework behind. A literary agent for Belcastro Literary Agency, she is also a freelance editor at her own company, K. Johnson Editorial. Kaitlyn started her literary journey as a copyeditor for academic publisher codeMantra, a YA editor for Accent Press, a Conference Assistant for GrubStreet, Boston, a former agent with Corvisiero Literary Agency. She has written various articles for Writer’s Digest and has had a flash fiction story published in the anthology A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed.
Kaitlyn is seeking:
Graphic novels – Middle grade (MG)/Young adult (YA)/Adult
– Fantasy, Contemporary, light Sci Fi, Horror (more creepy dolls and curses, less blood and guts), Historical
– Fantasy (high, urban, or magical realism), Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Historical, Paranormal (ghosts, witches, and vampires if unique; open to new legends/creatures)
– Fantasy, Light Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Contemporary Romance
For all ages, Kaitlyn really wants historical fiction that focuses on perspectives and places not in the mainstream. Give her legends, myths, events, battles that aren’t the everyday titles we see all the time. She’s not huge on retellings unless it’s in depth and really makes her dig to figure out what story we’re rediscovering.
She is NOT accepting the following:
– Chapter or picture books
– Romantic Suspense
– Novellas, poetry, or short story collections
– Storylines heavily dependent on religious motives/events/themes
– Storylines heavily dependent on sexual/physical/drug abuse
Kaitlyn can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
Kaitlyn’s manuscript critique spots are full, but a waitlist is available. She has open pitch spots.
Nate Lanman, Assistant Editor, William Morrow/HarperCollins Publishers
Nate Lanman joined William Morrow in 2015.
He is currently seeking a variety of fiction. He is most drawn to the following:
- Psychological suspense
- Family sagas
- Character-driven literary fiction with a unique and engaging voice
- Genre-bending speculative fiction that delves into the surreal and absurd with finely crafted sentences to ground it
- Stories that pair a crackling sense of humor with an eye for the quirks and intricacies of human life (in the vein of Patrick DeWitt’s French Exit, Halle Butler’s Jillian, and Magnus Mills’ The Forensic Records Society)
While Nate is primarily looking to acquire fiction, he’s also interested in the following nonfiction topics:
- Progressive journalism
- Cultural criticism
- Narrative nonfiction that addresses unique phenomena of history and culture with a memorable and inviting voice.
He is NOT considering memoir, lifestyle, cookbooks, gift books, or traditional sci-fi/fantasy.
Nate can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
If he is interested in a participant’s project, he would refer the author to an agent.
Nate’s manuscript critique and pitch spots are full, but waitlists are available.
Erin McClary, Associate Editor, Sourcebooks
Erin McClary is an Associate Editor at Sourcebooks, one of the nation’s largest independent publishers and the country’s only woman-led publisher, located just outside of Chicago. After 14 years of working in brand and digital marketing, she decided to bring her keen editorial eye and obsession with books and reading to the publishing industry. What she loves most about her job is connecting authors to readers and helping others discover their next favorite book. Erin is open for submissions! She is currently acquiring adult fiction and nonfiction.
More specifically, in adult fiction she is looking for:
- Women’s fiction
- Contemporary fiction
- Historical fiction
- Uplifting stories about friendship and relationships
- Moving, emotional stories about family (and other relationships) but that are ultimately hopeful
- Character-driven novels with a fresh voice and intriguing plot
She is NOT looking for: fantasy, sci-fi, traditional romance, YA, mystery/crime, literary fiction
In adult nonfiction, she is seeking:
- Social sciences and current affairs
- Self-help/personal development
- Historical figures
She is NOT looking for: memoir, essay collections
Erin will consider unpublished and previously published manuscripts.
If she is interested in acquiring a project, she would refer the participant to an agent.
Erin’s manuscript critique and pitch spots are full, but waitlists are available.
Maria Napolitano, Literary Agent, Bookcase Literary Agency
Maria joined Bookcase as a literary agent in 2019, after nearly five years as a book scout, where she fell in love with the process of matchmaking books with just the right editors and publishers around the world. She now works with agency authors including Anna Todd, Penny Reid, and BB Easton, in addition to building her own list. Her free time is largely spent reading or running—but none of that reading-on-the-treadmill nonsense. Maria is a born New Yorker and Cornell graduate who currently lives in Astoria, Queens, with a sourdough starter named Ryeley. You can find her online @maria_regina39.
In adult fiction, Maria is looking for the following:
A wide range of commercial to upmarket women’s fiction, in particular:
- Family sagas and complicated friendship stories
- Feminist perspectives
- Abit of genre-bending, supremely pitch-able high concept work
- Romance and rom-coms with a big, fresh feel, and diverse representation, especially queer romance.
- Suspense & thrillers, especially with a literary edge, unique central premise, or self-awareness that adds another dimension to the project — but not genre crime writing, military fiction, procedurals, or cozies.
In general, Maria prefers contemporary to historical settings, but, overall, she is interested in work that deals with people, places, and time periods that have been under-discussed in mainstream publishing.
In nonfiction, Maria is seeking
- Memoir/essay collection from a unique and immersive perspective
- Inclusive, wide-angle health and life advice from experts in their field
- Pop science
- Narrative nonfiction, particularly deep dives that shine a new light on seemingly mundane or overlooked topics
Maria can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
Maria’s manuscript critique and pitch spots are full, but waitlists are available.
Chayenne Skeete joined Random House in 2017 as an editorial assistant where she provided editorial support to then Editor-in-Chief, Andy Ward. She also worked on Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s imprint, Lenny Books, and continues to accept submissions relevant to the mission of amplifying the experiences of marginalized voices. A Texas native, she now makes her home in Harlem.
Areas of Interest:
She is looking to acquire intimate literary fiction and provocative commercial fiction and nonfiction that digs deep into the psychology of its characters. Stories about mothers are of special interest as are bildungsromans, and unique portraits of womanhood. Unreliable or unlikeable narrators are especially welcome, as are dark stories of taboo and the ugly side of life. Narratives on mental health, disorder, and addiction are also encouraged.
She is also interested in global narratives involving travel or the diaspora, stories centering BIPOC/LGBTQIA experiences, and writing that engages with questions of identity and belonging. Stories that concern themselves with being the “only one” are of special interest, as are stories of overcoming and reinvention, including memoir that makes the personal political and vice versa.
New twists on old stories, social thrillers, speculative fiction, and near future settings encouraged, and works in translation, poetry, experimental forms, and graphic novels welcome.
While unpublished manuscripts are preferred, Chayenne is willing to consider previously published material secondarily.
If she is interested in acquiring a project, she would refer the participant to an agent.
Chayenne’s manuscript critique and pitch spots are full but waitlists are available.
Haley Swanson began her publishing career in literary scouting before transitioning to editorial at Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Throughout her career, she’s edited everything from YA to literary fiction to cookbooks and poetry. Some of her favorite titles she’s worked on include A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles; Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood; Beating Endo by Iris Kerin Orbuch, MD and Amy Stein, DPT; Leading Men by Christopher Castellani; Everything is F*cked by Mark Manson; and To Have and To Hold by Molly Millwood, PhD.
In nonfiction, Haley is actively looking for:
- Any female-driven nonfiction story with a science, reportage, and/or research element
- “Big Idea” nonfiction weaving emotion with science, reportage, and/or research
- Exploration of mental, sexual, and/or reproductive health
- Reported personal stories exploring feminist themes such as pain, defining experiences with medical professionals regarding female-specific health challenges, and family life
Haley is NOT currently accepting fiction submissions.
She will consider both unpublished and previous self-published manuscripts.
If she’s interested in a participant’s nonfiction project, she would refer the author to an agent.
Haley’s manuscript critique spots are full, but a waitlist is available. She has open pitch spots.
Samantha Wekstein attended the University of Maryland, College Park and received a B.A. in English. Go Terps! She now lives in NYC with her husband and dog. After internships with Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency and Rowman & Littlefield, she began her career in 2013 at Writers House LLC. She then briefly worked as an assistant at The Agency Group (now UTA) before returning to Writers House for the next 5.5 years where she began supporting the CEO, and then the Founder, before becoming an agent. She’s been lucky to work with a variety of best-selling and award-winning authors across all genres. She joined TLA in 2019 where she’s excited to grow her list.
In YA, she loves creative and epic fantasies in the vein of Sarah J. Maas or Leigh Bardugo. But she is also drawn to realistic stories with multi-dimensional female characters like those of Rainbow Rowell, Julie Murphy, and Melina Marchetta. She is always interested in elevating diverse voices, particularly through feminist narratives.
She is seeking middle grade of all stripes, but especially stories that deal with themes of friendship, adventure, or encountering tragedy for the first time. Her favorites are Sharon Creech, Shannon Hale, and Gail Carson Levine.
She is also on the lookout for whimsical, meaningful, and funny picture books by author/illustrators.
On the adult side she is drawn to commercial voices in
- Women’s Fiction
- Historical Fiction
- Science Fiction
She also works on limited nonfiction in humor, pop culture, and anything with a feminist bent.
Samantha can only consider unpublished manuscripts.
Samantha’s manuscript critique and pitch spots are full, but waitlists are available.
Please contact George Weinstein at email@example.com.
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