Thank you so much to all who participated in the November Mystery Agent contest - we loved reading your pitches! And our fabulous MA is..
Kaylee Davis from Dee Mura Literary!
Growing up in The Middle of Nowhere, Ohio, Kaylee’s lifeline to sanity
was the local library where she nurtured her love of all things
literary. Kaylee received a B.A. in English Literature and a B.A. in
Sociology from Miami University, and she is certified in Copyediting
from Emerson College. Recognized for her obsessive-compulsive attention
to detail and crazy-fast reading ability, Kaylee joined the team as a
professional copyeditor, proofreader, and administrative assistant. She
has recently been promoted to Associate Literary Agent.
And the winners are...
Grand Prize (1): full manuscript req (with query+synopsis) with feedback
Honorable Mention (5): first 50 pages req (with query+synopsis) with feedback
PIECES OF ME
MACHA AND THE RIVER BLUE
Congratulations to all the winners! Please shoot us an e-mail at operationawesome6(at)gmail(dot)com for submission instructions!
And to learn a little more about Kaylee, see the interview below:
1. Any tips for writers
struggling with their pitches? Common mistakes you see in them?
Think of a 140-character
pitch as an opportunity to create a big impact while encapsulating the overall
essence of your project. The most common mistake I see is when a writer is too
generic and there’s nothing to really get excited about—the ultimate point of a
pitch is to get your reader excited! Effective pitches are concise and
evocative, and they focus on what makes your manuscript stand out.
Here’s a great example of
a successful pitch*:
YA sci-fi: Sleeping Beauty meets Avatar in a world that pits
cyborgs against humans, and Prince Charming is the rebel leader.
This pitch gave me
goosebumps and I just had to know more. Immediate request.
*For more info on the
fate of this pitch, please see below!
2. What books have you
read lately that you've fallen in love with (your clients' or others')?
Of course I’m obsessed
with all my clients’ work, and could never pick a favorite. But some other
things I’ve read lately and have loved are The
Interestings by Meg Wolitzer and Extremely
Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Both have the
character development and emotional depth that really sticks with me long after
I’m done reading. And that’s pure gold.
3. What are you seeing a
lot of in your slush pile lately? What would you like to see more of?
one of those crazy people who actually loves my slush pile. I have found almost
all of my writers this way, and even though it’s sometimes like finding a
needle in a haystack, the process can be so incredibly rewarding.
being said, I can’t say enough how often I see writers make the same mistakes:
following submission guidelines. All writers deserve to start out on an equal
playing field, no exceptions.
query rejections personally. I understand how getting a rejection can feel
personal, but I promise it’s not. And ultimately you shouldn’t want to be
represented by someone who’s not 150% behind you and your work.
too soon. My general advice for fiction is to get feedback from trustworthy people
who aren’t family members or otherwise morally indebted to say you’re fantastic
no matter what. Consider the feedback seriously and as objectively as possible.
Revise. Then rinse and repeat until you’re convinced your manuscript is the
absolute best it can be. Then it’s ready to send out.
that I wish I saw more of in my slush pile:
who mention following me on Twitter (and actually do). If you check out my feed,
I guarantee you’ll have a much better idea of what speaks to me and what I’m
likely to request. And you’ll have access to pitch parties I participate in, as
well as query critiques and other giveaways I do. So if you query me
traditionally, don’t be humble here. Tell me you follow me, or saw my #MSWL
post that matches your concept, or something I mentioned that is relevant to
your project. It shows me that you’re serious as a writer because not only are
you carefully researching agents you’re interested in, but you are also
actively building your social media platform.
that explores alternate worldviews, from the conspiracy theories of Ancient Aliens to the survivalist
mentalities of Doomsday Preppers.
Think fun, fascinating, and psychological.
in MG through Adult. I’m still looking for an engaging concept that’s fantastically
4. I loved that, in your
wishlist, you said that you'd like to see projects that explore character
growth and identity. Could you talk a little more about that?
thing is, IRL no one stays the same. Identity isn’t this static force, this constant
that never wavers. As we grow we change, and our interactions with the world
influence our internal and external identities.
matter the genre, I think the strongest storytelling incorporates this change.
The characters who show growth in ways both profound and mundane are the most
evocative and real. And that allows readers to connect more emotionally to them.
5. Any exciting agency
news you can share?
To that pitch I mentioned
above. The author is Dina von Lowenkraft, and I’m very happy to announce that I
just signed her! : )
It’s incredible to say I found
a client directly via a social media pitch event. Here’s the story.
Dina’s pitch was strong,
and I had just mentioned on #MSWL that I was looking for a cyborg project. Dina
and I were already Twitter buddies so I knew she was very active in the
industry, both as a writer and as Regional Advisor for SCBWI Belgium. Most
importantly, however, Dina’s synopsis and writing in the first 25 pages really
spoke to me. I requested the full, and ended up reading into the wee hours of
I made “the call” after
coordinating around my trip to the annual SFWA Reception and the ridiculous
time difference between Belgium and Boston. Dina and I talked for hours about
everything imaginable and could have easily talked for hours more. Most
importantly, though we made sure we shared the same vision for her manuscript
and that we were on the same page about edits.
Dina hadn’t yet begun
querying traditionally but already other agents had shown interest in her work.
I was incredibly flattered she had done her research and knew so wholeheartedly
that she wanted to work together. I always have a warm fuzzy moment when a
writer accepts, and it will always feel like glitter and fanfare and magic.
6. And a few just for
Coffee or Tea? Both! In this weather, I’m gravitating to a hot
honey latte (or two, or three) in the AM and Moroccan mint tea in the PM.
Sea or mountains? Sea. The ocean’s the new frontier!
Chocolate or bacon? Chocolate, on popcorn.
Ebook or print book? Print. And organizing my bookshelf like a
Favorite tv show? Sherlock
and Doctor Who are pretty tied for me right now.
Thank you for joining us this month, Kaylee, and thank you to everyone for being a part of the contest! And be on the lookout for our next contest on December 1st. Stay tuned for more details!