Friday, September 30, 2016

Query Questions with Jennifer Wills


 


 


Writers have copious amounts of imagination. It's what makes their stories so fantastic. But there's a darker side to so much out of the box thinking. When a writer is in the query trenches, their worries go into overdrive. They start pulling out their hair and imagine every possible disaster.

Here to relieve some of that endless worrying is a series called Query Questions. I'll ask the questions which prey on every writer's mind, and hopefully take some of the pain out of querying. These are questions that I've seen tossed around on twitter and writing sites like Agent Query Connect. They are the type of questions that you need answers from the real expert--agents!

Query Questions is back with a fresh set of questions and more agents. The people have spoken and let me know which questions should stay and which could go. We've got a few brand new situations that writers would like clarified.

I'm happy to share an interview with another new agent that may not be on your radar yet. Jennifer Wills joined the Seymour Agency in April 2016 and is now an associate agent.

Do you look at sample pages without fail or only if the query is strong?
I always read all my queries, including the sample.  You can tell so much from the sample – whether the author has an instinct for where to begin their story, whether the voice is appealing, if they know how to keep the writer’s interest.  A strong sample can overcome a weak query but a weak sample always cancels out a strong query for me.  If I’m lukewarm about five pages, there’s no point reading the rest, right?  However, if you end your sample or your partial on a little mini-cliffhanger, I know I’m in good hands and I’ll be happy to read more.

How open are you to writers who have never been published?
I’m open to unpublished authors, but it’s definitely helpful to have at least an article or a published short story under your belt.  If you haven’t been published, it’s even more important to have a following on social media.  Potential publishers will be considering your platform, not just your manuscript.


How important are comp titles? Is it something you want to see in a query? Are movie/tv reference okay as comp titles?
Comp titles are great, if they make sense and are timely, accurate, and original.  I’m still getting Harry Potter and Hunger Games as comps in queries….  The worst is when someone tells you their book is THIS meets THAT, and when you read there are no traces of either title and you start to wonder if they sent you the wrong manuscript.  My first job was as a projectionist at a movie theater, so I love movies almost as much as I love books.  Comps that contain both are a win-win for me.  I especially love it when an author tells me which aspect of their comp titles resemble their book--“the voice of THIS but with the suspense of THAT.”

Do you prefer a little personalized chit-chat in a query letter or would you rather hear about the manuscript?
“All of that chit-chat’s gonna getcha hurt.” --Jared Leto as the Joker

Just joking!  A little personalization to show that the query is targeting me is helpful.  I’ve had some queries where the first line of the query is intriguing, and then they include something personalized later on.  That works, too.  When I offer representation, I’m not offering just for the manuscript.  I’m looking for authors who are in it for the long haul, so I like to get a sense of their personality to see if we would work well together.

When a writer nudges with an offer, what length of time is helpful to give you enough time to consider? A week? Two weeks?
At least a week is helpful, especially if I’m sharing a manuscript with my fellow agents for a second read.  Two weeks would be ideal.

Many agents say they don't care if writers are active online. Could a twitter account or blog presence by a writer tip the scales in getting a request or offer? And do you require writers you sign to start one?
I like to see authors who already have the foundation of their online presence in place because it can take time to get that ball rolling.  If I love the work and believe in the author, I’ll still offer representation even if their social media platform is nonexistent.  (BUT, if there is an existing platform that is problematic, ie unprofessional, hurtful, overly controversial to the point of damaging the author’s brand, I might decide not to offer representation.  So be careful what you post out there!)

If a writer makes changes to their manuscript due to feedback should they resend the query or only if material was requested? Does it make a difference if the changes are from an R&R with another agent?
If I’ve requested pages, I always try to offer at least one constructive comment even if the manuscript isn’t working for me.  If the manuscript was otherwise a good fit, I’ll absolutely invite the author to make changes and resubmit.  If I don’t specifically say I’d like to see the revisions, then it’ll probably still be a pass although I will occasionally take another look if the author asks nicely.  

Do you look at trends or editor wishlists when deciding to sign a manuscript?
If I think a manuscript will appeal to a particular editor or two or five, I’m probably thinking about representation before I’ve even finished the manuscript.  Trends can fluctuate, so I’m more interested in what my editorial contacts have specifically told me they want to see. 

Do you consider yourself a hands-on, editorial type of agent? Does a manuscript have to be sub-ready or will you sign stories that need work?
I love to edit! It is so gratifying to help an author take their great manuscript one step closer to perfection.  I’m in the early stages of building my list so I’m probably a bit more willing to spend time polishing my authors’ work before submission than agents with a full list.  

What is your biggest query pet peeve? Is there anything that automatically sinks a query for you?
Clich├ęd but true – “Dear Agent” or seeing a billion other agents’ email addresses in the CC line of the email.  It just doesn’t make for a good first impression, and it shows a lack of attention to detail.  If an author can’t take the time to figure out a prospective agent’s name, or send an individual query, it shows they haven’t taken the time to do their homework. It doesn’t bode well for the quality of the query, or the manuscript itself.  I don’t mind as much when people misspell my name; I get a lot of Willis instead of Wills because that second i just wants to creep in there, and an occasional Mr. instead of Ms./Mrs.
I love fantasy/sci-fi queries but it seems like authors tend to cram every detail about their world-building into the query.  You just need to give enough in the query/synopsis/sample so I understand the premise as it relates to the character’s struggle, so try not to throw around a million unfamiliar terms or hard-to-pronounce names all at once.  I will revel in your glorious details while reading the partial or full, don’t worry!  The query’s job is to get me excited about reading more – it doesn’t need to be a reference manual for the fantastic, elaborate world you’ve created.

What three things are at the top of your submission wish list?
High concept non-rhyming picture books. YA/MG with sci fi/fantasy, horror/suspense or contemporary bent. Upmarket women’s fiction with a sense of humor.

What are some of your favorite movies or books to give us an idea of your tastes? 
Since the tender age of too-young-to-be-reading-him, my favorite author was Stephen King, particularly THE STAND and the Dark Tower books.  My favorite movie was the Wizard of Oz.  And to this day, those favorites still hold true.  Others, in no particular order: Justin Cronin’s THE PASSAGE trilogy is up there with The Dark Tower. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE trilogy by Beth Revis.  Also THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins, GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn, IF I STAY by Gayle Forman, Harry Potter ofcourse, The Earth’s Children series by Jean Auel, I also love Neil Gaiman, Maggie Stiefvater, Alexandra Bracken, John Green, Emily Giffin, Sarah Dessen,  Jennifer Weiner, Laurie Notaro, and I still have a soft spot for RL Stine, Christopher Pike, Roald Dahl, Ann M. Martin.

Movies/TV: The Walking Dead, LOST, Lucky Number Slevin, Boondock Saints, How to Train Your Dragon, Edge of Tomorrow, District 8, Mission Impossible franchise, all the Marvel films, Christopher Nolan’s everything, anything Pixar, romantic comedies and plain ol’ comedies.

I am probably one of eight people on the planet who wasn’t crazy about Stranger Things.


Jennifer has five years’ experience in some of the publishing industry’s leading literary agencies.  She worked with publishers around the world as an assistant in Trident Media Group’s huge foreign rights department, and with domestic publishers as an assistant at Writers House (where, incidentally, she began her career as an intern).  She joined the Seymour Agency in April 2016, where she has quickly moved up the ranks to associate agent.  Jennifer has always loved helping fledgling authors become NYT bestsellers and she’s ready to be a relentless champion for her own clients’ work.  You can find her @WillsWork4Books on Twitter. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Getting the Call with Teresa Richards

Happy to have another contest success story! I'm sure you remember My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery from Query Kombat 2016 and here is the happy conclusion. 



Hi everyone! I'm thrilled to announce that I've signed with agent Mallory Brown from TriadaUS, as a result of a request made during Query Kombat this year. My entry was for a manuscript called Windfall, nicknamed My Boyfriend Rigged the Lottery, and made it to Round 4 of the competition. I received eight requests during the agent round.

One of the requesting agents was Uwe Stender, founder of Triada. After I got knocked out of the competition, I sent the requested material to him, along with the other agents. Then I waited. 

I worked on another writing project. I enjoyed the summer. I went on vacation with my family. I sent out more queries. I got my kids started back at school. 

By mid-August, I'd heard back from a couple of the other requesting agents with either rejections or requests for more material, but hadn't heard back from Uwe. Since Triada is well-known for its quick response times (their query guidelines state that if you haven't heard back in two weeks, then they didn't receive your query), I decided to follow up to make sure he'd received the material I'd sent him. He responded right away that it must have slipped through the cracks and that he'd take a look soon. I am *so* glad I followed up!

Two weeks later, he emailed and said that he'd passed it along to one of his agent assistants, Mallory Brown, who wanted to see the whole thing. Five days after that, Mallory emailed me with an offer of representation! She listed all the things she loved about Windfall and all the ways she'd connected to the story! After talking with her on the phone and hearing her enthusiasm, I was convinced she was the right agent for me and the perfect person to pitch my book to editors. 

And now it's official. I've joined #TeamTriada and am now rep'd by Mallory Brown!

*Commence freaking-awesome mildly embarrassing happy-dancing*

Of course, news this big requires a celebration. Since I did things a little backward and already have a book out with Evernight Teen, I'm going to celebrate with a giveaway! Up for grabs is an Emerald Bound prize pack, including a signed copy of the book, a metal Shepherd's-hook bookmark with emerald charm, and a custom-made Emerald Bound key chain. The giveaway will be live on my blog, http://teresarichardswrites.blogspot.com/ until October 4. Emerald Bound is a YA fantasy, so it's a different genre than Windfall. It's a dark retelling of The Princess and the Pea, in which the pea is an enchanted, life-sucking emerald. 

For those who are interested, here are my query stats for Windfall:

Queries sent out: 79
Partial requests: 10
Full requests: 4
Rejections: 46
No response: 33

The bulk of those 79 queries were sent out before Query Kombat. I had a much higher request rate on the queries I sent after incorporating feedback from the competition. If you ever have the chance to enter Query Kombat, or even just stalk the entries and read through the feedback they're getting, DO IT! 

Thanks again to Michelle, Laura and Michael for running this awesome competition and for the gobs and gobs of amazing judges and writers who took the time to read my entry and provide feedback. This success belongs to all of you and I am profoundly grateful! 

And now, if you'll excuse me, I must go finish my happy dance. 

_________________________________________________________________

Teresa Richards writes YA, but loves anything that can be given a unique twist. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has a degree in Speech-Language Pathology with a minor in piano performance. When Teresa’s not writing, she can be found either chasing after one of her five kids, or hiding someplace in the house with a treat her children overlooked. Her debut, Emerald Bound, was released in 2015 by Evernight Teen.

Links: 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Nightmare on Query Street Rules and Format for 2016



We're back with 25 agents and even more mentors!


It's Nightmare Time!



Don’t have a scary manuscript, DON'T WORRY. Just read on.

A brand new year, a brand new evil.

This contest, as it runs in the Halloween time, is all about FEAR.


The Details:

The submission window opens at 4:00 pm (EST) on October 14th. Don't send too soon or your entry will be deleted. There will be email confirmation. Please don't resend an entry unless you check with us. Sometimes the confirmation process gets overwhelmed. The window will close when we receive 250 entries or in two hours, whichever is first.

Michelle and Mike and Laura will make thirteen picks each, and those picks will go up on our blogs from October 29th through the 30th. Before this, there will be a mentor round to whip that entry into shape. We've already got amazing mentors lined up, so know that your entries will be polished for the agents.

We are accepting all age categories and genres, excluding picture books and erotica. The story does not have to be scary. But be sure to check our list of agents when it goes live to see if they represent your book's genre.


If you plan on participating in the contest, you have to be following all our blogs (MichelleMike, Laura). If you can't get the blog follow to work, just follow on twitter. You'll want to be on twitter for the party anyway.


You are not eligible if you've been in an agent round in the last six months, such as for Pitchslam and Query Kombat. This doesn't not include twitter only events like PitchMad. You may enter if you have a different manuscript to send.

ONLY ONE ENTRY PER PERSON. DO NOT TRY USING MULTIPLE EMAIL ADDRESSES. THIS DOES NOT MEAN ONE PER WRITING PEN NAME. ONE AND ONE ONLY.

It's pretty simple, actually.

But there's a catch.

Along with your query and 250, you must write a SHORT paragraph (no more than 100 words) about your main character. This is the question you must answer:

What is your main character's most stressful relationship? Who really makes them sweat?

The Format:


Send all your submission to nightmareonquerystreet (at) yahoo (dot) com. Only one submission per email address AND person is allowed.

Here's how it should be formatted (yes, include the bolded and everything!). Please use Times New Roman (or equivalent), 12 pt font, and put spaces between paragraphs. No indents or tabs are needed. 


Subject Line: NoQS: TITLE, Age Category + Genre
(example: NoQS: GRUDGING, Adult Epic Fantasy)


INSIDE THE EMAIL:

Name: Michelle Hauck
Twitter Handle: @Michelle4Laughs (optional)
Title: GRUDGING (yes, caps!)
Genre: Adult Epic Fantasy (Age category and genre. YA/MG is not a genre.)
Word Count: XX,XXX


My Main Character's Most Stressful Relationship is:

My MC's most stressful relationship is with the potato supplier. With prices skyrocketing, the mc can't stop eating those suckers--fried, mashed, frenched--gotta have them. But everyone is trying to undercut our mc's purchase potential. (Please, spend some time on this! We will be looking at this to make up for gaps in the query and 250. It gives us a chance to know your characters better. It doesn't have to be horror-scary. It can be more subtle. Remember 100 words or less.)

Query:

Here is my fantastic query! DO NOT INCLUDE BIO OR COMPS PARAGRAPH. Try to stay in the 250-300 word range. Please put spaces between paragraphs and don't indent.

First 250 words:

Here are the first 250 words of my manuscript, and I will not end in the middle of a sentence, even if I hit 255 words. Do not abuse and send 256. Keep it fair for all. Use Open Office/Word to determine your official word count. 

Entries will be disqualified at our discretion for rule violation.

And that's it! Send in that email during the submission window and you're ready to go. There will be a confirmation email.

We're Tweeting under the hashtag #NoQS. As before, we'll have a twitter party once submission starts. Mentor and agent posts will follow before October 14th.


We also want to mention that Jason Huebinger is having a twitter pitch event called #PitDark on October 20th. That is something you might want to investigate.

Good luck! And sweet nightmares!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Query Questions with Kristy Hunter






Writers have copious amounts of imagination. It's what makes their stories so fantastic. But there's a darker side to so much out of the box thinking. When a writer is in the query trenches, their worries go into overdrive. They start pulling out their hair and imagine every possible disaster.

Here to relieve some of that endless worrying is a series called Query Questions. I'll ask the questions which prey on every writer's mind, and hopefully take some of the pain out of querying. These are questions that I've seen tossed around on twitter and writing sites like Agent Query Connect. They are the type of questions that you need answers from the real expert--agents!

Query Questions is back with a fresh set of questions and more agents. The people have spoken and let me know which questions should stay and which could go. We've got a few brand new situations that writers would like clarified.

From the Knight Agency, Kristy Hunter is here to share her thoughts on querying. 

Is there a better or worse time of year to query?
We monitor the submissions inbox very closely year around. The one exception is the week between Christmas and New Year’s—we still check the inbox, but our office is officially closed that whole week. As a result, our response time may not be as fast as normal.

Does one typo or misplaced comma shoot down the entire query?
You’d be surprised at how many simple errors we see in query letters. Occasionally, it can make us wonder just how much time was spent pulling the project together. That said? We are all human. We all make typos now and then. If your writing is strong and your premise is right up our alley, are we going to let one little misplaced comma stand in our way of reading more? Probably not—but you should still proofread.

Do you have an assistant or intern go through your queries first or do you check all of them?
I check them all. In addition to be an associate agent, I also act as The Knight Agency’s submissions coordinator. I preview all submissions before they are forwarded on to the appropriate agent.

How important are comp titles? Is it something you want to see in a query?
I wouldn’t say they are a must, but I do appreciate when thoughtful comp titles are included in a query.  They can provide me with a good idea of what to expect from your project and also with some early ideas of how it could be positioned in the marketplace. On top of that, comps can be an excellent way to show me that you truly know the genre you are writing. The trick is really finding the right comp titles. I generally find that something both recent and realistic works best.

Some agencies mention querying only one agent at a time and some say query only one agent period. How often do you pass a query along to a fellow agent who might be more interested?
One of my favorite things about The Knight Agency is how collaborative our work process is. We all have fairly unique tastes and, because of that, we are very quick to share a project that may be better suited for someone else’s list. That’s why we state on our website that there is no need to query multiple agents. If it’s better suited for another agent, we make sure they have a chance to review it before we respond.


Most agents have said they don’t care whether the word count/genre sentence comes first or last. But is it a red flag if one component is not included?
I’m not really a stickler for where this information needs to appear—at the end or the beginning. Either works for me. But yes, it does need to be included and I will most likely take it as a red flag if it isn’t.


Many agents say they don't care if writers are active online. Could a twitter account or blog presence by a writer tip the scales in getting a request or offer? And do you require writers you sign to start one?
I think having an online platform is always smart. I don’t require that anyone start any sort of online account just because they sign with me. There are some people who are truly afraid to put themselves out there online and I would never force them to do so. But agents and publishers see a strong online platform as an easy way for an author to reach their target audience—which, in theory, could help with book sales down the road. I absolutely wouldn’t turn down a project I loved just because an author wasn’t active online, but I do see having an online presence, especially a significant one, as a benefit in this day and age.

Some writers have asked about including links to their blogs or manuscript-related artwork. I’m sure it’s not appropriate to add those links in a query, but are links in an email signature offensive?
If an author has a website, blog or twitter handle, they should definitely feel free to include those items in their signature. In fact, I would encourage this as I often check out these items once a project piques my interest.

Do you prefer a little personalized chit-chat in a query letter, or would you rather hear about the manuscript?
I prefer that the query letter be both professional and to-the-point. Your query letter is an opportunity to make a strong first impression. I find that humor is very hard to translate through email—especially when you are talking to someone you’ve never met. Better to be safe. Also, keep in mind that we literally see hundreds of queries a day. If I have to dig too hard to figure out what your project is about, I may assume it’s not for me.

However, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to read any personal information at all.  A short bio (2-3 sentences max) is always appreciated--especially if where you work/live/grew up somehow influenced your work. 


What are some of your favorite movies or books to give us an idea of your tastes?
I love a wide range of books and it’s always a challenge to narrow it down to just a few. Recently, I read An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir which just blew me away. I’m always looking to acquire strong YA projects. Some of my favorite reads include Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. I’m continually drawn to upmarket women’s fiction that has a strong sense of place or time, such as The Help by Kathryn Stockett and Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. For Middle Grade, I’m on the hunt for heartfelt novels that deal with evolving friendships, such as The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, or something that features some sort of club or secret society. I’m also a huge fan of romance—both contemporary and historical—and one of my all-time favorites is The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Another book that blew me away recently? Why We Came to the City by Kristopher Jansma. I absolutely fell in love with the writing.

Kristy Hunter joined The Knight Agency in 2014. With a degree in Women & Gender Studies and English Literature from Vanderbilt University, Kristy moved to New York City immediately after graduation to try her hand at publishing. She completed the Columbia Publishing Course and worked in the city for several years—first at Grove/Atlantic and then at Random House Children’s Books—before deciding it was time to make the move back down south. She now takes advantage of her new surroundings by being outside as much as possible with her dog.

Kristy is currently accepting submissions from a wide variety of genres, including women’s fiction, mystery, historical romance, romance, young adult, and middle grade.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Giveaway of Race Car Dreams



After a day at the track of zipping and zooming, a race car is tired and ready for bed. He washes his rims, fills his tummy with oil, and chooses a book that is all about speed. All toasty and warm, he drifts off to sleep, he shifts into gear . . . and dreams of the race!

You might remember Sharon Chriscoe, my co-host for picture book party. Her book Race Car Dreams has released and there is a nice giveaway for it over on Goodreads. I hope you'll enter to win this bright and colorful story and help support Sharon. 


Monday, September 19, 2016

Query Questions with Jennifer Soloway




Writers have copious amounts of imagination. It's what makes their stories so fantastic. But there's a darker side to so much out of the box thinking. When a writer is in the query trenches, their worries go into overdrive. They start pulling out their hair and imagine every possible disaster.

Here to relieve some of that endless worrying is a series called Query Questions. I'll ask the questions which prey on every writer's mind, and hopefully take some of the pain out of querying. These are questions that I've seen tossed around on twitter and writing sites like Agent Query Connect. They are the type of questions that you need answers from the real expert--agents!

Query Questions is back with a fresh set of questions and more agents. The people have spoken and let me know which questions should stay and which could go. We've got a few brand new situations that writers would like clarified.

I'm so happy to have Jennifer Soloway from Andrea Brown Literary Agency today to share her thoughts on querying. 

1. Is there a better or worse time of year to query?

Please query me anytime. I am actively building my list, and I read and consider every submission I receive. My hope is to find a great new project. 
2. Do you look at sample pages without fail or only if the query is strong?

I always read the sample pages. For me, what matters most is the writing and story. If you can raise a question in my mind (or better yet, two or three questions) that captivates my curiosity, I will request the manuscript so I can find out what happens next.  
3. How open are you to writers who have never been published?

Open! I'd love to find an unknown and introduce that writer to the world!
4. The dreaded rhetorical question in a query. Are they as taboo as the rumors say?

A rhetorical question isn't a deal killer for me, but I don't think it's necessarily the best way to pitch a project. I'd rather be tantalized with a conflict or problem that I'm curious to see unfold.
5. How important are comp titles? Is it something you want to see in a query? Are movie/tv reference okay as comp titles?

Comp titles are great and can be very helpful to set the tone for a project. I use them when I pitch to editors. Movie/TV references are fun too. For example, if you were to say, "BLACK SWAN meets ROSEMARY'S BABY," I would request it right away!
6. Do you prefer a little personalized chit-chat in a query letter or would you rather hear about the manuscript?

Personalized chit chat is nice, but I really want to hear about the manuscript. Let me know the category (picture book, middle grade, young adult, thriller, psychological horror, etc.), the word count, and a brief pitch about the book. Raise a question in my mind. Hook me with a great premise. Make me want to read your book!
7. How many queries do you receive in a week? How many requests might you make out of those?

Our agency receives hundreds of queries a day. I read and consider everything that comes into my query box. I am very open and actively building my list, and I have been requesting quite a few projects with the hopes of finding clients. Today I went to a conference and heard some terrific pitches. I requested four full manuscripts and a number of partials. I can't wait to start reading their work! 
8. How do you feel about writers nudging on full/partial requests? At what point is it appropriate?  

I don't mind a gentle nudge after a month. I always try to respond within 6-8 weeks, but occasionally, I do get backlogged with my reading, because I am focused on work for my current clients. When I do fall behind, I try to reach out to those writers to let them know I'm behind but that I'm still reading their work. I appreciate their patience and understanding. 
9. When a writer nudges with an offer, what length of time is helpful to give you enough time to consider? A week? Two weeks?

Two weeks is ideal for me. When I make an offer to a client, I always suggest writers take two weeks to consider their options before giving me a final answer. I want to make sure they have enough time to make an educated decision. My goal is to have a long career with my clients. I want really want to the partnership be a good fit.   
10. Many agents say they don't care if writers are active online. Could a twitter account or blog presence by a writer tip the scales in getting a request or offer? And do you require writers you sign to start one?

I think it's wonderful is a writer is active on social media, but it wouldn't necessarily sway me either way.  I am most interested in story and strong writing. If I like a project, I will request it. And then if I fall in love with the project, I will make an offer of representation. 
11. If a writer makes changes to their manuscript due to feedback should they resend the query or only if material was requested? Does it make a difference if the changes are from an R&R with another agent?

We have seen amazing transformations in prospective client's work when they revise and resubmit, which is why we suggest to writers, "if the work is significantly revised, you may resubmit it after 6 months." If a writer wishes to revise and resubmit to me six months after first querying me, I would be delighted to consider the revised submission.
12. What themes are you sick of seeing?

I'm really open to anything. I love a good story, and if the writing is strong with a great premise and fascinating characters, I'll read any theme. 
13. Do you look at trends or editor wish lists when deciding to sign a manuscript?

Part of being a good agent is knowing the market and the types of projects editors are buying. I regularly talk to editors to find out their tastes and wish lists. Those wish lists are always on my mind as I read a submission, but I am also looking for that fresh new idea or voice that I haven't heard before. I'd love to find the project that will launch a new trend.
14. Do you consider yourself a hands-on, editorial type of agent? Does a manuscript have to be sub-ready or will you sign stories that need work?

A submission doesn't have to be perfect or sub-ready, but I want to see a manuscript that has been developed over the course of several rounds of revision.  I am a very hands-on, editorial agent, and I am looking for writers who are willing to work hard with me to produce their best work possible. I think the revision process is magical. It brings me great joy to help writers elevate their work. When I go out with a project to editors, I want to put our best foot forward. 
15. What is your biggest query pet peeve? Is there anything that automatically sinks a query for you?

I don't really have query pet peeves, although I suppose it's a bit of a turn off when a writer tells me how great their project is. Don't tell me it's great. Let me read it and then tell you it's great. 
15. What three things are at the top of your submission wish list?
Psychological horror that blurs the lines between the real with the imagined. I love the question: Is it real or is it all in my head?

Action-packed thrillers and mysteries, full of unexpected twists

Literary stories about ordinary people, especially those focused on family, relationships, sexuality, mental illness, or addiction. 

A spooky middle grade ghost story 

Laugh out loud funny picture books.

Oops, that's five

16. What are some of your favorite movies or books to give us an idea of your tastes? 

This is always such a hard question for me, because I read a lot and my taste is eclectic. Here are some favorites off the top of my head:

Picture Books: BIG PLANS, by Bob Shea, illustrated by Lane Smith; CREEPY CARROTS, by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown; GRACE FOR PRESIDENT, by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Middle Grade: The KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES Series, by Shannon Messenger; THE HOUSE WITH A CLOCK IN ITS WALLS, by John Bellairs (which I just reread and still love! I'd love to find a modern day version!)

Young Adult: THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN, by Sherman Alexi; THE CURE FOR DREAMING. by Cat Winters; PEAS AND CARROTS, by Tanita S. Davis; THE SCORIO RACES, by Maggie Stiefvater; NIGHT SPEED, by Chris Howard; THE MARBURY LENS, by Andrew Smith; and anything by Judy Blume!

Adult: I love Tana French. I've read all of her work, and I especially loved THE SECRET PLACE. I'm also a die-hard fan of Donald Ray Pollock. THE DEVIL ALL THE TIME is a masterpiece. I think he's brilliant! And no one writes conspiracy thrillers like Barry Eisler. THE GOD'S EYE VIEW is a a fun, fast, tense read!  

Film: The best movie I saw last year was a Columbian film, EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT. It should have won the Oscar for best foreign film! And IT FOLLOWS is one of my most favorite horror movies. I'd love to find a YA horror like IT FOLLOWS! 

TV: I am really into MR. ROBOT right now, and I can't get enough of THE AMERICANS. I also love comedies: MASTER OF NONE, YOUNGER, TEACHERS, BLACKISH, and BROOKLYN NINE NINE.

Jennifer works closely with Executive Agent Laura Rennert. She enjoys all genres and categories, such as laugh-out-loud picture books and middle-grade adventures, but her sweet spot is young adult. 
Jennifer is a suspense junkie. She adores action-packed thrillers and mysteries, full of unexpected twists. Throw in a dash of romance, and she’s hooked! She’s a sucker for conspiracy plots where anyone might be a double agent, even the kid next door. She is a huge fan of psychological horror that blurs the lines between the real and the imagined. But as much as she loves a good thriller, she finds her favorite novels are literary stories about ordinary teens, especially those focused on family, relationships, sexuality, mental illness, or addiction. In such stories, she is particularly drawn to a close, confiding first-person narrative.

Prior to joining ABLA, Jennifer worked in marketing and public relations in a variety of industries, including financial services, health care, and toys. She has an MFA in English and Creative Writing from Mills College, and was a fellow at the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto in 2012. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, their two sons, and an English bulldog.