Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Agentopia: Whitley Abell

Welcome to the August edition of Agentopia! For more information and to see other Agentopia posts, click here.

This month Whitley Abell from the Inklings Literary Agency is in the spotlight.

Whitley Abell joined Inklings Literary Agency in 2013. Before joining Inklings, she completed successful internships with Carol Mann Agency and P.S. Literary Agency. She is based in St. Louis, MO, where she daylights as a production manager for several medical and S & T journals. She graduated in 2011 BA in English and Creative Writing, and again in 2012 with a MAT in Secondary English Education, which basically means she can tell you anything there is to know about feminist literary theory and the Common Core Standards.

Whitley is primarily interested in Young Adult, Middle Grade, and select Upmarket Women's fiction. She likes characters who are relatable yet flawed, hooks that offer new points of view and exciting adventures, vibrant settings that become active characters in their own right, and a story that sticks with the reader long after turning the last page, be it contemporary or historical, realistic or supernatural, tragic or quirky.

She loves mythology and literary re-imaginings, heartbreaking contemporary novels, historical suspense, and craves cute romantic comedies for YA through adult (ex: Sophie Kinsella, Lauren Morrill, Stephanie Perkins).

She is not interested in vampires, werewolves, angels, zombies, dystopian societies, steampunk, or epic fantasy. Please no paranormal / fantasy for adults.

To query Whitley, please follow these submission guidelines.

Whitley was kind enough to answer a few questions for YAtopia's readers...

What are you looking for in YA submissions right now? 
I'm especially drawn to contemporary novels with an interesting hook and a really strong, authentic voice (think Jenny Han, Stephanie Perkins, Nova Ren Suma). And I'm always looking for a great historical, either realistic or with fantasy/ magical realism elements, preferably regency era through recent decades (I'm not big on medieval times).

What's an immediate turn-off in a query, something guaranteed to get the author rejected?
Not following submission guidelines. Telling me your book doesn't have vampires, werewolves, kids with cancer, etc. Telling me how your book is targeted towards a specific "unexplored" niche, or telling me why you wrote the book... especially if it's to "teach a lesson". That's a huge red flag for me, because it indicates that you aren't really connected to the teen experience. I also hate when authors say that they're hoping to make millions off this one book. I mean, that's great that you're now able to write full-time, but you're in for a rude awakening.

What's the story got to have to make you want to represent it?
VOICE! I can help work out the kinks in terms of anything else (plot, world building, etc.), but voice is intrinsic; it can't be taught. 

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