Welcome to the October edition of Agentopia! For more information and to see other Agentopia posts click here.
This month Renee Nyen from KT Literary is in the spotlight.
Several years in the editorial department at Random House’s Colorado division provided Renee with the opportunity to work with bestselling and debut authors alike. After leaving Random House, she came to KT Literary in early 2013. She loves digging into manuscripts and helping the author shape the best story possible. Though this is great for her profession, it tends to frustrate people watching movies with her.
With a penchant for depressing hipster music and an abiding love for a good adventure story, Renee is always looking for book recommendations. Even if that means creeping on people reading in public. Which she does frequently.
She makes her home in Colorado with her husband, their young daughter, and their hygienically-challenged basset hound.
Renee also kindly answered a few questions for our readers...
What are you looking for in YA submissions right now?
I'm looking for YA and MG. Specifically, I'd love to find a gritty space pirate story! Also, I'm a sucker for deep, meaningful friendships. Especially between females. I see many queries where in the opening pages the boy-crazed, shopaholic best friend dolls up the beautiful-yet-introverted main character and drags her to a party. There is so much more depth to friendships in high school. I want to see that reflected in YA books.
What's an immediate turn-off in a query, something guaranteed to get the author rejected?
I know it sounds basic, but following agency submission guidelines is really important. A lot of our email is automatically sorted. For kt literary, if the word "query" isn't in your subject line, your email may end up in our spam folder. It seems fussy, since every agency has different guidelines, but it's for a reason.
As for personal taste, be specific! It's hard to get excited about a main character's "deep inner struggle with personal demons" or their "journey to enlightenment and self-discovery" because the language is so general. I look at thousands of queries and the ones that stand out are concise, detailed, and interesting. I know that seems impossible, but it can be done!
What's the story got to have to make you want to represent it?
Voice! It's pretty easy to tell upfront if I want to spend 200+ pages with a character. That's the crux of YA and MG for me. I want a character who is relatable or interesting. Someone who will challenge the way I look at the world or put a smile on my face. Those are the books that stay with me, and ultimately, are the books I want to represent!
We are ten writers passionate about Young Adult literature in all shapes and sizes. Check out our About Us page for details on all of our amazing contributors! Don't hesitate to contact us with questions or comments.