Thursday, March 28, 2013

WriteOnCon Recap: Agent Wishlists Pt. 1

For many of us, the past few weeks have been all about WriteOnCon's Pitch Fest and Brenda Drake's Pitch Madness Contest.

(And don't forget, the #PitMad Twitter Pitch Fest coming up this Friday, March 29th 8am-6pm EDT!)

WriteOnCon was such a fantastic experience, even for those of us who didn't "win" officially. There were requests for manuscripts up front and behind the scenes, feedback from agents on our pitches, not to mention a whole lot of help from new friends as we worked and reworked our pitches on the forums in the weeks leading up to the contest.

WriteOnCon Agent Wishlists Part I   Part II here )

During the contest itself, there was a ton of valuable information to be gleaned from scouring all the entries. For those of you who didn't have the chance to look it over (or if you just want to see it a little organized and condensed in one place) I'm going to do a series of posts on feedback agents gave during WriteOnCon. One of the first useful things I noticed was that some agents would drop comments about genres, themes, or premises that they loved/hated. Super useful for those of us querying!

I've compiled some quotes from seven of the agents below! If you're looking to query Alyssa Eisner-Henkin, Jodell Sadler, Mollie Glick, Kathleen Rushall, Sara Crowe, Peter Knapp or Jennifer Flannery, check out what they had to say about the types of stories they'd love to see in their inbox, and which are getting worn out.

Do any of these sound like your story? Maybe now's the time to query!

Alyssa Eisner-Henkin
    • I'm not the biggest paranormal YA reader
    • I'm personally not a huge sci-fi person

Jodell Sadler
    • ... a fast-paced read, which I enjoy. 
    • I'm a huge Darren Shan - Cirque du Freak series - fan ... this does hold promise to offer those similar plot twists he is so known for.

Mollie Glick
    • I have some personal issues believing in the idea of a child [being able to take on an adult's job]

Kathleen Rushall
    • I'm definitely interested in contemporary YA with a great twist. 
    • This reminds me a tiny bit of ELLA ENCHANTED, which I love.
    • I love thrillers! ... I love conspiracies
    • I'm loving the Egyptian setting.

Sara Crowe
    • Love the idea of seeing ... from the class pet's POV- can see kids loving this.
    • I love a mystery and really love a spooky mystery. 
    • I love MG mystery.
    • This has a bit of a Goonies feel ... who would not want that?

Peter Knapp

Peter wrote a ton of comments! In summary:

  • Thumbs Up: Thrillers, gritty crime, atypical romance, light magical realism, humanized antagonists, MG about family and friendships
  • Thumbs Down: High/heavy fantasy or paranormal, grim reaper tales, serial killers, faceless antagonists, superheroes

A smattering of quotes from Peter's comments ...
    • My favorite MG stories touch on themes of friendship and family relationships
    • While serial killer stories aren't always my thing, I do love gritty crime YA.
    • This story doesn't sound grounded enough for my personal taste -- my fantasy needs to be more grounded (a la RAVEN BOYS).
    • So, unfortunately this one isn't for me. I'm looking only for light fantasy -- where fantasy is used to explore the real world rather than revise it
    • This is unfortunately not the type of story I'm looking to acquire. I am afraid that this goes beyond magical realism and into the realm of paranormal or fantasy.
    • I just can't get my head around Grim Reaper stories. It's just not something that has ever captured my imagination.
    • I also always worry a bit when a story's central conflict is being propelled by some shadowy, sinister and faceless society ... I like when antagonists are humanized and complicated and fully realized
    • While I've persuaded myself to look at superhero manuscripts before, they're not generally at the top of my wish list.

Jennifer Flannery 

Jennifer also had many comments! In summary:

  • Thumbs Up: Poignant, heartwrenching, social-media & young fame, strong female, dealing with death in MG,  time-tested plots in new settings, Glee, Encyclopedia Brown.
  • Thumbs Down: Animal POV, moving houses/schools etc, English boarding school setting (too Harry Potter).

Some quotes gleaned from Jennifer's comments ...

    • I'm a sucker for catastrophe in love.
    • I'm also a sucker for poignant books and have been dying, for years, for a book that makes me sob like Where The Lillies Bloom or something heartwrenching like that.
    • My 12 year old and I are huge Glee fans so I'm all over this idea. 
    • I've never read about a character like [this MC] and I'd very much like to--a kick ass girl from a line of kick ass girls. ... I'm impressed by the idea of such a strong female character who is ambitious and nurturing.
    • I love the idea of rising and falling by the internet, too, social media and the instant fame it can convey (and remove) is a timely and important topic.
    • I loved and adored the Encyclopedia Brown books when I was a kid; this sounds more exciting than that series.
    • I applaud the attempt to make [death] a relevant and meaningful and provocative topic (in an MG).
    • The world needs more books like this where the standard plot points are overlaid on a time and place that are completely unexpected and engrossing. I love the dichotomy.
    • I'm a huge fan of the unlikely friend scenario
    • I've never read about a kid in the [Witness Protection Program] and I'd like to.
    • Not at all sure about a book from the POV of a horse. I'm not sure today's kids would suspend their disbelief and invest in a horse's experience. I'd rather see a human character tell the story.
    • The death and move plot is a little tired ...  Not a big fan of The Big Move books normally
    • The British boarding school feels like a little bit of a Harry P throwback.

Hopefully some of this was enlightening to those of you querying!

Did you participate in WriteOnCon? What were your favorite parts?

Again, a Reminder -- TOMORROW IS #PitMad!!


  1. Great compilation of what each agent is looking for. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for sharing! I didn't get a chance to take part but I'm ready for #PitMad tomorrow :D

  3. A couple of these agents are on my query list. Thanks for sharing these comments!

  4. I was gonna say, "How did I miss this?" And then realized you posted it on my daughter's first birthday while I was out of town on vacation. Go figure! Love it. I'm off to read part II!



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