Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2 Literary Agents Seeking Writers of Children's and YA Books

Here are two literary agents seeking children's and YA books. Molly O'Neill (Root Literary) is most actively seeking young adult and middle-grade fiction. She is also seeking a select number of children’s illustrators. Ayanna Coleman (Quill Shift Literary Agency) is seeking young adult and middle-grade fiction in all genres.

Note: You can find a comprehensive list of new and established agents seeking clients here: Agents Seeking Clients

IMPORTANT: You should NEVER query an agent without checking the agency website first. Submission requirements change, and agents may close their lists, or switch agencies.

Molly O'Neill of Root Literary

About Molly: Prior to becoming an agent, she spent thirteen years working in various roles inside the publishing industry: as an editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, where she acquired Veronica Roth’s juggernaut Divergent series, among many other fantastic projects; as head of editorial at Storybird, a publishing/tech start-up; and in school and library marketing at both HarperCollins and Clarion Books. She loves the creative process and early-stage project development, is invigorated by business strategy and entrepreneurial thinking, and is fascinated by the intersections of art, commerce, creativity, and innovation. Molly is especially passionate about the people behind books, and she takes pride in discovering and evangelizing talented authors and illustrators, expanding the global reach of their work, and finding new ways to build connections and community among creators, readers, stories, and their champions.

Molly is an alum of Marquette University, an erstwhile Texan, and a current dweller of Brooklyn, New York. She is drawn to authors and artists who constantly challenge themselves, who are adept at communicating with their audiences, who are creative and flexible thinkers, and who have as much enthusiasm for their readers as for their own successes. Wit, strong writing, vivid settings, a passion for craft, or a well-timed reaction gif will always catch her eye.

Currently Seeking: Young Adult Fiction: Tell me a story that's somehow never been told, particularly if it's by a narrative voice that's never been heard, or an authorial voice that's been previously under-represented. I'm most compelled by big what-ifs; by a vivid and vibrant sense of place or worldbuilding; by characters making hard, even seemingly-impossible choices; by the portrayal of friendships that are as intensely meaningful as any romance; by tales of chosen family or bands-of-misfits-turned-family; and by romances that are simultaneously swoony and full of wit and spark. I'm far more interested in the ground-breaking than the well-trodden or derivative, and so am fascinated by unexpected structures, high-concept narrative frameworks and storytelling mechanisms, meldings of genres, or twists I genuinely didn't see coming. And always, always, I want evocative, masterful writing.

Middle Grade Fiction: I'm drawn over and over to middle grades that make me feel something as a reader—whether you make me laugh, cry, curious, wondrous, or furiously indignant! My favorite middle grades explore relationships and a character's growing awareness of their connections to the larger world around them, all while saying something fresh and meaningful about the experience of being human. Magical realism or a sense of the fantastical get big bonus points from me, as does a strong sense of place, real or imaginary, and I can never get enough of humor (though I lean more toward wit, puns, or a sense of the absurd than slapstick humor). Lyrical writing can win me over fast, but to be a book that readers return to again and again, it needs to be supported by a plot as compelling as the language is beautiful.

Illustrators & Author-Illustrators: I am NOT currently seeking standalone texts by picture book authors, but I'm very open to illustrators, and I likewise welcome illustrators who are also writers or on their way to becoming writers. My illustrator clients work on a variety of formats, from jacket/cover illustrations, to spot art, to full picture books, to early readers/chapter books, to the occasional graphic novel or graphic hybrid. I'm drawn to a wide variety of illustration styles (visit the Illustrator Gallery on my website to see examples), but what most catches my eye is art with a distinctive narrative sensibility or point of view, a knack for visual storytelling, and the intelligent use of subtle-but-impactful visual details, whether poignant, humorous, or sweet, that add to the richness and complexity of a story's seemingly-simple layers. On a technical level, I'm open to any medium, but looking for illustrators who work equally well in full color and black/white/grayscale and dexterity with shading, line work, and composition are all important.

Nonfiction for adults, kids, or teens: My nonfiction list is eclectic, and often driven by a writer with a distinctive and well-established platform, expertise, or life experience. I'm particularly drawn to nonfiction narratives about creativity, culture, storytelling, innovation, community, connectivity, and/or friendship/love/family in all its forms; by projects that explore the intersections of unexpectedly-connected topics; and by those that underscore a universal human story, whatever the context. A good rule of thumb: if it would make for a fascinating TED talk, chances are I'll be intrigued. As an agent, I'm eager to strategize with you about how a book/literary career might further enable the reach of your existing work, and to support you in developing authentic ways of collaborating/exchanging value with the community that already embraces you and your work.

How to Submit: Please send a query letter and the first 10 pages of your manuscript in the body of an email to submissions@rootliterary.com. If you wish to query one agent, please include that agent's name in the subject line of your email and it will be sent directly to that agent.

Ayanna Coleman of Quill Shift Literary Agency


About Ayanna
: Ayanna Coleman founded Quill Shift Literary Agency in 2013 to help usher inclusive stories worthy of inspiring a passion for reading in children through the publication process.

What she is seeking
: She is looking for middle grade and young adult fiction in all genres. Bring her stories with plucky, realistic characters that represent our multicultural society who grow throughout an engrossing plot in a setting that sucks the reader in.

How to Submit: To submit, please follow the instructions on the Agency website and complete the author submissions form.

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