Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Chrysa Keenon of CYLE Literary

ChrysaChrysa Keenon is a literary agent with CYLE Literary.

She is seeking: For adult novels, she seeks humorous romance, LGBTQ+ romance, and low fantasy. In young adult, she seeks humorous/lighthearted contemporary romance, fantasy LGBTQ+, diverse romance, magical realism, and stories about characters from marginalized backgrounds. She also will consider fairytale retellings/spinoffs and middle grade fantasy.

Chrysa holds a degree from Taylor University in Professional Writing with minors in Public Relations and Creative Writing. She began her agenting career as an intern at The Seymour Agency and gained experience in the editorial world at GenZ Publishing. She is the recipient of the Blue Seal Award for 1st place YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy fiction and 1st Place News and Feature Story from the Indiana Collegiate Press, among others. She has over 400 publications and currently works as a content writer for a Midwest bridal magazine. Chrysa enjoys puns, coffee, and traveling to oceanside cities.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Latoya C. Smith of LCS Literary Services

Screen Shot 2019-10-30 at 9.08.20 AMLatoya C. Smith is a literary agent and founder of LCS Literary Services.

She is seeking:

Fiction

  • High-concept women’s fiction
  • Romance (contemporary, romantic suspense, cowboys, LGBTQ, erotic, inspirational, paranormal)
  • High-concept thrillers and horror
  • Comedy

Nonfiction (platform/market-based)

  • Memoir
  • How-to/Advice
  • Relationships
  • Health/Wellness
  • Politics/Current Events /History

Latoya started her editorial career as an administrative assistant to New York Times bestselling author, Teri Woods at Teri Woods Publishing while pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree at Temple University. She graduated Cum Laude from Temple in August of 2005. She then attained a full-time position at Kensington Publishing in March of 2006. In October 2006, Latoya joined Grand Central Publishing, an imprint at Hachette Book Group.

For the span of her eight years there, Latoya acquired a variety of titles from Hardcover fiction and nonfiction, to digital romance and erotica. She was featured in Publishers Weekly and USA Today, as well as on various author, book conference, and book blogger websites. In early 2014, she appeared on CSpan2 where she contributed to a panel discussing the state of book publishing. From August 2014 to February 2016, Latoya was Executive Editor at Samhain Publishing where she acquired short and long-form romance and erotic fiction. She is the winner of the 2012 RWA Golden Apple for Editor of the Year, 2017 Golden Apple for Agent of the Year, and the 2017 Literary Jewels Award for Editor of the Year. Latoya provides editorial services and literary representation through her company, LCS Literary Services.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Weronika Janczuk of The Janczuk Literary Agency

Screen Shot 2018-12-03 at 1.57.06 PM 1.pngWeronika Janczuk is a literary agent with The Janczuk Literary Agency (formerly with D4E0 Literary).

Weronika (pronounced like Veronica) broke into publishing in 2009, through a high school workshop that placed me with former young adult editor Brian Farrey at Flux (now North Star), a small imprint in Minnesota, where she pulled, from the slush pile, the lovely Out of the Blue by Holly Schindler, which received a starred review in Booklist. She then moved on to intern with Kathleen Anderson at Anderson Literary Management, Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency, and Mary Kole, formerly with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. From 2010-2011, as an undergraduate at NYU, she worked with Bob Diforio and sold an array of projects. Weronika’s parents immigrated from Poland to Canada, where she was born. “I grew up in the Twin Cities of Minnesota; and now I reside in New York City, NY. I studied at New York University’s Gallatin School, where I finished a self-designed degree in the philosophy of the human person. I love Earl Grey tea and lattes, Sudoku, rivers, and pierogi with blueberries. I am also a writer, as are many other agents and editors. I queried my first project when I was 13, and have never queried again, tinkering in silence, perfecting craft, with my current project a science fantasy.

She is seeking:

“I am not, and have never been, a single-genre reader. I am eager only for the best-told stories, building out a list of talented novelists and writers in these genres:”

  • young adult
  • fantasy & sci-fi
  • literary fiction
  • commercial fiction
  • women’s fiction
  • romance
  • crime, mystery & thrillers
  • memoir
  • nonfiction (innovative ideas & research; projects with a potential for social & cultural impact, etc.)

“Human nature fascinates me, and I am drawn to stories that share the rawness and truth of what is and what is possible. I love beautiful writers, worlds, characters; smart, quirky and genre-bending stories. I love underdogs, and stories about characters that rise above limitations. I love romance, whether genre- or element-wise, that is visceral in its rawness. I love dark contours, intense in their immediacy, and world-building that catches your breath with its precision and distinctness.

“I am very much a reader that likes to be challenged, and expanded; very carefully constructed projects, which reveal a writer’s capacities, are most often those that awaken my heart and mind. I would prefer to work with writers eager to grow in their skill as novelists and build long-term, sustainable careers.

“I will not consider middle grade, children’s, or picture books, nor am I the right agent for illustrators or graphic novels.”

Tips For Pitching Your Book at the 2020 MWW

If you are coming to the 2020 Michigan Writing Workshop, you may be thinking about pitching our agent-in-attendance or editor-in-attendance. An in-person pitch is an excellent way to get an agent excited about both you and your work. Here are some tips (from a previous year’s instructors, Chuck Sambuchino) that will help you pitch your work effectively at the event during a 10-minute consultation. Chuck advises that you should:

  • Try to keep your pitch to 90 seconds. Keeping your pitch concise and short is beneficial because 1) it shows you are in command of the story and what your book is about; and 2) it allows plenty of time for back-and-forth discussion between you and the agent. Note: If you’re writing nonfiction, and therefore have to speak plenty about yourself and your platform, then your pitch can certainly run longer.
  • Practice before you get to the event. Say your pitch out loud, and even try it out on fellow writers. Feedback from peers will help you figure out if your pitch is confusing, or missing critical elements. Remember to focus on what makes your story unique. Mystery novels, for example, all follow a similar formula — so the elements that make yours unique and interesting will need to shine during the pitch to make your book stand out.
  • Do not give away the ending. If you pick up a DVD for Die Hard, does it say “John McClane wins at the end”? No. Because if it did, you wouldn’t buy the movie. Pitches are designed to leave the ending unanswered, much like the back of any DVD box you read.
  • Have some questions ready. 10 minutes is plenty of time to pitch and discuss your book, so there is a good chance you will be done pitching early. At that point, you are free to ask the agent questions about writing, publishing or craft. The meeting is both a pitch session and a consultation, so feel free to ask whatever you like as long as it pertains to writing.
  • Remember to hit the big beats of a pitch. Everyone’s pitch will be different, but the main elements to hit are 1) introducing the main character(s) and telling us about them, 2) saying what goes wrong that sets the story into motion, 3) explaining how the main character sets off to make things right and solve the problem, 4) explaining the stakes — i.e., what happens if the main character fails, and 5) ending with an unclear wrap-up.