Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Jennifer Wills of The Seymour Agency

Screen Shot 2016-10-17 at 12.57.20 PM.png[SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS]

Jennifer Wills is a literary agent with The Seymour Agency.

She is seeking: Jennifer is particularly interested in a wide range of picture books and cookbooks, with a soft spot for author/illustrators of sweet and wacky picture books, and cookbooks with mouth-watering recipes of the health conscious, budget friendly or celebrity chef variety. For fiction, she’s also interested in middle grade and YA with a sci fi/fantasy, horror/suspense, or contemporary bent, and upmarket women’s fiction with a sense of humor. On the nonfiction side, narrative nonfiction and memoir are also welcome. If your manuscript has a great hook, a distinct voice, and can make her laugh out loud or ugly cry (or, even better, both), she’d love to see it.
 
Bio: Jennifer has five years’ experience in some of the publishing industry’s leading literary agencies.  She worked with publishers around the world as an assistant in Trident Media Group’s huge foreign rights department, and with domestic publishers as an assistant at Writers House (where, incidentally, she began her career as an intern).  She joined the Seymour Agency, where she has quickly moved up the ranks to associate agent.  Jennifer has always loved helping fledgling authors become NYT bestsellers and she’s ready to be a relentless champion for her own clients’ work.  You can find her @WillsWork4Books on Twitter.

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Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Bethany Morehead of Hartline Literary

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 12.41.18 AM.png[SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS]

Bethany Morehead is a jr. literary agent with Hartline Literary.

She is seeking: children’s picture books, middle grade fiction, young adult fiction, women’s fiction, romantic fiction, and speculative fiction (sci-fi and fantasy).

Bethany is also a quirky millennial and award-winning author. She is deeply in love with Jesus, her hubby, and puppy. You will find her sipping on sweet tea sharing her deepest feelings with a pen to paper, rather than speaking them. Though introverted, she loves meeting and connecting with new people-especially while playing “nerd-tastic” board games.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Cyle Young of Hartline Literary

Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 9.28.47 AM.pngCyle Young is a literary agent with Hartline Literary.

Cyle is seeking:

  • YA, middle grade, and chapter books
  • genre fiction, especially romance
  • love stories
  • speculative (sci-fi and fantasy)
  • easy readers, picture books and board books
  • nonfiction (parenting, leadership, ministry, and self-help)
  • movie and screenplays (specific details at cyleyoung.com) 

Cyle is a multiple-genre award-winning author. Winner of more than twenty writing awards, he considers himself a “binge writer” and routinely scribes 30,000 words in a weekend. His book Belly Buttons and Broken Hearts released with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in 2013.

Cyle finds great joy in writing and loves to bounce between crafting epic high fantasy tales, helpful non-fiction parenting books, and getting lost in the melodic rhythm of children’s poetry. He serves as managing editor of almostanauthor.com, a website devoted to helping aspiring writers become published authors, and is also a monthly contributor to the parenting website, just18summers.com, and the writing website, thewriteconversation.blogspot.com.

You can learn more about what genres Cyle is aquiring by visiting his website at cyleyoung.com.

Get to Know an Agent Assistant in Attendance: Lesley Sabga of The Seymour Agency

Screen Shot 2017-01-31 at 4.43.20 PM.png[SOLD OUT OF PITCH APPOINTMENTS]

Lesley Sabga is an agent assistant at The Seymour Agency.

She is taking pitches on behalf of all of the agency’s acquiring agents (except for Jennifer Wills, who is attending the event also). She wants to hear pitches for  happily-ever-after romance, mainstream suspense, thrillers, mysteries, young adult with a fresh voice (both contemporary and sci-fi/fantasy), science fiction, fantasy, action/adventure, Christian/inspirational fiction and nonfiction, women’s fiction (contemporary and historical), new adult, Southern fiction, and literary fiction.

Lesley is a graduate of the editorial program at the University of Chicago and also hold a BA in English from the University of Kentucky. She has experience working in two publishing houses, Entangled Publishing and Jolly Fish Press, and is currently working at The Seymour Agency. She is also a full-time freelancer for the Editorial Freelance Association and the Chartwell Literary Group.

Lesley is an avid reader and a constant occupant of local coffeeshops and bookstores. She wakes up every day thankful to have the opportunity to share my knowledge and passion for literature professionally.

Tips For Pitching Your Book at the 2018 MWW

If you are coming to the 2018 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 one of last 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.

Get to Know Writing Day Workshops Coordinator Jessica Bell

Screen Shot 2017-01-15 at 12.15.26 AM.pngJessica Bell is the executive coordinator of Writing Day Workshops, which organizes one-day writing conferences. These events take place mostly in the U.S., but can happen elsewhere.

If Jessica could choose only one creative mentor, she’d give the role to Euterpe, the Greek muse of music and lyrics. This is not only because she spends most of her time in Athens, Greece, but because of her life as a 30-something Australian contemporary fiction author, award-winning poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist, whose literary inspiration often stems from songs she’s written.

She started as a poet, drawing from her musical background and etching her thoughts and feelings into verse. Those stanzas soon turned into sentences and paragraphs, and eventually into published books. Her literary voice is said to overflow with “lyrical descriptions, unique metaphors, tight dialogue, and an abundance of sensory detail.” She has also been told she has the ability to take a seemingly ordinary three-chord type story and turn it into a main stage event.

In addition to her novels about unique dysfunctional families, poetry collections, and her best-selling pocket writing guides (Writing in a Nutshell series), she has published a variety of works in online and print literary journals and anthologies, including Australia’s Cordite Review, Writer’s Digest, and the anthologies 100 Stories For Queensland and From Stage Door Shadows, both released through Brisbane, Australia’s, eMergent Publishing.

One of Jessica’s proudest moments was when, in November 2013, her poem, Sugar (which was published in a poetry anthology called Women’s Work, edited by Libby Hathorn) was broadcast on ABC National Radio’s Poetica program.

Jessica Bell is the Publisher of Vine Leaves Press, and she makes a living as a Book Cover Designer for indie authors, and an editor/writer for English Language Teaching publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

As of October 2016, she is the singer of Keep Shelly in Athens.

To see a list of awards click here.