Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Becky LeJeune of Bond Literary

Screen Shot 2020-03-10 at 7.47.54 AM.pngBecky LeJeune is an associate literary agent with Bond Literary.

Becky is an associate agent at Bond Literary Agency, a Denver-based agency run by Sandra Bond. Prior to joining the agency, Becky spent time working as a bookseller, a freelance cookbook editor, and an acquisitions editor for a small, regional press. She is a graduate of the Denver Publishing Institute.

Becky is actively building her client list, and is interested in cookbooks and YA and adult submissions in the following genres: horror, mystery/suspense/thriller, historical fiction, sci fi, fantasy, and general fiction. She enjoys plot driven narratives with unique settings, strong world building, and well-developed characters.

Find her on Twitter here.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Laurel Symonds of The Bent Agency

Screen Shot 2020-06-18 at 11.01.07 AMLaurel Symonds is a literary agent with The Bent Agency.

I began my publishing career in the editorial department of HarperCollins Children’s Books/Katherine Tegen Books in New York City. In the past decade, I have also held positions in the marketing department at a small publishing house, in a library, and as a bookseller at one of the nation’s best independent bookstores. What I love about agenting is being the author’s number one cheerleader through all these parts of the publication process!

I am seeking young adult and middle grade fiction with a special interest in contemporary and fantasy-with-a-twist. I look for engaging voices, commercial hooks, and immersive worlds. My YA tastes are pretty commercial whereas my middle grade tastes can skew more literary and I’m especially interested in middle grade that might lend itself to illustration.

For picture books and graphic novels, I am especially seeking authors-illustrators who bring a unique vision. My tastes are diverse, ranging from sophisticated to quirky to gently humorous. I am interested in art in all mediums, but especially appreciate a smart use of color and perspective. I am not the right fit for “issue” books, rhyming texts, or overly sentimental stories.

In every category, I am seeking voices that have previously been underrepresented and stories that have been overlooked.

With a background in both editorial and marketing-sales, I’m looking forward to partnering with you on your publishing journey!

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Emily Keyes of Fuse Literary

Screen Shot 2020-06-18 at 10.56.13 AMEmily S. Keyes is a literary agent with Fuse Literary.

Emily joined Fuse Literary in 2013. Previously she worked at the L. Perkins Agency as a contracts manager and associate agent. Before entering the world of agenting, she worked in the contracts department of Simon & Schuster, Inc where she handled copyright, reversion of rights and assisted with author contracts. In 2008, she graduated from New York University’s Center for Publishing. She uses her knowledge of contracts, copyright and the publishing business to benefit her clients and the Fuse team.

Emily was born in New Haven, CT to a pack of feral lawyers. She attended the University of Connecticut as an undergraduate. Then she had a series of bookselling jobs and worked, briefly, at Yale University Press before she moved to New York to pursue her dream of working in the big publishing industry. Back when she had time for fun, she spent her time blogging about Sweet Valley at 1bruce1 (remember LiveJournal?) and shouting at her friends about the indignities female comic book characters suffer.

The “S” stands for Suzanne, which is her mother’s name and may seem pretentious but is actually to distinguish her from this Emily Keyes in search engines.

Emily loves reading books that make her feel like she is entering someone else’s brain. Voice and emotion are very important to hook her on a project. She loves all types of young adult and middle grade books. Her #MSWL right now includes a diverse YA fantasy in a non-western setting, particularly those based on real historical periods, middle grade stories that kids will WANT to read (if your goal is to “teach kids stuff”, I probably don’t want to read it), upmarket women’s fiction, and unique science fiction and fantasy.

Emily is also looking for a select list of commercial fiction which includes fantasy & science fiction, women’s fiction, along with pop culture and humor titles. She is not looking for poetry, short stories, screenplays or anything that is “publishable” and not amazing.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Keely Boeving of Wordserve Literary

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 9.50.50 AMKeely Boeving is an Agent with WordServe Literary. After receiving her B.A. in English from the University of Virginia, she went on to attend the Denver Publishing Institute and then began her career in New York working in the editorial department at Oxford University Press, where she acquired books for the trade history list. She moved back to Colorado in 2014 and began her own freelance editorial company before joining WordServe the following year. She lives in Denver with her husband and their twins.

For general fiction, she will consider contemporary and literary fiction; as well as middle grade and YA (no fantasy, please).

For adult nonfiction, Keely is looking for well-researched nonfiction books in the areas of health and wellness, business (especially books targeting women in the workplace), parenting and family life, social justice, and religious studies; as well as projects from diverse and under-represented voices. She is also seeking narrative nonfiction and memoir.

For the Christian market, she is seeking books in the areas of Christian Living, spiritual transformation, devotion and worship, and women’s topics including motherhood, relationships and marriage, work-life balance, and calling.

She is not looking for thrillers, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, or picture books.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Tina Wainscott of The Seymour Agency

Screen Shot 2020-06-29 at 10.37.45 AM.pngTina Wainscott is a literary agent with The Seymour Agency.

Tina is the USA Today bestselling author of over 30 novels with romantic thrills and suspenseful chills. She’s been published with houses such as St. Martin’s Press, Harper Collins, Hachette, and Random House since 1995, so she understands the business from the author’s perspective. As an agent, she’s looking for self-help nonfiction that inspires people to reach for their best and overcome life’s challenges.

A Note from Tina:

“As I considered becoming an agent with this amazing agency, I knew what my area of interest would be as soon as Nicole mentioned ‘self-help’ as one of the categories on which they wanted to focus. Though I continue to write fiction, I am also invested in my own soul journey.

“I love the feeling of reading a book that helps me transform, to see the world through a new perspective and its challenges in a new light. The idea of helping writers share their vision with others when it comes from their heart is thrilling!

“I’m looking to work with a select few authors who have an idea that fits into self-help/ personal transformation/spiritual growth but also have that special something to stand out in a crowded market. If you have a provocative idea, a grasp on your platform, and a fabulous title and hook, I’d love to see it! Diversity is welcome!

“Please limit queries to self-help/non-fiction books. No memoirs (unless it specifically aims to use your life/experience as a teaching tool or you are someone of note), poetry, or children’s books, and please, no fiction. Even spiritual fiction.”

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Hannah VanVels of Belcastro Agency

Screen Shot 2019-12-09 at 9.29.48 AMHannah VanVels is a literary agent with Belcastro Agency. Her life is consumed by all things books, and when she’s not working on books, she can usually be found curled up with a good book and a good cup of coffee.

She earned her BA at the University of Michigan and holds MA degrees from Tel Aviv University and the University of Chicago. Hannah has worked various bookish jobs including a stint as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble, a freelance editor for scholarly and academic essays and journals, and most recently as the acquiring editor at a young adult imprint with HarperCollins Publishing.

She is seeking:

“First and foremost, I’m building an inclusive list with a variety of voices and genres. I love working with #OwnVoices authors, and I’m looking for voices from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, regardless of genre, even if it’s ‘tropey,’ ‘overdone,’ or ‘outdated.’ I want to see it all!”

Middle Grade:

  • Magical realism and contemporary fantasy: Give me a story with a magical school where the MC is a POC. Something with humor and heart and, duh, magic! Stories inspired by myths, folklore, or legends, particularly those that are non-western in origin
  • Humor: A novel that will make adults and kids alike laugh while they read (think Shrek-type humor but a little more immature)
  • Adventure: I would love to find a MG version of The Mummy (the Brendan Frasier version, of course). Characters that are on the spectrum, but their story is not centered on that; it’s just who they are. Because characters on the spectrum can fight dragons and save the world too!
  • Animals. I’m a giant animal lover and a total sucker for beautiful emotional stories that involve animals like Pax and The One and Only Ivan
  • Nonfiction. Narrative nonfiction focused on historical events or figures that history has overlooked STEAM-focused topics for students and young readers

Young Adult Fiction:

  • Fantasy. My first love is character-driven fantasy (urban, contemporary, high — all of it!). ❤ A new retelling of an old trope? A mythical setting inspired by a non-European culture? A reluctant hero who inevitably shouts, “I never asked for any of this!”? Sign me up! I’m looking for strong world-building, strange magic, empathetic villains, morally gray heroes, and subversive fantasy tropes
  • Contemporary horror/thrillers. Creeptastic thrillers with a tightly-knit, well-paced plot, clever and nuanced characters, and a twist that readers will never see coming. I generally steer clear of excessive on-page violence. Dystopian and paranormal are some of my subgenres. Ghosts, vampires, and contagions are very much welcome in my inbox. A heist narrative like a YA Ocean’s Eleven
  • Contemporary. High concept contemporary fiction aimed at all genders. Bonus points if it makes me laugh and/or cry. Evergreen themes: self love, coming of age, girls supporting girls, friendship and friendship breakups, and slow burn romances. Topical contemporary fiction addressing real issues that teens face.
  • Science Fiction. Accessible science fiction. Think Star Wars or superhero movies. I’m looking for a strong grounded story in which you do not need to understand the ins and outs of time travel and quantum physics in order to follow along
  • Young YA. Fiction aimed at younger YA audiences to fill the space where MG ends and traditional YA begins. Great writing is a must. Great character development and an unforgettable voice really drive it home.

New Adult & Adult Fiction:

  • Horror. Dark and devious stories like Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House. Paranormal aspects welcome! Stories that are gothic and witchy!
  • Fantasy. The key for adult fantasy, for me, is accessibility and intrigue. More Patrick Rothfuss than J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m looking for a well-developed world and magic system with very real stakes. Bonus points if your MC isn’t the typical “Chosen One.”
  • Commercial, literary, and genre women’s fiction. I’m particularly interested in the adventures of twenty-something women navigating the start of professional life after college. Think a younger version of “Sex and the City.” I’m on the lookout for cozy mysteries with a strong female MC and humorous writing style. Romantic comedies! A story that will make me laugh and swoon at the same time.

Nonfiction and Memoir:

  • Powerful personal stories and memoirs, especially from those with marginalized backgrounds. A platform can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes from social media, past publications, or expertise in your subject. Essay collections on a unified and relevant theme

Graphic Novels

  • Young readers through young adult, fiction, and nonfiction. Characters that leap off the page, relatable stories, and stunning illustrations always welcome