Thursday, July 6, 2017

Agentopia: Joanna MacKenzie

Welcome to the July edition of Agentopia! This month Joanna MacKenzie from Nelson Literary Agency is in the spotlight.

About Joanna:

As a Chicago-based agent, I am excited to join the Nelson Literary Agency team and to expand my list in both adult and YA. I’m looking for the epic read that, at its center, beats with a universal heart.  In particular, I’m drawn to smart and timely women’s fiction, as well as absorbing, character-driven mysteries and thrillers – both, ideally, with a little edge.  I have a weird obsession with, what I call, “child in jeopardy lit” and can’t get enough kick-ass mom heroines.  On the YA side, I’m interested in coming of age stories that possess a confident voice and characters I can’t stop thinking about.
Originally from Poland, and by way of Canada, I’m all about narratives that deal with the themes of identity and the immigrant experience as well as those that delve into all aspects of the relationships that make us who we are – parents, siblings, best friends, and first love.

What is on your wishlist?

Oh, man, I’m going to try and keep this answer short and succinct.  I’ve always been drawn to stories about the relationships that make us who we are - they don’t have to be positive or long lasting, but rather transformative.  I’m thinking about stories like I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson or Looking for Alaska by John Green.  I’d love to find a “stay up all night reading” sister story.  As someone who was born in one country, moved to another, and now makes her home in the US I’m into anything that deals with the immigrant experience and to that end I’d love to find the YA version of The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.  I’m also a huge Veronica Mars fan, so anything with a gritty sleuth is a must for me.  Also on my #mswl is the YA version of Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.


What is a personal turn-off in a query which is guaranteed to get the author rejected?

It’s always hard for me to read that the author believes their work is 100% unique - so much so that they can’t come up for a comp title.   

Do you google authors and if so, what are you looking for?

I do google authors!  I’m looking for someone who is engaged and professional.  I realize that sounds broad, but I like going to someone’s feed and seeing that they’re talking about what they’re reading, for example, as opposed to criticizing other authors.  I’m a firm believer in the importance of building a community online - one that is positive and constructive and helps to build readers.  I’m always looking to work with authors who want to be partners in their success and who are aware that how they present themselves online is part of that. 

For more info on how to query Joanna, check out her submission guidelines.
Follow Joanna @joannamackenzie 

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