Hillary Jacobson at ICM Partners

YA Fantasy


Akshaya Raman fell in love with writing when she wrote her first short story at the age of ten. Though she majored in biology, she wrote all through college, and gave up a career in science to pursue writing seriously. She lives in California with an actual scaredy cat, and in her free time she enjoys baking, traveling, and watching way too much reality TV.

Though I always knew I wanted to be a writer, I didn’t know what kind of writer so I dabbled in poetry, screenwriting, and journalism. I ultimately returned to my prose roots and over the course of two years, I wrote two YA fantasies and a space opera. I ended up tabling all three of those projects without querying them. Though those books didn’t go anywhere, they taught me how to write/revise and helped me find my writing community. I started working on a fourth book, another YA fantasy, in the summer of 2016. I pitched the project during #DVPit in 2017–where I initially connected with my agent–but after receiving additional feedback, I decided to revise again. I queried widely in June 2018, and ended up signing with my agent a few weeks later.

Over the last few years, I’ve found an amazing network of critique partners and friends in the industry, most of whom are agented, have book deals, or are published. I’ve worked closely with them on several projects, brainstorming, giving big picture feedback, and critiquing query letters (I LOVE queries!). I’m also a contributor to Writer’s Block Party, a group blog about craft and publishing that I co-founded with my critique partners.


When I first started writing seriously, I knew absolutely nothing about publishing. But I was lucky enough to have a lot of guidance over the course of my journey from countless CPs, friends, and mentors. They have pushed my writing to the next level, given me industry advice, and just been a shoulder to lean on over the years. I’m so grateful for that support, and I told myself that as soon as I was in a position to do so, I would pay it forward and help other writers. I’m hoping to find someone who is hardworking and passionate about storytelling to work with over the course of the next few months.

When reading, I look for voice and strong writing–everything else can be fixed. Revision is my favorite part of the process, and I believe in big overhauls and starting WIPs over if needed. I’m not saying I’ll always give notes that require major rewrites, but I believe it’s important to approach revisions with the mindset of making your book as strong as it can possibly be. Ultimately it’s your book. I just want to help you get closer to what you envision it to be!

I love books that feel classic even as they explore modern themes and ideologies. I don’t necessarily need romance, but when it’s there I want messy, complicated and real relationships that make me feel all the things! I live for heart-wrenchingly beautiful prose (think Roshani Chokshi, Renée Ahdieh, Traci Chee, Laini Taylor). I’m here for heartbreaking moments–betrayals, breakups, deaths–but moments that always, always make me cry are reconciliations. And this is a bit specific, but I also love books that have present-day concerns as their central conflict, explored in a fantasy world–themes like accesses to resources, barriers to immigration, economic collapse etc.

Young Adult

  • Fantasy
  • Magical Realism/Fabulism
  • #ownvoices*
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy

I’m open to all subgenres of fantasy, and in particular I’d love to see some contemporary/urban fantasy & paranormal romance. If you have a witchy book I WANT IT. I love stories that take pretty much any familiar YA tropes and spin them in surprising ways.

A few tropes I always love: found families, revenge stories, ensemble casts, complicated family relationships, villain origins, unreliable narrators, hate to love, lovers to enemies, slooowwwww burn romances, love triangles, fake dating.

A few tropes that aren’t for me: girl hate, slut shaming, alpha males, soulmates/fated love interests, any romance where choice/consent is absent.


  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback),
  • Skype or phone call
  • Freestyle in chat

I start with big picture/developmental edits. I think written edit letters are helpful so I will definitely provide one, but I’m a huge fan of Skype/phone calls because I feel there’s a lot of benefit to being able to talk through ideas together.

In general, I’m pretty hands on and goal oriented. For me, mentoring isn’t about just about critique, but overall support and cheerleading. I’m not going to disappear after giving you notes. That said, like in all relationships, mentorship is about communication and the key is to figure out what works best for the specific relationship and adapt accordingly.

My ideal mentee is someone who is open to critique and willing to put in the work, but also unafraid to fight for the heart of their book. I’m not looking for perfection–the point of mentorship is to work on craft together! But you have to be willing to invest time in the revision process.

I’ll start by saying that in all things, I want to see marginalized voices regardless of if you’re writing an #ownvoices story or not. I also want to say that many of my favorite books are books I didn’t necessarily pick up myself but ended up surprising me. This is all to say: please don’t self reject! Even if you don’t see things specific to your book below but think we’d be a good fit, send it to me!

Here is a non-comprehensive list things I always love:

  • WITCHES!!! I’m dyingggg for a witchy YA so if you have one please send it to me! (can be in any sub-genre, but would love a contemporary fantasy)
  • Atmospheric settings (recently loved THE WICKED DEEP)
  • Second world fantasies without magic
  • Stories that blend genres—give me futuristic fantasies or second world spy thrillers
  • Anything with a campy/self-aware sense of humor (What We Do In The Shadows for example)
  • Unique magic systems (like ACE OF SHADES)
  • Multiple POVs / group casts
  • Stories that emphasize friendships as much as romances (I love the concept of threadfamilies in the Witchlands books!)
  • The intersection of magic & technology
  • Stories dealing with immigration, colonialism, or revolution (THE GILDED WOLVES explores these themes wonderfully)
  • Love triangles!!!! I’m so ready for these to make a comeback in YA
  • Really complex/intricate world building with fleshed out cultures (like Trollhunters on Netflix or THERE WILL COME A DARKNESS)
  • Contemporary/urban fantasies set in non-Western cities or featuring mythical beings from other cultures (think WICKED FOX)
  • Non-linear timelines and stories within stories
  • Mythology, folktales, fairytales, urban legends–I’m open to retellings but I want to see what unique spin the author brings to the table

Please don’t send me stories with suicide/self-harm, sexual assault, or any kind of abuse/violence against women. I’m also not the right fit for stories with a fully white allocishet cast or stories in which marginalized characters are killed to further the arcs of white allocishet characters.

I grew up obsessed with Inkheart, Ella Enchanted, The Princess Bride, and I’m always drawn to fantasies that feel classic in that way. I love atmospheric books with beautiful prose and worlds that make me want to live in them like The Wrath and the Dawn, The Devouring Gray, Spinning Silver, The Girl at Midnight, and Wintersong. Some favorite authors include Julie Dao, Leigh Bardugo, Holly Black, Axie Oh, Susan Dennard, Traci Chee, Roshani Chokshi, Tara Sim, Maurene Goo, Becky Albertalli, Sarah Maclean, Helen Hoang, and Jane Austen.

When it comes to TV, I love casts with a great dynamic full of banter and angst, such as The Good Place, Veronica Mars, The Bold Type, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and The Vampire Diaries/The Originals. I also recently loved The Witcher and the Charmed reboot. I’m a big reality TV fan (The Bachelor, Real Housewives, GBBO, Selling Sunset, Styling Hollywood etc.) as well!