amandasellet.com
@amandajsellet

AGENT
Bridget Smith, JABberwocky Literary Agency

WRITES
YA, Contemporary, Rom-com, Chick Lit, Light Fantasy

BOOKS
BY THE BOOK: A NOVEL OF PROSE AND CONS (May 12, 2020), HMH

BIO
I’m a Gen X ex-journalist who studied Literature at a tiny liberal arts college in Florida and Cinema Studies at NYU before heading to England to work as the nanny for an English actress and her writer husband. (Or rather, for their children.) I then spent a decade writing about movies, books, theater and restaurants for various print and online outlets, including VH1, NPR, and the Washington Post. Now I freelance and write fiction from my home in Kansas, which I share with my French archaeologist husband and our 13-year-old daughter, as well as several cats.

PUBLISHING BACKGROUND
I started pursuing publication after leaving the newspaper business a dozen or so years ago. Since then, I’ve written six manuscripts, signed with two agents (including the current one), and been on submission three times. The first time was for a women’s fiction fantasy rom-com hybrid that made it all the way to acquisitions but didn’t sell; the second was a YA version of the same story that again came close; and the third, which will be my debut, sold at auction in the first round. I’ve also dealt with R&Rs (from agents and editors) and querying processes both long and short, so for someone relatively “new,” I’ve been around the block a few times.

EXPERIENCE
My work as an arts critic was all about assessing what worked (or didn’t) in a specific book, play, or film. The journalism background also means I’m a stickler for clean copy, clarity, and accuracy. On a personal level, I can speak to balancing parenthood and writing; transitioning from non-fiction or technical writing to novels; living abroad; and keeping hope alive over a looooong publishing journey. Both of my CPs are published YA authors, and I’ve beta read for several other multiply published writers. And as an avid reader of semi-mature years, I have both a historical perspective on books and a broad acquaintance with what’s being published right now. Plus I now live with an actual young adult, which is an education on many fronts.

OVERVIEW
I am lucky enough to live in a town with a thriving, tight-knit community of established writers who are incredibly generous about sharing advice and information. Without that support system, I would have been lost many times over, from manuscript and query feedback to insider perspectives on agents, editors, and publishing houses. I’d love to pay that forward. Plus, I really enjoy editing and critiquing manuscripts as a creative act in its own right, and am excited about making connections with other people in the writing community.

I would love to find a story that has a spark of life in it: characters I care about; a voice that’s distinct and fresh; authentic emotions; a plot that keeps me turning pages. As a reader, I tend to favor the quirky and character-driven, stories that are entertaining but also teach me something new about how it feels to be a human in the world. If you’ve ever thought “my book is too weird/whimsical/brainy/silly for mainstream tastes,” I may be the mentor for you.

MENTORING GENRES
Young Adult

  • Contemporary
  • Romance
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy

In the immortal words of that guy from Mary Poppins, I love to laugh. Send me your clever dialogue, your eccentric secondary characters, your extreme nerds in slapstick social situations, preferably with a love story in the mix. Related: my appetite for angst is pretty limited, so I’m not the best fit for crying books. I would however be very open to a story that crosses genres (e.g. fantasy romance or funny mystery).

I WILL PROVIDE:

  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
  • Skype or phone call
  • Freestyle in chat
  • What works best for you? We can figure it out together.

WORKING STYLE
I am a quick reader who will do her best to minimize the agony of waiting for feedback. Beyond that, I try to be as clear as possible about the aspects of a story that aren’t working and why, and from there am happy to either brainstorm possible solutions or act as a sounding board if you prefer not to have your vision clouded with too much outside input. And when I love things I’ll tell you that too, because I think it’s important to know when you’re doing something really well!

IDEAL MENTEE
The quality I respect most in my fellow writers is willingness to do the work. Not just make superficial changes but dig deep and challenge themselves to take a story to the next level.

SEND ME:
The next Emma Mills, Blair Thornburgh, Ariel Kaplan, Lianne Oelke, Erin McCahan, Mhairi McFarlane, or (here comes a curveball!) Naomi Novik. Thematically, I enjoy stories about family, falling in love, faith/religion, oddball settings, a hint of magic, redemption arcs, and retellings.

DO NOT SEND ME:
No horror or grimdark, please. And I’m probably not the best person for intensely lyrical language, or anything where plot/character are secondary to poetic visual imagery.

FAVES
Jane Austen, Melina Marchetta, Mhairi McFarlane, Emma Mills, Jaclyn Moriarty, Ilona Andrews, The Empire Strikes Back, screwball comedies, COLD COMFORT FARM, GBBO, Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance, New Wave and Britpop.