Taylor Haggerty, Root Literary

YA Contemporary


Marisa Kanter is a YA Contemporary author based in New York City. She recently graduated from New York University with a B.S. in Media, Culture, and Communication and a Creative Writing minor. She has worked in publicity for major publishers, covered YA books for MTV, and wrote for the New York Coffee Guide. Currently, she works in sales, on the distribution side of the publishing industry. She can often be found searching for the best iced chai in NYC, or reading on the 3 train. Marisa’s debut novel, WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU will release from Simon & Schuster BFYR in 2020.

In 2009, at age thirteen, I started writing YA novels and posted excerpts on a Sarah Dessen fan website. By fifteen, I began to educate myself in all things publishing—how to get an agent, how to write a query letter, and basically everything I need to do to pursue traditional publication. My writing was still not very great at this point, but I got in lots of practice! In 2015, I queried my third novel. Over a year of querying I amassed hundreds of rejections, realized this manuscript wasn’t going to be The One, shelved it, and went on to draft manuscript number four. In 2017, manuscript number four was selected for Pitch Wars, and I signed with my agent in November 2017, shortly after the agent showcase. In January 2018, I went on submission. Six months later, we sold WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU in a two-book deal to Simon & Schuster BFYR.

I have a bachelor’s degree in Media / Communications and I’m currently a sales coordinator on the national accounts team for one of the largest book distributors in the country. I have also worked in the publicity department for multiple big five publishers. One of my internship experiences was in the children’s department, where I worked on campaigns for multiple New York Times best-selling projects. Working in sales and publicity has benefited me on my own path to publication because I’ve seen how books are positioned in the current market. When I am reading a manuscript, I am always thinking about its hook and how it will stand out in a crowded marketplace. I minored in creative writing, which developed my editorial skills as critiquing in a workshop environment was a mandatory component of the program. Outside of academia, I am in a critique group of fellow YA writers. Additionally, I was mentored in Pitch Wars, so I understand this process and how beneficial it is to a writer’s career!


Pursuing publication is a little less scary when you find your people. Applying to a contest focused on mentorship is the single best decision I have made as a writer to date. Working one-on-one with a mentor was an invaluable experience—not only did this relationship enhance the quality of my manuscript, I came out of it a better writer. I cherish the mentor / mentee relationship—I still text my mentor almost daily, as she’s now one of my closest friends. I’m so excited to work with an up-and-coming writer, to pass on the wealth of knowledge I’ve learned from my mentor and critique partners.

I am drawn to fun, light contemporary with a strong emotional core. Send me your ambitious girls and soft boys, send me your messy sibling stories, send me strong female friendships. If you can make me laugh, cry, swoon, and basically feel all the feels, I probably want to work with you!

Being mentored has been the best experience of my writing career to date. Not only did I have the opportunity to learn from someone who’s ahead of me in their publishing journey, I also gained an invaluable friendship. I know what it’s like drafting the twitter pitches and applying for mentorship contests—I was just there only a year ago! This process worked for me, and I can’t think of anything more rewarding than taking what I have learned during my time as a mentee and passing it on. To my future mentee, I am in this for the long haul—querying and beyond!

  • Contemporary
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • #ownvoices
  • Romance

I am only looking for YA Contemporary. It is what I write and what I mostly read, and therefore what I am most comfortable critiquing. I’m open to all sub-genres: romance, mystery, thriller etc. Basically, if your book is set in the real world and has no magical elements, I want to read it!

I am looking for a book that makes me laugh, makes me cry, and makes me feel all the feels. Give me your meet-cutes, your hate-to-love, friends-to-lovers, your slow burns. I would love to find a smart, unique romcom. While I love romance, I certainly don’t need it to fall in love with a manuscript. Give me sibling stories, complicated friendships, and found family stories! I’d love to see a character-driven thriller in my inbox. I want to fall in love with a world the represents our world— so please send me diverse casts! I would love to work with a writer from a marginalized background, especially a Jewish writer (as that is what I am) or a writer of color.


  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
  • Skype or phone call
  • Freestyle in chat

First, I will gush about how much I love your manuscript and why I chose to work with you. Then, we get to work! How I work will depend on what your manuscript needs, but generally, first you will receive an editorial letter focused on the big picture edits. After you’ve digested my notes, I would love to video chat to flesh out your edits, and to give you an opportunity to come to me with any questions before you dive into revisions. I will always be available to answer your questions along the way—shoot me an email or DM any time! After developmental edits, I’ll do another read for line edits, leaving comments in the doc. Once your manuscript is ready to go, we’ll whip your query letter and synopsis into shape and send it off to the query trenches!

Someone who is open to critique, someone with thick skin, someone who is ready to get to work! Someone who is open to brainstorming and new ideas, but also knows when to stand up for their manuscript. Open and honest communication is critical, my ideal mentee should never be afraid to ask questions or tell me what they’re thinking. It is so important to me that your vision is upheld through this revision process. This is your book! I am here as a guide, my goal is to enhance your vision, not to change it.


  • Smart, Funny Romcoms – Make me laugh, make me soon, and give me your witty, dynamic, and complicated heroines to root for! I love hate-to-love, friends-to-love, and slow burn romances. I’m currently swooning over the TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE movie, so I’d love to see an original twist on the fake-dating setup in my inbox. Bonus points if it is f/f because seriously, I am dying for a funny, light, romantic stories centering queer girls.
  • Ambitious Girls – I want female protagonists who are unapologetically ambitious, girls who are passionate about something and go for their goals 100%. Give me girls who make mistakes. Give me moral complexity.
  • Soft Boys – I adore boys who are sweet, sensitive, and shy—especially as love interests.
  • Friendship – While I do love romance, I certainly don’t need it, and I would really love to see complicated friendship stories. I especially love YA with large, supportive friend groups.
  • Sibling Stories – Give me your messy, complicated sibling stories. I love all kinds of sibling stories, whether you have super close sisters as a subplot or your story explores estranged siblings and how they have gotten to this place. Send them all to me!
  • Lovable YA Parents – I am always craving more stories where the parent / child relationship is integral to the story. Parents have so much influence on the lives of their teens, and I would love to see a story with close and/or complicated parent / child relationships. Basically, I’d love to see parents who are fully realized people and not two-dimensional caricatures.
  • Sex Positivity – This is so important to me and something I would love to see in a manuscript!
  • Quirky Hobbies / Unique Passions – I’m drawn to characters who are passionate about something – and honestly the weirder and more unique that something is, the more I’m drawn to it. Bring on the interesting hobbies, unapologetic fandom, and exploration of subculture, please!
  • Characters with mental illness whose stories are not defined by their mental illness. What I mean by this is I’d like stories where mental illness is part of a character, not the plot. Stories where a mentally ill characters get happy endings, please.
  • Unique Structures – 24-hour timeline? Multiple timelines? Non-linear? Epistolary? A novel told entirely through text messages? Send these stories to me!

Specific Things I’m Dying to See:

  • YA set within a reality show a la NICE TRY, JANE SINNER
  • A reimagining of any John Hughes movie
  • Big families with lots of siblings like SAVE THE DATE or MY LIFE NEXT DOOR.
  • Multi-POV character driven thriller that can be comped to ONE OF US IS LYING.
  • Messy siblings that can be compared to Noah & Jude from I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN and Adina & Tovah from YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE.
  • Any male character who can be comped to (movie) Peter Kavinsky


  • Insta-love… is almost always an insta-no. I want tension, I want fleshed out and developed romantic arcs. If you’re characters are proclaiming their love within a few chapters of meeting, I’m probably not the best fit for you.
  • Bad Boy / Good Girl trope
  • Violence, including sexual assault.
  • Heavy issues books that center on the mc overcoming addiction, abuse, or mental illness. Suicide is also a no for me.
  • Girls who “aren’t like other girls,” toxic masculinity, and slut-shaming.
  • All white allocishet casts

AUTHORS: I will forever read anything by Sarah Dessen, Courtney Summers, Brandy Colbert, Morgan Matson, Emery Lord, Nina LaCour, Angie Thomas, Becky Albertalli, Rachel Lynn Solomon, and Emma Mills.

BOOKS: The Truth About Forever, Jellicoe Road, Always Never Yours, Foolish Hearts, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, Picture Us in the Light, One of Us is Lying, When Dimple Met Rishi, I’ll Give You The Sun, Dear Martin, History is all You Left Me, Eliza and her Monsters, Little & Lion, Love Hate & Other Filters, Starfish, We Are Okay, Six of Crows, Crazy Rich Asians, and The Hating Game.

MOVIES: 10 Things I Hate About You, Eighth Grade, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Set It Up, Moulin Rouge, Hearts Beat Loud, The Edge of Seventeen, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, The Last Five Years, The Breakfast Club, Say Anything, The Big Sick, Love Simon, Moonlight, Boyhood, Coco, and Tangled.

TV: The Bold Type, Younger, The Office, Parks & Rec, The Good Place, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Andi Mack, Jane the Virgin, Catastrophe, Grey’s Anatomy, This Is Us, Parenthood, One Day at a Time, Shameless, Freaks and Geeks, One Tree Hill, Survivor, Big Brother, Queer Eye… I watch a lot of TV okay.