Mentor Jenna Miller

www.jennamillerwrites.com
@jmillwrites

AGENT
Michaela (Mike) Whatnall at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret

WRITES
YA Contemporary

BOOKS
OUT OF CHARACTER (2023) Quill Tree/HarperCollins

BIO
Jenna Miller (she/her) writes Young Adult books about fat, queer, nerdy girls who deserve to be seen and have their voices heard. She has an English/Creative Writing degree and Certificate in Publishing. When she’s not obsessing over words, she can be found making charcuterie boards, befriending people online, cross stitching, or adventuring in the Minneapolis area.

PUBLISHING BACKGROUND
I’m someone who doesn’t go for things unless I feel certain (to the best of my ability) that it’s going to happen, so it took a long time for me to officially enter the publishing scene. I wrote several books in my 20s before settling on “the one.” OUT OF CHARACTER (OOC) was the first book I took seriously to revise and prepare for querying.

Before querying, I decided to submit OOC to Round 7 of AMM. After getting accepted and working with my mentor for a few months, I went on sub in June of 2020. I received an R&R (Revise & Resubmit) a little over a month in. While that revision didn’t get me that specific agent, I did get an offer of representation in December from my now agent, Michaela (Mike) Whatnall.

Mike is an editorial agent, which I love. We worked on OOC in three rounds before going on sub to editors in June of 2021. Early on, an editor at Quill Tree, an imprint of HarperCollins, showed interest. After a couple rounds of second reads and the big acquisition meeting (and a sprinkling of kind rejections from other editors), I accepted Quill Tree’s offer in mid-August of 2021. After waiting, waiting, and more waiting (because publishing), I announced my book deal a few months later. OUT OF CHARACTER will publish in Winter 2023 with a second, unrelated book publishing in Winter 2024.

EXPERIENCE
My experience as an AMM mentee taught me a lot about the process and what it takes to be a great mentor (my mentor was incredibly helpful). I also beta read/edit books for friends when my schedule allows, and I have a good handle on the querying process and a list of reputable agents/agencies from my own experience as well as friends’ experiences.

Additionally, I graduated with an English/Creative Writing degree, obtained a Certificate in Publishing from my university, and worked as an intern for the school’s publishing press, New Rivers Press. I also work as a marketing writer/editor, so I’m thinking about words pretty much all day, every day between my job and writing/reading life.

 

OVERVIEW
Being an AMM mentee changed everything for me, and I don’t know how this journey would’ve gone without it. I want to give back by offering someone the same level of mentorship I received from my mentor in Round 7. I want to help someone feel prepared for querying and help them make their book shine.

As a reader and writer, I love stories that feature humor, heart, and hope. I’m known for writing soft/cute stories, but I’m also very open to books full of drama, chaos, and spice. I’m almost always first pulled in by chef’s kiss dialog and solid characters. In short, if I care about the characters and you can make me feel something, you’re set.

A note on diverse stories: The books I write include diversity based on my own background (queer/gay/lesbian and fat rep). My preference is to mentor a marginalized writer, including (among others) those who identify as LGBTQIA, BIPOC, or disabled/neurodivergent. That said, I won’t reject a story solely based on it not being from a marginalized writer.

A note on romance: While I’m a fan of romance and rom-coms, there doesn’t need to be romance in a book for it to interest me, so please don’t hesitate to sub to me if your story has no romance.

I want potential mentees to have their best possible shot at finding the right mentor, so if you’re on the fence between me and someone else or want to know if I’d be interested in X type of book, please reach out with questions.

MENTORING GENRES
Young Adult

  • Contemporary
  • Romance

Tropes I love:
– Found family / Strong friendships
– Imperfect relationships (friendship breakups, messy siblings, family problems, etc.)
– Yearning / Romance / First love / First breakup
– Sunshine/Grump
– Enemies-to-lovers / Rivals-to-lovers / Friends-to-lovers
– There’s only one bed!

 

I WILL PROVIDE:

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

WORKING STYLE
My main goal is to help my mentee get their manuscript ready for agent querying. This includes developmental and line edits, query/synopsis prep, and creating an agent sub list. My mentee and I will get on a call early on to talk about their book (I will fangirl), discuss developmental edits, and brainstorm any other ideas they may have. I am open to talking through anything that doesn’t vibe with my mentee, because at the end of the day, they get to decide what to edit.

I’m very flexible when it comes to communication and working with my mentee. If they want to run a quick idea by me, chat about query list ideas, or flail over the process, I’ll be there. I want to be their go-to person who helps them get through the stresses and celebrate wins. And for me, the journey doesn’t end when they start querying their AMM book. I want to be considered as a career mentor, and I’m in it for the long haul if they are.

IDEAL MENTEE
My ideal mentee wants what I want: to tell their story and make it as strong as possible. They want to work hard and celebrate their wins. They’re open to feedback and big edits, but they’re also comfortable saying ‘no’ when they disagree with a suggested edit. In short, I want someone who I can actually help. Bonus points if we vibe and become lifelong critique partners and friends!

A note to my future mentee: Please know that while I typically work fairly quick (exception: having a tight deadline for my contracted books), I will not expect that from you. I want you to feel comfortable taking the time you need to make your work shine. And don’t worry about how fast other mentees are working. This isn’t a race, and I’d feel better knowing you gave it your all and took as much time as you needed.

SEND ME:

  • Stories with humor, heart, and hope (Make me feel things!)
  • Make it gay, make it gay, make it gay! (I’m very open to anything LGBTQIA, if that wasn’t already obvious)
  • All the nerdy things (fandom, fanfic, conventions, etc.)
  • Pretty much anything dealing with the internet/social media
  • Found family / Strong friendships
  • Imperfect relationships (friendship breakups, messy siblings, family problems, etc.)
  • Yearning / Romance / First love / First breakup
  • Sunshine/Grump
  • Enemies-to-lovers / Rivals-to-lovers / Friends-to-lovers
  • There’s only one bed!
  • Stories feature mental health, mental illness or therapy
  • Anything with the vibes of Taylor Swift, Schitt’s Creek, Gossip Girl, or Knives Out (I realize this is an odd collection of comps, but if you have something like Knives Out that’s really gay and hilarious, just trust me that I want it.)
  • Holiday books with a unique twist (I LOVED Dash & Lily)
  • Anything related to royals (can include time period books or historical fiction)
  • A unique, modernized retelling of a classic book
  • A unique setting that feels like a character
  • Pets with their own personalities
  • Performing arts or unique clubs focus (music, theater, etc.)
  • Events that don’t go as planned (prom, graduation, parties, first dates, etc.)
  • Adventures/Travel outside of the home town (road trip, study abroad, camping, school trip, family vacation, etc.)

DO NOT SEND ME:

  • Unchecked content that’s racist, homophobic, transphobic, acephobic, ableist, Islamophobic, Zionist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, or fatphobic
  • Unchecked slut-shaming or body-shaming
  • Unchecked physical/sexual abuse
  • Romanticized incest or gratuitous rape/sexual abuse
  • Pro-police propaganda
  • Religion as the main plot point
  • Animal abuse/death
  • COVID stories

FAVES

My interests span far outside of the world of YA Contemporary, but for the sake of AMM, I’m keeping this list related the kinds of manuscript vibes I’m interested in reading.

Books:
-To All the Boys trilogy
– Leah on the Offbeat
– Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
– Felix Ever After
– Shipped
– Don’t Read the Comments
– You Should See Me in a Crown
– Eliza and Her Monsters
– There’s Something About Sweetie
– Between You, Me, and the Honeybees
– Anything Julie Murphy
– Anything Ashley Poston
– Anything Jane Austen

Movies/TV shows:
– Schitt’s Creek
– The Good Place
– Crazy Rich Asians
– Dash & Lily
– Let It Snow
– To All the Boys movies
– Love, Simon
– Booksmart
– Mamma Mia
– You’ve Got Mail
– 10 Things I Hate About You
– Gossip Girl
– Knives Out
– Marie Antoinette
– Bridgerton

Musicians:
– Taylor Swift
– Phoebe Bridgers
– Maggie Rogers
– Olivia Rodrigo
– Halsey
– Adele
– Ed Sheeran
– One Direction / Harry Styles