Mentor Kamilah Cole

www.kamilah-cole.com
@wordsiren

AGENT
Emily Forney, BookEnds Literary Agency

WRITES
YA Fantasy

ON SUBMISSION

BIO
Kamilah Cole is the pseudonym of a Jamaican-born, American-raised author. By day she works in publishing and by night she frantically types words she hopes to see in a book on shelves one day. A graduate of New York University, Kamilah is currently based in the Tri-State Area, where she’s usually playing Kingdom Hearts for the hundredth time, quoting early Spongebob Squarepants episodes, or crying her way through Zuko’s redemption arc in Avatar: The Last Airbender.

PUBLISHING BACKGROUND
The book that I queried with was my fourth completed manuscript ever, which took me two years and over thirty rewrites to get to a point where I felt comfortable putting it out there. I sent a single query at first, as kind of a dare to myself, but I never heard back from the agent which, according to their website, meant a rejection. Encouraged by friends, I pitched my book in December 2020’s PitMad, expecting nothing. My tweet blew up beyond my wildest dreams instead — and yet I still received rejection after rejection for months afterward. Just when I started to think I was better at pitching than I was at executing the pitch, I found my current agent from cold querying.

In the end, three agents expressed interest in representing me, but I went with Emily Forney because of the specific perspective she brought to my work as a fellow Black woman. Then I did a round of revisions with Emily, and my book is currently out on sub to editors. And, during all of this, I kept writing. I just finished my seventh completed manuscript in November 2021.

EXPERIENCE
I worked as an editor in the digital media field for four years before switching jobs, and, since joining writing Twitter in May 2020, I have read and given (I hope!) helpful feedback on 33 different manuscripts for friends and acquaintances. I’ve also looked at several queries to increase their request rate. I often joke that I have an “encyclopedic knowledge” of YA fantasies that make me really good at finding comps; finally, in my day job, I work in marketing, which makes me particularly suited to identifying selling points that will appeal to audiences.

OVERVIEW
I went through so much of my writing journey alone, and it wasn’t until I found my community that I found the confidence and resources to begin querying. I want to spare future writers from that feeling of isolation by providing advice, encouragement, and support through the fraught and unpredictable world of revision and querying. I’ve always wanted to be a mentor, and, most of all, I have always believed that your voice matters, your story matters, and you matter. Whoever my mentee is, I want them to feel confident in sharing their story with the world so they can reach the readers who need it.

I will only be looking at Upper YA Fantasy during this round; I’m particularly interested in working with a QBIPOC author, especially a Jamaican one, but that’s not a requirement to submit to me. I love high-concept, hook-y plots, detailed worlds that I can get lost in, and cool magic systems that make me wish I could do that, too. Queernormative worlds and sapphic endgame couples are a plus, but I also love stories starring asexual leads and no romance. (Though if you have a WIP with a ship that can comp to Druig and Makkari from The Eternals, please submit to me immediately.)

MENTORING GENRES
Young Adult

  • Fantasy
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy

I want YA fantasy of all kinds. Contemporary, urban, historical, supernatural, paranormal, ~spooky~, fantasy romance, high, low, epic, heroic, I want them all — EXCEPT science fantasy!

I ADORE tropes, so send me your fake dating, your childhood friends to lovers, your enemies to lovers, your “there’s only one bed!”, your “are they even in love if she hasn’t held a dagger to his throat”, your platonic soulmates, your found family, and everything in between.

 

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
I will be aiming to find a story that I really believe in, so that any notes I have are geared toward making a manuscript I love shine even more than it already is. I am open to all of the ways to send editorial notes to my mentee, and we can discuss upfront how they prefer to receive them. If you have anxiety and hate phone calls (same), we won’t do them! If line edits make you nervous, we can skip them! Let’s find the communication style that works for you. Above all, I’m a cheerleader as much as a mentor. Yes, I’m eager to work with you through editing, but I’ll also gush. Brag. Send you jokes and memes about your characters. Highlight favorite lines and scream about them. I am pure chaos, and proud of it.

IDEAL MENTEE
My ideal mentee is one who takes notes well, is open to advice, and who wants to make this a collaborative experience. It’s my hope that my mentee and I will become close friends, and I can support them throughout their career, but that isn’t a requirement. As long as you remain open to the process and are okay with talking through edits — which are subjective! maybe you’ll agree with all of my edits, maybe you won’t! — without becoming defensive or hostile, then I’d love to work with you.

SEND ME:

  • Retellings. I prefer retellings that verge more on “inspired by” rather than “same plot, different angle”, but I love all kinds, especially if they center QBIPOC
  • Upper YA! While I respect and support the need for lower YA books, I’m not the best mentor for books starring 13-15 year olds
  • Anything sapphic
  • Multiple/Dual POVs
  • Sweeping, detailed fantasy worlds I can get lost in — and yes, I accept and love portal fantasies
  • Intricate magic systems
  • Royalty, royalty, royalty. Princes! Princesses! Boy kings! Young queens! Court politics and intrigue!
  • Villain romances, villain protagonists, morally gray protagonists, feral women
  • Softbois/cinnamon roll love interests
  • Found family
  • Stories set in queernormative worlds
  • Acespec main characters
  • Duos solving crimes. Or doing the crimes. Both???
  • Supernatural/magical dark academia. Or light academia. Or just school stories in general
  • Witches. Gay witches. Witches with historical-like backdrops. Witches with series potential within high fantasy with romance and grounded ensemble casts. Young witches in modern day, angsty witches in new worlds.
  • Heists, cons, reverse heists, double-crosses, spies

If your book isn’t a perfect fit, shoot your shot UNLESS it features anything under my anti-MSWL. There will be NO EXCEPTIONS to the anti-MSWL, but I’m always ready to be surprised by a book I didn’t know to wish for!

DO NOT SEND ME:

  • Suicide or suicide ideation implied, alluded to, in the backstory, or on the page
  • Rape/sexual assault/sexual harassment/sexual trauma implied, alluded to, in the backstory, or on the page
  • Books about terminal illness, magical or otherwise, or stories that specifically involve cancer or a relative who has/had cancer
  • Romanticizing eating disorders, mental illness, or disabilities, including any sort of “magic cure” for such issues
  • Books where a grandparent dies on the page or off-screen during the course of the story
  • Unchecked bigotry
  • Sci-fi, science fantasy, cyberpunk, or anything set in space/another planet/etc or involving robots/androids/etc
  • Superhero stories
  • Novels in verse
  • Books from the POV of a marginalized character or culture that aren’t written by an author who shares that marginalization or culture

FAVES

If you can comp to any of these, I’m probably going to be interested!

Movies:
-The Conjuring series
-The Eternals
-The Fast and the Furious series
-The Hitman’s Bodyguard
-IT: Chapter One
-John Wick series
-Kingsman: The Secret Service
-The Mummy
-Pitch Perfect
-Scream

Books:
-Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto
-Dark Rise by C.S. Pacat
-Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
-Furyborn by Claire Legrand
-Grimrose Girls by Laura Pohl
-Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
-A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee
-Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
-To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
-Wicked Fox by Kat Cho

TV Shows:
-The Addams Family
-Avatar: The Last Airbender
-Elite
-Killing Eve
-Kim Possible
-Once Upon a Time
-Scooby-Doo
-Stranger Things
-Supernatural
-Wynonna Earp

Ships:
-Barry/Iris (The Flash)
-Druig/Makkari (The Eternals)
-Killian/Emma (Once Upon a Time)
-Nicole/Waverly (Wynonna Earp)
-Peter/MJ (Spider-Man)
-Richie/Eddie (IT)
-Riku/Sora (Kingdom Hearts)
-Sam/Bucky (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier)
-Samu/Carla (Elite)
-Zuko/Katara (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

Musicians:
-Ariana Grande
-Fall Out Boy
-Halsey
-Harry Styles
-Lil Nas X
-Little Mix
-Normani
-Olivia Rodrigo
-Sabrina Carpenter
-Taylor Swift