Thursday, October 16, 2014

2 Agent Amanda Panitch from Lippincott Massie McQuilkin on Querying Advice, Squash, and Other Important Things

Amanda Panitch is an associate agent at Lippincott Massie McQuilkin, where she's been since 2012. Before joining LMQ, she interned at Writers House and earned a degree in English from The George Washington University and a certificate in Publishing from the NYU Summer Publishing Institute. A writer herself, her first novel, Damage Done, will be released in July 2015 from Random House Books for Young Readers. She is actively looking for young adult and middle grade fiction and nonfiction across all genres.

Welcome, Amanda!!

1. Let's jump right in! What are some of your favorite authors/books and why do you love them?

Sorry, I tend to get a little carried away when asked about my favorite books! Some of my recent favorites in YA and MG include:

--INLAND by Kat Rosenfield: I love books with unreliable narrators where we're not sure what's real and what isn't, and Kat Rosenfield pulls this off brilliantly here. I was spellbound throughout and by the end still wasn't sure what to believe.

--THE GLASS SENTENCE by S.E. Grove: The worldbuilding here was fascinating and unlike anything I'd ever seen before, and the author topped it off with heart-pounding action and characters I adored, including an amazingly complex villain.

--MY FAIRE LADY by Laura Wettersten: This book is everything I love about light contemporary YA - it's voicey, it's got a fun, original setting, and it has a swoonworthy romance.

--I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson: Jandy Nelson is my author crush. I'm not usually one for books about grief, but anything written as gorgeously as her books has my heart.

--UNDER THE EGG by Laura Marx Fitzgerald: This MG mystery was quirky and just so much fun. I'm also a sucker for anything set in a museum.

--THE WINNER'S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski: Worldbuilding in high fantasy is of top importance to me, and the author fleshed out her original world here so well. And I loved the romance, and thought the differing power dynamics were handled in a fascinating way.

--VESSEL by Sarah Beth Durst: Again with the brilliant worldbuilding and characters and romance and everything, basically.

--STARGLASS/STARBREAK by Phoebe North: I have a thing for generational spaceships, and I loved the Jewish-influenced climate on the spaceship (send me any SFF set outside the normal Western/Christian/white framework!). And I'd never seen worldbuilding like the author created on Zehava.

--ALL FOUR STARS by Tara Dairman: This book was so full of charm and heart - and I love anything food-centric.

--FAR FROM YOU by Tess Sharpe: I couldn't put this one down. It was thrilling and beautifully written and heartbreaking.

--SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS by Lemony Snicket: Okay, this isn't recent, but I have to include them because they're some of my favorite books of all time.

2. Character, world, or plot? 

All three, preferably! Personally, though, I generally place the most importance on character - if you manage to create a character I love reading about and/or am fascinated by, we can work around the rest. I think it also varies by genre, though. For example, if it's a high fantasy I'm going to place more importance on your worldbuilding than if you're writing a contemporary, and if you're writing a thriller then plot is of the utmost importance.

3. Coffee, tea, wine, chocolate, or any other vices?
I'm probably the only person in publishing (maybe the only person anywhere) who doesn't like coffee, tea, or wine. I do like chocolate, though! Right now it's fall, so my vice is squash. I'm that person who always has a different kind of squash roasting away in her oven.

12. Most of us can definitely relate to chocolate! Finally, what advice do you have for writers getting ready to query you? 

Don't worry too much about whether something is or isn't right for me. There are certainly genres I tend not to gravitate to as much as other genres, but I like to be surprised - for example, I love high fantasy and contemporary fantasy, but I tend to shy away from the paranormal. And yet I absolutely loved Kiersten White's PARANORMALCY, so I don't ever want to close myself off to anything. The worst thing that could happen is that I'll pass.

Don't worry too much about personalizing your query. It's always great to see if there's a reason you're querying me in particular or if your manuscript matches something on my wishlist, but a request is still going to come down to the concept and sample pages. I do like to see a recent comp title or two to get an idea of what audience you think your book would appeal to, but it's by no means a requirement. Positioning the book in the marketplace is my job, after all!

Please read my submission guidelines. My submission guidelines are different from the other agents' at LMQ, and while I generally still skim over queries that don't follow my guidelines or that are sent to the wrong email address, not being able to follow basic, up-front directions is a major black mark against you.

All great advice, thank you, Amanda!!


  1. Nice post! Thanks for the perspective. I am left wondering what it is that Amanda DOES like to drink.... :)

  2. As someone who dislikes all beverages excepting water, I salute you. Thanks for the advice to new writers, and I'll be sure to check out some of your recommendations.


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