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Kyra M Nelson

Her name is Kyra (pronounced with a long i, as in ice) Nelson. She spent two and a half years interning for A+B Works literary agency, and has read a ton of query letters. She learned a lot in her time at the agency, and wants to pass some of her knowledge on.

Kyra is currently finishing up her MA in linguistics. She has a BA in English language from Brigham Young University with minors in editing and English.

Kyra is a compulsive thing-doer. She likes to be busy, whether it’s reading, writing, watching sports, playing violin, baking cookies, traveling, decorating cakes, or just goofing off with friends. She loves adventure, even if it’s a small adventure like roasting Starbursts over the open flame of her stove top.

MOST IMPORTANTLY What kind of entries are you looking for in your Pitch to Publication query box?
  • YA is my main jam. I read anything and everything YA. All subgenres welcome! Especially historical fiction and fantasy.
  • MG: I would like thoughtful contemporary and historical pieces in the vein of The Penderwicks, Wonder, and The Breadwinner. I also like unique/quirky premises such as The One and Only Ivan, When You Reach Me, and The Sound of Life and Everything.
  • Adult: I'm tempted to say I'm not doing adult, but I did choose an adult manuscript last go around, and loved it. That said, I'm extremely picky with my adult books. Please only send contemporary or historical fiction. I'm not a good fit for adult speculative fiction (I don't read enough of it to help you!). I also am not great for period romances or women's fiction. Some adult books I love include Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, The Girl You Left Behind, The Thirteenth Tale, and The Rent Collector.There are a lot of great editors who are maybe better fits for adult entries than I am. I'd suggest subbing to them unless your novel really fits something on my wish list.
  • No NA or erotica, please. Sorry. I'm not a good fit for these genres.
  • I love funny books. If your book is funny, please send it to me. Also sass. I'm all about that sass.
  • I like a great high concept book with a strong X meets Y formula. The weirder the mash-up, the better. I also like books that don't conform to one genre (Under the Never Sky, for example). Books with non-standard narrative style are great.
  • This should go without saying, but I care very much about representation. Diversity is important to me.
  • I'm particularly interested in religious diversity. Show me characters who find their faith or lose their faith or struggle with their faith. As long as it's not didactic, I'm interested.
  • I would really love to see LGBT+ characters. I'm especially looking for characters on the ace spectrum (asexual, demisexual, grey asexual, etc.).
  • Body type diversity. Give me fat characters. Or characters who are somewhere between fat and skinny. Give me characters who lose weight and are happy about it or who stay fat and are happy about it. Also, any and all submissions with disability representation (mental or physical) are welcome.
  • I love historical fiction. Here are some time periods/ events I would especially love to see: French Revolution, American Revolution, Mughal India, Heian or Edo periods Japan, pre-Imperial Russia, Incan or Aztec Empire, 1950s, ancient Persia, ancient Greece, and ancient Egypt.
  • Other random things I would love: Geek culture romance (The Only Thing Worse Than Me is You, All the Feels), wordplay, enemies to lovers, characters with interesting extracurricular activities, an ensemble of misfits, unreliable narrators, anything that can be compared to a Taylor Swift music video.
  • I am NOT a good fit for books with: the chosen one (probably, unless it's subtle), a portal that takes the main character to a new world, third person present POV, fairy tale retellings (retellings of classic literature are fine!), or animal protagonists.
  • I will be posting a list of some of my favorite books on my blog, if you want more ideas of things that I enjoy.
What is your writing and editing background?

I studied English language and editing at Brigham Young University. While there, I also interned at a literary agency and worked as a teaching assistant for a publishing class. After graduating, I began my own freelancing business. I have also taught editing classes at BYU.

What are your major editing accomplishments?

Several former clients have published books and book deals. It's always very satisfying to see those projects entering the real world.

Do you have a general philosophy for how you approach your editing work?

At every step of the process I'm asking myself  "What is the author trying to do here? How can I help them do it better?" I always want to stay true to the author's vision. I bring my expertise, but at the end of the day it's still their project.

What types of books do you enjoy working with?

I'm very drawn to books with well-developed and interesting characters. I also love truly original works that spin a classic trope or play with narrative structure or do something unexpected.

What are the most common mistakes you see in new writer's ​work?

A lot of beginning writers use plot lines that are overdone. They write books that are too similar to a blockbuster without being as good. I also see a lot of writers (new and old) struggling to nail the pacing in the opening pages. Fortunately, pacing is one of my favorite things to work with.

What’s the one thing most novelists don’t understand about the art of revision?

It's haaaaaaard. Even when you know that it's hard, you tend to forget. Which is probably good because if you constantly remembered how hard it is, you'd probably quit.

What’s one easy thing every writer can do right now to make themselves a better writer?

Read. And don't just read but read with an eye for craft. What about the book is working well? What could be improved? When you learn to recognize these things, you'll be able to implement them more into your writing.

What is the most important consideration in selecting a book editor?

Find somebody who shares your vision for the book. That doesn't mean the person will tell you that your book is great as is (in fact, stay far away from those editors). But do make sure you find somebody who understands what you are trying to do.

Why would a writer need a book editor?

 

A lot of people can read your book and tell you whether or not they liked it. Editors are able to articulate why they did or did not like something and can provide you with a tool box for improving areas that fall short.

What do you do for fun that does not deal with the literary scene?

I love to make food for other people. I'm also a fan of the theater. I like going on mini-adventures with friends and family.

Seriously, we need to know your favorite meal and why?

My mom's poppyseed chicken casserole because it's warm and savory and tastes like my childhood. It is my ultimate comfort food.

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