Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 10, 2017

November Featured Agent – Carlisle Webber Interview Part One

Carlisle Webber, Associate Agent at Fuse Literary

Would you like the opportunity to win a first page critique with Carlisle? Scroll down to Submission Guidelines after Part One of my interview with Carlisle for details.

Carlisle Webber refused to major in English in college because she didn’t think there was anything fun to read on the required lists. No Stephen King? No R.L. Stine? No thanks!

After college, she took her love of commercial, YA, and middle grade fiction to the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences, where she earned a Master of Library and Information Sciences. She worked as a public librarian for years before deciding to move to the business side of publishing. She attended the Columbia Publishing Course, interned at Writers House, and worked at the Jane Rotrosen Agency in New York City.

She considers herself to be an editorial agent and holds a Professional Certificate in Editing from University of California, Berkeley. She belongs to the American Copy Editors Society and Bay Area Editors’ Forum. When editing, she aims to make a book the best possible version of itself, shaping it in a way so it can best use its unique voice to appeal to a wide audience.
Carlisle is looking for high-concept commercial fiction in middle grade, young adult, and adult. If your book is fresh and exciting, tackles difficult topics, reads like a Shonda Rhimes show, or makes readers stay up late turning pages, she’s the agent for you.

Diverse authors are encouraged to submit their fiction. Within the genres she represents, Carlisle is especially interested in stories by and about people of color; with both visible and invisible disabilities and illnesses; who are economically disadvantaged; who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer; or who are members of religious minorities.
Take a look at her manuscript wish list. But if you don’t write exactly what’s on her list, don’t worry! She’s happy to look at any work that falls into the categories she represents.

She represents middle grade, YA, and adult fiction in a variety of genres.

In general, I’m looking to represent mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, contemporary romance and family stories, women’s fiction. I represent science fiction and fantasy for YA and MG only, and Although anyone who writes in these genres is welcome to query me, I do have some favorite things I like to read about.

Right now, I’d love to see:

– Books set in prisons, hospitals, and shopping malls, or any other closed environment with rules different from those of everyday society
– Workplace dramas, especially if they’re YA
– Edgy, envelope-pushing, potentially controversial, and dark YA
– YA and MG about body issues
– Psychological thrillers
– Domestic thrillers (I describe these as “murder and mayhem in suburbia”)
– Characters who work in law enforcement
– Anything with a creepy, spooky, bloody, or gothic-style setting
– Friendship dramas, including friendship breakups
– Stories about sisters
– Characters who are ballet dancers, gymnasts, and cheerleaders
– LGBTQ stories for any audience
– Magical realism for any audience
– Medical thrillers

Twitter: @carliebeth




Here is Part One of my interview with Carlisle Webber:  

How did you get interested in becoming an agent?

I was a full-time YA librarian for years before moving to the business side of publishing, and I still work in a library part time. My favorite thing to do is reader’s advisory, where you match books to readers based on their interests. Agenting interested me because incorporates a lot of that skill. You’re still in the business of matching books to readers, who in this case are the editors buying the books. Like librarianship, agenting is also an advocacy profession. We advocate for the business interests of our clients so they have more time and energy to write.

Do you think you will limit of the amount of clients you represent?

All agents have to at some point for their own sanity. I don’t plan to stop taking new clients anytime soon, though.

What are your favorite genres?

Horror, mystery, suspense, thriller, and contemporary, and I’m also looking for light/real-world SF and fantasy. There is no topic too dark or spooky for my taste. That said, I also love fun, lighter stories! When I reviewed for Kirkus, I specifically told the children’s book editor to send me any MG or YA book with a cover that was pink, shiny, sparkly, or all three.

Are there any story or themes you wished someone would submit?

I’m always on the lookout for stories about sisters, toxic friendships, people with invisible disabilities or illnesses, and nonsupernatural horror. You can see more at my Manuscript Wish List page: All authors are encouraged to submit their manuscripts if they write what I represent even if they don’t see their particular topic on my MSWL. Sometimes I don’t know what I want until I see it.

I know you specialize in children’s books, but would you represent a YA author who writes a story about a college age character?

Most books with college-age characters are sold as adult, not YA. I’d have to be able to see potential for a YA market in the manuscript. I might also have a talk with the author about bringing the characters into high school rather than college if they’re interested in building a brand as a YA author as opposed to adult.

Do you think it is okay for an author to write picture books, middle grade novels, and YA novels? Or do you feel it is better to focus on one age group and genre?

If you can do all those things well, I see no reason to not write for multiple age groups. Lots of authors do.

What do you like to see in a submission?

Professionalism. I promise authors that I will never reject them for sounding too professional in their submission materials. It shows me that you’re someone who takes their potential writing career seriously.

How important is the query letter?

It’s secondary to the sample pages, but I still think it’s pretty important. Treat the query letter like you would a cover letter for a job: Your skills and experience will be on your résumé, but you still need to present a strong overview. The query letter tells me what kind of book to expect and how well you know your audience.

Any tips on how an author can get you to ask to see more?

Put me in front of a multidimensional character with an unforgettable voice. Then, make me wonder what your character is going to do next. I always feel it’s more important to have a character who is interesting than one who is likeable. Think about the show How to Get Away With Murder as an example. No one on that show is very likeable. No one wants to go to the mall with Annalise Keating. Everyone, however, wants to know what will happen in next scene, episode, or season.

Stop back next Friday to read part two of my interview with Carlislie.



In the subject line, please write “NOVEMBER 2017  Critique” and paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it’s a picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top on both the email and the Word document (Make sure you include your name with the title of your book, when you save the first page).


Your First Page Word document should be formatted using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines – only one page. Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com.

PLEASE FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES: Your submission will be passed over if you do not follow the directions for both the pasted email and the attached Word doc. This is where most people mess up.

DEADLINE: November 20th.
RESULTS: November 27th.

Please only submit one first page a month, but do try again if your first page wasn’t one of the pages randomly picked. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,


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