Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 24, 2017

November Featured Agent – Carlisle Webber Interview Part Three

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 Three of my interview with Carlisle Webber:  

What happens if you don’t sell a book?

I go on to the next one. My philosophy is that I represent authors, not books. That’s why I ask every potential client what they’ve written besides the manuscript they’ve submitted for consideration.

How many editors do you go to before giving up?

About thirty. More, if I can.

What do you think of digital books?

I think they’re great. First, they grant accessibility. People who have vision impairments no longer have to wait for large print or audio versions of books. If you have trouble physically holding a book because of the weight, e-ink readers are much lighter than hardcovers. Second, because they don’t take up space, they’re great for travel or people who live in small spaces. Many libraries lend ebooks now, which increases their reach to patrons and the number of books they can acquire without worrying about shelf space. Even better: those ebooks automatically return themselves at the end of the lending period. No overdue fines!

Do you handle your own foreign/film rights contracts or does your firm have someone else who handles those contracts?

Fuse works with outside agencies, including the Taryn Fagerness Agency, Rights People, and APA, to sell foreign and film rights.

Do you see any new trends building in the industry?

I’m hoping the pendulum of trends is swinging back to contemporary fiction, since it’s always been my favorite genre. And although diversity is not a trend, I’m so glad to see the push for it. I grew up in a major metropolitan area and went to a large, diverse high school (2400 students; fifty languages spoken; students from fifty-two countries) and I am always on the lookout for books that, for want of a better description, feature my high school friends and classmates.

Any words of wisdom on how a writer can improve their writing, get an agent, and get published?

The best way to improve your writing is to read, especially in the genre (or for the age group) you want to write. I can usually tell when a children’s writer does or doesn’t read MG or YA. Whenever I get asked, “How do you get an agent?” my first response is, “Write a great book!” Great writing is at least ninety-eight percent of everything when it comes to impressing an agent. As for getting published, I have to go back to the idea of planning a career beyond your first book. Publishers, just like agents, want writers whom they can sell again and again.

Would you like to be invited to other writer’s retreats, workshops, and conferences?

Definitely! I love speaking at conferences and meeting new people. Also, since I work from home most days, I embrace any opportunity to put on a dress, heels, and meet writers.

Stop back next Friday to read the four first page critiques done by with Carlisle.

Talk tomorrow,


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