Ali Lake

O'Connor Literary Agency

My Manuscript Wish List®

Ali Lake is a literary agent at O’Connor Literary Agency accepting submissions of nonfiction, fiction, and YA. She loves books that show her a new corner of the world or an unexpected facet of human experience through an original, surprising voice. She is interested in stories from writers from traditionally underrepresented or marginalized backgrounds.

Ali was raised in Palo Alto, California. Her first career was as a professional ballerina, and she danced in companies in Milwaukee, Sarasota, and Chicago. Returning to school, she studied English and French Literature and received her BA from Columbia University. She started her publishing career as a student, first as an intern at a French publisher while studying abroad in Paris, and subsequently as a reader for agencies.

After graduation, she joined ICM (since acquired by CAA), specializing in publishing contracts, royalties, and sales analysis to support agent negotiations. From there she joined Janklow & Nesbit Associates as an agents’ assistant, supporting Mel Flashman and Emma Parry while building her own list. In 2023 she joined O’Connor Literary Agency as a literary agent.

Ali remains active in the arts, working with a non-profit organization that serves the dancing community. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, hiking, running, and playing with her god-dog. She is currently training for the NYC marathon. Ali lives and works in Brooklyn.

Ali’s Manuscript Wishlist–

Nonfiction:

  • Memoir/narrative nonfiction that explores the nuances and quirky characters of a niche world through the author’s personal journey. (Uncanny Valley, H is for Hawk, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Liar’s Poker)
    • Particularly looking for a project in the digital space that takes you down an internet wormhole into a thriving subculture you didn’t know existed–a reddit group, nouveau digital art frenzy, cult fandom, social media trend, etc.
    • A sports or outdoor adventure narrative, particularly from a writer who is not the traditional group who gets to tell these kind of stories. (Good for a Girl: A Woman Running in a Man’s World; Into Thin Air; Wild)
  • Memoir/narrative nonfiction of a struggle for justice/against the casual injustice of the world. (Know My Name, Three Women, Crying in H Mart)
  • Serious reported nonfiction delving into the history, causes, and current repercussions of a problem we should know more about. (Empire of Pain, Hidden Valley Road)
  • Pop science that is surprising, fascinating, and weird. (An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us; Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers)
  • Evidence-based self-help with a strong voice and defined vision. (How to Change Your Mind, Atomic Habits, The Power of Habit)
  • Cookbooks with a unique voice and eye to teach beyond the recipes, ie. new skills, how to shop, how to intuit what ingredients work together, about culture or history… (Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat)

Fiction:

  • Literary fiction that’s eerie or uncanny—explores some type of repressed trauma that bubbles to the surface/is quietly present in day-to-day life. (Liar, Dreamer, Thief; The School for Good Mothers; Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow; I Have Some Questions for You; Trust Exercise; Never Let Me Go).
  • Literary and upmarket fiction that’s witty, sharply observed, and captures some truth about love/life. (The Bandit Queens, Vladimir, Big Swiss, Lessons in Chemistry, I Capture the Castle, The Idiot)
  • Literary fiction with a speculative twist or engages with mythology. (The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, The Pisces, Such a Fun Age, Station Eleven, Circe)
  • Upmarket fiction in the thriller, horror, and romcom genres (The Writing Retreat; In a Dark, Dark Wood; The House Across the Lake; Book Lovers).
  • New adult/campus novel—YA themes and pacing set at college or soon following. Self-discovery & social climbing. Fun, with horror or fantasy elements. (Iron Widow, Ninth House, Yolk, Fourth Wing, The Atlas Six)

YA:

  • Low fantasy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, magical creatures invade the real world, horror elements (Legendborn, Cemetery Boys, Vampire Academy, Shadow Hunters).
  • High school rom-com exploring deeper issues. Fun, but changes your worldview.
  • Thriller/mystery/young detectives – Sammy Keys, Nancy Drew, Veronica Mars, Encyclopedia Brown, Hardy Boys for the current day (Firekeeper’s Daughter, One of Us is Lying)

Fun facts about me:

I used to dance ballet professionally. In the summer and fall, I love to hike and run. In the winter you’ll find me skiing or cozied-up knitting while listening to an audiobook.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions guidelines:

  • Include “Query” in the subject line.
  • For fiction submissions, send an informative description, a brief synopsis and the first ten pages. Please include the sample pages in the body of the email below your query.
  • For non-fiction submissions, send an informative description, a full outline, and the first ten pages of the manuscript. Please include the sample pages in the body of the email below your query.