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Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways

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Agent Spotlight: Michael Bourret

This week's Agent Spotlight features Michael Bourret of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

Status: Open to submissions.

staff_mikeAbout: "Michael Bourret joined Dystel & Goderich Literary Management as an intern while studying film and television production at New York University, and began at the agency full-time in 2000. After ten years as an agent in the New York office, Michael now works in Los Angeles in the West Coast office of DGLM. There, he continues to represent his own list of bestselling and award-winning clients while also aggressively pursuing new film and television opportunities. Michael is always on the lookout for exceptional writers with unique ideas, no matter what the category. He is currently looking for middle grade and young adult fiction, commercial adult fiction, and all sorts of nonfiction, from practical to narrative. He’s especially interested in food and cocktail related books, memoir, popular history, politics, religion (though not spirituality), popular science, and current events. And if you’ve got something on bourbon or tennis, even better.” (Link)

About the Agency:

“Dystel & Goderich Literary Management was founded in 1994 by Jane Dystel, who has been a respected figure in publishing for over 30 years — first as an editor, then as a publisher, and finally as a savvy and successful agent. The agency is the product of her innovative vision of author representation as a full-service enterprise.

“DGLM was launched with a quickly growing roster of Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, celebrated experts in fields as diverse as parenting, women’s health, and cooking, acclaimed literary and commercial fiction writers, and an eclectic and exciting list of titles. The primary goal of the agency was and is to offer not just financial and contractual advice to its clients, but also editorial guidance and support.

“Being involved in every stage of putting together a non-fiction book proposal, offering substantial editing on fiction manuscripts, and coming up with book ideas for authors looking for their next project is as much a part of our work as selling, negotiating contracts, and collecting monies for our clients. We follow a book from its inception through its sale to a publisher, its publication, and beyond. Our commitment to our writers does not, by any means, end when we have collected our commission. This is one of the many things that makes us unique in a very competitive business.” (Link)

Web Presence:

DGLM website.

Twitter @MichaelBourret.

AAR profile.


DGLM blog.

DGLM Twitter.

DGLM Facebook.



What He's Looking For:

Genres / Specialties:

Fiction, African-American, Gay + Lesbian, Historical, Horror, Mystery, Thrillers, Women's Literature, Non-Fiction, Biography, Memoir, Business, Investment, Cooking, Food, Wine, Crafts, Hobbies, DIY, Health, Diet, History, Politics, Current Affairs, Pop Culture, Entertainment, Religion, Spirituality, Inspiration, Science, Technology, Self-Help, Picture Books, Early Readers, Middle grade, Young adult. (Link)

From His Bio (as above):

“Michael is always on the lookout for exceptional writers with unique ideas, no matter what the category. He is currently looking for middle grade and young adult fiction, commercial adult fiction, and all sorts of nonfiction, from practical to narrative. He’s especially interested in food and cocktail related books, memoir, popular history, politics, religion (though not spirituality), popular science, and current events. And if you’ve got something on bourbon or tennis, even better.” (Link)

From a Blog Post (12/2013):

“Though I have a fantastic roster of authors who keep me busy, I’m always on the hunt for the new and undiscovered. As always, I’m on the hunt for middle grade and young adult books, the more challenging, daring, unique and spectacular, the better. If you’re flouting conventions and pissing people off, I’m in.

“But I’d also love to see more narrative nonfiction submissions, particularly in science, technology and cultural studies. If you’ve got something on space or physics, that’s probably at the top of my list. I’m fascinated by the recent discoveries related to the Higgs boson, as well as experiments trying to prove that the universe is actually a hologram. If you can make my brain hurt but also teach me something, I’m in!” (Link)

Via Twitter (06/2013):

“I want a YA western. But a modern one. Think McCabe & Mrs. Miller or Cormac McCarthy. #MSWL” (Link)

“I want challenging, original, literary, smart, books that are still engaging and readable. #MSWL” (Link)

“If everyone tells you “you can write that for teens,” I probably want to see it. #MSWL” (Link)

From an Interview (03/2013):

“I'd love to see anything that's new, original, daring, different, out-of-the-ordinary, that pushes boundaries, that's uncompromising. I'm actively looking for both MG and YA, and I like a challenge. If you've written a book that breaks the mold, that doesn't sound like other things on the market, please be in touch. It can be realistic or fantasy, but it can't be familiar.” (Link)

From an Interview (03/2010):

"I'd love to see more humor. Not ‘humor books,’ but rather novels with humorous stories, especially in middle grade and YA. I like funny, and I don't see enough of it." (Link)

What He Isn't Looking For:

Christian Literature, Erotica, Poetry, Puzzles, Games, Romance, Textbooks, Dramatic Works (Link, Link).

Editorial Agent?

“It depends on how much the author wants. I love working with ideas, so I like brainstorming and hashing things out with my authors. But some authors don’t want that kind of input, and I just get to read their novels when they’re finished. It’s all led by the client.” (Link)

"Some manuscripts and proposals come in and need a few rounds of edits before they're ready, others only need minor work. We invest as much time in each project as it needs. And, I expect that authors are going to be ready to roll up their sleeves and work, if need be." (Link)

His Advice for Writers:

“I suggest that perseverance and empathy are the two greatest traits an author can have. Authors need to be ready for rejection and disappointment, and they need to be ready to overcome it if they want to succeed. Without perseverance, I don't think any of the big names would have made it. Empathy is one of those skills we all need more of, and authors need to have it for themselves, first, their characters second, and the rest of the people in the publisher process, third. We all work very hard, and genuine recognition of that is invaluable.” (Link)

“The key, I think, is to establish yourself as a writer of something. I think it’s tough to establish a brand when you’re jumping from one category to another or from one genre to another. You want to give readers what they expect while still satisfying your own muse. It’s a balancing act, but being an author and having a career as an author are two different things.” (Link)


A list of Dystel & Goderich clients is available on the website.

Mr. Bourret’s clients include: Jill Alexander, Joelle Anthony, Brodi Ashton, Marcy Beller Paul, Emma Carlson Berne, Bryan BlissHeather Brewer, James Dashner, James Hankins, Rhoda Janzen, Dori Jones Yang, A.S. King, Stephanie Kuehn, Richelle Mead, Lisa McMann, A.J. Rathbun, Anne Rockwell, Suzanne Selfor, N. H. Senzai, Bernadette Shustak, Andrew Smith, Nova Ren Suma, Brad Thomas Parsons, Molly Wizenberg, Sarah Zarr, among others.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).

Snail-Mail: No.

Online Form: No.

Submission Guidelines:

Send a query and sample chapter. No attachments. Query only one agent at the agency. 

See the DGLM website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.

Query Tips:

“Good queries usually come from good books. While it’s true that some authors can write great books but have a tough time pitching them, I find that almost all of the great books I’ve signed up have come from great queries. I’m looking for a clear, concise description of the book that also has some sort of hook. I see dozens and dozens of queries a day, so the first thing that catches my eye is a story that doesn’t sound like all the others I’ve read that day.” (Link)

"Picking one query pet peeve isn't easy, but right now I'd say the most egregious offense at the moment is the forwarded query that still has the previous agent's name in it. That doesn't bode well for the rest of the query." (Link)

"I hate when my name is spelled wrong, I hate typos in the first sentence, I hate being queried by writers who haven’t done their research.  But in the end, none of that really matters if the query is compelling.  As I’ve mentioned on our blog, the details aren’t the most important thing, the idea, the narrative, the storytelling – that’s what hooks me." (Link)

Response Times:

The agency's stated response time for queries is 6-8 weeks and 8 weeks for requested material. If you do not hear back within the stated timeframe, feel free to resend (Link). Stats available on the web appear consistent with these numbers, though Mr. Bourret often responds much quicker.

What’s the buzz?

Michael Bourret has been with DGLM since 2010 and has a muy impressive list of authors and sales. He is regularly a Top Dealmaker on Publisher’s Marketplace and his clients are very loyal, suggesting happy partnerships all around. For what it’s worth, Bourret makes my personal list of tip-top agents.

I recommend following him on Twitter @MichaelBourret and subscribing to the DGLM blog for further insight.

Worth Your Time:


Interview with Michael Bourret at YA Lit Class (06/2013).

Episode #15 – The Ins and Outs of Agents with Michael Bourret at Authors’ Think Tank Podcast (06/2013).

Interview with Agent Michael Bourret at All the Write Notes (03/2013).

LitChat Interview: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management at LitStack (10/2012).

Interview with Michael Bourret, agent at Laurie Ann Thompson (04/2010).

Interview with Michael Bourret at Galley Cat (03/2010).

Interview with Michael Bourret at client Joelle Anthony's blog (02/2010).

Interview with Michael Bourret at Alice's CWIM Blog (08/2008).

Around the Web:

Michael Bourret at P&E ($, AAR).

Dystel & Goderich Literary Management at P&E ($, Highly Recommended).

Dystel & Goderich Literary Management thread at AbsoluteWrite.

Before querying, I recommend reading all the pages on the DGLM website, including a great FAQ and What’s New section.

Mr. Bourret’s personal essay on the DGLM website.

Mr. Bourret’s posts on the DGLM blog, categorized here.

Current and past DGLM newsletters are available here.

Successful Queries: Agent Michael Bourret and ‘Wake’ at Guide to Literary Agents (10/2009).

Agent Appreciation Day posts by clients Lisa McMann, Nova Ren Suma, and Dawn Metcalf (12/2009).


Please see the Dystel & Goderich Literary Management website for additional contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last Updated: 1/22/14.

Last Reviewed By Agent? N/A.


Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com

Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's/teen fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.


  1. This is a HECK of a roundup! Thank you! Keep 'em coming!

  2. love the summaries! thx casey. he has a full out of mine but he has been nothing but professional. I have heard he has long response times but I thing he's worth the wait.

  3. Casey,

    I'm just going to leave this anonymous, but I want to add something to what you posted above about Michael not getting back to a writer (yeah that was me). The thing that was really distressing about it was that when I emailed him I told him I had another agent who only took exclusives waiting to read my full, so I need a definitive answer from him. I phrased it all very professionally and politely. He didn't get back to me. You'd think that no matter how busy a person is, he'd at least have the compassion and professionalism to not keep a writer's career hanging when they had other options. I've had other rejections and had other agents take their time with responses, but this is the only one that I feel truly bitter about.

  4. Hello Anon!

    I'm sorry I didn't get that in there for you. I wasn't sure you wanted it in so I opted to leave it out just in case. I'm glad you chimed in and added it though! The more information and feedback on an agent the better.

    Good luck on that full Shelli!

    Thanks for the comments everyone!

  5. I just saw that Michael was in the agent spotlight. I ADORE him. I queried Michael with several projects and other than the first manuscript, all the rest had great feedback. He was funny, charming, and had excellent advice.

    On the last manuscript I queried him, he didn't respond. I later talked to him and found out it accidentally went into his spam!! When he didn't respond, I ended up signing with another agent. But he's very high up on my agent list!!!!!

    Maybe some of his non-responses have to do with his email issues he was having at the time??

    Michael B. Rocks! haha

  6. This is fantastic. I love that you include possibly not-so-great writer feedback to balance things out. Great job and keep it up!

  7. You know, I've thought about querying this agent in the past, but I can't get past this: It is so unnecessarily negative. I get it - lots of queries are written unprofessionally. But you know what else is unprofessional? Taking an accusatory tone with the people who ultimately provide your income.

  8. Minor typo Casey: "He’s a mehe sells about 30-40 books per year, although some of those are multiple-book deals. He also has a charming obsession with bran mber of AAR, andmuffins."

    Perhaps should be:

    "He’s a member of AAR, and sells about 30-40 books per year, although some of those are multiple-book deals. He also has a charming obsession with bran muffins."

  9. Thanks Kyle! Looks like I had an accidental drag and drop when I went in to edit stuff last month.

    I went ahead and updated the profile completely. Added his new bio since founding the West Coast office, new submission guidelines (e-queries only), and updated for recent interviews, quotes, sales, etc.

  10. I want to echo what anonymous said about the submission page. Technically, this agent looks like a great fit for me, but every time I go to query I get stuck on that page and have a major rage attack. Then I think about the email I'd like to send whoever wrote that, and by that point I am in no mood to query.