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Agent Spotlight: Alyssa Eisner Henkin

This week's Agent Spotlight features Alyssa Eisner Henkin of Trident Media Group, LLC

Status: Open to submissions.

alyssah1About: "Alyssa Eisner Henkin is a 1998 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. Before joining Trident in December of 2006, she spent seven years at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers editing the NY Times bestselling Little Quack, The Mother Daughter Book Club, and The Wedding Planner’s Daughter. Alyssa is currently seeking middle grade and young adult novels, as well as projects with crossover appeal in women’s fiction. She is especially drawn to mysteries in mansions, adventures that suspend disbelief, wish-fulfillment premises that linger with what ifs, epic love stories, and settings tilled with strong regional flavors.” (Link)

About the Agency:

“In September 2000, Robert Gottlieb and Dan Strone left the William Morris Agency and founded Trident Media Group. Since then, Trident has become one of the fastest-growing, most-successful literary agencies in the publishing industry. In 2002, the Ellen Levine Literary Agency merged with Trident Media Group.” (Link)

Web Presence:

Trident website.

QueryTracker, AgentQuery, AuthorAdvance.

What She's Looking For:


Middle grade and young adult fiction; select children’s nonfiction and women’s fiction projects.

From Her Bio:

“Alyssa is currently seeking middle grade and young adult novels, as well as projects with crossover appeal in women’s fiction. She is especially drawn to mysteries in mansions, adventures that suspend disbelief, wish-fulfillment premises that linger with what ifs, epic love stories, and settings tilled with strong regional flavors.” (Link)

From an Interview (01/2011):

“I’m looking for middle grade novels with big, swashbuckling plots from mystery to adventure to wish-fulfillment premises. I have a particular penchant for classic middle grade books (especially illustrated ones) that in tone feel like they could have been written forty years ago (or forty years from now).

“I’m also keen on tween series in the vein of my first sale (Jessica Burkhart’s Canterwood Crest series) or the aforementioned MOTHER DAUGHTER BOOK CLUB.

“On the YA side, I’d love to find more epic romances, historical or otherwise, more snarky contemporary-set novels in the vein of EASY A, and a YA counterpart for Stieg Larson. We’ve all certainly seen many dystopian and paranormal projects, but I’m welcoming to those genres if the premise and the writing feel inventive, and/or dare I say, spiced with humor?” (Link)

From an Interview (03/2010):

“I am accepting new queries primarily for YA and MG novels. I am also looking to take on a very select number of new and returning author/illustrators with picture book dummies, as well as picture book manuscripts by previously published authors only. Above all, I’m most drawn to novel manuscripts with strong senses of place and regional flavors. I value strong writing, but my taste is not partial to the purely voice-driven story. I’m primarily looking for plot-driven and commercial books, be they YA romance, paranormal other than vampires, road trips, adventures, mysteries, or girl-oriented tween fiction that moms can appreciate, too.” (Link)

From AgentQuery:

“Alyssa's primary area of interest is middle grade and young adult fiction. On the middle grade side, she's actively looking for high-concept mystery and adventure. She'd love to find a spooky ghost storyeqsue project in the vein of The Book Of Elsewhere, and a tween girl commercial series in the vein of The Mother Daughter Book Club. On the YA side she'd love to find an epic love story for teens that has crossover appeal in the women's fiction market.”  (Link)


"My dream author is someone who has matchless ideas, an imaginative way with words, killer plotting/pacing skills, and a desire to market his or her work through innovative and often interactive online formats. The author I would not work well with is likely a legend in his or her own mind, who isn’t receptive to new ideas, even if his or her own ideas aren’t really working." (Link)

In a 2007 Q&A on teenlitauthors regarding contract termination with Trident Media:

"...we typically give clients the option to sign on with us for a pre-determined period of time based on the client's wishes, and if he or she is unhappy, then the client has the option NOT to renew 16 weeks before the term of agency agreement ends." (Link)

Her Advice For Writers:

"Pay particular attention to making your voice stand out and making your plot sizzle. Keep up to date on what the trends are—not to follow necessarily, but just to know what editors and agents might be looking for at any given time—it’s often changing." (Link)

"It's key to treat yourself like a published author before you're published." (Link)

Editorial Agent?

“Each case is different. But in general I do a good amount of editorial work. At a minimum, there’s usually at least one or two rounds of edits, where I focus particularly on pace and amping up the commercial factor of the book, since my job is to secure the best deal possible.” (Link)


“When someone sends a query to me…and everyone else in children’s publishing!” (Link)

“If I love the book or even just the sound of it, there are few pet peeves that can ruin anyone’s chances, and I have been known to break my own rules on occasion.” (Link)


Anne Alstott, Lauren Barnholdt, Jessica Burkhart, Julie Berry, Jennifer Bryant, Melissa Darnell, Debra Diesen, Janet S. Fox, Sally Gardner, Lisa Greenwald, Wendy Anderson Halperin, Jen Haley, P.G. Kain, Caroline Kenney, Carolyn MacCullough, Sarah MacLean, R.J. Palacio, Kristina Purnhagen, Bobbie Pyron, Jennifer Roy, Jessica Schein, Christine Seifert, Susan Shaw, Shelli Johannes Wells, Ebony Wilkins.


As of 04/2011, Ms. Henkin is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 13 deals in the last 12 months, 48 overall, and 5 six figure+ deals. Recent deals include 7 middle grade, 5 young adult, and 1 women’s fiction. 

NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes.

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Send a query including a plot synopsis, relevant background, and the first five pages in the body of the e-mail.  No attachments. (Link)

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

Query Tips:

“In query letters I look for everything in the text body of the e-mail: a thorough and intriguing description of the book, five sample pages of the manuscript, and a brief paragraph summarizing the author’s prior track, or other relevant work experience.” (Link)

She's reportedly impressed with queries that mimic jacket flaps. (Link)

Response Times:

Ms. Henkin usually responds within two to three weeks; however, there are times it takes her up to two or three months and occasional instances of no-response.  Requested material ranges from a week to a few months. 

What's the Buzz?

There seems to be good buzz all around. Nothing but kind, praising words from queriers and clients alike. She attends conferences regularly and is building a fabulous list of clients.

Worth Your Time:


Interview with An Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) (01/2011)

Agent’s Notebook: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group at The Whole Megillah (11/2010).

Agent Perspectives: Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Class of 2K10 (03/2010).

Booklover of the Week Series Interview with Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Kay Cassidy's blog (09/2009).

Marvelous Marketer Interview with Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Market My Words (09/2009).

Interview with Alyssa Eisner Henkin at The Longstockings (05/2008).

Interview with Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Editors, Agents, and Blogs, Oh My! (02/2009).

Around the Web: 

Trident Media Group on P&E (highly recommended).

Trident Media Group thread on AbsoluteWrite.

Agent Appreciation Day posts by client Kristina McBride, client Lauren Barnholdt, and client Shelli Johaness Wells (12/2009).

How I Got My Agent: Shelli Johannes-Wells, client story at Guide to Literary Agents (10/2009).

Ms. Eisner Henkin answers a question at Gumbo Writers.

Succinct notes by the SCBWI Writers of Lower Fairfield on the NY 2009 SCBWI Winter Conference where Ms. Henkin and others talk about the economy.

2008 SCBWI conference notes regarding Ms. Henkin by Beth Revis at Writing it Out.


Please see the Trident Media Group website or Ms. Henkin's AgentQuery page for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 4/21/11

Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.

Last Reviewed By Agent?  4/18/11


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 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. Ughh, it seems that so few will take on picture book writers! I wish I wrote MG or YA!

  2. Alyssa is awesome. She requested my first fifty pages after 10 days [YA dystopian]. Then my full from my partial after 10 more days. Then, sadly, she rejected my full after having it for 11 days. She was kind and polite throughout. She's great if you can hook her!

  3. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak at the Winter SCBWI con in NYC. Quite informative and funny, too.

    She's on my list.

  4. Thanks for all the input everyone!

  5. Like Prince Balthazar I was lucky enough to hear her speak at that same conference.

    I just sent her a query and used quotes from her interview above!!

    Thanks for this info, Casey.

  6. You're very welcome, K.M.

    Best wishes on your query!

  7. I signed with her in December and she is truly awesome! We've gone back and forth on my draft a few times now and her comments have helped shape my ms. in ways I hadn't even considered. It's much better! I truly appreciate her enthusiasm and patience!

  8. Thanks so much for chiming in, Jessica! I'm glad you're having a great author-agent relationship.

    Best wishes for a quick sale!

  9. Very Interesting!
    Thank You!