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Agent Spotlight: Josh Adams

This week's Agent Spotlight features Josh Adams of Adams Literary.

Josh Adams About: "Josh Adams, together with his wife Tracey, runs Adams Literary. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia Business School—where he studied finance and accounting, and was awarded the Abe Shuchman Memorial Award in Marketing—Josh spent more than a decade in publishing and media before bringing his editorial and business backgrounds together as a literary agent. A media management specialist, he led teams of creative and business professionals in developing the editorial strategy and positioning of several national publications, and directed the marketing and brand strategy of many well-known international companies as a consultant. In his free time, Josh enjoys practicing Taekwondo with Tracey and their daughters, and is working toward his black belt." (Link)

Status: Open to submissions.

What He's Looking For:

Genres of interest: Every age and genre of children's books from picture books to older, edgy YA.

As of 04/15/2010 he's particularly interested in the following:

"I'm especially interested in unique middle-grade fantasy adventure and dystopian YA. I love to be surprised by a story, character or world I'll never forget." (Info via e-mail)

From the web site:

"Our clients’ work spans every age and every genre—from picture books to middle-grade and young adult fiction, from historical novels and fantasy to books that tackle important contemporary issues.

"While we give every submission its due consideration, we must admit a fondness for middle-grade and young adult novels with memorable characters and a unique voice. In particular, we're looking for literary stories, high-concept speculative fiction, unique fantasy adventure, humor, and character driven picture books. We gravitate toward the timeless, not the trendy." (Link)

What He's Not Looking For:

"We don’t typically handle textbooks, novelty, craft, how-to or coloring books—and we don’t handle any adult works." (Link)


About the agency:

"Our philosophy is that we represent authors and artists, not books. As such, we don't work on a book-by-book or term basis, like some agencies do. Instead, we we work closely with our clients to intelligently manage the entirety of their children's publishing careers. We take a long-term view of the market, of our jobs—and of launching and building our clients' careers.

"Drawing upon our editorial expertise, knowledge of the industry, and extensive experience in contract negotiations, we provide editorial judgment and input, marketing consultation, rights management and long-term career planning and advice. In addition to placing and negotiating North American publishing rights, we actively market and negotiate film, UK, translation, audio, merchandising and other subsidiary rights on behalf of our clients." (Link)

"We really work together as a team on everything. We consult each other about any major decisions or issues, and we keep each other up-to-date on everything that's happening, so if need be, either one of us can pick something up where the other left off.  Though Tracey or I may handle the day-to-day management of a particular client more than the other, we don't work with the notion that someone is a "Tracey" client or a "Josh" client. All of our clients are Adams Literary clients." (Link)


"Unlikeable characters and lack of detail. I need to feel like I can make an investment of time in the characters, and I need to be able to visualize what's happening." (Link)

Editorial Agent?

"Yes, but my suggested revisions are typically more high-level--I don't line-edit, as I believe that's the editor's job--and they are only recommendations. My comments are aimed at clarifying any questions or issues I think readers will have, giving an overall sense of what I think works well or can be improved, and strengthening the work." (Link w/more info)

Web Presence:

Adams Literary website.

Twitter (the best way to receive news and updates on the agency).

QueryTracker, AgentQuery, & AuthorAdvance.


A complete list of Adams Literary clients is available on the website here.

Clients include:  John Claude Bemis, Kristin O'Donnell Tubb, Kat Falls, Alan Katz, among many others.


As of this posting, Mr. Adams is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 5 deals in the last 12 months and 18 overall. Recent deals include 3 MG and 2 YA.

Note: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.  Mr. Adams has verified (via e-mail) the agency reports only a small fraction of their deals and this is not an accurate portrayal.

Query Methods:

E-mail: No.

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: Yes (only).

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

"We accept submissions and queries only through the online form on the SUBMIT page of our website. We will not review—and will promptly recycle—any unsolicited submissions or queries we receive by post. Through the online form, please attach your complete manuscript as an RTF, DOC or PDF file; for artists in particular, please send a PDF of your illustrations and/or provide your web site so we may view your art samples." (Link)

Query tips: Let them know if your submission is exclusive or non-exclusive. Notify them of any offers of representation. If you need to follow up, use their online submission form and reference your submission.  Mr. Adams prefers personalized query letters. 

Via e-mail (04/2010) Mr. Adams shared the following:

"We do give priority consideration to people who've attended and met us at conferences, not only because we support SCBWI, but because we feel it's important for people to get a good sense of who we are and what we're about, since our philosophy and approach is different than other agencies. (Tracey will be at the SCBWI in NJ in June, and I'll be at the national SCBWI in LA in July-August.)"

See the Adams Literary website for official, full submission guidelines.

Response Times:

The agency's stated response time is 3-4 months, but I'm finding a huge range of response times from under a month up to nearly a year.  I'd say 4-5 months seems average. 

What's the Buzz?

There isn't a lot of info or buzz out there on Mr. Adams, but the agency is well-respected and completely legit.  They're an all-children's book, boutique agency with an impressive list of clients and sales.  They have a great team philosophy and their clients seem pleased with their representation. 

Their response times can be anywhere from a month up to a year (usually several months), so there's definitely some confusion and angst out there about response times and status queries.  Given this, I wouldn't advise going the exclusive route. 

Worth Your Time:

SCBWI Bologna Interview with Josh Adams at Cynsations (2008). 

Do Children's Writers Need Agents? Josh Adams Talks About Children's Books, an article by Jennifer Jensen at Suite101.

You can read an Agent Appreciation Day post on Josh Adams on R.J. Anderson's blog.

Keep up with Adam's Literary News, Events, and Upcoming Conferences engagements on the website or by newsletter.

There's a fabulous line up of Adams Literary's recent titles on the website.

You might be interested in viewing associate Quinlan Lee's profile here on Literary Rambles as well. 


Please see the Adams Literary website for contact and query information.


Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail.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. I love that Josh and his wife seem to work so well together as a team. Great spotlight, Casey!

  2. Great agent spotlight. I met Tracey Adams at a SCBWI conference in Michigan about 5 years ago. She was the first agent I ever met. She was very nice and knowledgeable. I am going to add this to my list of agents to query.

  3. Thanks Casey for another great post. Adams Literary is an agency to keep in mind. Their approach to authors is highly admirable!

  4. I saw Tracey speak at a SCBWI conference several years ago. Back then you could only query the agency if you had been to a conference she spoke at. Glad they're opened up to unsolicited queries.

    Thanks, Casey, for the great post.

  5. Josh Adams was on the faculty at the SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle in Feburary and I was very impressed with him.

    He was very knowledgeable and shared a lot of information.

    I was really impressed with him and I met a client of his and she said that he was the best!

  6. I love the books they represent.

    However, they are slow to respond. 8-9 months is what I've been seeing lately. So I definitely wouldn't go the exclusive route.

  7. Mr. Adams reviewed his profile and provided some updates 04/2010.