This week's Agent Spotlight features Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary.
Status: Closed to queries as of 08/01/13 – Check the site for updates.
About: "After a dozen years working in publishing in New York City, Kate Schafer Testerman moved to Colorado and formed kt literary in early 2008, where she concentrates on middle grade and young adult fiction. Bringing to bear the experience of working with a large agency, she enjoys concentrating on all aspects of working with her authors, offering hands-on experience, personal service, and a surfeit of optimism.
“Her clients include Maureen Johnson, Ellen Booraem, Stephanie Perkins, Ransom Riggs, Thomas E. Sniegoski, Josie Bloss, and Matthew Cody, among other exciting and acclaimed authors. Kate is a graduate of the University of Delaware’s Honors Program, a former cast member of the New York Renaissance Faire, and an avid collector of shoes. Her interests cover a broad range including teen chick lit, urban fantasy and magical realism, adventure stories, and romantic comedies. She is an active member of the SCBWI and AAR." (Link)
About the Agency:
"Books aren’t just what we do, they’re who we are. We become the sum total of our reading experiences – the romance, the adventures, the coming-of-age, the fantasy, the dare-to-believe. At kt literary, we want to be more.
“Madeleine L’Engle once said, ‘You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it’s going to be too difficult for grown-ups, you write it for children.’ Write for children. Write for adults. Write for yourself. And then, when you’re ready to find a literary agent to take your work to the next level, think of us.
“kt literary is a full-service literary agency operating out of Highlands Ranch, in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, where every major publishing house is merely an email or phone call away. We believe in the power of new technology to connect writers to readers, and authors to editors. We bring over a decade of experience in the New York publishing scene, an extensive list of contacts, and a lifetime love of reading to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
“And did we mention our boundless optimism?" (Link)
Daphne Loves Books (tumblr).
What She's Looking For:
Genres / Specialties:
“We’re thrilled to be actively seeking new clients writing brilliant, funny, original middle grade and young adult fiction, both literary and commercial.”
From an Interview (07/2010):
“That MG boy book, I guess. A YA novel about teen athletes like gymnasts or figure skaters.” (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
Picture books, adult fiction and nonfiction projects. (Link)
"Mainstream thrillers, hardboiled detective stories, traditional westerns, high fantasy, cold war spy novels, cosies (or is that cosys?) Lots of different types of adult fiction, really, although some of these genres, if well told in a YA or middle grade novel, might be right up my alley." (Link)
Her Advice to Writers:
"Read everything you can get your hands on! Read novels in your genre, read books about writing, read author blogs. And know that just finishing a manuscript, while a personal triumph, doesn't mean your novel is ready to be shopped. Learn to love to edit, and find a critique group." (Link)
"In queries, telling me what happens without spending time allowing me to invest in the character. Without that connection, I don't care what happens. I also hate being told that that everything out there in the market is bad, or that the author couldn't find anything good to read, so they decided to write a book themselves. It's insulting to me and to my clients." (Link)
See the "Worth Your Time" blog section below for links to other query tips.
"I like to think of myself as a ‘big picture’ editor for my clients. Often when I'm considering a manuscript for representation, I can see ways in which the manuscript can be improved. I like to have a conversation with the author and talk about these possible revisions, see if they mesh well with the author's own thought about their novel. Usually, I will ask for a revision even before officially signing a client, so I can see how they work with editorial suggestions. It's not a line edit, however, I might comment on the pacing of the plot, the characters' motivations and how they're expressed, parts I like and want to see more of, and parts that might detract from the bigger story." (Link)
A list of clients is available on the kt literary website. Clients include:
Susan Adrian, Sara Beitia, Josie Bloss, Ellen Booraem, Elizabeth Briggs, Susan Casamento, Kater Cheek, Matthew Cody, Erin Danehy, Trish Doller, Alexandra Duncan, S. Terrell French, Carrie Harris, Maureen Johnson, Julie Karr, Stephanie Perkins, Rebecca Petruck, Ransom Riggs, Daniel Rogge, Thomas E. Sniegoski, Amy Sonnichsen, Amy Spalding, Krista Van Dolzer, Lili Wilksonson.
E-mail: Yes (only.)
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
NOTE: As of 08/01/2013 Ms. Testerman is closed to submissions. Check the website for current status.
Send a query letter and the first three pages of your manuscript in the body of an e-mail. No attachments. E-mails with attachments will be deleted unread. Put “Query” along with the title of your manuscript in the subject line. If you've submitted to Kate in the past and she requested pages, do say so in your query.
If she requests, she will usually request the first five chapters and a complete synopsis. The synopsis should include the full plot of the book including the conclusion. No teasers.
See the kt literary website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
The agency's stated response time is two weeks, which seems fairly accurate. Stats on the web show a range of just hours up to three weeks (with an average around two). Requested materials range from a couple weeks to 3 months, most falling in the one- to two-month range.
What's the Buzz?
Kate Schafer is a successful, well-established literary agent. Her presence in social media and willingness to help writers though her blog and Twitter make her very popular among aspiring authors. She's a member of SCBWI, the AAR, and is actively making sales. Her clients seem very happy with her.
Worth Your Time:
A (Slightly Unconventional) Interview with Kidlit Agent Kate Schafer Testerman at Kidliterati (08/2013).
PitchFest Interview & Feedback - Kate Schafer Testerman with kt literary at Pitch University (06/2011).
Live Industry Professional Panel (Michelle Andelman, Molly O’Neill, Kate Testerman) at WriteOnCon (08/2010).
Interview with an Agent: Kate Schafer Testerman at Mother. Write. Repeat (07/2010).
AGENT INTERVIEW: Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary at Tall Tales and Short Stories (07/2010).
Pointers from the Pros: Q&A with Agent Kate Schafer Testerman at My Daytime Drama (07/2010).
Booklovers Interview with Kate Schafer Testerman at Kay Cassidy's site (01/2010).
Agent Advice Interview with Kate Schafer Testerman at the Guide to Literary Agents Blog (11/2009).
Interview with Kate Schafer Testerman at A View From the Top (11/2009).
Marvelous Market Interview with Kate Schafer Testerman at Market My Words (08/2009).
Agent Interview: Kate Schafer Testerman at Literary Life (06/2009).
Interview with an Agent: Kate Schafer at Teen Book Review (03/2008).
Definitely check out the Ask Daphne blog for an invaluable amount of information (check the archives too!). Her Quarterly Status Updates, Live Blogs, and Ask Daphne About My Query posts may be of particular interest.
So You Want to Read YA?: Guest Post by Kate Testerman, Literary Agent at Stacked (04/2013).
Musical Theatre Monday – Kate Schafer Testerman on Into the Woods at The Amy Spalding (01/2013).
Around the Web:
An Interview with Erin Danehy -A QueryTracker Success Story.
Are You Ready to Query? at WriteOnCon (08/2011).
Successful Queries: Literary Agent Kate Schafer Testerman and “The Last Good Place of Lily Odilon” at Guide to Literary Agents (10/2010).
Do’s and Don’t’s of Querying by literary agent Kate Testerman at WriteOnCon (08/2010).
Young-adult author, literary agent form lasting connection at University of Delaware Messenger.
Kate Schafter Testerman was the April 2009 Secret Agent at Miss Snark's First Victim. You can read through the archives to see what she said in her critiques.
Kate’s love story behind moving to Colorado and founding kt literary at Media Bistro (01/2008).
Fun fact: She is the author of THE KING'S SISTER.
Please see the kt literary website for contact and query information.
Last updated: 6/4/13.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 5/19/10.
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.