This week's Agent Spotlight features Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary.
Status: Open to submissions, actively seeking new clients.
About: "After nearly ten years with industry powerhouse agency Janklow & Nesbit Associates, Kate Schafer Testerman formed kt literary in early 2008, where she concentrates on middle grade and YA fiction as well as handling some select adult commercial fiction and narrative nonfiction. 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.
"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:
"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." (Link)
What She's Looking For:
Genres / Specialties:
“We are looking for brilliant, funny, original middle grade and young adult fiction, both literary and commercial, in all genres.” (Link)
From an Interview (11/2009):
"I feel like my cup runneth over a bit in terms of the quality and quantity of YA submissions I receive, but I would love to see more great middle grade novels, particularly those you'd call 'boy books.'" (Link)
From a Contest (04/2009):
"As always, I'm a sucker for a good romantic comedy -- my first choice would be one for a YA audience, but I love women's fiction as well. Some editor friends and I were lamenting the lack of a good Veronica Mars-esque teen detective story, so I'd love to find one of those, and as a former theatre geek, ice skater, and gymnast, I'd love to find YA novels that truly delve into those worlds as well. Beyond that, my interests get more general: adventure stories that keep me up too late reading, especially for middle grade, romances that make me swoon, and anything that makes me laugh out loud. I concentrate on YA and middle grade fiction, women's fiction, and do the very rare popculture narrative nonfiction -- something like Around the World in 80 Dates or Round Ireland With a Fridge." (Link)
See the submission guidelines on the kt literary website for up-to-date details.
What She Isn't Looking For:
From a 2008 post:
"Literary fiction, to start. I like a rousing story, and it seems to me most adult literary fiction is more about language and beautiful prose than plot. 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)
She's also not interested in picture books at this time. (Link)
"Lots of times, I’ll be really intrigued by a plot, but be disappointed when it comes to reading the chapters, because the narrative voice didn’t live up to the originality of the plot. Of course, voice alone doesn’t work – it still needs a plot. I think Andrew Karre of Flux said something similar, and I bet a lot of other editors and agents would agree. Sometimes it’s a concept, but I need the voice to work for me as well." (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 don'ts and dislikes.
Yes. "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:
Sara Beitia, Josie Bloss, Ellen Booraem, Susan Casamento, Kater Cheek, Matthew Cody, Trish Doller, S. Terrell French, Kiki Hamilton, Carrie Harris, Julie Karr, Maureen Johnson, Stephanie Perkins, Sara Raasch, Ransom Riggs, Daniel Rogge, Susan Sandmore, Thomas E. Sniegoski, Amy Spalding, Lili Wilksonson.
As of Jan 2012, Ms. Testerman is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 4 deals in the last 12 months and 18 overall. Recent deals include 3 young adult and 1 international rights.
NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.
E-mail: Yes (only.)
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Send a query letter and the first three pages of your manuscript in the body of the 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 accurate. Response data shows a range of less than 24 hours up to two weeks (with an average around one). 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 Testerman has fabulous buzz. Her presence in social media and willingness to help with queries and questions on her blog and via Twitter make her very popular among aspiring authors, published authors, and the kidlit community as a whole. She's a member of SCBWI, the AAR, and is actively making sales. Her clients seem very happy with her.
Worth Your Time:
Live Industry Professional Panel (Michelle Andelman, Molly O’Neill, Kate Testerman) at WriteOnCon (08/2010).
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.
Do’s and Don’t’s of Querying by literary agent Kate Testerman at WriteOnCon (08/2010).
Are You Ready to Query by Kate Testerman at WriteOnCon (08/2012).
Around the Web:
Kate’s love story behind moving to Colorado and founding kt literary at Media Bistro.
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.
Fun fact: She is the author of THE KING'S SISTER.
Please see the kt literary website for contact and query information.
Last updated: 1/10/12.
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
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.