This week's Agent Spotlight features Katie Grimm of Don Congdon Associates.
Status: Accepting submissions.
About: "Katie joined Don Congdon Associates in 2007. She is interested in vivid literary fiction, transportive historical fiction, up-market women's fiction, cohesive short story collections, lurid mysteries & thrillers with exotic settings, high-concept young adult, and middle grade and children's with heart and humor. Most importantly, she hooked by fiction with emotional resonance and longevity, and in her opinion, this requires an authentic and fresh voice, relatable characters, and a twisting plot that keeps her intrigued. For non-fiction, she is looking for offbeat narrative non-fiction, European history, pressing cultural issues, memoir with distinct voice, religion from a historical or sociological point of view, narrative science and medical, multi-cultural, illustrated, and counter-culture." (via e-mail)
About the Agency:
"Don Congdon Associates, Inc. represents over one hundred active authors and many authors' estates, as well as a substantial backlist. The agency is a member of the AAR and has been in business since 1983. Many of its authors have appeared on best-seller lists, and have won numerous awards, including: Pulitzer Prize and George Polk Award winners Russell Baker and Edna Buchanan; recipient of the National Book Award Ellen Gilchrist; New York Times Best Seller Kathryn Stockett; James Thurber Prize winner David Sedaris; winner of an Edgar and Grand Master of Horror awards Richard Matheson; and Ray Bradbury, who has received numerous awards including the National Book Foundation’s 2002 medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters." (Link – defunct)
There is more information on the history of the agency in this piece on Don Congdon.
Don Congdon Associates website (coming soon)
What She's Looking For:
From her Bio:
"She is interested in vivid literary fiction, transportive historical fiction, up-market women's fiction, cohesive short story collections, lurid mysteries & thrillers with exotic settings, high-concept young adult, and middle grade and children's with heart and humor. Most importantly, she hooked by fiction with emotional resonance and longevity, and in her opinion, this requires an authentic and fresh voice, relatable characters, and a twisting plot that keeps her intrigued. For non-fiction, she is looking for offbeat narrative non-fiction, European history, pressing cultural issues, memoir with distinct voice, religion from a historical or sociological point of view, narrative science and medical, multi-cultural, illustrated, and counter-culture." (via e-mail)
From an Interview (2011?):
“I want to read and represent books that push my emotional boundaries and teach me something about the world beyond, or even better, myself. I’m looking for fiction that is both of the moment – speaking to this particular period of time – yet timeless in its emotional truths. I’m also searching for non-fiction with voice and authority. Keeping that in mind, I want strong literary fiction, up-market women’s fiction, thrillers with bite, cohesive short story collections, and narrative non-fiction from qualified authors. In young adult and middle grade, I look for high-concept with emotional honesty – they can be contemporary or more fantastical, but they have to have relatable characters. There are certain genres like high fantasy, sci-fi, or romance that I don’t represent, but I think a touch of these elements in both adult and children’s keep things interesting.” (Link)
From an Interview (11/2010):
“Across all genres I am looking for something that has a high concept hook with the emotional resonance to have staying power. As incongruous as this may seem, I’m looking for more horror and gore in both children’s and the mystery/thriller department. I’m also always on the hunt for more historical fiction across all genres from the early modern period and beyond – there are so many meaty events and points of view in history that have yet to get the literary treatment.” (Link)
From an Interview (12/2009):
"I am especially interested in young adult and middle grade, but I do consider picture books as well. Illustrated books are such a specialized market—it requires a completely different skill set to be able to parse out the prose and the artwork—but I welcome the challenge." (Link)
"I’ve been receiving and requesting a lot of young adult and middle grade, but I also want more historical fiction. The key to historical fiction is creating characters and plots that are engrossing no matter what the era, and the historical setting should inform the story and not overwhelm it. I am also looking for historical mysteries and lurid thrillers that aren’t in the terrorist or conspiracy theory mold—in my opinion, you don’t need far-reaching plotlines and global masterminds to deliver excitement.
"I need more nonfiction that isn’t misery driven or inspirational—I want to learn something new! I’m always interested in well-researched, personal, and enlightening nonfiction, but having a strong writing platform is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, especially since much of marketing and publicity is placed on the shoulders of the author from the beginning." (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
High fantasy, straight science fiction, adult speculative fiction, paranormal, chick-lit, romance, western, political, inspirational, how-to, self help, Christian literature, comix, graphic novels, erotica, poetry, western, business, investment, mind, body, spirit, professional, reference, religion, spirituality, inspiration, textbooks, dramatic works. (Link, Link)
"I’m rarely drawn to thrillers with terrorist plots or government agency acronyms, and I am so turned off by romance that I rarely read anything that has substantial a romantic plot. But often you won’t know the details until you query me, so it’s always worth a shot." (Link – defunct)
"Despite the fact I read so much, I rarely find stories or characters that gnaw at me weeks later, and good literature should have that sort of staying power. Writing something memorable requires originality in voice, style and plot, but it also means tapping into the human consciousness and making readers feel something outside themselves. Cultivating that emotional investment simply requires a lot of talent, but real, relatable, and lovable characters are a good start." (Link –defunct)
Her Advice to Writers:
"Read and write every single day, and be evangelical about what you’re reading and loving. No amount of marketing or publicity dollars will ever trump the power of word-of-mouth, and sharing the emotional experience is why we’re all here." (Link)
There are a lot of great pet peeves in Ms. Grimm's interview The Guide To Literary Agents Blog.
“I am an editorial agent, so I’ve been known to go several rounds of edits with a project if it warrants it. In this marketplace, editorial board meetings are especially competitive, so you have to arm editors with a manuscript that is polished. The bar is high, and we should strive to pass it, not just submit something that is ‘good enough.’” (Link)
As of 12/2011, Ms. Grimm does not appear to be a member of Publisher's Marketplace. Don Congdon is listed as having made 2 deals in the last 12 months, 3 six-figure+ deals, and 22 overall.
NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales, and Ms. Grimm has confirmed that the agency does not announce all their sales.
E-mail: Yes (preferred).
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
E-mail your query to dca[at]doncongdon[dot]com with "Query for Katie" in the subject line. Include the first chapter in the body of the e-mail. No attachments. Query only one agent at the agency. (Link)
For snail mail send a query, the first chapter, and a SASE to:
110 William Street, Suite 2202
New York, NY 10038
(This is a new agency address as of December 2011, provided by Ms. Grimm)
Ms. Grimm's stated response time on queries is 4 weeks, which seems to be fairly accurate. If you haven't heard from her within 5 weeks, feel free to follow up. Her response time on requested material varies per submission, but she tries to respond to those within 4 weeks as well.
What's the Buzz?
Don Congdon Associates is a highly respected agency and Ms. Grimm has the benefit of her colleagues' years of experience and guidance. While the agency prefers to keep a low profile, Ms. Grimm has been making co-sales and subright negotiations and is now subbing her own clients. She is a member of the AAR, as are all the agents at Don Congdon Associates, and is actively developing a children's list for the agency. She's been extremely warm and helpful in my dealings with her.
Worth Your Time:
Interview with Katie Grimm, Literary Agent at How to Publish a Book (2011?).
7 Questions For: Literary Agent Katie Grimm at Middle Grade Ninja (11/2010).
Agent Advice Interview with Katie Grimm of Don Congdon Associates at the Guide to Literary Agents blog (12/2009).
Around the Web:
Please see the submission guidelines or one of the query databases above for contact and query information.
Last updated: 12/16/11.
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 8/19/10.
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.