Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

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  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.

Agent Spotlight: John Cusick

This week's Agent Spotlight features John Cusick of Folio Jr.
Status: Open to submissions.
johnAbout:  John Cusick is the Vice President and agent at Folio Jr., a division of Folio Literary.
“I represent a diverse list award winners and New York Times bestsellers. My focus is middle grade and young adult novels, as well as genre fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, horror) in the YA-adult crossover space and adult sci-fi, fantasy, and horror.
"I graduated Wesleyan University in 2007 with a double major in English and Russian Literature—a degree one professor called “fun but useless.” After working as a freelance writer, bookseller, dog walker, cashier, and radio host, I became a literary agent’s assistant and quickly began building my own list. Around the same time I also became an author; my young adult novels, Girl Parts and Cherry Money Baby, were published by Candlewick Press. My middle-grade, Dimension Why, is coming from Harper Collins in 2020.
"As a writer myself, I bring both a creative and commercial sensibility to my agenting style. I’m an editorial agent who works closely with my clients, whether it’s developing a debut project or helping a seasoned author take that next step. My goal is to match writers with their dream editor, secure the best deals possible, facilitate the exploitation of dramatic (film and TV) rights in my clients’ work, and grow authors’ readership over long careers.
"I am passionate about helping clients achieve their full potential, and I’m looking for dedicated, original, fervent, visionary creators.” (From the agency website)
Update on 2/6/2023
John has had two MG novels come out: DIMENSION WHY (HarperCollins 2020) and DIMENSION WHY 2: REVENGE OF THE SEQUEL (HarperCollins 2021).
About the Agency:
A division of Folio Literary Management, Folio Jr. is wholly committed to offering our clients impeccable, individually tailored care. We strive not only to discover and cultivate the most compelling new voices and the most original and memorable styles of illustration, but also to indefatigably and strategically support our established writers and illustrators as they thrive and develop their careers in the publishing industry.” (From the agency website)
Web Presence:
Folio Jr. website.
John Cusick’s blog.  
Publisher’s Marketplace page.
Twitter @johnmcusick.
Update on 1/23/2023
What He’s Looking For:
Genres / Specialties:
"I’m seeking unique voices in middle-grade, young adult, and young adult/adult-crossover fiction. I want stories that move readers, moments that make me look up and say “Wow, yes. I’ve felt that.”
"I want compelling page-turners that create life-long readers, stories that will inspire fandoms, characters readers will cosplay as, obsess over, and never forget. I want #ownvoices stories of all styles and genres, and am particularly interested in sci-fi, fantasy, and genre fiction from under-represented voices. I love the strange, iconoclastic, and unusual. Send me the books kids will sneak / steal / borrow in secret. Those intimate, dangerous, life-saving stories.
"I love proactive protagonists, kids and teens chasing a dream or a hero who swings in with a song in her heart and a knife in her teeth. I am not seeking picture book authors or illustrators, or non-fiction, at this time." (From the agency website)
From an Interview (02/2014):
“I want contemporary realistic y.a. with a twist, something like SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY or OCD LOVE STORY. I’m dying for great middle-grade, either a coming of age like WHEN YOU REACH ME (which is also realistic with a twist), or a truly fresh fantasy like THE PECULIAR. I’m also keen for new author/illustrators.” (Link)
From an Interview (01/2013):
“I’d love to see a middle-grade series for boys set in a truly original fantasy or sci-fi world. I love page-turners, whether they’re adventure or contemporary romance; anything fast-paced is up my street. I like high sci-fi, but I’m especially interested in stories set in our contemporary world with a sci-fi or fantastical twist. Think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I love horror and suspense. I’d be interested to read a sprawling, romantic historical. Tolstoy for teens.” (Link)
What He Isn’t Looking For:
Picture books, illustrators, and nonfiction (From Publishers Marketplace)
Editorial Agent?
“I’m a very editorial agent. I like working creatively with my clients, from the idea stage to line-level tweaks. I’m also very communicative. I like chatting with my folks by phone, email, text, whatever. I also hope to pair authors with the perfect editor. When an editor and a client totally hit it off, creatively and personally, I know I’ve done my job. Finally, when I say I want career-clients, that’s another way of saying I like to manage and develop the trajectory of an author’s career, to help build their audience and hone their craft from book to book.” (Link)
See the Folio Jr. website to see some of his clients.
Query Methods:
E-mail: Yes (only).
Snail-Mail: No.  
Online-Form: No.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
“Please send your query along with the first 2500 words of your manuscript to [see website]. Please include the word QUERY in the subject line.”
See the Folio Jr. website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
Query Tips:
See this interview at I Write for Apples for a lot of great info and tips.
Response Times:
“I try to respond to all queries, however if you do not hear from me within thirty days, please consider it a pass.” (Link
What's the Buzz?
John Cusick is an established and well-respected literary agent with a strong list of clients and sales. He recently joined Folio Jr. where he will continue to represent authors of children’s and young adult literature.
I recommend following John on Twitter @johnmcusick and subscribing to his blog.
Worth Your Time:
Agent Interviews and Podcasts:
Podcast Interiew at Owltail (08/2022)
Podcast Interview at LitTea (08/2022)
Podcast Interview at A Bookshelf Binge (05/2022)
Podcast Interview at Good Story (10/2020)
How to Write a Query Letter Podcast at Middle Grade Ninja (07/2019)
How Fast Do You Read Podcast at Middle Grade Ninja (07/2019)
What I'm Looking for Podcast at Middle Grade Ninja (07/2019)
Podcast Interview at The Manscript Academeny (Approximately 2018)
Interview with Literary Agent John Cusick at Justin Colón Books (04/2018)
Interview at Writers Digest (08/2015)
Agent John Cusick of Greenhouse Literary Talks Picture Books at Frolicking Through Cyberspace (07/2014).
Query.Sign.Submit. with John Cusick at I Write for Apples (02/2014).
Interview with John Cusick at Guide to Literary Agents (10/2013).
John Cusick Agent/Author Interview at Kathy Temean’s site (09/2013).
7 Questions For: Literary Agent John Cusick at Middle Grade Ninja (01/2013).
*For a complete list of Mr. Cusick’s agent & author interviews, see this page on his blog.
Selected Blog Posts & Guest Posts:
A Pretty Much Foolproof, Never-Fail, Silver-Bullet Query Opening (07/2015).
Announcement: I’m Joining Folio Literary! (06/2015).
Please see the Folio Jr. website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 1/22/2023
Agent contacted for review? Yes
Last Reviewed By Agent? 2/6/2023
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updated? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7(at)gmail(dot)com
Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's/YA fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying. The information found herein is subject to change.


Sharon Biggs Waller said...

Hi Casey, I'm repped by John and I have to say that he's a dream agent. He works so hard for his clients and is really passionate about shaping their careers. Oh, and he's super funny. I feel really lucky to be on his client list. If you're going to sub something to John follow the online form to the T and make sure it's as perfect as it can be. He really looks for out-of-the-ordinary stories, so keep that in mind. I was told by a load of agents that historicals don't sell unless they are paranormal or dark but he disagreed and ended up selling my manuscript really quickly.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for another awesome agent spotlight. John sounds like an awesome agent and it's great that Sharon shared her experiences with him.

Lydia Kang said...

And if he spelled his name Cusack I'd also ask him to marry me in the query letter. But I digress.