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Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "H" as of 5/11/2023 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.

Agent Spotlight: Molly Ker Hawn

This week's Agent Spotlight features Molly Ker Hawn of The Bent Agency.
Status: As of 5/12/20, Ms. Ker Hawn is closed to submissions. Check the agency website to find out when she reopens to submissions.

Molly Ker Hawn.jpegAbout: My time in the publishing industry has included editorial roles at Chronicle Books and Dial Books for Young Readers, early social media development for a major teen magazine, and serving as National Programs Director at the Children’s Book Council, the trade association of American children’s book publishers. I’ve also been a bookseller, and I’m a past board member of the United States Board on Books for Young People.

I live in London and I work with authors all over the world, selling directly to publishers in the US, the UK and Australia. I’ve bounced back and forth from America to England since I was a teenager: I grew up in Northern California, lived for a time in the West Country, read English at Cambridge University, spent many years in New York City, and now live a stone’s throw from the River Thames.

If you’ve got a terrific story, well-told, I want to read it.

I’m looking for middle grade and young adult fiction that’s inventive, well-crafted, and rich with emotion. I’m also interested in non-fiction for readers ages 8-18. I like wit, but not snark; I prefer books that lean more toward literary than commercial, but of course, my perfect book neatly bridges the two. The fiction on my list all has a strong sense of authentic place, whether real or imaginary; I’m not the right agent for books with animal protagonists.

I also represent select non-fiction projects for adults. I’m interested in intersectional feminism, current events, popular culture, and modern history.

I’m particularly interested in hearing writers from underrepresented communities. (Link)

Web Presence:
The Bent Agency website.
AAR profile.
AgentQuery, Query Tracker.
Publishers Marketplace
What She's Looking For:
Middle grade and YA fiction and nonfiction.

From Her Manuscript Wishlist:
I'm open to any genre and almost any topic. Contemporary, historical, fantasy, science fiction, romance, horror…I’ve loved books that fit all those descriptions. Some specific likes and dislikes:
  • I like wit, not snark. 
  • Nothing hooks me like writing that shows a real mastery of language. 
  • I love love. Romantic love, family love, the love of friendship — authentic-feeling bonds between characters can carry me through almost any story.
  • I’m not one for ‘misery lit.’ I don’t like to finish a book feeling hopeless about the characters. 
  • Fantasy was my first love: Ruth Chew, Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, Anne McCaffrey, and Sylvia Engdahl made me the reader I am today. But those influences mean my standards are high — I’m picky! I need solid worldbuilding, intelligent dialogue and real emotion in my fantasy.
  • My taste in fantasy does not run to angels/demons, vampires/werewolves, or similar 'paranormal' tropes. I’ll be honest — I reject those queries the fastest.
  • I can't get enough of books that invite me to get to know a culture I'm unfamiliar with especially when the author is a genuine representative of that culture.
  • I'm not a dog person. Animal protagonists in general aren't my thing, unless they're cats. Because cats are great. 
  • I'm interested in stories set like reading about life in religious communities.
  • Historical fiction set in the 80s isn’t for me. (1980s settings count as historical fiction. I know.)
What She Isn't Looking For:
Picture books, chapter books, animal protagonists except for cats, angels, demons, werewolves, and vampires

Editorial Agent?

There is a list of agency clients on the website.
Ms. Ker Hawn’s clients include: Stephanie Burgis, Kendra Fortmeyer, Alwyn Hamilton, Heidi Heilig, Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, Mariam Khan, Hilary McKay, Sarah Moon, Peadar O Guilin, Stephanie Kate Strohm, Gita Trelease

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify): As of 5/12/2020, she is closed to submissions.
Email your chosen agent using the email indicated in their bio and tell them briefly who you are, about your book, and why you’re the one to write it. Include the title of your project in the subject line of your email. Then paste the first ten pages of your book in the body of your email (not as an attachment, please) (Link)See The Bent Agency website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
Query Tips:
“I love smart, snappy queries that tell me concisely what the book is about while giving me a sense of the author’s voice. It’s not a job application; it’s a chance to hook me on your story. Use it!
“What I don’t like: queries that say the project “will appeal to readers who enjoyed TWILIGHT or THE HUNGER GAMES.” Because those queries are from people who haven’t researched the market they’re purportedly writing for, but are convinced that writing for teens is not only easy, but a surefire way to make millions of dollars.” (Link)
See Ms. Ker Hawn’s guest post at Notes from the Slushpile for additional tips.

Response Times:
The agency has a goal of responding to all queries within a month. If you do not receive a response within this time, resend your query or query to another agent. 

What's the Buzz?
The Bent Agency is a successful agency with many New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors. Molly Ker Hawn joined TBA in January of 2012 and is actively building her client list. Her experience in children’s publishing certainly recommends her.
Follow her on Twitter @mollykh where she shares her thoughts and occasionally participates in #askagent.

Worth Your Time:
Interview at the Mixed-Up Files (04/2023)
Agent-Client Interview on finding your match on Manuscript Wishlist
cuppa and catch-up with guest agent Molly Ker Hawn (01/2018)
An Interview with Molly Ker Hawn at Fizzygirl (01/2013).
An Interview with literary agent Molly Ker Hawn at Simon P. Clark’s blog (12/2012).
Manuscript Wishlist

Please see The Bent Agency website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 4/19/2019. Updated on 5/12/20 as to submission status
Last Reviewed By Agent? 4/22/2019.
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com

Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.


Rachna Chhabria said...

Molly sounds like a wonderful agent. I am thrilled to see that she represents MG.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Molly sounds like a great agent. I'm so excited she likes MG and fantasy. I'm definitely adding her to my list. Thanks Casey!

Emily R. King said...

Thanks for doing this, Casey!

Lydia Kang said...

She sounds great. I haven't readnAnna and the French Kiss but I km
Now I must!

Kristin Lenz said...

Thanks, Casey. Anna and the French Kiss is worth re-reading to figure out how Stephanie made the romance feel so real.

Unknown said...

I've queried Molly on three projects and she's very nice. She responded to the first one in 2 days with a personal email-she was the only agent to take time and tell me that dystopian was dead and she even put in a personal note telling me that her husband grew up in the area that I live in. The second project I sent her resulted in a request for a full which she said she would have read in 7 weeks and got back to me in just 4. It was a no, but she gave me very helpful feedback. The third was a no and she replied within hours. I was on the fence about querying her for that one anyway, wasn't sure if she would be interested in steampunk or not but figured it wouldn't hurt.

Helena Juhasz said...

Great post and info. Thanks!

Sheila JG said...

Thank you for posting this, and thank you so much for all the great information on this site. I queried Molly shortly after I read this, and, long story short, she's now my agent! I can't tell you how helpful this site has been to me while querying. Thanks again!

Casey McCormick said...

Congratulations, Sheila!!! That's wonderful news.

Sarah Hipple said...

I recently queried Molly, and I got a rejection, but it was a very positive, encouraging, personalized rejection, which are always the best. I'd definitely recommend sending her a query letter.