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Agent Spotlight: Peter Knapp
Status: Open to submissions.
About: “Peter joined the Park Literary Group in July 2011. He provides creative and logistical support, and is currently building his client list, focusing on the middle grade and young adult markets. Prior to joining Park Literary, he was the story editor at Floren Shieh Productions, where he consulted on book-to-film adaptations for Los Angeles-based film and TV entities. He graduated from New York University with a B.A. in art history.” (Link)
About the Agency:
“The Park Literary Group was founded in January 2005, when Theresa Park and several colleagues left the venerable literary agency, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. Theresa had been an agent at Greenburger for more than 10 years, but at the age of 37 was eager to try building a new venture. A full-service literary agency, The Park Literary Group represents fiction and nonfiction with a boutique approach: an emphasis on servicing a relatively small number of clients, with the highest professional standards and focused personal attention. With a robust foreign rights department, a strong emphasis on broad-based marketing and client promotions, and deep relationships with film and television entities in Los Angeles, the agency brings to bear top-tier resources and a wealth of experience in managing all aspects of an author's career.” (Link)
Park Literary website.
Peter Knapp (blog).
What He's Looking For:
Middle grade and young adult fiction.
From Mr. Knapp’s Blog Wish List:
For a current, comprehensive wish list, see Mr. Knapp’s blog.
As of 3/2013 he’d love to see:
“- A book similar to Endangered by Eliot Schrefer
“- A YA Chariots of Fire.
“- A YA noir like Brick.
“- Realistic teen or MG dealing with biodiversity or ecology -- something set on a "Semester at Sea" ship, at an eco-lodge, during a safari...you get the point. Take me somewhere great!
“- A realistic YA reminiscent of Erik Larson's nonfiction, especially a YA thriller set at a world's fair (think YA version of Devil in the White City) or a YA period suspense or thriller set on a boat that is not the Titanic (think YA version of Thunderstruck.)
“- A YA set on a ranch. Lots of horses. Rugged, American West setting. Perhaps a hint of Cormac McCarthy in there. (via Sara Sargent's wish list). Alternatively, something set in the wilds of Alaska.
“- A really cute YA or MG contemporary romance with a strong puzzle or scavenger hunt feel. Think Dash & Lily's Book of Dares.
“- A book with MG or YA characters who are home-schooled
“- A realistic contemporary looking into the world of teen magicians. See: Make Believe!
“- A YA Thomas Crown Affair.
“- A YA or MG The Americans.” (Link to more!)
From an Interview (03/2013):
“I would love an edgy, tightly written thriller—either contemporary or historical. I always love bittersweet MG that pulls on the heartstrings. For young adult especially, I would love something with a really rich setting: in a ranch out west, on the coast of Alaska, during a semester at sea or a safari. I would love a book like Endangered that takes readers behind today’s headlines in a way that is both smart and entertaining. I would love a cute romance like Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares. I could go on all day…” (Link)
From an Interview (11/2012):
“In the most general terms, I’m looking for middle grade and young adult fiction. In middle grade, I have a soft spot for voice-driven stories that are grounded with realism, even if they have fantastic elements. Think Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, Shilohby Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker. All of these stories are grounded in our recognizable world, they’re voice-driven, and they have that wonderful bitter-sweet element that I think resonates with middle grade readers and certainly resonates with me. I like sad stories and preadolescent melancholy, but they have to have humor. Some of the best middle grade involves characters who feel as though they’re somehow different from their peers (a personality difference, a physical difference, a difference in family situation, etc), and then their uniqueness helps them overcome an obstacle or succeed in getting what they want, depending on the story. It’s about embracing differences without condemning the notion of family, friendship or community.
“In young adult fiction, it’s all about voice, character and story for me—not genre. Because I’m looking for something that hasn’t necessarily been done before, it’s hard to name it. I am currently very interested in contemporary stories that use an interesting narrative device—such as Daniel Handler’s Why We Broke Up, which is written as a letter from the narrator to her ex-boyfriend, or Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, which is told largely through the tapes left behind by a girl who has killed herself. These types of narrative hooks are aesthetically interesting and I think teen readers tend to enjoy their cleverness. The epistolary novel can be great when done right because it feels incredibly intimate. I also want more YA books that are set in a world familiar to ours—but somehow different. Something is off. Recent examples that come to mind are Kat Zhang’s What’s Left of Me, in which people are born with two souls, and Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys, set in a campus town where magic lurks just beneath the surface. I love when mystery meets magic. And I’m interested in stories with LGBT characters, characters from different cultures, or characters whose life experiences are otherwise somehow different than the typical young adult protagonist, whether it’s because they’re blind, deaf, etc; this doesn’t necessarily mean the main conflict has to be driven by this identity—but it allows many readers to experience the world in a new way, through the protagonist’s perspective.” (Link)
What He Isn't Looking For:
Poetry, screenplays, epic fantasy, non-fiction, picture books, paranormal romance, anything for the adult market. (Link, Link)
“In terms of editorial work—yes, part of what interests me about my career path is the editorial side of it, and so I imagine I will be pretty hands on in this regard, particularly before a book goes on submission.” (Link)
There is a list of Park Literary Group clients on the agency website.
Mr. Knapp’s clients include: Chelsea Bobulski and Melanie Conklin.
E-mail: Yes (only).
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
“For middle grade and young adult submissions to Peter Knapp, please include a query letter and the first three chapters or up to 10,000 words of your novel (no synopsis necessary).
“Please specify the name of the agent to whom you are submitting in the subject line of the email. All materials must be in the body of the email, as we are unable to open attachments.”
See the Park Literary Group website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
“What I want established in a query letter is: who is the character, what is the conflict, what are the stakes, and why is the character uniquely qualified to be our hero?” (Link)
“I like character-driven stories with a hook, so I love it when a query letter taps into a really interesting character dynamic. If you can combine a unique concept with a fascinating character story, there’s a good chance I’ll read on.” (Link)
Due to the volume of queries they receive, Park Literary only responds if interested. However, Mr. Knapp endeavors to respond to his queries, usually within days to about a month.
What's the Buzz?
Peter Knapp joined Park Literary Group as an assistant in 2011. As of January 2013, he is actively building his own client list. He tends toward realistic and literary fiction but is open to genre elements. Above specifics, he seeks inventive, standout stories. The agency is very well respected.
I recommend following him on Twitter @peterjknapp and subscribing to his blog for further insight and query tips.
Worth Your Time:
Casual Friday: Interview with Park Literary Agent Peter Knapp at YA Misfits (3/2013).
Interview One – Peter Knapp at Bethany Hensel’s blog (11/2012).
Interview Part Two – Peter Knapp at Bethany Hensel’s blog (11/2012).
There’s a helpful “Books I Like” page on Mr. Knapp’s blog in addition to wish list and giveaway pages.
Mr. Knapp occasionally posts “Query Diaries” on his blog with useful feedback and pointers. See the first entry here.
WriteOnCon! Pitch Fest Pep Talk (02/2013).
What Makes a Great Story is a Great Storyteller by Peter Knapp, guest post at Wovenmyst (3/2012).
Agentopia: Peter J. Knapp, wish list posted at Yatopia (03/2013).
Around the Web:
The Park Literary Group at P&E ($).
The Park Literary Group thread at AbsoluteWrite.
There are some helpful comments on what he is and isn’t looking for on his QueryTracker profile.
How I Found My Agent by client Chelsea Bobulski at Ink in the Book (03/2013).
The Beginning: How I Found My Agent by client Melanie Conklin (02/2013).
If you sign up for the WriteOnCon forum you can view past events in which Mr. Napp participated.
Please see The Park Literary Group website for contact and query information.
Last updated: 3/21/13.
Last Reviewed By Agent? N/A.
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 profiles feature agents who accept children's and/or young adult 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.