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Agent Spotlight: Heather Flaherty

This week's Agent Spotlight features Heather Flaherty of The Bent Agency.

Status: Open to submissions, actively building her list.

Heather_Flaherty About: “Heather Flaherty represents authors who write children's, middle grade, and young adult fiction and non-fiction, as well as select new adult fiction, and pop-culture or humorous non-fiction.
“I grew up in Massachusetts, between Boston and the Cape, and started working in New York City as a playwright during college. This pushed me towards English as a focus, and after a lot of country-hopping in my early twenties, I wound up finally beginning my publishing career in editorial, specifically at Random House in the UK. That's also where I became a YA and Children's Literary Scout, which finally landed me back in NYC, consulting with foreign publishers and Hollywood regarding what the next big book will be. Now as an Agent, I'm thrilled to turn my focus on growing authors for that same success.” (Link)

About the Agency:
“At The Bent Agency, we work with authors to map the publishing career of their dreams and work with them to make it a reality. We pay careful attention to every detail, from the terms of a first contract, editorial work and cover design, to the publisher's marketing and publicity plan, royalties and sales figures. We offer the kind of representation that can only be born of years of agent experience in the atmosphere of a smaller boutique firm where every client gets our combined and total focus.

“We pride ourselves on nurturing and discovering authors whom we can help propel to the top of their category. We have represented over 30 New York Times bestselling titles, with many more on USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and other regional lists.” (Read more)

Web Presence:
The Bent Agency website.

Bent on Books (agency blog).

Twitter @HeddaFlaherty.

Publisher’s Marketplate page.


What She's Looking For:
Genres / Specialties:
Middle grade and young adult fiction and non-fiction, select new adult fiction, and pop-culture or humorous non-fiction. (Link)

From the Website (as of 4/2015):
“Currently I'm looking for YA fiction across-the-board, though my heart does sway towards issue-related YA with humor and heart - not depressing, or mopey. I also love love love hard, punchy, contemporary YA that’s got no hesitations when it comes to crazy. I'm also always up for seeing contemporary stories with Sci-Fi or Fantasy elements, as well as a clever respin of an old or classic tale. And then, lastly, really good horror and ghost stories… not gory-for-gory's sake or overly disgusting, but cringing, dark, bloody twisted, and even lovely. That said, the one thing I love above all else in a YA novel, regardless of sub-genre, is a strong and specific character voice. A real person, not another ‘everygirl.’

“As for the Middle-Grade I'm looking for, I want it stark, honest, and even dark; either contemporary or period, as long as it’s accessible. Coming-of-age stories, dealing-with-difficulty stories, witness stories (adult issues seen through the child’s p.o.v kinda thing), anything that makes you want to hold the narrator's hand… for your own comfort, as well as their’s. I am also ok with these stories having slight magical or fantasy elements as well – as long as they're subtle.

“In New Adult, I like to see story… not just romance and/or erotica. For me, it should pretty much be a great YA novel for an older audience.

“On the non-fiction side, I'm looking for strong teen memoirs about overcoming crushing situations.” (Link)
From the Agency Blog (02/2015):
“Dying for some dripping, twisted, ghost stories and horror — I really want to see something like ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD done so sickly well they make a video game out of it – a la American McGee’s Alice Madness Returns.

“Issue-related MG/YA that’s stripped and real… not broody or self-indulgent. Can be straight or humorous. Along the lines of Nic Sheff’s SCHIZO, Corey Ann Haydu's LIFE BY COMMITTEE, and Meg Wolitzer’s BELZHAR.

“I want to see more extreme contemporary stories with hard punch and a twist. Hot-Pink, Punk-Rock, Fangirl, Totally Unreliable Narrator, Space-time Continuum, you-name-it-you-own-it YA.
“Contemporary YA with sci-fi elements – not high sci-fi, but as part of a contemporary story, like Kimberly Derting’s THE TAKING.

“For MG/YA fantasy, and historical or period fiction, I’m looking for worlds that feel real, not obviously fabricated — a place you’re immediately part of, without any use of brainpower to get you there. Like Vicky Alvear Shecter’s CURSES AND SMOKE, or Saaba Tahir’s EMBER IN THE ASHES. I also enjoy cleverly respun classic tales like Gregory Maguire’s CONFESSIONS OF AN UGLY STEPSISTER or WICKED.

“I love teen memoir about overcoming traumatizing situations, especially when they involve bullying. One of my must-reads is POSITIVE by Paige Rawl.

“But above all, GIVE ME VOICE! I crave authentic teen voices, a unique personality, no faceless ingenue the reader can “fit themselves into.” Let’s hear about a specific boy or girl that the reader can actually relate to instead (even if it’s in the smallest way).” (Link)

From an Interview (04/2015):
“I want YA contemporary with a weird, crazy, or twisted situation the characters are dealing with. Something that makes the reader go, ‘What?’ I also want to see some super-solid, twisted Horror, with a great protagonist voice. (Other than that: Contemporary YA and MG, Fantasy or light Sci-FI YA, Period MG and YA, and Teen Memoir).” (Link)

Editorial Agent?
“Yuppers, yup, yup, yup. It's such a competitive industry at this point - everyone and their mother is writing - so you have to get your client's manuscript (especially a debut) up to snuff in order to expect publisher interest.” (Link)

There is a list of clients on the Bent Agency website.

Ms. Flaherty’s clients include: Jessica Mason, Evelyn Okray, among others.

Query Methods:
E-mail: Yes (only).

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: No. 

Submission Guidelines (always verify):
E-mail a query letter with the first ten pages pasted into the body of the e-mail. No attachments. Include the title of the book in the subject line. Do not simultaneous query other agents at the agency.
For complete, up-to-date submission guidelines see The Bent Agency website and Ms. Flaherty’s PM Page.

Query Tips:
Check out Ms. Flaherty’s interview with Adventures in YA Publishing.

Response Times:
The agency tries to respond to all queries within a month. If you do not receive a response within this time, resend your query and indicate you are resending. Stats on the web show a range of just hours to a couple months.

What's the Buzz? 
The Bent Agency is a well-established and highly respected agency with a fantastic roster of clients. Ms. Flaherty is actively building her list and eager to find new talent.

I recommend following her on Twitter @heddaflaherty.

Worth Your Time:
Agent Heather Flaherty of the Bent Agency Defines Voice and Shares Her Wish List at Adventures in YA Publishing (04/2015).

A Cafe Chat with Agent Heather Flaherty, by Lindsay Bandy at EasternPennPoints (04/2015).

A Conversation with Heather Flaherty at Bent on Books (03/2015).

Around the Web:
The Bent Agency at P&E ($).

The Bent Agency thread at AbsoluteWrite.

Quick link to Ms. Flaherty’s blog posts at Bent on Books.

Check out the agency’s regularly hosted #askTBA sessions on Twitter.

Success Story Interview with Evelyn Okray at QueryTracker (03/2015).

Please see The Bent Agency website for additional contact information.

Profile Details:
Last Updated:  4/23/15.

Last Reviewed By Agent? 4/23/15.


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/teen 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.


Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I always enjoy these interviews. It's interesting how wide Heather Flaherty's range of interests is. I don't write horror or paranormal, but perked up when I read her interest period or historical fiction. I'm working on one of those right now, so this interview got a bookmark.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Correction -- Agent Spotlights, not interviews. Although I enjoy the author interviews, too! This is a great site.

Casey McCormick said...

Thank you, Elizabeth. I'm glad you enjoy them. Best of luck with your novel when you do start to submit!

Carol said...

Excellent interview! Excellent site.

Steph said...

Such a great spotlight, so thorough! Thank you!! This just got me more excited to meet Heather this June at the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers writers conference.

S.P. Bowers said...

The Bent agency was already on my list. :) Thanks for more into on this agent.

Tamara Narayan said...

These interviews are always so thorough. Not only did I learn a lot about this agents, but got some good recommendations for YA reading.

Tamara Narayan said...

These interviews are always so thorough. Not only did I learn a lot about this agents, but got some good recommendations for YA reading.

Alison said...

Great info. Thanks!

Beth said...

Great interview, Casey!

DMS said...

I really enjoyed this agent spotlight. I like that it is clear what Heather is looking for and what genres she accepts.

Thanks for sharing!

Melanie said...

Thanks for another great interview.

Anonymous said...

I always appreciate your agent spotlights. I keep them in mind when I'm querying.

Stephanie Faris said...

Good luck to everyone. She seems like a great agent to work with!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Heather sounds wonderful. I would love to query her.