Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
  • Sheila Fernley Agent Spotlight Interview, Critique Giveaway, and One-Hour Zoom Call on 7/29/2024
  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • 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.


Today I’m thrilled to have agent Danielle Burby here. She is a literary agent at Nelson Literary Agency.

FYI, I’m taking over the agent spotlights from Casey. I will be providing all the same information we’ve shared in the past in an interview format. In addition, one lucky person will win a query critique from the agent being interviewed.

Status: Open to submissions. Update on 8/12/2021: Danielle left Nelson Literary Agency to found Mad Woman Literary Agency. Check the agency website for her submission guidelines. Update on 11/9/2023 Danielle is temporarily closed to queries until 2024. Check the agency website to find out when she reopens to queries.

Hi­ Danielle! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Danielle:

1. Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.

I interned at a handful of agencies and publishing houses throughout college and the summer after I graduated. One of those internships very organically led to my first agency job through a referral. I started out as the assistant to an agent at a NYC firm and, within one year, was taking on clients of my own and beginning to develop my list. I’m ambitious and I work very hard so I was able to move up fairly quickly in the industry. I’ve now been in publishing for five years and have fifteen clients. I’ve sold many truly wonderful projects, some of which are award-winning.

Update on 1/16/2023: "Danielle's focus as an agent is on a strong sense of partnership and collaboration with her clients. She represents a diverse list of critically acclaimed and internationally bestselling authors with stellar voices, incredible storytelling skills, and fresh narratives to share. She primarily works on YA and middle grade with a smattering of select adult fiction as well. Ultimately, she looks to connect deeply with the writing and themes of the books she works on.

Over her decade in publishing, Danielle has worked at several top tier literary agencies and has built a list of clients she is very proud to represent. In founding Mad Woman Literary Agency, Danielle has further deepened her commitment to being the change she wishes to see in publishing. She brings her own unique mix of business-minded and emotionally rooted support to her clients while also actively working to educate herself and to do her small part in the attempt to dismantle the white supremacist heteropatriarchy.

Danielle is a member of the American Association of Literary Agents where she has participated in the royalties committee and currently serves on the membership committee in addition to volunteering with the Mentors of Change program.

She has a degree in gender studies and creative writing, has a thriving herb garden, obsessively listens to podcasts and audiobooks, and can never get enough of the ocean. She lives a little outside of Manhattan with her soon-to-be wife and their often prickly, but always lovable cat. For her recent sales see Publishers Marketplace." (From the agency website).

About the Agency:

2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.

I began working at NLA in January 2017 and it was a very natural next step in my career. I love the level of support the agency provides to both the agents and to clients. It is a great company to work for! NLA really believes in an incredibly thorough approach as we handle our clients’ careers so we have a rigorous contract negotiation process, we have staff members dedicated to auditing royalty statements and analyzing them very closely (the agency has recovered thousands of dollars for our clients by doing this), we very thoroughly edit projects before submitting them, and we have in-depth systems in place for everything. The agents are also very collaborative with one another. We read each other’s projects and are constantly in touch with each other as we submit manuscripts and negotiate deals. I’ve never seen an agency approach the business in quite this way and I think it is one of the reasons NLA is such a standout agency.

Update on 1/16/2023:  "Mad Woman Literary Agency is a queer-woman-owned, full service literary agency that values transparency, a spirit of partnership, and the empowerment of authors to take ownership of their careers.

We are by each client's side, step-by-step through the publishing process, helping to navigate industry norms and relationships with publishers and to grow careers. MWLA works with clients on strategy and editorial project development, handles submissions to publishers, negotiates deals on your behalf, and, in partnership with our co-agents, helps to handle all subrights from audiobook and translation to film and television and everything in between. We also discuss and analyze royalty statements with our clients, helping them understand the breakdown of the sales numbers associated with their books and identifying growth areas. We work toward sustainable, long-term writing careers.

The agency has a particular focus on diversity, equity, access, and inclusion with the goal of moving the publishing industry in a progressive direction. MWLA prides itself in its highly curated and selective list of talented authors, the majority of whom have marginalized identities." (From the agency website)

What She’s Looking For:

3. What age groups do you represent—picture books, MG, and/or YA? What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres?

I represent every genre in MG and YA and I also take on the occasional adult project in women’s fiction, mystery, and speculative. I love female-driven stories, complex family dynamics, friendship books, a slow burning romance, girls with swords, a really unique voice, a high concept, anything feminist, books that deal with social issues, books that make the reader think or push the reader in some way, and books that keep me up all night.

Update 1/16/2023: "Danielle is particularly drawn to: complex female characters, seaside novels, girls with swords, fantasy, LGBTQ+ love, sister stories, toxic friendships, feminist fairytales, social justice themes, folklore, creepy forests, complicated family dynamics, quirky adventures, protagonists who change systems and break rules, heartwarming love stories, whimsy." (From the agency website)

4.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?

I really want a toxic female friendship book, a YA interpretation of the historical pirates Mary Read and Anne Bonney written as a queer love story, a modern version of Judy Blume’s Forever, a sister book, and a really wacky and inventive MG adventure.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?

I don’t represent nonfiction, short stories, poetry, religious books, or romance.

Agent Philosophy:

6. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?

I look to represent authors I would be a fan of even if they weren’t my client. I read the books I represent over and over again so I need to love spending time with the writing and the plot and the characters. I need to be so excited about the project and author that I can genuinely tell editors I think they will be missing out if they pass on the project. Once I take on a client, my approach is to be with them every step of the way through the publication process and, more broadly, their career. I don’t just check out once the contract is signed—I am the author’s support, biggest fan, and teammate all rolled in one.

Editorial Agent:

7. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?

I’m an incredibly editorial agent. The longer I’m in the business the more of a perfectionist I become about prepping a submission. You may be able to sell a project without editing it, but the deal will almost always be better if you do the work. Editors see a ton of projects every week—it is my job to make sure my projects stand out above the rest. I see editing as a team effort between me and my clients. As I tell them, I diagnose the problems I see and I may even have suggestions for how to fix those problems, but, as the author, they probably have even better solutions than the ones I propose. The key is to fix those problems in a way that makes the novel stronger. All of my authors embrace the editorial process. It is a must in this business. I typically go through two to three rounds of intensive revisions with my clients before submitting a manuscript. It is all in service of making the novel the strongest iteration of itself possible. Quality counts.

Query Methods and Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)

8. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter?

Query letter and first ten pages of the manuscript in the body of the email to querydanielle@nelsonagency.com

Update on 1/16/2023: "Danielle will be open to queries through Query Manager from February 15th-April 15th. http://QueryManager.com/DanielleBurby (From the agency website)

9.  Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?

My biggest pet peeve is the phrase, “I have recently completed X novel” because it implies that I’m about to read a first draft.

Response Time:

10. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?

We typically respond to queries within three weeks (sometimes four).

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11.  Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?

I am, of course, open to representing authors who have previously self-published or who have been published by small presses. The key is that they have a new manuscript that has never been published that I believe I can sell in the traditional market.

12. With all the changes in publishing—self-publishing, hybrid authors, more small publishers—do you see the role of agents changing at all? Why?

I don’t really see any of those factors changing my job. I don’t interact with those corners of the market all that frequently because they don’t really overlap with what I do. And that’s okay! I work very squarely in the traditional market (which evolves and changes in its own ways) and the services I provide to my clients are tailored specifically to the traditional market. That said, I do stay informed about what is going on in other areas of the market because I like to be up-to-date.


13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Ausma Zehanat Khan, Florence Gonsalves, Lisa Duffy, and Jeff Seymour to name a few.

Interviews and Guest Posts:

14. Please share the links to any interviews and guest posts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.


Update on 1/16/2023
Agent of the Month at Writing and Illustrating Intro, Part 1, Part 2 (08/2019)
Interview at Writer's Digest (09/2018)
Interview at SCBWI (Date unknown)

Links and Contact Info:

15. Please share how writers should contact you to submit a query and your links on the Web.

Update 1/16/2023: See answer #8

Additional Advice:

16. Is there any other advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors that we haven’t covered?

The path to landing an agent and being traditionally published is often a journey with a lot of ups and downs. No matter what happens, keep writing and honing your craft. Perseverance pays off as long as you are willing to continue to grow. I have seen it first-hand. Don’t give up!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Danielle.

­Danielle is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follower button if you're not a follower) and leave a comment through October 7th.  If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.

Profile Details:
Last updated: 1/16/2023.
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes.
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 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. 


Anonymous said...

Great interview! I would like to enter the query critique giveaway. My e-mail is: moniquesanchiz@gmail.com I also mentioned this giveaway on my twitter account for the extra entry: https://twitter.com/Monique_Mihali/status/912295180086202368 Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I'm Monique Mihalitsianos BTW (already following literary rambles). I just mention it because for some reason the above comment was posted anonymously.

Elanor Lawrence said...

Encouraging to hear about strong editorial and collaborative agencies, especially ones looking for female-led stories. Def adding Danielle to my to-query list, once my edits are finished...
(my email is elanor_gamgee@yahoo.ca, in case it doesn't come through on my google profile)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Authors definitely need a fan in their corner like you!

Greg Pattridge said...

Danielle is what an agent should be—someone who loves your story and strives to make it better and get it into the hands of a publisher. Thanks for the insightful interview.

Pat Hatt said...

One sure has to be in the know to make them stand out above the many that editors get every week.

Kate said...

Great interview! And how generous of Danielle to offer a query critique. I'm just beginning the agent query process and would love the chance to get her professional opinion. An editorial agent who uses her expertise to point out issues I'm too close to see after X rounds of revisions and help make my manuscript the best it can possibly be is exactly what I'm looking for.

Nick Wilford said...

Great interview. Nice to hear Danielle is so hands on with authors.

Josie said...

I love hearing how involved and excited Danielle is with the projects she works on.

Josie said...

I love hearing how involved and excited Danielle is with the projects she works on.

Karen Lange said...

It's nice to meet you, Danielle! I always enjoy learning about the industry through these interviews. Appreciate your insight and advice.

Natalie, thanks for hosting and sharing today. I'll pass on the giveaway this time. I do have a friend who might be interested, so may pass your link along to her. Have a great week!

Bookishqueen said...

I love seeing these agent spotlights. It definitely gives me an idea of what I need to do on my part, and what I should be looking for in an agent.

I tweeted this post at: https://twitter.com/RebekahGyger/status/912446085263540224

My email is: lotsofbooks1 (at) live (dot) com

Unknown said...

As always, great interview. Big help for those of us looking for agents!

Angie Dickinson said...

Thanks for the informative interview! I'd love a query critique, and I tweeted this post. :)

Krysten Lindsay Hager said...

Great interview! Tweeted it and would love to be entered to win a query critique krystenlindsay at hotmail (dot) com

Mary Holm said...

Yay, Literary Rambles! You always have the best interviews. Danielle sounds like wonderful agent and is definitely on my list to query.

I tweeted this post here: https://twitter.com/maryfranholm/status/912600883132751872

Thanks, Natalie!

Shanah Salter said...

Great interview, as always! I have retweeted and would love to win a critique. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Great timing.

MeganC said...

Great interview. I would love to win a query critique. Thank you for all the great info on this site.

Chrys Fey said...

I love that she's so hands on with editing. That's important. :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for the interview and critique opportunity! I shared on twitter @meAngelaD

Kathleea said...

Love one! Already a follower. Tweeted too!

Michelle Leonard said...

Wonderful interview! Followed and I'll tweet from The Winged Pen. Thank you!

M.E. Tudor said...

This was a great interview. Danielle sounds like she would be a wonderful agent to work with. I love reading Literary Rambles agent interviews. My email is metudor.com@gmail.com.

Unknown said...

Fantastic interview, and thanks for hosting this! It's nice to get to "know" agents a little bit better as humans than some mythical creature, lol :)

email: 101tinachan@gmail.com

mshatch said...

I love these agent interviews, especially that every agent featured seems to totally love their work.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this opportunity! I loved reading this interview so much! My email is - eslmothertongue@gmail.com and I mentioned the contest on twitter @eslmothertongue :)).

Eric Steinberg said...

Great interview as always. Would love the chance at a query critque. (I tweeted: http://twitter.com/ericgsteinberg/status/912855577646256128)

T.W. Kirchner said...

Great insight. Thank you for sharing.

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic interview. Danielle likes the same types of books I do. :)

Michelle Mason said...

Great interview! Danielle is definitely on my to-query list based on previous correspondence, but no need to include me in the critique drawing since I'm in the middle of Pitch Wars revisions :).

abnormalalien said...

That's quite the wishlist!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great interview! I like learning the specifics of what each agent wants and represents, and how each agency works. Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

Another helpful interview! Thanks! remarzullo11 at gmail.com
Will share this link on twitter as well. :)

caroline yu said...

My email is c.roberts.yuatgmail.com. I'd love to be included in the query crit giveaway and have linked this on facebook. Thanks!

Sherry Ellis said...

Great interview! It's so nice that you feature publishers and agents who are accepting submissions. Very helpful!

Unknown said...

Really awesome interview. I can tell Danielle is passionate about her work. Nice helpful advice. I'm very interested in the query critique giveaway. My email address is tamika.forrester@gmail.com

Leslie S. Rose said...

Thank you for being so encouraging, Danielle. I'd love to throw my hat in the query critique. leslie.rose@sbcglobal.net

Chris Wuchte said...

Good interview. I'd love some feedback on my query.

Abigail said...

Hooray perfectionism! (No, wait, always to be tempered with realism. :) )

Amy L. Bernstein said...

I know this is an older post, but I'm so glad I found it because I have a special interest in this agent, who now runs her own agency.