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 Carrie Pestritto here. She is a literary agent at Laura Dail Literary Agency.

Status: Open to submissions.

Hi­ Carrie! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Carrie:

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

I fell into agenting accidentally.  I’d always loved books and always thought about a career in publishing, but had no idea that literary agents even existed.  When I was in college, a friend of mine, who had interned at Writers House previously, told me I should apply for their internship program when I told her I was trying to figure out what to do over the summer.  I got the internship and after I graduated, I got a job as an assistant there for a year before I joined Prospect Agency.  I am now with the Laura Dail Literary Agency and so happy to be a part of the team there!

About the Agency:
2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.

The Laura Dail Literary Agency is full of passionate, smart, and innovative agents who strive to build successful, long-term careers for their authors.  They have a really amazing roster of bestselling and award-winning authors with exciting projects!  Their philosophy is one that I embrace and a fantastic thing about LDLA, besides the talented people who work there, is the great sense of support, community, and dedication.

Personally, I try to go above and beyond for my clients by having annual strategy sessions with them at the start of each year, where we set up an individual phone call to talk about our goals for the year ahead and how to best achieve them.  I also created a private Facebook group for my clients so that they can all talk together, commiserate, and encourage from their various places in the publishing process!

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 across the board in terms of age groups.  The genres I work with are:
PB: nonfiction, educational
MG: contemporary, nonfiction, historical, sci-fi/fantasy, mystery
YA: sci-fi/fantasy, contemporary, historical, nonfiction, mystery
Adult: romance, historical fiction, commercial fiction, memoir, biography, nonfiction, women’s fiction, chick lit, mystery, thriller
I am always looking for diverse stories, as a person of color.  I think it’s so important for readers to be able to see themselves in the characters they read about and am passionate about bringing forward diverse voices.  I also get hooked by really unique, immersive voices, tight plotting, and meticulous world building.

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

Snarky chick lit a la the Bachelorette movie; books that take place in bakeries, chocolate shops, etc.; ethnic YA fantasy; Victorian mysteries; a unique WWII story; an ownvoices Caribbean-set women’s fiction; nonfiction that tells me something I never knew about in history like GEORGE WASHINGTON’S SPIES; or a Mexico City version of CRAZY RICH ASIANS!  Check my #MSWL tweets for more!

What She Isn’t Looking For:
5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?

I am not the best agent for adult epic sci-fi/fantasy, really literary books, crime fiction/police procedurals, fiction picture books, memoirs about illness, or poetry.

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 love authors who come to the table willing to work and willing to collaborate. I most enjoy working with clients who are commercial and who are open to trying something new and who are open to suggestion. If there is no give-and-take, it makes the relationship less dynamic.

I think of my agenting style as a paradoxical mix of laid-back and involved—I love communicating and working with my authors, but even though I make suggestions and give advice (about what I think might be most effective for the market, for a certain imprint, for an author brand, etc.), I’m always willing to be convinced to try things a different way if the author feels incredibly passionately about it.

I also feel strongly about working with diverse authors, since diversity in publishing is something that is very close to my heart, and am hoping that in 2018 I will be able to build my list to include more authors like this! As an aside, I suggest that all POC authors look at Penny Moore’s upcoming website Lit Agents of Color!

As for what kind of books I want to represent, I am looking for smart, evocative, interesting writing that leans commercial. I love relatable, diverse characters with great voices, unusual premises, exciting plots, and lots of tension. I want books that make me feel completely invested in the world and characters—great books are ones that make me miss my subway stop or that I simply can’t put down!

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?

To a certain extent, yes. When I first started out, I used to use Track Changes to give line edits and comments EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I read a version of a manuscript.  Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of time anymore, but I also have discovered that I prefer to leave the specifics of how to accomplish something up to the author’s vision.  I love brainstorming and hashing edits out and I usually send my authors a detailed editorial letter each time I read and we chat about my thoughts, their thoughts, and what we’re going to do afterwards, but I leave the nitty-gritty up to them to execute how they see fit.

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?

Authors should query me by following these instructions:

  • Send a concise email query letter to: queries [at] ldlainc [dot] com
  • Along with your book's title, please include the name of the agent you are querying in the subject field. This helps guarantee that your submission ends up in the right person's queue. (Example subject line: QUERY: TITLE for AGENT)
  • Your query letter should include a short pitch, a short plot summary, and a short bio. Please also include publisher submission history and previous publishing credits, if applicable. If you are a debut author, do not worry.
  • After your query letter, paste the FIRST 5-10 PAGES of your novel into the body of the email. Your writing sample MUST be pasted into the email, as we do not open unrequested attachments of any kind. You may also include a synopsis, but it's not required.
9.  Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?

I love query letters with sharp, evocative writing that paints an interesting picture or characterization and leaves me wanting more.  I would say my pet peeve is writing that rambles or is overly wordy.  When I come across superfluous, lengthy prose, it makes my eyes skip ahead to latch on to the next good bit of writing.

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

Once I receive your query, if I am going to request pages, I usually do so by the 1-2 month mark. When I receive the pages, I put them in my To Read queue and respond with feedback in about 2-4 months.

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?

Yes, many of my authors self-publish or have books with smaller presses.  If you have a lot of energy and time to devote to self- or indie-published projects, they can be very rewarding.  My authors who do the best in those arenas are ones who aggressively market and publicize themselves. 

If you are a self- or indie-published author looking for representation, your sales figures and the kind of reviews you’ve garnered will definitely affect an agent’s consideration.  If you’re a romance writer who has self-pubbed and you have very low sales, to an agent or editor it’s a signal that you haven’t garnered an audience and who is to say that we will be able to change that?

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?

At its core, the job of an agent is to be an advocate, protector, strategist, and sounding board.  No matter how the landscape of publishing changes, I don’t see that role changing.  I think that we will adapt and develop different skills or ways of approaching things, but those are means rather than the ends.

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Bragging time!  I love all of my authors and you can see a full list of my clients on my blog, Literary Carrie, but some examples of the great people I represent are USA Today Bestseller Lauren Smith, NYT Bestseller Suzy K. Quinn, Peabody finalist Marlo Mack, 2015 ASJA Honorable Mention author Dean A. Haycock, and Erin Peabody, whose children’s series Behind the Legend earned a starred Booklist review!  

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.

Sure!  Here are some recent interviews I’ve done:
·         Scripts and Scribes
·         Manuscript Wish List
·         Agent for Dinner
·         Publishers Weekly
Also see Carrie's Guest Post with debut author E.M. Castellan at Literary Rambles (03/2020)

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

I will only respond to queries sent via the LDLA query email, so please be sure to send your pitches that way and do not email me directly!

Also, please follow me @literarycarrie to stay up-to-date on my #MSWL tweets and check out my blog, Literary Carrie, to enter my monthly query critiques, read my tips, and get a peek into what is going on in my life!

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

Decide what is important to you in terms of representation early on and stick to your guns.  Do you want an editorial agent, a diverse agent, one who communicates frequently, who has a record of only pursuing Big Five publishers or one who helps his/her authors find other great homes?  Oftentimes, I think that after the long slog of querying, authors can get so excited to get an offer from an agent that they don’t really stop to consider whether or not that agent is the perfect match for them. 
In a similar vein, I also think that sometimes when authors have multiple offers coming in, they feel compelled to pick the biggest, shiniest name rather than the one whose vision or philosophy aligns most closely with theirs. Sometimes a great fit for one author isn't a great fit for another, and even a great agent might end up being the wrong agent for you.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Carrie.

­Carrie 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 March 10th.  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: 5/21/2020
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes
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.


L. Diane Wolfe said...

A private Facebook group - I like that idea.

"We do not open unrequested attachments." And yet, as I know from experience, writers still don't listen.

Karen Lange said...

It's nice to meet an accidental agent! :) We don't always know where our steps may take us, do we?

Appreciate the interview and insight; thank you both. I'll pass on the giveaway. Enjoy the rest of the week!

Jennifer Lane said...

Excellent interview--I learned a lot. Thanks for your time!

cleemckenzie said...

She sounds like a great hands-on agent. I loved that she sets up annual strategy sessions and uses words like collaborate. That got my attention right away!

lostinimaginaryworlds.blogspot.com said...

Very helpful, thank you Natalie.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's good to know about authors with small presses who've had good reviews and such.

Patchi said...

Another great interview, Natalie! I found it very interesting that Carrie shifted her editorial style over the years. I noticed the critiques I give following that same route and I was wondering if I was getting lazy, but a lot of times I feel like pointing out the problem is more valuable than showing how to fix it. So glad that is Carrie's opinion, too!

Gina Gao said...

What an amazing interview. She seems like a great agent.


Pat Hatt said...

Very true, sometimes people, author or not, can get excited when that yes comes and not think about much else.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Great interview. So nice to meet Carrie. Wish I had something ready for a critique. Maybe one day. Working on it.

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

This is great information! Thanks so much.

My email is khaggen18@gmail.com

Snuffalupagus said...

Great tips for world building! Loved the insight!

Rosi said...

Wonderful, wonderful interview. So much good stuff in here! Thanks. I need help with my query. I tweeted.

Jill said...

Carrie is on my list of agents to query with my chicklit novel when it's completed. So happy to see her interviewed here. I would love to win the query critique, and I'm tweeting about this blog post. Thanks so much! molloymatkins at gmail.com

Donna K. Weaver said...

Nice interview, though I confess I'm glad I'm not in the agent-seeking mode anymore.

Angie Quantrell said...

Great interview! I especially enjoyed reading about things to consider as I seek an agent. I've never thought about it from that angle before. Thanks! Angelecolline at yahoo dot com

Susan Thumm Paxton said...

This was a very insightful interview. Learned a lot about Carrie and what kind of agent she is (awesome) and what projects she is seeking.

Lexi said...

A great reminder, don't glaze over the 'questions to ask an agent' if there is an offer of representation.

Thanks for the chance at the critique giveaway! eylsofblueice (at) gmail

Greg Pattridge said...

It begins with a passion for books and a desire to get great ones out for the rest of us to read. Thanks to agents like Carrie for making that happen.

Cynthia Reeg said...

Carrie sounds like a dedicated and passionate agent! Thanks for the interesting article!

Julie Abe said...

This is a great interview! Thank you for sharing, Natalie and Carrie.

Unknown said...

This was a fabulous interview! I found Carrie's responses to be very thoughtful and insightful. I love how passionate Carrie is about books and her profession.

Mary Holm said...

Great interview, Natalie. Carrie sounds like a fantastic agent. I'd love the chance to have her input on my query letter. I'll tweet about this interview.

RocheleSmit said...

What a fantastic opportunity! Thank you for such a great interview! Carrie is high up on my list of agents to query, and it was so nice to see her answers to your questions!

Shanah Salter said...

Wonderful interview! I have shared this on Twitter

Lexi said...

Gah! typo.

eyesofblueice (at) gmail

Emily L. said...

Hello, wonderful interview! I would be grateful to be entered in the contest. Thank you!

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

Very helpful suggestions - thank you!

Unknown said...

I love Carrie's energy and passion...she sounds like a great agent! I'd love a query critique from her, and am sharing this interview on my author facebook page.

Hannah R. Miller said...

Thank you for the opportunity to get to know Carrie. This was an enlightening interview. To Carrie, congratulations on your new position at Laura Dail Literary Agency. I've commented on Twitter(@HRuthMiller) and would love to have her input into my query letter.

Becca B said...

"Sharp, evocative writing--" always a good goal! Carrie's critique will be a boon to the winner! rebecca.birkin@vcfa.edu

Emily said...

Thank you for all the great insight! emilia (dot) kelly (at) gmail