Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Caroline Trussell Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/20/2024
  • Jenna Satterthwaite Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/10/2024
  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024

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 Hilary Harwell here. She is an associate literary agent at kt literary.
FYI: Hilary is now a full agent at kt literary (5/2020)

Status: Hilary is open to submissions.

Hi­ Hilary! Thanks so much for joining us. Thank you for having me – I’m happy to be here.

About Hilary:

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

I started as an intern several years ago and then landed a position as literary assistant at KT Literary in the summer of 2016. I signed my first client in Spring of 2017 and officially hung out my shingle in August of the same year.

About the Agency:

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

KT Literary is an established, well-known (and well-liked!) agency. Kate and Sara are fabulous mentors with amazing clients and sales records, and solid industry connections and expertise, not only on the domestic side, but in the film and foreign realms too. KT has a sort of family vibe which is evident in how authors support one another and how we all come together, agents and authors alike, at our annual writing retreat. This year’s is in Scottsdale and we can’t wait!

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’m currently focused on MG and YA, all genres.

From her Manuscript Wish List:

"I'm very hungry for #ownvoices stories from traditionally underrepresented groups, both in middle grade and YA. First, because it is so important for children and teens to find themselves in the pages of a book. But also because it's important for everyone to have access to the unique and varied perspectives these authors bring to the table. This has always been near and dear to my heart, and I firmly believe it fosters the kind of acceptance, understanding, and illumination that can profoundly impact how people interact in the world. And that starts with kids.

"I want dark, atmospheric projects for YA - lots of tension and crisp pacing - thrillers, paranormal, horror, fantasy. Also lighter YA - romcoms, romance, happy endings. I'd love creepy, spooky middle grade - paranormal, horror, fantasy. I'd love a gorgeously written YA historical that highlights an obscure part of history - think Ruta Sepetys. On the lighter side, I love humor in both middle grade and YA. For an idea of my type of humor check out client Henry Clark's WHAT WE FOUND IN THE CORN MAZE AND HOW IT SAVED A DRAGON. For fantasy in general, I prefer grounded fantasy that feels as if it could exist in our world, though I also love client Jennifer Gruenke's OF SILVER AND SHADOW and anything by Leigh Bardugo. I love magical realism (think Jen Marie Hawkins THE LANGUAGE OF CHERRIES), mysteries, heartfelt contemporaries with a strong family or relationship element (fractured relationships, the different ways families take shape, found families).

"I'm now actively looking for author/illustrators of graphic novels for both MG and YA. And I'm beginning to take queries for author/illustrators of picture books as well.

"In general I'm a sucker for strong emotional resonance, immersive settings, lots of tension, and gorgeous writing.

"Recent reads that I loved: SADIE by Courtney Summers, WILDER GIRLS by Rory Power, RISE OF THE DRAGON MOON by Gabrielle Byrne, and WHEN YOU KNOW WHAT I KNOW by Sonja K Solter."

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

Diverse perspectives, own voices authors, first and foremost. But I’d also like some really amazing magical realism in either category – think RULES FOR STEALING STARS and SNICKER OF MAGIC. I’d also really like wildly original middle grade fantasy right now.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I’m not always the best choice for anthropomorphic stories and issue-driven projects, though I wouldn’t turn one away before carefully considering.

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’m looking to pair with authors for their careers. I’m in it for the long haul and am more than willing to help authors develop and hone their craft. I want to find books that entertain, that make a difference, that impact the world. I have a favorite quote by Danielle Orner ~ “Writing is a dangerous profession. You never know what kind of hole you may rip in society’s carefully woven master narrative.” I love this. Give me these projects.

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 am an editorial agent. I did quite a bit of editorial work for some of Sara and Kate’s clients, and I enjoy helping authors elevate their projects via providing feedback in the most engaging, open-ended, inspiring way possible.

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? 

At KT we ask for a query and first three pages. I like to have a clear idea of the hook, the stakes, and the main characters. I like to see two good comp titles, and the obvious – category, genre, wordcount. A bit of true personalization does make a difference, but ultimately it comes down to the story and the writing.

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

This has been said a million times before, but I’m not a fan of comparing your project to mega-best-sellers nor am I a fan of querying writers trashing other books. Just show me what makes yours awesome on its own, and show me you know where your book should sit on a shelf.

Response Time:

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

Our policy at the agency is a two week response time, and we all try our best to stick to that. Though it varies, I try to keep my responses to requested materials to within two 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? 

I’d prefer previously unpublished authors because sales records do follow you, however, I wouldn’t turn a great project away because of this. There are certainly ways to work around it!

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 know if I see the role of the agent changing because of these, necessarily. I feel that these roads to publication exist for different types of writers and are perfectly legitimate avenues for certain folks. As an agent, I am still responsible for finding, honing, and pitching the very best work I can. Some writers simply want to see their book in print. Others will choose to pursue representation because they want someone in their corner to negotiate on their behalf, to handle the business side, and to help guide their careers, enabling them to focus on more important writerly things, like refreshing email inboxes, chasing plot bunnies, and dreaming up new story ideas. 😊


13. Who are some of the authors you represent? 

Henry Clark
Merrill Wyatt
Susan Vizurraga
Conan Putnam
Barrie Summy

Jennifer Gruenke
Jen Marie Hawkins
Erin Cotter
Heather Truett
Terrance Jefferson
LC Milburn
Rilla Jaggia

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 2/14/2023
Featured Agent at 12 x 12 (10/2021)
Interview at The Book of Rules (02/2021)
Interview at Middle Grade Ninja (03/20218)
Links and Contact Info:

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

You can submit queries to: hilaryquery@ktliterary.com
You can connect with me on twitter: https://twitter.com/HilaryHarwell

Additional Advice:

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

I think the most important thing for any writer wishing to gain representation and to become published is to recognize that the road can be a long one. And the ups and downs continue even after publication. Acceptance of this and the desire to persevere at any cost are crucial to success in the industry. Always continue to hone your skill – read books on craft, find new critique partners, and establish a strong network of writers to help drag you through the muck, I mean, support you when you need it. You undoubtedly will.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Hilary. 
You are so welcome. I hope it helps shed some light on who I am as an agent!

­Hilary 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 April 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: 2/14/2023.
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes
Last Reviewed By Agent? 5/8/20.

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.


Suzanne Warr said...

Great interview, and I love that dangerous writing quote! I will pass on the query critique (since I'm represented) but wanted to say Hi to Hilary and hooray for being an awesome agent!

Nas said...

Awesome interview. I liked reading this post, and going to spread this around.

Mary Holm said...

Thanks for the great interview. A writer would be lucky to have Hillary in her corner.

Kimberly Gabriel said...

Great interview ladies! I enjoyed reading it! I have an agent, so I'll pass on the critique.

One Latina's Pen said...

Tweeting out this great information especially since I'm looking for an agent who likes and represents magical realism. I'm at alvaradofrazier at g mail dot com.

Rosi said...

Another useful interview. So much good information. Thanks for this post.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

An interesting, informative interview. Thank you, Hilary, for sharing your time with us.

Cynthia K said...

Sounds wonderful; thanks for sharing the info.

Cheryl Dix said...

Thank you so much for your time, Hilary. I appreciate your advice. The road is indeed a long one!

cleemckenzie said...

Finding, honing and pitching is a great summary of what an agent does. Thanks for the interview today.

Sherry Ellis said...

Another great interview! If my middle grade book hadn't already been picked up by a publisher, I would have definitely sent a query to Hilary.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

*adds Rules for Stealing Stars and Snicker of Magic to TBR list*

Thank you for offering this contest!

Unknown said...

I was really excited to see this post--and the information about the contest. :) I wish MSWL posts all stated if they are an editorial agent, or not.

Snuffalupagus said...

Great insight!

Jen said...

Thanks for the interview and the chance (crosses fingers) for a critique.

Jen said...

Thanks for the interview and the chance (crosses fingers) for a critique.

Unknown said...

Thank you for the helpful information! (sherryliz115@gmail.com)

Amy K said...

Awesome! Love hearing that you want to read books that are entertaining but also strive to make some sort of difference in the world