Here are my current Giveaway Contests

Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway through March 31st

GABE'S GUARDIAN ANGEL through March 31st

Ann Rose Query Critique through April 4th

THE SOUND OF STARS through April 4th

THE SILENCE OF BONES through April 18th

Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews and Guest Posts w/ Debut Authors & Query Critique Giveaways

Kristy Hunter & Author Loriel Ryon Guest Post & Query Critique Giveaway on 4/20/20

Lindsay Davis Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 4/27/20

Erin Clyburn Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/20/20


Today I’m thrilled to have agent Amanda Ayers Barnett here. She is a literary agent at Donaghy Literary Group

Status: Open to submissions.

Hi­ Amanda! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Amanda:

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

Hi, it’s great to be here—thanks so much for having me. I became an agent about a year and a half ago, but I’ve spent my entire career in publishing. I first worked at Random House, then as an editor at Pocket Books/Simon and Schuster before freelance editing on my own. I decided to join Donaghy Literary Group after reading that they were specifically looking for an agent with editing experience from a major publishing house.

About the Agency:

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

The Donaghy Literary Group provides full-service literary representation to all of our clients and prides itself on guiding and supporting our authors through every stage of the publishing process. We specialize in commercial fiction of all kinds and have represented a number of New York Times and USA Today best-selling authors.

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 am currently representing MG and YA authors and am looking for MG’s of all kinds and contemporaries, historicals, and mystery/thrillers in YA.

4.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to see in the genres you are interested in?
I love coming of age stories, especially those that feature gifted (traditionally or uniquely) characters looking to rise above their circumstances. I am drawn to magic realism and the occasional fantasy in MG and mysteries in both categories.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

While I say I’m interested in MG’s of all kinds, I am actually NOT interested in those that feature animals as main characters. I love animals, I just don’t want to read stories from their point of view!

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?

Any author that I offer to represent will tell you that one of the first questions I ask them after discussing their current project is what else they’ve written or want to write in the future. I am interested in the depth of an author’s career and shaping it in the best possible way for them. I don’t believe in encouraging authors to write according to current trends but to write what they truly want to write. Publishing can be a long, arduous process so it’s imperative that their hearts be in the projects they put out there.

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 like that description—editorial agent—because it’s exactly what I am. I read every query like an editor and love tackling revisions and going through this process with authors. Any of my clients will tell you that I am happy to go through as many rounds of revisions as needed and don’t believe in rushing a project or submitting one until it is as ready as it can possibly be. I am an editor at heart and love shaping and perfecting a story.

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?

The best way to query me is through my page on the Donaghy Literary Group website. It’s important that writers follow our guidelines—I’m not likely to consider a query if it’s lacking one of our requested components. Obviously a query letter is very important—writers should focus on including those elements that make their project stand out—but I know from experience how hard they are to write so I sympathize!

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

Query letters should include a paragraph or two of description but not more; we request that you include a synopsis so further details can be included there. Don’t make the mistake of turning your query letter into a synopsis!

Response Time:

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

I’m responding to this question with chagrin.:)  When I first started as an agent, since I was new and unfamiliar to people, I felt like I should accept every category, and that was a big mistake. I was completely overwhelmed by thousands of queries! As a result, I closed for a time being so I could catch up. But when I reopened, I was far more selective in my categories and hope to be much timelier in my responses going forward. The one good aspect of reading so many queries is that the process made clear to me those projects I gravitated toward, which is when I decided to represent MG and YA projects only.

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 know what a jungle it is out there so I am open to representing authors who have previously self-published or been published by smaller presses. But I’m not interested in representing those projects themselves. I’m only interested in reading their new projects since they give us a clean slate from which to start.

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?

With all of these changes—and there will only continue to be more of them—I think the role of the agent is more important now than ever. Writers need someone to help them navigate all of these options, someone they can count on to give them good advice. I think it’s great that there are so many ways for writers to get their work out there; it’s all about finding the right fit. But if I’ve offered to represent someone, it’s because I think they have real commercial value so we will always try traditional publishing houses first and go from there.


13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

My first client was Léonie Kelsall, who wrote an enchanting contemporary/historical YA set in rural Australia. She is very prolific and has written three other projects since then! My first MG client was Scott Taft who wrote a wonderful story about a boy who is obsessed with Charles Darwin and uses his theories to help him adjust to a new school; Scott is currently working on an MG fantasy. Maya Creedman writes lovely contemporary YA’s—the kind I would’ve loved to read as a teen! Emma Nelson’s novel is set in Salem, Massachusetts and features a ghost tour guide who can commune with the witches of the town’s past. And Jennifer Dillard and Tom Kowitz write fun MG’s featuring precocious and heart-warming main characters. I feel blessed to work with each one of them!

Links and Contact Info:

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

Additional Advice:

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

The best advice I can give any author is to persevere! Publishing is constantly changing so, while they might need to adapt, they should have faith that they will ultimately find their place. Oh, and when searching for inspiration, read read read! It will feed their craft at the same time that it feeds their soul.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Amanda.

­Amanda 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 May 26th.  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.

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at

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.


  1. That's a lot of queries. Smart to narrow the categories.

  2. Nice to meet Amanda. :) Excellent advice.

  3. I agree that perseverance is the best advice. Thanks for the interview!

  4. Excellent advice, and great interview! I'd be interested in which YA mystery/thrillers that Amanda likes...

  5. Also mentioned this contest on is writerlibrarian(at)gmail(dot)com

  6. Thank you for all the great information, Amanda. I'd love to be considered for the query critique.

  7. Wonderful, honest interview. Amanda has adapted well to her role as an agent.

  8. Great interview and glimpse into your side of things! Thank you!

  9. Your interview offered great advice and insight about sending submissions. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Another great interview, Natalie. Thanks to Amanda for participating!

  11. Interesting interview. Thanks for such great advice, Amanda. Wish I had something to submit. Have a lovely weekend.

  12. Love your comments - especially about revising until a ms is ready to submit. Revision is my middle name.

  13. What a great resource! Thanks, Natalie, for providing so much info so conveniently. And I'm definitely going to mention the contest on my Facebook page!

  14. Her clients all sound like they have interesting projects!

  15. P.S. If you have trouble getting my email from my Facebook page, it's

  16. Awesome advice for an aspiring author. Thank you for sharing!

  17. Great interview! Thank you for sharing that with us! (

  18. Shared on Facebook and my email is thanks!

  19. Great interview. And thanks for the critique opportunity!

  20. Thanks to you both for a great interview. I sure could use some expert feedback on my critique!

  21. Thank you for the great tips in this interview and for the reminder to persevere. How exciting that you're also offering a chance to win a free query critique!

  22. Thank you both for the interview. Amanda is spot on--our best source of inspiration is from reading books. It feeds the mind and soul.