Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024
  • 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 Gabrielle Piraino here. She is a literary agent at DeFiore & Company.

Status: 5/21/2020: Ms. Piraino is no longer a literary agent.

Hi­ Gabrielle! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Gabbie:

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

I was first interested in agenting during grad school, but it took a while to get here! I came to NYC for Pace University’s MS in Publishing program and interned everywhere that I could: Schwartz & Wade at Random House, Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency, Little, Brown BFYR, and Writers House. My first job out of school was with MeeGenius, a children’s e-book publisher, where I had hands on experience with the entire publishing process: acquisitions, contracts, editing, production, layout, audio, digital Q&A… the works. I also worked at Farrar, Straus & Giroux in their contracts department before I was offered the opportunity to work at a literary agency. My former agency specialized in celebrity nonfiction, and due to its boutique size, I was able to apply the skills I learned in school and my previous positions to provide editorial feedback on many projects, manage the foreign rights, and help negotiate the agency’s contracts. My personal interests lay in other genres though, so I was very happy to join DeFiore and Company in the summer of 2016. I’ve been agenting since that winter and was also recently promoted to manage the agency’s foreign rights as well. I’m currently focused on children’s projects, genre (YA and Adult SFF, horror, thrillers), and selective nonfiction.

About the Agency:

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

DeFiore and Company is a fantastic group of agents that represent every genre and age group—be it health/wellness to children’s picture books. My favorite part of the office is our congeniality; we share information about the industry and the senior agents are invested in mentoring the young agents. We collectively have developed a network that includes practically every editor at both commercial and most indie publishers. The agency also includes an internal foreign rights staff to sell our clients’ work around the world, both in other English language terrtitories and also in translation. DeFiore and Company negotiates all of our clients’ contracts as well. As an agency, we’re always focused on supporting our clients and creating interesting and dynamic opportunities to share their work with the world.

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 both children’s and adult projects. In kids, I’m interested in picture books up through YA. For picture books, I look for stories that introduce new concepts to young readers (both fiction and nonfiction). For older MG and YA readers, I fall in love with characters and stories. When writers integrate science fiction or fantasy elements, I look for engaging worlds. I have a soft spot for villains and morally grey characters, too.

4.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?
I love to see projects that surprise me. Things that I didn’t know I wanted until I’m reading. Strong voice, distinct points of view, new worlds that I want to sink into for an entire weekend… and then read again immediately.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I’m not interested in memoir, most narrative nonfiction, or especially dramatic contemporary MG and YA. For contemporary, I’m only currently reviewing submissions that are issue-based and primarily #ownvoices. 

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 represent authors over the course of their career and build strong relationships together. I tell each individual that I offer representation to that I intend to be their biggest cheerleader and professional advocate for all aspects of their projects. I provide editorial feedback through the process of getting a manuscript or proposal ready for submission as well. I am extremely communicative and review all of the steps from the first day of representation on through the years after their books are published with my clients. If they have questions about anything from their contracts to their royalty statements, I’m their person to explain and clarify those points.

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?

YES. The process is different with every project depending upon what that individual client and project requires. If we agree that the project needs revisions—whether that is focused on their characters, plot, pacing, etc.—then I typically send an editorial letter with my suggestions on how to revise. From there, we have an ongoing discussion based on their revisions and create a process that works best for that client. If a project requires multiple rounds of edits in order to effect the change that it needs, then I’ll work with the client to develop the best possible project prior to submission.

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?

My querying instructions are on the agency’s website, but authors should send their query letter and the first 50 pages of their manuscript in the body of the email to me via email at gabrielle@defliterary.com In a query letter, authors should include their age group, genre, word count, and comp titles. Further, include a synopsis (I suggest 250 words or less, focus on your main characters and plot), and a short bio about yourself.

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

Some of these may sound like common sense, but here goes: please address your query letters to me and not another agent, please spell my name correctly, please don’t CC me along with additional agents and send all of us your query simultaneously, make sure that you’re querying a project in a genre I’m interested in, and generally follow my querying instructions. If you do all of those things, you’re already ahead of half of my queries.

Response Time:

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

I try to respond within 6-8 weeks to queries and sooner when I request the manuscript, but feel free to follow up with me if you haven’t yet heard from me in that time frame.

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?

Personally, it depends on the situation. Many publishers, both the major commercial houses and the indies, will review authors’ previous work(s) and if the sales figures are low, it can be an additional hurdle for an author to overcome. That said, if you have previously published with a small house or on your own, do include that information in your query letter so an agent can do their homework and determine if the combination of your story and your previous publishing history create a salable project for them to take on. If you’ve self-published, the stronger your sales figures are, the more likely a traditional publisher will be interested in making an offer, so promotion and publicizing your work is an important element to consider.

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 hope that agents remain an important figure in publishing in the future. We provide career management and a professional understanding of the industry and contracts that can be complex and nuanced, in addition to editorial feedback throughout the submission and publication process. Whether agents submit to more indie presses or advise their clients to self-publish, we still can guide clients through the process based on our experience, whether it’s the first book, or the tenth.

Interviews and Guest Posts:

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

Feel free to Google the heck out of me! I tend to use my full name for work, so that’s the best place to start. :)

Links and Contact Info:

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

Feel free to review my profile at https://www.defliterary.com/agent/gabrielle-piraino/ that again includes the querying instructions and more information about what types of projects I’m looking to represent. More information about my work experience is available at LinkedIn too: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gabriellepiraino/
You can also find me on Twitter @nerdplusdog to get a better sense of my personality, which contests and Twitter pitches I’m participating in, conferences I’ll be attending, or self-indulgent pictures of my pup.

Additional Advice:

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

You see this advice from both the most successful authors and the first-time authors who just signed their first deal: patience. Not every book you write will be published. You’ll hear a lot of no’s before you hear yes’es, but stick with it! Your craft will ultimately get better the more you work on it, and your understanding of the publishing process will certainly become more advanced the longer than you interact with the business. Join a writers group and find your betas; attend a conference if you’re looking for more information or one on one contact with a publishing professional; read articles and do your research online. There’s lots of fabulous info out there on the web or at your local library.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Gabrielle.

­Gabrielle 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 June 30th. 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? N/A
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.


nashvillecats2 said...

Enjoyed with much interest your interview with Gabrielle. Showed much insight.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

She sounds very thorough.
Sad that half the queries she gets are done wrong.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Good advice on the patience, but it is so difficult.

Snuffalupagus said...

Great tips!

Heather said...

Terrific interview- and thank you, Gabrielle, for your interest in #ownvoices.

Nancy Kelly Allen said...

Great interview. So insightful on how past sales impact getting a contract.

Susan Johnston Taylor said...

Great advice! Thanks for sharing.

Lynn Rogalsky said...

Thank you for such a thorough interview with Gabrielle. Good luck to all of us on the query give-away!

Chelly Writes said...

Morally gray characters are my favorites. Great interview. :D

Claire Bobrow said...

Enjoyed the interview. Thanks, Gabrielle!

Lauri Fortino said...

So nice to learn more about Gabrielle. She'd be a wonderful agent to work with.

Unknown said...

I really enjoyed this interview! Gabrielle offered tons of wonderful advice.

Unknown said...

Thanks for another great interview! Bpodwois@Yahoo.com

MeganC said...

She is an awesome agent! I would love to get her take on my query. Thanks again, Natalie!

Angie Quantrell said...

Great interview! Thanks for sharing with us! Angelecolline at yahoo dot com

Mandy W said...

Thanks for the interview and critique giveaway!
mwelch0423 at gmail dot com

Cynthia K said...

Great interview and advice. Gabrielle is full of insight and enthusiasm. thanks for the opportunity to win a query!

kitar said...

Thanks for the informing interview and supporting #ownvoices

Caren Shiloh said...

What a fascinating interview, Natalie! Gabbie, you sound like a wonderfully supportive and involved agent. I'm sure the experience you gained through your internships, and also at MeeGenius, make you an ideal partner and representative for a wide variety of authors. Thanks for sharing your insights and advice so generously. And Natalie, thanks for finding such interesting guests to interview. muthecaren@gmail.com

Emily L. said...

Great interview and advice! I'd like to be entered. Thank you!

Erin said...

Thank you!

Unknown said...

Really helpful interview! Great tips. Thanks

C. D. Monson said...

Informative interview. Thank you!

Patchi said...

Another great interview! Thanks for the insights.

Amy Smith said...

Thanks for the interview. Glad to read about your experience in all aspects of publishing.

Unknown said...

Great interview! Thanks for all the advice and insights

Nancy said...

Very helpful! Thanks for the information.

Steph Lau said...

Thanks for the interview!

Flor Salcedo said...

Would love to work with such a knowledgeable agent. I spread the news on twitter too! @FlorSPower

Unknown said...

Can't wait for these spotlights to begin again in September. Thank you both!
I also shared this on Twitter.

Ella said...

Thank you so much! Great interview!

Vercingetorix said...

Thanks for the interview. Every time I read one of these, I learn something new.