Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
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  • 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 Erin Clyburn here. She is an associate literary agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency.

Update as of 4/5/2022. Erin is now an agent at Howland Literary. You can find out more about what she's looking for and her submission guidelines on the agency website.

Status: Update on 11/10/2023: Erin is currently closed to submissions. Please check the agency website to find out when she reopens to queries.

Hi­ Erin! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Erin:

1. Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.
After getting my Master’s in Children’s Literature, I worked for five years as manager of Turtleback Books, a prebound book distribution company. I moved to be closer to home and was looking for an opportunity to get back into the book business. I applied for a remote internship with a New York City–based literary agency in 2018 and, after my internship, was promoted to apprentice in April 2019, when I began building my client list. In October 2019, I joined The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency as an Associate Agent. I’ve found that agenting is the perfect marriage of my interests in editing and sales, and I love the freedom it offers to work at my own pace on projects I’m passionate about.
About the Agency:
2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.
The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency is a New York City­–based full-service literary agency founded in 2001 and named one of the top 25 literary agencies in the country by Writer’s Digest. The agency represents children’s literature for all ages—picture books and middle-grade and young adult novels—but also represents high-quality adult fiction and nonfiction in a wide range of genres. JDLA is proud to represent illustrators as well as screenwriters for both television and film, including Emmy and Peabody Award-winning writers and illustrators. What sets JDLA apart from other agencies is our holistic approach to managing every aspect of an author’s career to make the most of their project's potential.
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 all age groups: nonfiction picture books, high-concept chapter book series, most genres in middle grade and YA, and some adult. In middle grade, I’m looking for big-hearted contemporary stories, magic realism, light fantasy, horror, and speculative fiction. In YA, I like stories on the darker, weirder side: thriller, horror, mystery, and speculative fiction. In adult, I’m looking for darker and weirder as well; I’m also looking for literary fiction and high-interest nonfiction. And across the board, I’m looking for stories from diverse creators, whether that be race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, economic diversity, neurodiversity, authors with disabilities—I want to give those who have been marginalized a platform. As an Alabamian, I’m also particularly interested in hearing from Southern perspectives.
Update on 1/21/20203
"Erin represents middle grade fiction, YA fiction, and adult fiction and nonfiction. In MG and YA, she is looking for horror, mystery, thriller, big-hearted contemporary, and grounded stories with magical or speculative elements." (From the agency website)

4.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?
I’m a sucker for puzzles in middle grade, like THE WESTING GAME, HOLES, and GREENGLASS HOUSE. In YA, I’d love to see some really atmospheric, eerie, literary horror. Across the board, I’m interested in characters with unique interests and out-of-the-box hobbies. I’d love to see neurodiverse characters in MG and YA. I love dry humor. And speculative fiction; if you could comp it to BLACK MIRROR, I’d like to see it. In adult, also, I’d love to see high-concept nonfiction related to science, medicine, and culture, like THE RADIUM GIRLS, FULL BODY BURDEN, and EDUCATED.
What She Isn’t Looking For:
5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?
I am not the right fit for high fantasy, second-world fantasy, hard sci-fi, any sci-fi set in space, or horror about aliens, vampires, or zombies. I’m not looking for fiction picture books at this time or standalone chapter books. Additionally, in adult, I’m not looking for political thrillers, military thrillers, detective novels, stories with a strong focus on religion, short stories, poetry, Westerns, or romance (or, really, any manuscript where romance is the driving plot element).
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 am primarily looking for standout voices telling stories that feel fresh and new. With each manuscript I’ve offered on, I knew within the first couple of pages I was going to offer on it. I have really wide-ranging interests, but every project I’ve signed has a sharp, clear, confident voice. It sounds kind of nebulous because you can’t define what makes a writer’s voice strong, but you know it when you see it. You can tell when an author believes in their own voice and the story they’re telling, and there’s no better feeling than being blindsided by a strong voice.
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, I’m very much an editorial agent. I go through multiple rounds of edits with my clients, including developmental edits and line edits.
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?
You can visit my agency page at https://www.jdlit.com/erin-clyburn and submit to me through the QueryManager link there. For fiction, please include your query letter, synopsis, and first 10 pages of your manuscript. For nonfiction, please send your query, proposal, and the first 10 pages. For picture books, please send the whole text.

Update on 1/21/2023

"Please submit all queries via Erin's Query Manager link." (From the agency website)

9.  Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?
I want to see that the author has made an effort to follow instructions and write a thorough query letter. I will reject a query outright if the query letter is only a line or two long or if the author doesn’t include a synopsis; it shows the author didn’t do the research or put the effort in. I also get a lot of queries for genres I don’t represent, so make sure that an agent reps what you write before querying them.
Response Time:
10. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?
I receive 20-30 queries a day, so I try to respond to them quickly, within a few days, so they don’t pile up. If I request pages, it might take me a couple of months to read and respond to a submission.
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, I’m open to it. One of my clients has self-published books apart from the ones we’re working on together. But I am not open to representing manuscripts that have already been self-published.
12. Who are some of the authors you represent?
I currently have four fantastic clients. Elizabeth Kilcoyne is a Kentucky-based author whose debut novel, WAKE THE BONES, a YA Southern Gothic, will be published by Wednesday Books in 2022. I have a UK-based client, Madeline Dyer, who writes twisty YA thrillers. Eva Jurczyk, who lives in Toronto, is currently working on an adult upmarket mystery set in a rare books library. And Taylor Tyng, my newest client, has written a zany and heartwarming middle-grade adventure about a round-the-world hot air balloon race.
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.
I keep my agency page updated with what I’m looking for, and you can also check out my MSWL page at https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/erin-clyburn/.

Update on 1/21/2023

Podcast with Madeline Dyer (07/2021)
Interview at Writing and Illustrating Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 (07/2021)
Interview on NPR (06/2020)
Links and Contact Info:
14. Please share how writers should contact you to submit a query and your links on the Web.
I only accept queries through QueryManager; the link and instructions are on my JDLA page here: https://www.jdlit.com/erin-clyburn. Any queries sent through email, LinkedIn, Twitter DM, etc., will be deleted. You can also follow me on Twitter at @erin_clyburn.
Update on 1/21/2023
"Please submit all queries via Erin's Query Manager link." (From the agency website)

Additional Advice:
15. Is there any other advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors that we haven’t covered?
I know querying is such a daunting process, so I just want to let all the authors out there know that I am truly excited to read every single query I receive. As long as you follow an agent’s instructions and have made sure the agent reps the kind of book you’ve written, don’t stress about the minutiae. And at the end of the day, this is a subjective business, with so many factors in play, some of which are out of my control (what are editors looking for right now, for example). Lastly, to sign a client, I have to love the book so much I want to read it possibly five times before even sending it out to editors. A manuscript can be perfectly wonderful, but if I don’t love it enough to read it five times, I can’t sign it. If I don’t, though, it might be just what another agent is looking for.
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Erin.
­Erin 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 6th. 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.

Last updated: 1/21/2023.
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 5/20/2020

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...

I found this most interesting to read Natalie. Always a pleaure to read. Hope all is well with you.


Ilona Bray said...

I love Erin's attempt to describe sharp, clear, confident voice. When I read, I sometimes think "This is it, how do I do that?" Thanks for a lovely interview.

emaginette said...

Nice meeting you, Erin. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Liz said...

This was really interesting! I really like hearing your agent philosophy.

Unknown said...

"There's no better feeling than being blindsided by a strong voice" - one of the best little exhilarations in this world. So well-put, Erin! Thank you to you both for a great interview :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

LOL - we published a book last year that several reviewers compared to Black Mirror. Plus we have a creepy, paranormal-horror YA book coming out next year. Erin and I must have similar tastes.

Malia said...

Thanks for the details, Erin! It must be challenging to keep up with all of those queries.

Aryn said...

Just added Erin to my query list!

Pat Hatt said...

Being able to find that voice in the first few pages is a great skill indeed.

JK said...

This was very interesting. Thanks!


Jenni said...

This was really interesting, Natalie! Reading a book five times is an excellent test!

Nathalie said...

Thank you for another really helpful interview. This website is a goldmine! I love Erin's "additional advice". Very encouraging.

Flower T. said...

I appreciate all these agent insights. I was especially interested in the 'read it five times' test.

JOP said...

Great interview. Thank you! I love this website!

Shanah Salter said...

Another great interview. I would love to win a critique and have shared this on twitter. Thank you!

Mattea Orr said...

What a wonderful interview. I love hearing the different voices and interests of each agent. I shared this on Twitter and Facebook. Thank you!

Melissa Miles said...

I loved hearing Erin talk about the kinds of stories she wants to help tell the world, but I especially enjoyed the news that she looks forward to reading queries! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Great interview. Thanks!

Samara (at) samaralo dot com

Lynn Rogalsky said...

Nice to get to know Agent Erin Clyburn and The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency better. Thank you for the manuscript critique giveaway opportunity!

Sara Wilhoite said...

Very interesting! Thank you. Hope everyone is doing well.

Sherry Ellis said...

20 to 30 queries a day is a lot! It's amazing that authors get a response at all from that kind of volume.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Amazing all the work literary agents do. Bravo to you, Erin! As always, thank you, Natalie, for all these opportunities. Stay safe, everyone!

DMS said...

So interesting to hear about the querying process from an agent's point of view. Sometimes we don't realize how many queries agents are getting! :)

Carolyn Chambers Clark said...

Another great interview. Had already added Erin to my list for my YA ghost story and a neuro-diverse novel.

Susan Johnston Taylor said...

Loved this part: "there’s no better feeling than being blindsided by a strong voice." I couldn't agree more!

Susan Johnston Taylor said...

Whoops! It's not displaying my email address even though it's showing me as logged in. My email is susan AT susan-johnston.com. Thanks!

Nathalie said...

My email is n.laine3 [at] gmail.com in case not visible!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

She sounds like the ideal agent. Wish I was looking for one, but I'm happy the way I am. A great interview. Thanks.

layne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SueJay said...

Best unintended bonus from scrolling through these interviews: Finding new authors to read. Can't wait to check some of these out.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Glad you are enjoying the author interviews too. They contain lots of great advice.

layne said...

I learn so much from these interviews! thanks, Natalie.

layne said...

(i also tweeted this!) :)