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.

Agent Spotlight: Erin Casey Westin Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Erin Casey here. She is an associate literary agent at the Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency.

Update on 11/9/2023: Erin is currently closed to submissions. Check the agency website to find out when she reopens to queries.

 Hi­ Erin! Thanks so much for joining us.

Update on 1/17/2023: Erin is currently closed to queries.

 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 two internships at another agency, my manager there heard that Marietta Zacker at Nancy Gallt Literary Agency was looking to hire an assistant. She put me in touch with Marietta, and the fit was wonderful! So I joined Gallt & Zacker (then Nancy Gallt Literary Agency) as an intern in 2015 and never left! I’ve been learning and moving forward since then, most recently getting promoted to associate agent in May of 2019. Since then I’ve been focused on building my list while assisting the office with international and audio rights.

About the Agency:

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

Established in 2000 by Nancy Gallt, and later joined by Marietta B. Zacker, we aim to bring to life stories and artwork that help young readers throughout the world become life-long book enthusiasts and to inspire and entertain readers of all ages. We represent authors and illustrators who share and, through their work, exemplify that vision. We are a small agency of 5 agents and one international rights director and we are committed to finding and advocating for authors who want to make the world a better, more thoughtful, more interesting place one book at a time.

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 ages in kid lit, so PB through YA, and I am open to all genres. I am particularly drawn to the “genre” genres, like fantasy, speculative, fabulism, and magical realism but I often prefer stories that are grounded in our world. I do not have a devoted picture book author on my list yet, so I would love to find someone who is doing something special in that space. I find myself particularly picky about picture books, and I really want them to have something to say about the world, without being didactic. I am also open to nonfiction in all these age categories and prefer stories that center on the story of a moment or movement or object/invention.

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

I’ve been an athlete all my life and would love to see more sports books that have a unique angle, particularly by non-white, non-cisgendered authors. I’d love more stories featuring less “mainstream” sports (I’m still waiting for my ultimate frisbee book!). I’ve also been hoping for a womxn-in-the-outdoors story for some time, about hiking or camping or survival. I also love learning about monsters and myths, so I’d welcome fantasy, speculative, or even horror from authors of non-white backgrounds writing about non-western mythologies.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

As a white, able-bodied, cis-gendered woman, I have always had access to stories that reflect my identity and experience. The world needs more books that reflect a greater range of experiences, identities, and cultures, so please no books founded on heterosexual white kid high school drama.

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?

Thanks to great mentorship, I often ask myself, “Why does the world need this book?” while I’m reviewing submissions. Sometimes the answer is as simple as “Because it’s so fun to read!” but I always want to have an answer for that question for all the books I represent. I want to know why this book should get picked up off the shelf instead of the one next to it. Why is it special? Why should a child read it? What does the world look like with this book in it? I want the books I represent to bring joy and understanding and truth and entertainment! But I also want them to “do no harm” (well, except maybe tearing the reader’s heart into a million pieces because it’s so good!).

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 would call myself an editorial agent. I was a creative writing major in college and I decided to pursue a career in publishing because I realized I enjoyed helping make other people’s stories better more than writing my own. I always make margin comments while reading a new client manuscript and then I’ll often read the manuscript again once I have the whole picture in mind so I can see how each scene fits. I will often send a summary email with “Big Thoughts” along with the annotated manuscript so my client can keep larger ideas/changes in mind while they review my notes. I only write edit letters when I really need to organize my thoughts or explain myself in a more linear fashion – otherwise it just feels like double work! I try to keep in mind that I cannot acquire the book (more good mentorship!), so while I may have subjective opinions that I can talk to the author about, I want to make suggestions that objectively make the book better (at least to 90% of people!) and will give it a better chance of being acquired by an editor. I will go through as many rounds of revision as it takes for the author and I to both feel confident that the story is the best we can make it objectively, while always keeping in mind that this is the author’s story and their vision is most important.

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?

Please follow our submission guidelines at www.galltzacker.com/submissions and submit to my query specific email. Note that I am currently closed to queries but will be reopening in October.

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

I will always read the sample as long as the querier did their best to follow our submissions guidelines! That being said, I find it slightly off-putting when the query is written from the perspective of the main character.

Response Time:

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

On our website, we say that if you haven’t heard back from us in 4 weeks you can feel free to query another agent at the agency or elsewhere. I will say that, since Covid-19, I have not caught back up to this 4 week timeline! That is why I am currently closed and hopefully I will be able to respond in that timeframe when I reopen in October. Regarding requested pages, I am currently responding to partials within 4 weeks and fulls within 4-6 weeks.

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 will say I have no experience with self-publishing, so I will not be able to help you self-publish your book. However, if you want to traditionally publish, I will do my best to help you achieve your goal no matter the size of the publisher and no matter your publishing history. My advice would be to be upfront with your publishing history (it’s helpful, not harmful) and if you are querying a previously self-published book, know that the route toward traditionally publishing the title may be difficult but it is possible, depending on how many copies you’ve sold. In general, having a self-published past should not negatively impact your ability to traditionally publish in the future!

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 see agents doing more to protect their clients and advocate for them when Publishers are required to put their company first (negotiating morality and confidentiality clauses, advocating for virtual event protections, etc.). I also see agents finding more and more ways to connect with potential clients, through Instagram or Tiktok for example. Agents are becoming more versatile and innovative, but their role as advocates for their clients is the same as always.


13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Derick Brooks– check out THE BRIGHT FAMILY on Epic!


Laura Williams McCaffrey (co-represented with Nancy Gallt) – author of MARKED, WATER SHAPER, and ALIA WAKING.

And others whose work I hope you’ll be seeing soon!!

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.

For picture book writers/illustrators: https://www.pbspotlight.com/single-post/2020/01/28/Agent-Spotlight-Erin-Casey


Update on 1/17/2023:

Podcast with Sarah Nichols (02/2021)

Links and Contact Info:

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

Our submissions guidelines: https://www.galltzacker.com/submissions.html


Additional Advice:

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

Do your research! Particularly if you are a writer/illustrator from a marginalized background. There is an amazing push for work from diverse creators right now, but please make sure that the agents you are querying are good people who want to help you and your work and will protect and support you. There are people looking to take advantage of unsuspecting writers, and those who may not be making the effort to understand BIPOC, disabled, or queer clients in a way that will make them good representatives for your work. So look them up on every platform you can, ask friends, and ask the agent questions if you do have a phone call. As hard as I know it is to hear when you’re trying to achieve your dream, a bad agent is worse than no agent.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Erin.

Giveaway Details

­Erin is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment through October 3rd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest. Please be sure I have your email address. 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: 1/17/2023
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes
Last Reviewed By Agent? 9/16/2020

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.









Moira Ratchford said...

What an excellent interview! Your blog is a much-appreciated lighthouse out in the vast ocean of children's book publishing.
Moira Ratchford, author/illustrator

ksw2 said...

Many, many thanks for your great interview!

Susan Johnston Taylor said...

Thanks for taking the time to share your expertise, Erin! These interviews are so helpful to querying authors. susanejohnston AT gmail.

Liz A. said...

Very informative.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hopefully she finds more sports books.

Debra Daugherty said...

Thanks, Natalie, for this informative interview with Erin Casey. She sounds like a terrific agent.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interview and the chance to win a query critique.

AmyHillmanwrites @ yahoo dot com

Mr.Hacket said...

Great read and helpful advice!


Michelle B. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michelle B. said...

Thank you! mgarrett3589@gmail.com

Natasha said...

I'm so excited! My PBs are mostly about nature and girls hiking, camping, snowboarding, exploring... so I'm thrilled to see an agent list this among her interests and be opening to queries soon. Thanks for the great interview and the contest opportunity.

Carla said...

Perfect! She is definitely someone I should query. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Super excited! <3


Heather said...

Great interview- I really enjoyed learning more about Erin. I’d love a chance at a query critique.

Kiley said...

Thanks for the interview! I've shared this post on Twitter as well.

Kiley (orchardka@gmail.com)

Unknown said...

Thank you for this interview ! Sharing on twitter too 🙂
My email id is amehta2709@gmail.com ❤️

Angie Quantrell said...

Thanks so much for sharing this interview. Great opportunity for a query critique. Thank you!

Sharing on Twitter. :)

Kim A. Larson said...

Great interview, Natalie and Erin. Excited for October 1, to submit a PB to Erin!

ken ohl said...

Thankyou great interview.

Lynn Rogalsky said...

Great interview! Erin Casey sounds like an awesome agent. Thank you, Erin for the critique giveaway opportunity.

Montresor said...

Very informative!

Montresor said...

Very informative!

Amanda C said...

I just came across your agency this morning while looking for agents. I bookmarked the website to review later since everyone is closed to queries. Thank you for the chance at a query critique.

Elizabeth Antoinette Barrett said...

"I want the books I represent to bring joy and understanding and truth and entertainment!" Love this! Thanks, Natalie & Erin, for a great interview.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Very nice to meet you, Erin! All the luck with your agency. Thank you, Natalie, for another informative interview. Have a beautiful weekend, ladies!

Matt Gallagher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Gallagher said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and perspective, Erin! Great interview, Natalie!

Sarah Meade said...

Thank you for this informative interview!

Judith L. Roth said...

Thanks for this interview, Natalie!

Daria said...

Thanks for the great insight.

Shanah Salter said...

Another great interview! I’ve shared on Twitter :)

Elizabeth Mueller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth Mueller said...

Interesting how an agent says there needs to be stories outside of a white, female cis-gender role--I came a cross an article saying that it is horrible for writers to point out races in a story, that it was unnecessary to say "she was Asian" because then it points out how she is the "minority".

I believe that writers should always stay true to their gut. IF they want to say "she is Asian" and describe her with those features, why not? :P

Sandra Cox said...

Very informative interview. I enjoyed it.

nashvillecats2 said...

A wonderful interview Natalie, I enjoy reading about the writers and their lives.


Callie said...

Looking forward to when Erin opens up for submissions next month! :) Thanks for sharing, Natalie and Erin!

Lauri Meyers said...

I met Erin at a SCBWI conference, and she seems very personable.

Rosi said...

Another very informative post. Thanks for that. I will pass on the giveaway since I one a query critique not long ago.

Liliya Katinova said...

Thank you for your sincere interview, Erin! I enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing! lsharkova14@gmail.com

Jenni said...

Gallt and Zacker represent some amazing authors! An Ultimate Frisbee book sounds so fun!

Aunt Kathy said...

As someone who tends to write non-standard PBs, it was encouraging to see Erin say that she's looking for PB authors who are doing something special. kathyhjermstad @ hotmail.com

Jillian Schmidt said...

What a wonderful agent philosophy, and I loved seeing the shout-out to ultimate frisbee too. :) Thanks for sharing this enjoyable and informative interview!

Jenifer McNamara said...

Enjoyed reading about your reasons for being an agent and how you help the authors, too.

Lynn Baldwin said...

What a great post. These interviews are so helpful and I really enjoyed learning a bit more about Erin.

Lauren H. Dowdle said...

Great post! Always enjoy your agent interviews!

Rozana said...

Great interview and thank you for the opportunity. rozana.rajkumari@gmail.com

S.VanZandt said...

Great interview! Love Erin’s perspective on books bringing joy and truth to the world. There is nothing better than to get lost in a wonderful book! skvnzt@aol.com

lkrichmanauthor said...

I love this interview and really appreciate the opportunity to win a query critique. When my manuscript is polished, I would love to work with an agent like Erin :) lisakrichman@gmail.com

Cathy P said...

Thanks for a great interview and a chance to win a query critique!

Kyla said...

This is awesome! Really informative and well-done :)

Liz Sites said...

Thank you so much I love what you are saying about "Why does the world need this book?" I would LOVE to get a critique!!!!!

Unknown said...

I really appreciated this insightful interview and the links to additional resources. Thank you for the generous offer of a chance for a critique. kimberlyhaysdemuga@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

thank you for this great interview!

Lori Van Hoesen said...

Great interview. Thanks so much for this service provided to aspiring authors

Luke said...

Always wonderful to see agents that represent SFF YA from underrepresented voices!
lukesirinides @ gmail.com