Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Sarah Stephens Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveawawy on 10/10/2022
  • Eve Adler Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 10/17/2022
  • Adria Goetz Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 11/14/2022
  • Kelly Dyksterhouse Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 12/12/2022
  • Savannah Brooks Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 12/19/2022

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • All Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated in 2023.

Agent Spotlight: Tori Sharp Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Tori Sharp here. She is an associate literary agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency.

Hi­ Tori! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Tori:

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


I’ve been an Associate Literary Agent with The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency since August 2020. Before that, I was an assistant to Jennifer De Chiara and an intern for two years. So far, I’ve been reading through queries, signing clients, helping my clients through revisions, and preparing to go on submission with multiple projects.

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 full-service NYC agency; we do it all. Each agent has unique preferences about the projects we represent (for instance, I currently represent children’s literature exclusively and am not seeking adult projects) but we do as an agency represent every age category and genre. If querying authors look through the JDLA agents’ profiles, then it’s likely they’ll find someone who represents their type of book. JDLA’s 20th anniversary is coming up in a couple of months, and as a whole the agency represents hundreds of clients and regularly lives up to our motto of “making dreams come true” for authors. We also work with dedicated co-agents for foreign, film and television, and audiobook rights.

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?

So far, I represent MG and YA, and I’ll happily consider any children’s literature, including picture books and chapter books. I’m looking for all genres, though I’m probably not the best agent for horror. I love seeing submissions with a witty voice and playful tone. I also like seeing that the writer knows how to tell a story; that each scene and paragraph and line has a function or, ideally, multiple functions. It’s the same for comic pages; if the sequential narrative moves at an effective pace while also developing characters, foreshadowing, hitting emotional beats, etc., that shows a level of craft that excites me.

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

I’m always excited to see graphic novel proposals, since I’m a graphic novelist myself and majored in Sequential Art at SCAD. Recently, across genres, I’ve been craving something with loving and zany family dynamics. (Hilary McKay does this brilliantly in SAFFY’S ANGEL and, more recently, her BINNY books, where the characters are sometimes at odds but ultimately love and accept each other.) I also hope to see more #ownvoices neurodiverse books from autistic and ADHD writers and artists. I always enjoy fantasy stories with casual magic or “modern” witchcraft that’s considered commonplace wherever the story is set, and I’ve been craving a middle-grade story that’s really action-packed and thrilling.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

At the moment, I don’t represent anything for the adult market, and I am not interested in horror. And while I love looking at submissions that wrestle with serious topics, I tend not to like “issue books” or grimdark stories.

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?

Authors and agents are people. So are editors and readers. It’s important to me that everyone I work with treats each other as a human being, with kindness. This has absolutely been my experience with my own agent and the whole team at my publisher, and it’s the experience I want all my clients to have throughout their careers. As an agent, I intentionally foster open communication and transparency, and I make sure my clients always know they can approach me with any question—I work for them, after all.

Publishing is an industry that can feel opaque and mysterious, so I seek to demystify the process for my clients and let them know what’s happening step-by-step so they can feel confident we’re taking every measure to ensure their success.

The books I represent usually call out to me because I’m intrigued by a specific theme—something that ties in perfectly with the plot and makes me excited about the book’s potential to bring a new perspective or confidence or joy to readers. That’s what makes me want to drop everything and fight for a project. On top of the story being engaging and smart, it has to express a shared human experience in a way I haven’t seen before.

Unfortunately, that’s a nebulous thing to try to communicate to anyone who’s querying me, since neither of us will know exactly what will pique my interest until you happen to hit on it. So far I’ve been drawn to projects about living authentically as yourself and pursuing the things that make you happy, but what might inspire me changes day-by-day, and every time I look through queries I’m so excited because I don’t know what I’ll fall in love with next.

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 am an editorial agent! Once you submit to an editor and get a pass, that’s a closed door, so I like to make sure all of our submissions sparkle before we send them out. I’ll typically go through more than one round of revision with an author before bringing their project to editors.

The first thing I do with a new client manuscript is to ask questions about the story’s theme, character dynamics, and resolution to make sure I fully understand the author’s intentions with their story, and then I write an edit letter and mark up the manuscript with comments. The complexity of this will vary based on how polished the manuscript already is when it hits my inbox. My role is to help the author identify and internalize their own purpose with their book and then ask questions that will help them draw their own conclusions about how to achieve it, rather than superimposing my own vision on top of their work. This process of helping authors think about aspects of their story from a slightly new angle and then watching them come up with brilliant solutions is one of my favorite things in the world.

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?

As of now, I accept queries only via email. My submission guidelines are detailed on my agency’s website, which is included below with all my links. I really love when query letters include specifics about the story in the pitch, rather than a bunch of generalities. Being too vague is one of the most common problems with queries; I need to get a sense of what your unique story is about. I personally think it’s great to start with a quick logline before you launch into the bulk of the pitch. You should also include your manuscript’s word count or the projected page count for a graphic novel.

Lastly – it’s delightful when queries include links to Spotify playlists or Pinterest boards related to the project, and I appreciate seeing links to authors’ Twitter accounts or writing blogs if they feel inclined to include them. None of that is necessary, and the story itself is the most important factor in a query, but those extra additions can be fun to see.

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

Just be sure to follow submission guidelines! Don’t send your entire manuscript or any attachments with a query unless an agent explicitly requests that in their guidelines. Many authors try to show confidence by saying things like “this is the best book you’ll ever read and will be a bestseller,” but, ultimately, the writing should speak for itself, and this industry is so subjective that personal taste is a huge factor, so it’s better to keep it simple in a query and follow the standard format with concision. If you have multiple projects, please query me with one at a time.

As for the first pages, it’s common advice to start your story with action or during an exciting moment, but that can be dull or even disorienting to the reader if you don’t first show them who your character is. Your first pages should make me care about your lead character so that I can be invested in whether they’ll accomplish their goal.

Response Time:

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

I try my best to respond within a week, but it really depends. When I’m in the middle of reading manuscripts, preparing a submission, or conducting other business on behalf of my clients, querying authors might have to wait up to six weeks for a reply because I’ll always prioritize the needs of my existing clients. Generally, though, the longer it takes me to respond, the more likely it is I’ve got your query in a “maybe” folder and really, really want to request it. Since I get so many queries, I have to be very selective and honest with myself about which ones I’d do the best job of representing.

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 am open to representing anyone who sends me a project I fall in love with, whether or not it’s your first book. If you’re querying a book that has been previously self-published or published by smaller presses, I would be less likely to represent that specific project, though it depends on what rights you’ve retained with that work. My advice for all querying authors, generally, is to keep writing the next thing.

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 think the role of agents will greatly change any time soon, since being an agent has always meant being able to adapt. For instance, agents being “editorial” is a relatively new normal, in the grand scheme of publishing. Agents adapt in tandem with the publishing industry overall and take notice of what the market is hungry for. More agents are representing graphic novelists and illustrators in general compared to just a few years ago, just as an example, after the success of certain comics. Agents will continue to serve an important role in advocating for their clients, but there will also always be options for authors who decide not to seek representation or who have the desire and business savvy to succeed on their own with self-publishing.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

As a new agent, I’m being very selective with my client list. I represent Dane Erbach, who writes incredibly funny and smart YA contemporary novels. I also represent the graphic novelists Eric Lide and Vanessa Stefaniuk, both of whom are exceptional graphic novelists and webcomic artists.

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.

You can find a PDF of my zine SLUSH: A GUIDE TO QUERYING LITERARY AGENTS on Gumroad, and this is definitely my best resource about querying. It’s up for $5 but I periodically waive the cost, so keep an eye on my Twitter for the occasional free resource. It’s gotten a very positive response from querying authors. You can find that here: https://gum.co/TKJjQ

Links and Contact Info:

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

Find my submission guidelines here: https://www.jdlit.com/tori-sharp

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NovelTori

My website: https://noveltori.com/

 Additional Advice:

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

Join a critique group! Or start one. You can use services like Zoom or Discord to run writing groups virtually. Reading other peoples’ work critically is the best way to improve your own craft, which will ultimately help you get agents’ attention. Other than that, keep being curious about everything writing- and publishing-related. Learn all you can about what a career as an author actually entails. Listen to tons of podcast interviews with writers and just soak up first-hand accounts about how those authors got their start and the sort of things that helped them on their way to publication. Keep yourself inspired so you can keep trying!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Tori.

­Tori 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 December 5th.  If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the 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 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

54 comments:

Marie said...

Hi Natalie, great interview as usual!
mariepennamen.writing@gmail.com

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Graphic novels - very cool. I understand why she doesn't want issue stories. We have enough issues in the real world right now.

Unknown said...

Hi Natalie and Tori, Thanks for this interview.
I'd love to be part of the contest.
I've tweeted about it on my account @ApologizerThe
I'm reachable at creativityisamuscle@gmail.com

Cheers,

Kami

Jayme Inman said...

What a great resource this site is! Great interviews! I just tweeted about it. Thanks for supporting the writing community. Would love to be in query critique contests. jayme.inman@gmail.com

Sandra Cox said...

The literary agent interviews are always fascinating. I especially enjoy learning how agents get started.

Ilona Bray said...

"Keep being curious" is good advice for life, too! Thanks for a great interview.

Malia said...

Thanks for this great new interview. Love that more agents are adapting by helping with editing. Thanks for entering me in the contest, and I mentioned it on my @maliamaunakea twitter page for the extra boost :)

Debra Daugherty said...

Thanks, Natalie, for asking the perfect questions of Tori. I would love for her to critique my work.

Pat Hatt said...

Sure knows what she is looking for. Way to be. And yeah, can see the issues. Who wants to drive more down one's throat lol enough of that with the news.

Liz A. said...

Graphic novels have really become a thing, haven't they? It's nice to see them taken more seriously.

Anonymous said...

Great interview. I'm glad to see Tori is interested in writers with ADHD. Girls, in particular, often slip through the cracks. I'll tweet this out for an extra entry since I'd love a critique from her on my query letter for a chapter book about two sisters with ADHD. azylstra.stayback@gmail.com.

Beth said...

She sounds great! Thanks for the spotlight, Natalie. I'd love to receive the query critique!

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the interview and the query critique giveaway! Tweeted via @StephMWard.

Natalie Aguirre said...

So glad to see you are writing and querying, Beth!

Callie said...

I'd never thought of including "extras" like Spotify playlists or Pinterest boards.with a query. And I appreciate the reminder that long wait times on query responses could mean that it's a "maybe."

Thanks for this interview! I'd love to receive a query critique.

Jennifer said...

Natalie and Tori - thanks for the interview and critique giveaway.
In my own reading and writing I gravitate to characters with "loving and zany family dynamics."
kraarster@gmail.com

Amy Leskowski said...

Great interview!! I’m going to download that resource right now. Amyleskowski@gmail.com

Rozana said...

Great interview with lots of helpful information.

Shanah Salter said...

Wonderful interview! I have shared this post on twitter and would love to be considered for a critique.

Angie Quantrell said...

Yet another great interview! Loved the positive vibes of what Tori shared with us. Thanks so much, Tori!

Thank you, Natalie, for keeping us up on current news in the book world. :) I shared on Twitter. angelecolline at yahoo dot com

Sarah Marriott said...

Great interview! Thanks for sharing. Would love to get a query critique!

Becca B said...

I love your Zine. You are very adept at drawing facial expressions.
rebecca dot birkin at vcfa dot edu

Lauren H. Dowdle said...

I love this: "Authors and agents are people." Great insight, especially now that we are even more hidden behind our computers.
lhdowdle@gmail.com

Rebecca Gardyn Levington said...

Great interview! Thank you so much for sharing with us, Tori! (I will share on Twitter as well @WriterRebeccaGL. And my email is Rgardyn@hotmail.com. Thanks!

J.A. Nielsen said...

Great insights and encouragement, Tori. So appreciate your enthusiasm. It's clear you love what you do!

Melissa Miles said...

I loved reading about Tori's background! I live in Savannah, and the illustrator of my first children's book teaches sequential art at SCAD. It's a small world! I'm sharing this on Twitter (@melissajmiles). Thanks again!

Susan Lendroth said...

Would love to have a PB query critiqued. You can never get too much feedback! Well, actually you can, let me edit -- you can never get too much good, useful feedback.

Hollie Wolverton said...

Love Tori's approach as an editorial agent! Sounds like she does a great job for her clients. Thank you both for the interview and the giveaway opportunity. (hgwolverton@gmail.com)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Online critique groups are a life saver. I've had the same one for years and we are way beyond books and more like life-long friends I've not yet met in real life.

C. R. Bailey said...

Literary Rambles is such a huge service for writers. Thank you, Natalie, for the new interview. Please enter me in the query critique contest.

Unknown said...

Great interview! Thank you.

Unknown said...

Oops let's try that again!
Jenmacgregorwrites@gmail.com

Mr.Hacket said...

What a wonderful interview!

Liza said...

Thanks, Natalie. Great interview.

Cindy S said...

Terrific and informative. Knowing what an agent is looking for and not looking for is what it's all about.

ken ohl said...

Great Interview Thanks so much

Rosi said...

Another very helpful interview. Thanks for that. I will pass on the giveaway.

Jay Linden said...

Saffy's Angel is one of my favourite middle grade novels - Hilary McKay is so good at quirky families and sibling dynamics. Great interview - love to be in for the query critique.

Melisa Wrex said...

Thank you to Literary Rambles and Tori Sharp for helping the writing community. I'm so happy to have found this resource as a newly querying author.

Eileen said...

I love Literary Rambles! And great interview with Tori Sharp. Would love the query critique! eileen@wilkinusa.com

Unknown said...

Thanks for the helpful info, Tori! I would love to enter the query critique contest. Thank you! alexottokodiak@gmail.com

Janet Frenck Sheets said...

I see that you're a fan of Howl's Moving Castle. That's one of my all-time favorites! Thanks for the interview and the chance at a query critique.

Linda H. said...

I love your agent interviews. There is always helpful information for pre-published writers. And a chance to win a critique with Toni? Awesome.
Lnshofke(at)yahoo.com

Natasha said...

What a great interview! Thanks so much for the opportunity.

DMS said...

What a great interview. So interesting. Thanks for sharing. :)
~Jess

Katie said...

Thank you for this great interview and for the giveaway!

Kathy I said...

Thank you for helping demystify the querying and publishing process. It’s truly the most stressful and demoralizing part about writing, at least for me.

Kathy I said...

Oop, forgot to leave my email for the contest: kathyistace@gmail.com

Rachel said...

Great interview! Thanks for all of the helpful info!

Amy said...

Thank you! amythernstrom@yahoo.com

JEN Garrett said...

Critique Groups are soooo important! Mine has spotted typos and plotholes that I was just blind to.

I mentioned the contest on my Lexical Creations blog and would love to win that query critique! (Fingers, toes, and elbows are crossed) ;)

AimeeT said...

Very good advice :-)
Thank you!

Gwen Gardner said...

Hi Natalie, I voted the other day. Good luck!

Diana, I went to college planning on a degree in real estate and liked writing in my English class so much that I switched majors. The heart wants what the heart wants. Congrats on your new book!

Flower T. said...

Excellent interview! I was especially intrigued by the advice to not be too vague in the query. Thank you!