Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Rebecca Lawrence Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 3/11/2024
  • Stuti Telidevara Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 3/20/2024
  • Agent Rachel Orr and Author Cathy Carr Guest Post and Lost Kites and Other Treasures Giveaway on 3/25/2024
  • Paula Weiman Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 4/8/2024
  • Hillary Fazzari Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 4/22/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "H" as of 5/11/2023 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.

Agent Spotlight: Allison Hellegers Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Allison Hellegers here. She is a literary agent at Stimola Literary Studio

Status: Allison is currently closed to submissions. Please check the agency website to find out when she reopens to submissions. 

Hi­ Allison! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Allison:

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 worked in foreign rights for most of my publishing career—nearly 20 years—and have always loved collaborating with US and UK agents to bring their books around the globe. When I started to do the inverse and bring foreign books back to North American publishers, I got to know the market more intimately in the US, and my meetings with domestic editors confirmed my desire to expand and grow in that market. I loved the idea of building on what I already knew as a Rights Director to increase my authors potential for global success. I was hungry for collaborations with artists and writers of my own, but I didn’t know where my experience would best fit. But when Rosemary Stimola, an agent I have long admired, asked me to join the team—that was the moment, of course, I knew being an agent was the best way. I’ve been working with the Stimola Literary Studio for nearly two years, and it’s been such a wonderful place to provide foreign rights support, deep dive into the world of agenting and see how I, too, can spread my wings.

About the Agency:

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

We offer our authors the chance to work with one of our esteemed agents and be part of the Studio and everything it has to offer. We have remained a boutique agency in the sense that we never want to take on too many authors, but for the authors we do champion, we work with them on broader, collaborative efforts, including selling their books globally and on the big or little screen. I feel aligned with my team in that we take on what we love, what we believe we can sell, and authors whose careers we want to see flourish. During a time when many are re-examining their life and choices, it’s a liberating and creatively satisfying place to be in my career. 

What She’s Looking For:

I’m currently looking for young adult and middle-grade submissions only, but I will look at picture books and adult fiction and non-fiction that come with a referral. I would love to see voice-driven submissions that come with a strong, distinctive pitch. I’m looking for writers especially from all marginalized communities and love when I come across something that feels brave and boundary-pushing. I love unique formats, such as novels-in-verse, and books that are told in multiple points of view, or are multi-generational. I love traveling and novels from different countries and cultures, especially where the setting and/or place is a character in the story. Feminist and political themes, especially those in that can be read by both adults and young readers, will especially appeal to me. I might not be the best fit for straight fantasy, but I do love magical realism and fantastical elements that are grounded in reality.

Update on 5/11/2023: Allison is now accepting adult fiction and non-fiction too.

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?

Graphic novel author/illustrators

MG contemporary, literary magical realism, fantasy grounded in reality, humor

YA contemporary, historical fiction, speculative

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

I love to be surprised, so this is always a tough question. I have a willingness to step out of the box if I see something out of my regular comfort zone that truly excites me. But, I’d love to see more diverse graphic novels written by diverse authors, a middle-grade literary ghost story, an humorous animal rescue or survival story, and a sex-positive/body-positive YA novel (any genre). I’m always on the lookout for a contemporary female protagonist with ADD/ADHD – for any age group. 

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

Straight-up fantasy YA, holiday-themed submissions, picture book texts

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?

My philosophy, like I mentioned above, is mostly about taking on projects that I love and signing authors for their career.  I also want to hear stories from marginalized communities - diverse voices are important not just for other diverse audiences, but for everyone, so characters in our books reflect more the society we live in. 

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?

Every project is different, so sometimes there is very little editorial work to do, and sometimes there can be a lot. I’d say I average around one or two editorial passes before I submit. I love offering my opinions and seeing if they help the authors spark new ideas or get unstuck. Because I always want to put my author’s best foot forward, I like to marry what I know about the industry with my author’s talents - and see if we can hit that sweet spot to provide something truly saleable and buzzworthy. 

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?

https://www.stimolaliterarystudio.com/submissions + 10 pages cut and pasted 

I’d like to see some personality in the letter, and it’s always a good idea to share why you wanted to send something to me in particular. 

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

I don’t tend to read queries where they are addressed to no-one. I also tend to skim over very long summaries and descriptions. I think your query should be 3-4 short paragraphs at most. A bio with personality is a plus. Pull me in, yes, but also, leave me hanging!  

Response Time:

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

It’s really varied this past year, as there has been so much inconsistency in schedules and difficulty knowing what each week is going to look like. It’s no longer possible to all respond to queries when I’m not interested. I was open for all of June and received over 600 queries that month (just to get a sense of what I’m up against), so I do need to prioritize the clients that I have already signed up before getting too caught up with new talent. That’s easier said than done, especially as I’m always on the lookout. 

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, and I would consider a brand-new book and only discuss new projects going forward in that case. But I strive to treat every author, published or not, the same.  

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?

Personally, I see the role of agents staying the same. How agents do that job is changing on a mechanical and administrative level, and everyday seems to bring a new challenge. But our role and purpose as representing the author’s best interests for the course of their career remains the standard. 


13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Colby Cedar Smith’s CALL ME ATHENA, Nova Weetman’s IT ALL BEGINS WITH JELLY BEANS, Mickey Rowe’s FEARLESSLY DIFFERENT, Michelle Corpora’s THE DUST BOWL, Caroline Wrights’ LITTLE BAKERS board books, illustrated by Alison Oliver (author and illustrator are clients)

Interviews and Podcasts:

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



Update on 2/15/2023
Guest Post with author Sam Taylor at Literary Rambles 02/22/2021)
Podcast at Agency YouTube Channel (12/02/2020)
Podcast with Middle Grade Ninja (02/01/2020)
Podcast with Middle Grade Ninja (02/07/2020)

Links and Contact Info:

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


Update on 2/15/2023
MS Wish List

Additional Advice:

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

Be yourself. 

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Allison.

­Allison 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 August 7th. 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.

Profile Details:
Last updated: 2/15/2023
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 5/11/2023 

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.



Susan Johnston Taylor said...

Thanks for the great interview, Natalie! I'm curious if Allison is interested in middle-grade nonfiction?

Eileen Holden said...

Thank you for the terrific interview with Allison Hellegers. I submitted a query for my upper MG to Allison about one month ago and after reading your post, am even more convinced that a debut author would be lucky indeed to be able to work with her and the Stimola team. Fingers crossed!

Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf said...

I enjoyed reading this interview—and I am always amazed at how agents can juggle 600 queries a month! I'll pass on the critique giveaway, but thanks for the great post!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think working in foreign rights would be so interesting. Great interview!

Liz A. said...

Oooh, I want to see more graphic novels, too. Those are great for reluctant readers. I hope she finds them.

Chrys Fey said...

I just did a blog post about diverse graphic novels. :D

I love that Allison is on the lookout for a contemporary female protagonist with ADD/ADHD. I will be seeing my doctor soon to discuss ADHD, so I'd love to see that representation more, too.

I also love her stance on diverse voices being important for everyone. <3

Chelly Writes said...

Great interview. Thanks for sharing!

Mal Malme said...

Great interview! I'm definitely looking for an editorial agent for my debut novel, which I think would be a good fit to query Allison, so please put me in the query critique contest! Thanks so much!
Mal Malme

Chelly Writes said...

Hey I shared on twitter.

And also I wanted to as if Allison is currently open to queries? According to the submission page via the link you shared, she's closed.

Computer Tutor said...

Great interview. "I love being surprised"--me too, as a reader! Nothing more important than that!

Ann Finkelstein said...

Another great interview, Natalie. I'm always happy to learn about agents I was unaware of.

Natalie Aguirre said...

She told me that she'll be reopening to submissions in mid-September.

Callie said...

Thanks, Allison and Natalie! Appreciate these insights..and would love to win a query critique!

Erika said...

I love multiple POV stories, as well. Great interview! Eromero @ evereducating dot Com


I am following you through your sidebar and email. And I would love to win the critique from Allison!!!


email: helloelizabethjames -at- gmail.com

Angie Quantrell said...

Great interview! Thanks for sharing with us, Allison!

angelecolline at yahoo dot com

Terry Nichols said...

Thanks for the great interview, Allison. Interesting to know about your background in foreign rights.

Ella said...

Great interview, thank you! I would love to win the critique.

Sandra Cox said...

Great interview. Thanks for sharing.

Kiley said...

Thanks for sharing!! orchardka@gmail.com

C. R. Bailey said...

Natalie, thanks for delivering insights into the traditional publishing realm. I'm interested in a query critique.

Scott said...

Thanks for another great interview!

Unknown said...

Thank you for this fantastic interview!

Jay Linden said...

Great to get clear guidelines about what an agent does and does not want. Thanks Allison - I've long admired the Stimola agency - and, wow, what a lot of patience agents have to wade through all those submissions!

Allison said...

What a great interview! Allison, besides having an awesome first name, has a unique perspective on agenting with her foreign rights background, and I love that about her. She's on my list to query. I'd love to enter the giveaway for a query critique. Thanks to both Natalie and Allison! Email: allison.prueitt@gmail.com

Elayne said...

So generous of you to do a query critique, Allison! :) Throwing my comment/name into the hat and thank you. elaynecrain*at*gmail.com.

Rosi said...

Thanks for another interesting interview. I always learn something reading them. I will pass on the giveaway.

Jennifer P. said...

Thank you for being available to share your insights and interests. And for offering a critique opportunity!

Mattea Orr said...

Thanks for the terrific interview. I'd never heard of Allison or this agency before, and I'm so happy add her to my querying spreadsheet. I'd love win a query critique from her!

Shanah Salter said...

Great interview, thank you. Have shared on twitter and would love to be considered for the query critique.

Joy said...

Thanks for this interview! joy.netanya at gmail dot com

Jennifer Kaul said...

Thanks so much for sharing this interview! It's nice to learn a bit more about Allison's preferences and agenting style! My email is jenkaulwrites@gmail.com, and I shared this on Twitter via @jenkaulwrites. Thanks again, and thanks to Allison for offering a query critique for the giveaway, too!

Karen K. said...

Thank you so much for posting this interview. I plan to start querying again in a month or so. I appreciate the opportunity to discover what agents are looking for.

Eileen Holden said...

Tweeted interview. :)

Heather said...

Thanks for the great interview!

Leela said...

I'm a follower.

Natalie Aguirre said...

It doesn't look like it from what she said in her interview. And her manuscript wishlist only mentions nonfiction when discussing adult topics.