Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

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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: Kristin Ostby Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Kristin Ostby here. She is a literary agent at The Greenhouse Literary Agency.

Hi­ Kristin! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Kristin:

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

Hi! Thank you for having me at Literary Rambles! I was a children’s book editor for many years, chiefly at Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster. Over time, I began to wonder in the back of my mind if agenting might be a good fit. My creative relationships with authors and illustrators have always been incredibly important to me; I also get so much satisfaction out of my industry relationships—I love book talk with publishing friends. Being able to pair great clients with great editors sounded really satisfying.

When Greenhouse came calling and it was the perfect fit. Their sterling reputation and remarkable track record speak for themselves, and Sarah Davies and Chelsea Eberly approach the job with a strong set of values and a sincere love for the work. Since joining Greenhouse, I’ve been reading queries, signing clients, and laying the groundwork for what I hope to be a successful career representing true talent.

About the Agency:

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

Greenhouse is a place where writers and illustrators can grow—we’re committed to fostering our clients’ careers. We’re an established, reputable agency that leads with not just our taste but our values, and we have a proven track record of success. Currently, our agents each come from the editorial side of the desk. That means we have been through the acquisitions and negotiations process at major houses and we know how publishers think. It gives us a big advantage as we work to find the best possible homes for our clients’ works.

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 middle-grade and young adult fiction, as well as picture book author/illustrators.

In middle grade, I’m looking for voicey, character-driven stories of the commercial and/or literary variety. I love middle grade that uses humor as a tool to reveal funny, unspoken truths about kids’ experiences or to carry heavier themes about family life or the world at large. Books should honor children’s capacity for understanding and imagination, and I’m not afraid of stories that artfully push the envelope in addressing evolving societal issues or norms (all wrapped in a page-turning narrative, of course). I have a soft spot for middle-grade mystery. I also love lyrical middle-grade writing.

In YA, I’m largely drawn to contemporary, be it literary fiction, humor/romantic comedy, or thriller.

In both middle grade and young adult, I would love to find tightly written, tightly plotted, fast-paced commercial stories. I also enjoy subversive narratives, genuinely surprising twists, and unreliable or unexpected narrators, and I particularly adore stories with unabashedly intersectional overtones.

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

Underrepresented voices.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I am not looking for picture book manuscripts or issue books.

(Please also note that Greenhouse does not represent poetry collections, short story collections, screenplays, erotica, or titles for the Christian/inspirational market.)

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 want to work with authors whose writing captivates me, pure and simple—typically that means writing that showcases craft and ingenuity while also being good, raw entertainment. I want books that are daring and surprising and hopefully funny too. And ideally many of the books I represent will help to create empathy for the unique ways in which children from all backgrounds experience the world.

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?

I am an editorial agent, yes. I take a lot of pleasure in the creative process. With a manuscript, I give it a close read, compile a lot of notes and ideas, and draft an editorial letter outlining my vision for how to shape the story. After the author has read the letter, we will hop on the phone and discuss, working collaboratively to find the best approach for revisions in order to take the manuscript to the next level and get it ready to go out on submission. (This stage is where the magic happens—putting our heads together on ideas is incredibly energizing.) Sometimes we will do two or three rounds of this, and at the end I’ll go in and line edit, making suggestions to help the story sing at the sentence level. (My former side gig as a freelance copy editor also comes in handy at this stage for preparing a clean manuscript.) Once the author and I are feeling good about the text, and confident editors will share our vision for the book’s potential, it’s ready to go!

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?

Authors can query me through Query Manager: https://querymanager.com/query/kristinostby

The strongest query letters give me a tagline or hook right up front with the genre/age category, followed by a succinct summary and a brief biography. I always appreciate comp titles. And I like it when authors bring their voice to the query letter too—it’s nice to get a sense of personality.

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

It’s disappointing when I can tell an author hasn’t put in much time or effort into their query letter. I prefer to work with authors who are willing to put in the work, and a query letter is often indicative of whether or not that’s the case.

Response Time:

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

I try and reply to queries within a few weeks; same with manuscripts.

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’m focusing on representing previously unpublished works, though I’m open to new works by previously self-published authors or authors who have published with small presses. It can be particularly compelling for an agent if you can share strong sales data, press, or awards for previous works, whether self-published or with a small press.

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?

A good agent will always have the best interests of their clients in mind and work to the best of their abilities to match good books with the right publisher.


13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

So far my clients include Winifred Conkling, Alexandra Diaz, Natalie Lund, Meghana Narayan, Molly Kasperek, Tricia Springstubb, Sophie Stewart, and Shawn Stout.

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.


5/30/2022: Agent Spotlight: Kristin Ostby at From the Mixed-Up Files 5/30/2022

Links and Contact Info:

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




Additional Advice:

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


Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kristin.

­Kristin 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 23rd. 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.



Susan Johnston Taylor said...

Thanks for the interview! I'd love to win a query critique from Kristin.

Stephanie Owen said...

Thank you for offering a critique, Kristen!

Diane Farrugia said...

Thanks for the tips. A query critique would be awesome.

Liz A. said...

Very informative.

Heather M. said...

Great interview! And thank you so much for offering a query critique, Kristin. I shared this post on Twitter as well.

CS Patra said...

Thank you for the interview and information.


sulis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Katie said...

Thanks for the interview, I especially enjoy seeing what the pre-submission editing process looks like.


AayaA said...

Thank you so much for your wonderful interview! Wealth of information here!

Steve Cromwell said...

Greenhouse has always been at the top of my list, and this interview shows Sarah Davies is leaving it in good hands.

Talie D said...

Kristin sounds like a great agent! Great to learn from her. I also shared this interview on my Twitter and blog!! inky.ivory@gmail.com

Ella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ella said...

Great interview! Query critique sounds wonderful. :)

email: ela.mishne@gmail.com

Chelly Writes said...

Great interview. Thanks for sharing.

Peggy Harkins said...

Heard Kristin speak once, and it's nice to see this interview with her. Would welcome the query critique.

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic interview! Those types of MG books are what I look for when reading with my son. Humor is a big factor and it helps wrap him further up in the story.

Leanne Pankuch said...

Great interview! I love Literary Rambles :)


Tammy Waldrop said...

Greenhouse Literary is a class act! Thanks for the interview. Yes, please, enter me in the giveaway query critique. Thanks

Tonja Drecker said...

Enjoyed the interview! (I'm skipping out on the critique, though)

Sam Hundley said...

Thank you, Natalie and Kristin. I enjoyed the interview and would like to enter the contest.

Erin Pearson said...

Wonderful, informative interview!

Judith L. Roth said...

Kristin sounds like a wonderful agent!

Morissa said...

Enjoyed the interview and would love a critique!

kristi o. said...

Thanks so muc for this helpful interview!

Tammy Theriault said...

Loved the interview and meeting Kristin! I've known Greenhouse Lit for years when Jessie Humphries first signed with them!

Bridgewriter said...

Great interview! Thank you for the chance at a query critique from Kristin Ostby!

Melissa Miles said...

I enjoyed the interview, and appreciate the chance to win a critique! Thank you both.

Jonah said...

Thanks for all you do Natalie! Please sign me up for a chance at the query critique.

Sandra Cox said...

A fascinating interview. Thanks for sharing;)

Shamaila J said...

That's a good tip about writing query letters. Please put me in for the draw, shamaila.siddique@gmail.com

Leela said...

I'm an email subscriber.

Shanah Salter said...

very informative! I'd love to be considered for a critique and have shared on twitter.

Anonymous said...

As Garden Goddess SRQ - I love that Greenhouse & Kristin grow your talent and nurture your writers. Sounds like a place I'd like my writing career to land. dianne2write@gmail.com

Maria Nicklin said...

Thank you, Kristin and Natalie! I did not know about intersectionality until I read this interview! The querying tips and specific characteristics of stories that you value, Kristin, are very helpful. I'd love to enter the query critique giveaway (thank you for this too).

lsawicki@comcast.net said...

Thanks to both Kristin and Natalie for this opportunity to be critiqued!

Jay Linden said...

I've heard Sarah Davies of Greenhouse books speak about the writing craft and she was superb. It's great to see Greenhouse have expanded the team with Kristin, they are such a great agency. Will definitely put Kristin on the agent research priority list. Like all the other commenters I'd be thrilled to win a query critique. Thanks for this interview Natalie.

Kristen said...

Fantastic interview. This seems like a great agency. Thanks for the chance at a critique!

Pauline Milner said...

Thank you for offering a query critique as this giveaway. I have been a freelance writer for over 20 years. My clients have been very versatile. I have written articles, white papers, annual reports, press releases, emails, marketing materials, special projects and presentation. This year, I pivoted to concentrate on my own writing that has been languishing in a pile for just about those 20 years. I have completed my first children's book and short novel. I am working to complete two motion picture length screenplays in addition to entering contests, which I hope will strengthen my writing skills.

Karen K. said...

Thanks for another great interview and the opportunity to win a critique!

Ella said...

Thank you for the great interview! A query critique would be amazing. email: ela.mishne@gmail. com

I've mentioned this contest on twitter: https://twitter.com/ElaMishne/status/1450908423692988422

Rachna Chhabria said...

I would love to win a query critique from Kristin!

LMGreenway said...

Thank you for the opportunity to win a critique!

Lisa Daniels said...

Great interview. She like a dream to work with. Would love to be considered for a critique. Retweeted the article.

Kim said...

Enjoyed the interview - thank you!

emaginette said...

"New Story" made me laugh. I usually use a date as a holding spot, then rotate through several title ideas until one sticks.

Congrats on finishing. That's huge. .:-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Nancy Garcia said...

As a fellow Michigan Daily alum, I look forward to querying her.