Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Agent/Author Jennifer Unter and Melissa Dassori Guest Post & Query Critique & JR Silver Writes Her World Giveaway on 7/11/2022
  • Alex Slater Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/20/2022

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.

Pitfalls of Being Published While Unagented by Elisa Bonnin and Dauntless Giveaway and IWSG Post

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Elisa Bonnin here to share about her YA fantasy Dauntless. I’m excited to read it because Seri, the main character, sounds like a strong character, and the story Filipino-inspired.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

A teen girl must bring together two broken worlds in order to save her nation in this lush, Filipino-inspired young adult fantasy novel from debut author Elisa A. Bonnin.

“Be dauntless, for the hopes of the People rest in you.”


Seri's world is defined by very clear rules: The beasts prowl the forest paths and hunt the People. The valiant explore the unknown world, kill the beasts, and gain strength from the armor they make from them. As an assistant to Eshai Unbroken, a young valor commander with a near-mythical reputation, Seri has seen first-hand the struggle to keep the beasts at bay and ensure the safety of the spreading trees where the People make their homes. That was how it always had been, and how it always would be. Until the day Seri encounters Tsana.

Tsana is, impossibly, a stranger from the unknown world who can communicate with the beasts - a fact that makes Seri begin to doubt everything she's ever been taught. As Seri and Tsana grow closer, their worlds begin to collide, with deadly consequences. Somehow, with the world on the brink of war, Seri will have to find a way to make peace. 

 


Before I get to Elisa’s guest post, I have my IWSG Post.

Posting: The first Wednesday is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts this month are J Lenni Dorner, Janet Alcorn, PJ Colando, Jenni Enzor, and Diane Burton!

Optional Question: If you could live in any book world, which one would you choose?

I would choose the Harry Potter world. I love fantasies set in our contemporary world and the magic system in Harry Potter. I’d love to have a wand and be able to perform magic spells. There’s so much else I love about the world J.K. Rowling has created.

What book world would you choose?

Publishing While Unagented, and Why I Don’t Recommend It by Elisa Bonnin

In my bio, it says that publishing a book has been my dream since I was eight years old, and that's true. I've been wanting to be a published author for a very long time, and that means I’ve spent a lot of my life working to achieve that goal. I learned that to be traditionally published at a big publishing house, I would need a literary agent, and so I started querying. I went into the query trenches, and like a lot of new writers, I faced a ton of rejection. I considered self-publishing, but ultimately decided that I didn't have the time or the marketing know-how to make self-publishing work for me.

At that time in my life, all I was looking for was my big break, so when I had the opportunity to become traditionally published without an agent, I jumped at the chance. I had submitted my novels DAUNTLESS and STOLEN CITY to Swoon Reads' crowd-sourcing platform, and when I heard back in April 2020 that Swoon, a Macmillan imprint, wanted them, I didn’t hesitate. I knew that I would still eventually need an agent to help me write more books, but that became a far-off consideration, something for future me to worry about. For now, I had my books and I was happy that I had managed to do it "all on my own".

But what I quickly learned, and what I wish I'd known from the beginning, is that there is a lot more to publishing than just writing and selling the book. And while selling books to editors is definitely a huge part of what agents do for their clients, it isn't the only thing. There were more than two years between the date that my books were chosen for publication and their actual publication date, and while many of my fellow debut authors were able to reach out to their agents to help them navigate the more complicated and frustrating parts of the publishing industry, I went through it almost alone.

I say almost, because I've been very lucky. I have a fantastic editor, who has gone above and beyond to answer my questions about the industry and to just be available for me. But I've learned from listening to other writers who've taken my path that it could have been so much worse. I am agented now, and I've also noticed an improvement in how I feel about publishing and what I get out of it.

So in case you find yourself in the same boat, here are some reasons why I don’t recommend going into traditional publishing without an agent.

First off, let’s talk about the contract. Traditional publishing is a lot of things, but at the end of the day, publishers are businesses. While there are a lot of people in the publishing industry who are in it because they love books and want to support authors, the industry itself is mostly concerned with its bottom line. That means that if you aren't careful, you could end up signing a publishing contract with terms that are not ideal for you. Publishing contracts are long, and they are full with legal terminology that might not make much sense to you unless you are already experienced in the industry. Also, as a debut author, you won't know how much of your contract is actually negotiable, and you probably won't know what is fair or expected.

A good agent will know all those things, and will be able to negotiate with your publisher on your behalf to make sure you're getting the best deal possible. Remember that agents work for you, not your publisher, so an agent has a vested interest in making sure that you are being treated fairly. In the worst case scenario, if a good deal can't be reached, an agent can try to submit your work elsewhere, which is something you won't be able to do as an unagented author.

Okay, but after signing the contract, you should just be able to focus on the book, right? Maybe go through a few rounds of editing, with your editor, but there won't be that much for your agent to help you with at this stage?

That's what I thought when I started the publishing process, but I was wrong. It turns out that the publishing process is rather opaque, and if your only point of contact is your editor, you might miss out on things like cover design, scheduling cover reveals, and having some input on your marketing plans. You might also have a harder time negotiating for an extension on deadlines, or might not feel comfortable asking questions about subrights. Again, I was lucky enough to have some input on these things, but if you’re not, an agent can help by acting as the go-between between you and your publisher, helping you keep calm while asking your publishing team the tough questions so that you don't have to.

And then there’s marketing.

This is a big one for me, because as a complete newbie to the publishing industry, I didn't know what to expect from my marketing and publicity team. And while I thought that they did a good job of keeping me in the loop, as soon as I became agented, my agent was able to come up with ideas for things that my marketing team might have missed, or things that I could do on my own that might help.

Finally, there’s the emotional support. Publishing a book is hard, and although a publishing house might have many different people working on your book, you’re also not their only author. It’s extremely helpful having someone in your corner, someone that you can talk to about the anxiety that comes with publishing a book, without feeling like you’re taking up too much of their time. Having that support makes a difference, and when I became agented, I could feel it from day one. Just knowing that someone else is looking out for me takes a huge weight off my shoulders.

I don’t regret any part of my publishing journey. It got me my books, and I love them dearly. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things I wish I had known going in. If you ever have the opportunity to become published without an agent, I’m not going to tell you not to take that chance. But I will suggest that you go into it with open eyes, because publishing is really so much more than just getting a book deal.

And if you’re neck-deep in the query trenches like I was, and you get that opportunity, please know that you can reach out to agents before you respond to the publisher. You can add a note in your subject line that says the query is urgent, because you’ve already received an offer. And you can speak to an agent before you agree to anything with your publisher, if that’s what you want to do. If you’re unsure about how to do this, please reach out. You can use the contact form on my website (eabonnin.com). I would be happy to help talk you through it!

At the end of the day, I’m only one person with one story. You’ll have to decide for yourself what’s best for you and your book. But I hope that this post might be helpful to writers who find themselves in similar situations. In the end, we all have to find what works best for us, and I’m personally hopeful that having an agent is what will work best for me.

Thanks for sharing all your great advice, Elisa! You can find Elisa at:

Website: www.eabonnin.com 

Twitter: @eabwrites

Instagram: @elisa.a.bonnin

Giveaway Details

Elisa has generously offered a hardback of Dauntless for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by July 23rd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is international.

Upcoming Interviews and Guest Posts

Monday, July 11th, I have an agent/debut author guest post by Jennifer Unter and Melissa Dassori with a giveaway of Melissa’s contemporary/magical realism JR Silver Writes Her World and a query critique by Jennifer

Wednesday, July 13th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Jazmia Young and a query critique giveaway

Saturday, July 16th, I’m participating in the Hip Hip Hooray Giveaway Hop

Monday, July 18th, I have an interview with debut author M.T. Khan Maaeda and a giveaway of his MG contemporary fantasy Nura and the Immortal Palace

Wednesday, July 20th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Alex Slater and a query critique giveaway

Monday, July 25th, I have an interview with debut author Derrick Chow and a giveaway of his MG retelling Ravenous Things

Hope to see you on Monday!

Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop

 


Happy Friday Everyone! I'm excited to participate in the Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox. I hope you've got lots of fun things planned for July. Some of mine are a three-day online writing conference, my birthday, and going to the Ann Arbor Art Fair with my daughter. I'm also hoping to read lots of new books on my TBR list. What are your plans?

Here are the newly released MG and YA books I'm offering in this giveaway hop. Many are by debut middle grade and young adult authors with book releases in July. You can also choose another book in the series by these authors. You can find descriptions of these books on Goodreads. Here are your choices:











 If you haven't found a book you want, you can win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


Giveaway Details

One lucky entrant selected by the entry form will receive a book of their choice listed above or a $10 Amazon Gift Card. Open to entrants internationally as long as Book Depository ships to you for free, 13 years and older. Open for entry from 7/01 – 7/15/2022 at 11:59 pm EST. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. The selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email to claim this prize or a new winner will be selected.

Please note that you must be a blog follower and leave a blog comment to enter the contest. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Upcoming Interviews and Guest Posts

Wednesday, July 6th, I have a guest post by debut author Elisa Bonnin with a giveaway of her YA fantasy Dauntless and my IWSG post 

Monday, July 11th, I have an agent/debut author guest post by Jennifer Unter and Melissa Dassori with a giveaway of Melissa’s contemporary/magical realism JR Silver Writes Her World and a query critique by Jennifer

Wednesday, July 13th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Jazmia Young and a query critique giveaway

Saturday, July 16th, I’m participating in the Hip Hip Hooray Giveaway Hop

Monday, July 18th, I have an interview with debut author M.T. Khan Maaeda and a giveaway of his MG contemporary fantasy Nura and the Immortal Palace

Wednesday, July 20th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Alex Slater and a query critique giveaway

Monday, July 25th, I have an interview with debut author Derrick Chow and a giveaway of his MG retelling Ravenous Things

Hope to see you on Wednesday!

And here are all the other blogs participating in this blog hop:

MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.

Lines of Courage Review and Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m super excited to share Jennifer Nielson’s new MG historical Lines of Courage. It made the New York Times Bestseller list. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know she is one of my favorite authors. She writes MG fantasy and historical and YA fantasy.

Here’s a blurb of Lines of Courage from Goodreads:

The stories of five kids living through World War I, each of whom holds the key to the others' futures... if they are lucky - and brave - enough to find each other.

World War I stretches its cruel fingers across Europe, where five young people, each from different backgrounds and nations, face the terror of battle, the deprivations of hunger, and all the awful challenges of war.

Felix, from Austria-Hungary, longs for the bravery to resist Jewish deportations before his own family can be taken.

Kara, from Britain, dreams of someday earning her Red Cross pin and working as a nurse - or even a doctor.

Juliette, of France, hopes her family can remain knitted together, despite her father's imprisonment, as the war's longest battle stretches on and on.

Elsa, from Germany, hopes her homing pigeon might one day bring her a friend from out of the chaos.

And Dimitri, of Russia, wants only to survive the front, where he's been sent with no weapon.

None of them will find exactly what they want. But the winds of fate may cross their paths to give each of them just what they need.
 

 My Review

Thanks to Scholastic for providing me with an ARC of Lines of Courage. This is a fantastic story. Here are four things I really enjoyed about it:

1.     The story is set during WWI. While I’ve read a lot of books set in WWII, I have not read many about WWI. I enjoyed learning about this time in history and the trains used by the Red Cross to treat wounded soldiers.

2.     As the blurb states, this story is about the lives of five young people who come from different backgrounds and countries. Jennifer Nielsen does a fantastic job showing us how the war affects their lives and creatively has their lives intersect throughout the story.

3.     I love Jennifer Nielsen’s writing style. It is so clean, and every word matters. Whenever I struggle with some aspect of my writing, I pick up one of Jennifer’s books to see how she handled it. It really helps me to move forward and figure out a solution to my problem.

4.     This fast-paced story kept me wanting to turn the pages. I read it in two sittings, which is unusual for me.

Giveaway Details

I’m offering my ARC of Lines of Courage for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by July 2nd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is U.S.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Friday, July 1st, I’m participating in the Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, July 6th, I have a guest post by debut author Elisa Bonnin with a giveaway of her YA fantasy Dauntless and my IWSG post 

Monday, July 11th, I have an agent/debut author guest post by Jennifer Unter and Melissa Dassori with a giveaway of Melissa’s contemporary/magical realism JR Silver Writes Her World and a query critique by Jennifer

Wednesday, July 13th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Jazmia Young and a query critique giveaway

Saturday, July 16th, I’m participating in the Hip Hip Hooray Giveaway Hop

Monday, July 18th, I have an interview with debut author M.T. Khan Maaeda and a giveaway of his MG contemporary fantasy Nura and the Immortal Palace

Wednesday, July 20th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Alex Slater and a query critique giveaway

Monday, July 25th, I have an interview with debut author Derrick Chow and a giveaway of his MG retelling Ravenous Things

Hope to see you on Friday!

Dad-O-Mite Giveaway Hop


Happy Thursday Everyone!
Today I'm excited to participate in the Dad-O-Mite Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox. I hope you're having a good summer. Tomorrow my daughter, her boyfriend, and I are going to a cousin's wedding celebration for the weekend. It should be a fun trip, and I'm looking forward to seeing family I hardly ever get to see in person. 

I have other exciting news. I just finished the first draft of my YA contemporary fantasy and typed THE END. It's only the second manuscript I finished. Now I get to do the fun writing--revising.

Book of Your Choice or Amazon Gift Card

I am offering a book of your choice that is $20 or less on Amazon or The Book Depository. I’m looking forward to seeing what books everyone is looking forward to reading. If you don’t have a book you want, you can win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Giveaway Details

 One lucky entrant selected by the entry form will receive a book of their choice for $20 or less at Amazon or The Book Depository or a $10 Amazon Gift Card. Open to entrants internationally as long The Book Depository ships to you for free, 13 years and older. Open for entry from 6/16 – 6/30/202 at 11:59 pm EST. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. The selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email to claim this prize or a new winner will be selected.

Please note that you must be a blog follower and leave a blog comment to enter the contest. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

 Monday, June 20th, I’m doing a giveaway of Jennifer Nielsen’s MG historical Lines of Courage

Friday, July 1st, I’m participating in the Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, July 6th, I have a guest post by debut author Elisa Bonnin with a giveaway of her YA fantasy Dauntless and my IWSG post 

 Hope to see you on Monday!

And here are all the other blogs participating in this blog hop:



MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.

Agent Spotlight: Kayla Cichello Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

 Today I’m thrilled to have agent Kayla Cichello here. She is a literary agent at Upstart Crow Literary.

 Hi­ Kayla! Thanks so much for joining us.

 About Kayla:

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

My path to agenting was a bit serendipitous. I was working for SCBWI in Los Angeles and met several agents and editors at the SCBWI Summer and Winter Conferences each year. One of the agents that I became friendly with was Jennifer Rofé from the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. I was picking her brain about agenting, and she offered to let me shadow her one afternoon to see what an agent does on a day to day basis. After that afternoon, I was hooked. Soon after, I had the opportunity to become Jennifer’s assistant, and worked with her for three years until I joined Upstart Crow in 2020. Since then, I’ve been actively building my list of clients, which means reading queries every day and working with my small list of clients.

About the Agency:

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

Upstart Crow is a boutique literary agency focusing on children’s and adult fiction and nonfiction. We are a small team, and with that comes a collaborative environment, which I love. All of the agents are editorial, and we share ideas, questions, and advice constantly. One of the best aspects to the agency is the wealth of industry knowledge that comes from our various backgrounds. There is a collective effort to always focus on what’s best for a project and a client. And as a newer agent, I appreciate the veteran experience my colleagues have and their perspective.

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 picture books through YA in both fiction and nonfiction, and I also represent illustrators. The number one thing I look for in submissions is voice. If I connect to the voice of a character and the writing, then anything else that might need adjusting can be adjusted. If I’m not drawn to the voice, it’s not the right submission for me, and that’s okay. This industry is subjective and there may be another agent who does connect to that voice and style.

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

In YA, I’d love to find an intricately plotted thriller, like the Truly Devious series or A GOOD GIRL’S GUIDE TO MURDER. I’d also like to find a fresh take on the enemies to lovers trope, something like the recent THE SEA IS SALT AND SO AM I. I’m also on the lookout for contemporary middle grade with an honest voice and a unique perspective, something like THE YEAR I FLEW AWAY by Marie Arnold or SMALLER SISTER by Maggie Edkins Willis. In picture books, surprise me!

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I’m not the right agent for sci-fi, high fantasy, or chapter books. I’m also not a fan of ghosts, even cute ones!

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’m looking for authors and illustrators that are looking to build a partnership with me, and hopefully have a long-lasting career in publishing. I’m in this for the long haul, and I want clients that want to be as well. I’m looking for worker bees; those that are continuing to work on their craft, learn, and are open to feedback. This is a slow industry and there is more rejection than not, so I’m looking for clients who can take that rejection in stride, and perhaps learn from it for the next story.

In terms of the books I want to represent, I’m looking for stories that are going to have an impact on their audience. I want to help shepherd stories that can fill a void for someone; maybe it’s seeing themselves in a character or story, or maybe it’s a story that gives a reader a moment of escape that brings a smile to their face, no matter what’s going on around them.

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. I love brainstorming with clients and talking things through. The process is different for each project in terms of how many rounds of revision something may require before going on submission, and it’s also dependent on what shape something is in when I see it. Usually, there are two rounds or more of feedback before something is ready. There may be times where a project is ready to go out on submission and then based on editor feedback, another round or two of revision is beneficial.

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 use the submission guidelines on www.upstartcrowliterary.com and include the first twenty pages of your manuscript in the body of the email. Author/illustrators with dummies can include the dummy as an attachment. Illustrators please include a link to your portfolio and Instagram.

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

Many queries I receive don’t put the name of the manuscript or the genre in the subject line, and it’s not that I dislike it, but something like “query” as the subject doesn’t get me excited to read the sample pages.

Sometimes with first pages, especially in fantasy, the worldbuilding and the rules to how the world works are not clear and it can create confusion as a reader. It’s hard for me to get a solid footing in a story if I don’t have knowledge about how a world works or where we are starting in the story. This can apply to any opening scene; if there isn’t enough context presented to know where I’m starting with a character, then it can be difficult for me to feel engaged in the story rather than confused.

Response Time:

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

This really depends on what I have going on with my current clients. Some days I have more time to read queries than others, but I try and look at my query box each day. I wish I had the time to respond to every query I receive, but generally if I haven’t responded or requested more pages within twelve weeks, it’s most likely a pass.

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 authors or illustrators who have self-published in the past or have been published by smaller presses. Sometimes that is the right choice for a specific story. I will say that querying with a story that has already been self-published is not preferable because it’s very rare, if ever, that a publisher will buy a manuscript that has already been self-published. If someone has self-published in the past, I’d like to know that information in their query letter, but please do not query me with a story that has already been self-published. Self-publishing gives complete creative control and freedom, so if someone is looking to go the traditional route and query an agent, I would suggest being open to feedback and being willing to let go of total control, because traditional publishing is a team effort, and ultimately the publisher has a lot of say in the final product.

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?

An agent’s role has many facets, at least in my opinion, all centered around guiding a client’s career and helping them achieve their publishing goals, but also being an advocate for a client. This is ever present in contract negotiations; an agent is constantly working to make sure an author is getting a fair deal and that their rights are being protected in a contract. Even with the increase in publishing options, that part of the role doesn’t change, and is even more critical. Everything changes eventually to some degree, so the smaller roles an agent play may change, but I don’t see the major roles changing.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Ana Otaru, author/illustrator Kirbi Fagan, and Lupe Ruiz-Flores.

Interviews and Guest Posts:

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

This one is so helpful for picture book writers: https://katemessner.com/picture-book-math-and-why-you-should-write-something-new/

A podcast series I think is helpful in understanding the acquisitions process to any writer is Sarah Enni’s Track Changes: https://www.firstdraftpod.com/trackchanges

Links and Contact Info:

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

Please use the submission guidelines on the Upstart Crow Literary website: https://www.upstartcrowliterary.com/submissions

Writers can submit by following the instructions listed.

Additional Advice:

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

Keep writing, keep learning, keep making connections. You never know when a connection might turn into the spark that helps revise a manuscript, land an agent, or even sell a project. And, we all need friends that understand the need to write and create.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kayla.

­Kayla 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 June 25th. 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.

 

 

Literary Agent Interview: Chelsea Hensley and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Chelsea Hensley here. She is an associate literary agent at kt literary.

Hi­ Chelsea! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Chelsea:

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

I’m coming up on two years of agenting. I started back in the summer of 2020. Originally I was interested in pursuing editorial but found agenting checked a lot more boxes about the work I was excited about in publishing (in addition to enjoying more independence and autonomy in my work). I landed at KT where I’ve been ever since. I’ve been building my list—an exciting but slow-going process for me, I’ve found I’m a lot pickier than I anticipated being this early on, but I have a great, tight list right now and am working on sharing their work with their world.

About the Agency:

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

KT Literary is a boutique agency with a very collaborative, and positive, atmosphere. As well as handling domestic deals for our clients, we partner with our co-agents on foreign and film/TV rights. As a newer agent, I get lots of support and mentorship from senior agents Sara Megibow and Kate Testerman in ensuring mine and my clients’ success. A supportive and optimistic atmosphere is a big part of KT,  and forming connections among fellow agents and clients has been a priority of ours. Pre-covid there was a retreat for clients and agents (that will one day return), and we hold weekly office hours for all clients to come together and ask questions or just chat with us and each other.

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?

In children’s right now I rep MG and YA only. In MG, I’m a very hard sell on contemporary, I’m more into genre fare. In YA, however, I’m into all of it: voicey and emotional contemporary, twisty thrillers, magical fantasies, dark horror, all of it.

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

In YA, I’m particularly looking for dark and twisty thrillers (think Courtney Summers) with complex protagonists who aren’t very worried about being liked. I’m also hungry for horror with a more psychological, creepy, very intense vibe.  In MG, I’d love to see some rollicking fantasy adventures with plucky protagonists. Whimsy is a big must for me in this category.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

Right now I’m not looking for any nonfiction, graphic novels, picture books, or chapter books. I’m also not a great fit for sports-centric themes or works that would fall under “issue” books.

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?

In building my list, I’m really looking for authors who I think I can have a longterm partnership with beyond their first or second books. Something Margot Robbie said she looks for in projects she’s pursuing for her own production company has really been resonating with me lately: she focuses on three factors: quality, variety, and longevity. That’s made a lot of sense to me over the past year or so, and I’ve adopted it myself, so I’m really looking to work with authors who are not only talented but have an ambition and curiosity that comes across in their work.

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. When working with clients, I approach edits much like an editor at a publishing house would. We start with a big picture pass where I write a complete edit letter then a second pass where we work in the manuscript though at this point I don’t go as in-depth as a full line-edit. With me, clients are working to get things as ready as possible for submission, but I don’t like to spend an indefinite amount of time on this so we don’t risk overworking my author or getting in the way of an editor and their vision.

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 query me via Query Manager. With a query letter, I’m really wanting to get a good look at what the book is about. I’m looking for an enticing pitch that introduces character and conflict. In my experience, an imperfect query that gives me a good and solid introduction to the book is a lot more valuable than a gorgeously written one that doesn’t tell me anything.

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

With queries my one pet peeve is queries that don’t tell me the plot of the book. I get many, many queries that tell me about the author’s thinking or their reasons for writing the book, but by the end I don’t know enough about the book’s plot or characters or anything that’s “tangible” about the book.

Response Time:

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

Generally I strive for 2-4 weeks for queries. I’m not as quick with requests as I’d like to be, but I try to get back to people within 8-12 weeks. If it’s been longer, I encourage you to nudge me about it! Regardless of the answer, everyone who queries or submits to me will get a response so if you haven’t gotten one, something’s gone wrong somewhere.

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?

Absolutely. I recommend, if you’re looking for an agent to, like other authors, have a completed, new (which means also not a sequel to something self-published) and unpublished project for consideration.  

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?

 As any industry changes, people’s roles will shift. Publishing’s not any different, but the general –and most important—role of an agent is going to remain the same: to guide and advise authors to as successful and fulfilling a career as possible.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I represent several amazingly talented authors. M. Darusha Wehm is a Nebula-award nominated author who published KEYFORGE: THE QUBIT ZIRCONIUM last year. I also represent Ness Brown, author of the forthcoming THE SCOURGE BETWEEN STARS (April 4, 2023, Tor Nightfire). I also have a lot of authors on my list who haven’t published yet writing everything from funny and smart MG mystery to sharp and witty YA contemporary.

Interviews and Guest Posts:

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

If you think you might want to query me, you can find my MSWL on my website. You can also listen to my episode of the KT Literary podcast.

Links and Contact Info:

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

You can query me using Query Manager. If that presents an accessibility issue for you, feel free to send your query and first three pages to our agency’s generic query inbox: queries@ktliterary.com. Specify the agent you’re wanting to query, and it’ll be passed on and reviewed as time permits.

Additional Advice:

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

I think just as much as time as you spend working on your project and getting it ready for querying, you should also take time to prepare yourself, too. The querying process alone can be grueling and disheartening, and that doesn’t necessarily change once you’re agented. So I encourage you to find touch points that are going to revitalize and encourage you, whatever that may be.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Chelsea.

­Chelsea 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 June 18th. 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.