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.

Debut Author Interview: Shawn Peters and The Unforgettable Logan Foster Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Shawn Peters here to share about his MG contemporary adventure The Unforgettable Logan Foster. It sounds like a funny, action-packed story that I’m excited to read.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Packed with superheroes, supervillains, and epic showdowns between good and evil, The Unforgettable Logan Foster from debut author Shawn Peter shows that sometimes being a hero is just about being yourself.

Logan Foster has pretty much given up on the idea of ever being adopted. It could have something to with his awkward manner, his photographic memory, or his affection for reciting curious facts, but whatever the cause, Logan and his "PP's" (prospective parents) have never clicked.

Then everything changes when Gil and Margie arrive. Although they aren't exactly perfect themselves--Gil has the punniest sense of humor and Margie's cooking would have anyone running for the hills--they genuinely seem to care.

But it doesn't take Logan long to notice some very odd things about them. They are out at all hours, they never seem to eat, and there's a part of the house that is protected by some pretty elaborate security.

No matter what Logan could have imagined, nothing prepared him for the truth: His PP's are actually superheroes, and they're being hunted down by dastardly forces. Logan's found himself caught in the middle in a massive battle and the very fate of the world may hang in the balance. Will Logan be able to find a way to save the day and his new family?

Hi Logan! Thanks so much for joining us.

1.     Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

2.     The short answer is I became a writer because I wasn’t a good enough actor when I was a kid to land the starring role in “Honey I Shrunk the Kids.” Longer answer: I was the son of a TV writer and a sports journalist and since I wasn’t ever gonna be a pro-athlete, all I wanted was to be an actor. I came close a few times – including the Rick Moranis flick mentioned above --  but never got cast in a big role. So, in my early 20s, I switched focus to being behind a keyboard instead of in front of a camera. Since then, I’ve written questionable TV shows about police videos and makeovers, rom-com screenplays that never got made, magazine articles about being a husband and father, online columns about fantasy sports, and dozens of television commercials and digital ads. Along the way, I started reading books to my two kids (who are now 21 and 16) and fell in love with Middle Grade literature again. So, when I decided to try writing books, I knew that was who I wanted to write for.

2. That’s cool that you come from a family of writers. Where did you get the idea for The Unforgettable Logan Foster?

I don’t really remember when I had “the idea.”  It was more like I had a bunch of things converge that made the idea form on its own.  I was a kid with a semi-photographic memory— I could remember fine details of things I'd read and was super good at remembering the lines at those auditions, even if I never got the part. Also, I loved comic books and would study the heroes’ and villains’ powers as much as the actual art and stories. So, some of the inspiration was from myself at that age. But then, about eight years ago, our best friends at the time had a son who'd been diagnosed with high-functioning autism and over years of our families spending time together, my conversations with him always sparked my imagination because of the way his mind worked. Between my wife being a teacher and me being a coach in local town sports, I met more kids who were neurodivergent and were thriving once they weren’t asked to learn and process input the exact same way as everyone else, but when I was reading adventure and fantasy books to my children, I didn’t see a ton of kids like them as the hero of those stories. Then I read Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson” books and adored the way he positioned things like ADHD and Dyslexia as demi-god traits. That definitely got my mind thinking about how things like that could be portrayed as strengths. So, that’s where the idea of a neurodivergent orphan with a one-in-a-billion memory getting adopted by superheroes all mashed-up and became this book. 

3. Your story sounds like an action-packed story. How did you keep the action going and make this a page turner?

I think this where all the TV and movie writing comes in. When you’re writing something for the screen, you know you need certain big scenes every so often; either really funny or super emotional or genuinely exciting. It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to craft a three-minute segment about a car chase or a two-hour high school adaptation of “Much Ado About Nothing.” So, while developing this book, I basically went through a kept track of what chapters had action and which had big emotional stakes, and then started cutting out the ones that had neither. But I’d be lying if I said I did it successfully all on my own. My agent, Rick Richter, comes from the editorial world and he was lovingly merciless leading up to the book sale, ensuring the draft was tight. Then there’s David Linker, my editor, who I think might know my main character better than I do. He pushed me to up the stakes, and even had me make the book a smidge longer with a bigger finish. Throw in several chapters that end in cliffhangers and I’ve hopefully created a book that’s hard to put down.

4. That’s great advice for focusing on each chapter to be sure that they have action or emotional stakes. It’s hard for many writers, including me, to write humor. Reviewers have described your story as funny. What are your tips for writing scenes that make readers laugh?

I’m glad that readers are getting the humor, because it’s a huge part of the book and I’m a believer in the value in creating something that makes the audience laugh and maybe cry a little. In general, I believe good comedy is about misdirection – kinda like magic—where you lead the reader one way and then turn it quick, just as they’re feeling confident they know where things are headed. I use this technique a few times in the book when things look dire and suddenly, the tension is released all at once. But in this book, I also think a great deal of the humor comes from the reader being inside Logan’s head. He’s so factual that what when he thinks a thing, he says it out loud, unfiltered without any malice. Even if the reader knows it might not be the most tactful thing to say, they also know it’s undoubtably true.

5. Adoption isn’t really dealt with in too many MG or YA stories, What made you decide to have Logan living with a prospective family? What research, if any, did you do so that you’d get the issues he’s dealing with right?

I knew I wanted Logan to be an orphan from the start for two reasons. The first is because so many superheroes are canonically orphans. Superman, Batman, Black Widow, Spiderman… it’s pretty much part of the lore and a key ingredient to most of their origin stories. But the other thing I wanted to accomplish was to tell a story about a kid who had been made to feel abnormal by those around them until he finds people who value him for exactly who he is. By giving Logan a found family where his foster parents are superhumans, he suddenly gets to feel like the “normal” one in the family, even though he knows that word means nothing. Again, him being an orphan facilitates that narrative. All that said, I will admit that I know for a fact that I didn’t get a lot of the legal/logistical facts right. There are no traditional orphanages anymore and the California Department of Social Services would definitely take issue with my depiction. But in a book full of real obscure facts and actual places and names, this was a liberty I felt I could take in a story full of superheroes, super-villains and global conspiracies. So, while topics like Logan searching for his birth-sibling and deciding whether he wants to be adopted are in this book, I wouldn’t classify it as an “adoption” story meant to tackle those issues.

6. What was your road to publication like?

Kind of like your average rollercoaster, with a long, long, LONG grind up the hill, wondering if I should get off, followed by sudden, rapid acceleration with a ton of curves. For five years after I wrote my first draft, I was revising, sharing it with a few people, querying and getting a handful of full requests from agents. I submitted to one publisher who I knew through a mutual friend and she consider the book for 18 months before passing. But along the way, my wife (also my biggest fan) asked if she could share the book with her 5th graders at the elementary school in our town where she taught. The kids loved the book so much-- especially some reluctant readers, neurodivergent students and even one girl who was an adoptee— that I knew I had to keep going. Plus, their perspectives really helped me do one more big revision. Soon after that, I entered it into the Marblehead Festival for the Arts and won, and a year later, in the summer of 2019, I was agented and then things really started moving. Less than six months after signing, I went on sub, sold at auction to Harper Collins, and then a month later, the pandemic hit and I spent all that lockdown time revising. But the rollercoaster continues right up to publication. Like so many others, my pub date was pushed because of supply chain and shipping woes, which has created its own set of wrinkles. Still, compared to so many of the other #22Debuts I’ve gotten know, my path has been smooth,

7. What’s something that surprised you about the process of getting published and why?

I think the most surprising thing is the pace of publication. When I worked in Hollywood, there were times we finished an episode and it aired a few weeks later. In advertising, we may work on a campaign for months, but once we have a finished product, it can be in-market in weeks if not days. We live in a time when a TikTok can be made in 15 seconds and have a million views that night. That’s why it still takes work to get my head around the idea that a manuscript is “accepted” a full year before it ends up in readers hands or that I sold a book in February of 2020 that comes out in January of 2022. But like I mentioned above, any hiccup in the process impacts all the timelines, because unlike digital mediums that can be corrected up until the final moments, it takes time to copyedit, proof, format, print, ship and shelf physical books.

8. What have you been doing to promote your book and celebrate its release? What are your future marketing plans?

As a marketing professional… I admit, I’ve felt behind from the beginning in terms of promoting myself. I should be good at this, right? I built my website, upped my twitter presence which, until this, had mostly been me making nerdy puns under the handle @DnD_DadJokes . I’ve been getting to know the amazing folks who love MiddleGrade books, like yourself and the amazing people at www.MGBookVillage.org , which is where I did my cover reveal last summer. Also, I only got a handful of physical ARCs, but I made sure a few went to ARC sharing groups like #BookAllies, #BookPosse, #BookSojourn and #BookExcursion, and they have been such amazing sources of encouragement and early buzz. Right now, I’m doing a lot of online Q&As and guest posts.

9. What are you working on now?

I’m just wrapping up revisions on a sequel to THE UNFORGETTABLE LOGAN FOSTER that is due out from Harper Collins next year, scheduled for January 3rd, 2023. The story picks up a month after book one ends, and we get to see the fallout of Logan’s first adventure as he and his found family are adjusting to their new lives together. Logan is in a new school, makes some new friends, and finds out some new information that might lead to unraveling the mystery of how he became an orphan, and who his real parents might be. Plus there’s a cute dog and a ton more awful dad jokes from his foster father. Beyond that, we will have to see if Logan’s story continues, but in the meantime, I’m working on another MG book about a kid who is having an ultra- rough start to a school year that could get a little better or a whole lot worse when he ends up in possession of a very special smartphone. That’s my current work-in-progress, but I’m learning quickly that it’s a writer’s job to always be writing the next thing.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Shawn. You can find Shawn at his website www.shawnpeterswrites.com and on twitter at https://twitter.com/ShawnTweeters . And if you like Superhero Puns, there are plenty of them at https://www.tiktok.com/@writtenbyshawnpeters

Giveaway Details

Shawn has generously offered a hardback of The Unforgettable Logan Foster 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 February 5th. 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

Tuesday, February 1st I’m participating in the Heart to Heart Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, February 2nd I have an agent/author guest post with Nicole Resciniti and Lillie Lainoff and a giveaway of Lisa’s YA fairytale retelling All for One and a query critique giveaway

Monday, February 7th I have an interview with debut author Lisa Stringfellow and a giveaway of her MG fantasy A Comb of Wishes

Wednesday, February 9th I have an agent spotlight interview with Ginger Clark and a query critique giveaway

Monday, February 14th I have a guest post by Leigh Lewis and a giveaway of her MG nonfiction Pirate Queens: Dauntless Women Who Dared to Rule the High Seas

Wednesday, February 16th I’m participating in the Wish Big Giveaway Hop

Monday, February 21st I have an agent spotlight interview with Paige Terlip and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Tuesday, February 1st!

 

 

Agent Spotlight: Shannon Snow Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Shannon Snow here. She is an associate agent at Creative Media Agency

Hi­ Shannon! Thanks so much for joining us. 

 

About Shannon: 

 

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

I made a career switch from working in Finance and Marketing at Fortune 500 companies. I had spent quite a few of those years providing manuscript feedback and book reviews on the side just for the love of books and writers. Finally, I decided to participate in Creative Media Agency, Inc,’s internship program where I interned for a little over a year before becoming an associate agent.  I’ve been an agent for nearly two years now and am actively building my list. I also manage the Audio Department at CMA as well. 

 

About the Agency: 

 

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

 

CMA is a boutique literary agency that has built an impressive list of clients who write primarily commercial and upmarket fiction. We are always looking to expand however and are also taking on memoirs, non-fiction, and other areas.  CMA also handles subrights for our clients as well as marketing and promotional guidance. We want to represent the author’s career and not just the book. 

 

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 handle primarily adult and young adult, but I am open to almost any subgenre under these two including romance of all types, science fiction, soft fantasy, historical, paranormal, horror, thriller/suspense, etc., and probably others I forgot to mention.  I’m a sucker for a good Greek myth retelling!  I’m actively seeking adult or YA romance with diverse voices and those written by POC authors. 

 

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

 

I would love to see either a rom-com or serious high school YA with diverse characters, perhaps featuring a trans romance.  I’m also looking for some dark boarding school stories, especially if they feature a romance. An eerie, creepy horror in either adult or YA would make me giddy! 

 

What She Isn’t Looking For: 

 

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

 

Unfortunately, I’m not taking on any non-fiction or memoirs at this. Although that may change in the near future. 

 

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? 

 

One of the most important things for me is to make a connection with a perspective client because I want there to be trust and partnership in the relationship. I want my authors to feel they can reach out to me at any time with questions, thoughts, concerns, or even if they just want to brainstorm.  My main motto is that I want to represent the author and their career and not just the one book.  A solid relationship is needed, in my view, to make that happen. 

 

As far as philosophy for the types of books I want to take on, I need to love them. I want to feel passionate about a book in order to offer representation. I love to see a well-plotted book with a unique style and voice but I also have to love the characters. 

 

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? 

 

Absolutely. I generally make some notes during my first read but then go back for a deep dive. Once I have all my thoughts together, I’ll send an Editorial Letter to my author with all of my suggested changes and thoughts. If they need to have a phone call with me to brainstorm any points, or they strongly disagree with something I’ve suggested, I always want them to feel that they can discuss it with me. If we can find a compromise, great! But in the end, it is their book and I want them to feel comfortable with what we will be putting out to editors. 

 

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? 

 

Queries should be sent to our query@cmalit.com email address. It’s always helpful if they put my name in the subject line. As far as content, I want to see a brief and tight summary telling me about the book, making sure that character goal, motivation and conflict are present. A short bio is helpful, including any comp titles that can give me an idea on the type of book.  Lastly, I like to see the first five pages pasted below the query. A query can be brilliantly written but I want to see that the writing can deliver. 

 

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

  

It’s always a good idea for the person to address me or at least make certain I know the query is for me by putting my name in the subject. On the actual query itself, some of the most common problems I see are the lack of a title or genre, rambling queries where the author spends too much time telling me why they wrote the book and not enough time telling me about the book. Or perhaps it takes them so many paragraphs to give me their summary so that the message and actual story are lost.  Lastly, with the pasted pages, make sure you’ve started your story in the right place so it will immediately pull me in, and make sure you’ve checked your manuscript for a lot of telling and not enough showing. 

 

Response Time: 

 

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

 

Generally, my response time is anywhere between four to six weeks, but I will admit that during this time of COVID, it has taken me a bit longer to meet that deadline since so many more people have been at home and thus so many more queries are coming in. 

 

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 am open to self-published or small-press published authors. Just mention this in the bio section.  If these previously published books have been selling especially well, it would be great for the author to mention that as well.  

 

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 necessarily see the agent’s role changing but I do believe agents will need to have very good pitch plans for submitting new works from previously self-published, hybrid or small-press published books, especially if the prior books may not have a good sales track record. A lot of the time, in those circumstances, editors at larger houses may view these submissions as more like debut authors. I believe the agent and the author should discuss this and have a good plan that they can both agree on. 

 

Clients: 

 

13. Who are some of the authors you represent? 

 

In addition to some of my amazing debut authors on submission now, I’m pleased to include some of my published authors, such as: Tina Gerow, Lucas Pederson, Mary Beesley, and Tricia Wentworth.  

 

Interviews, Guest Posts, and Podcasts: 

 

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

 

Duotrope Interview: https://duotrope.com/interview/agent/29466/shannon-snow 

 

The Manuscript Academy Podcast: https://manuscriptacademy.com/podcast-shannon-snow 

 

Query Letters and Colds Workshop from the Southwest Writers Conference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MFqf7xYQb4 

 

Links and Contact Info: 

 

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

 

Queries should be sent to our query@cmalit.com email address. 

 

My CMA page: https://cmalit.com/shannon-snow/ 

 

Manuscript Wishlist: 

https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/shannon-snow/ 

 

Publisher’s Marketplace: 

https://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/ssnow/ 

 

Twitter: 

Https://www.twitter.com/ssnow_lit_agent 

 

Additional Advice

 

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

 

Write a book that you love, and that passion will shine through the pages to the agent. Believe in yourself and your work. Don’t let rejections get you down. If you’ve learned your craft, received positive feedback from beta readers and people tell you they love your work, up is the only way for you to go. That rejection just means that wasn’t your agent, or the timing wasn’t right. The right one is out there waiting. Don’t give up! 

 

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Shannon.  

 

Shannon 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 January 29th. 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. 

 

 

Winter Wishes Giveaway Hop


Happy Sunday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Winter Wishes Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFoxI hope you're all staying safe and healthy. I'm having a quiet month and am staying home more with the Omnicron virus raging. My 91-year-old mom lives in assisted living near me, and I don't want to infect her. I'm using the time to clean my basement and read more.

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 1/16 – 1/31/2022 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 Giveaways

Tomorrow, January 17th I have an agent spotlight interview with Shannon Snow and a query critique giveaway

Monday, January 24th I have an interview with debut author Shawn Peters and a giveaway of his MG adventure The Unforgettable Logan Foster

Tuesday, February 1st I’m participating in the Heart to Heart Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, February 2nd I have an agent/author guest post with Nicole Resciniti and Lillie Lainoff and a giveaway of Lisa’s YA fairytale retelling All for One and a query critique giveaway

Monday, February 7th I have an interview with debut author Lisa Stringfellow and a giveaway of her MG fantasy A Comb of Wishes

Wednesday, February 9th I have an agent spotlight interview with Ginger Clark and a query critique giveaway

Monday, February 14th I have a guest post by Leigh Lewis and a giveaway of her MG nonfiction Pirate Queens: Dauntless Women Who Dared to Rule the High Seas

Wednesday, February 16th I’m participating in the Wish Big Giveaway Hop

Monday, February 21st I have an agent spotlight interview with Paige Terlip and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you tomorrow!

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: Haley Casey Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Haley Casey here. She is an associate agent at Creative Media Agency.

Hi­ Haley! Thanks so much for joining us.

Thanks for having me!

About Haley:

 

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

My road to agenting was a bit of a winding one. I knew for a long time that I wanted to work with books, so—living in the middle of Kansas—I started building my resumé toward that career without knowing exactly how I’d break into publishing. I majored in creative writing, worked in the Writing Center at my university, worked at Barnes & Noble, and finally attended the Denver Publishing Institute. That was the first place that I realized agenting was a viable option. Still, my first break was becoming an editor at a magazine publishing company in Topeka, Kansas. A few years later, at the same time I realized that wasn’t where I wanted to stay, I learned that an excellent way into agenting was by interning with an agency or two, and it could be done remotely. I applied immediately. That’s how I found Creative Media Agency, where I interned for two semesters, alongside an internship at Metamorphosis Literary Agency. I was lucky that Paige Wheeler at CMA was looking to bring on a couple of agents to work with her as my time as an intern drew to a close, and I’ve now been working there for just over a year!

Just like all agents, my work is varied and my priorities are different every week. First and foremost, I read and respond to queries (in as timely a manner as I can); read and evaluate manuscripts; and search for those un-put-down-able, beautifully written, moving, and marketable stories that I want to throw my support behind. I’ve signed eight amazing clients, and we’re working on revising their manuscripts, submitting to editors, and brainstorming second projects. If/when we do make a deal (and I have a couple in the works that I can’t announce yet!), I negotiate the terms and the contract as much in favor of those I represent as possible. My authors are my priority, and I’m always championing them as well as I possibly can.

I’m also our digital rights manager, which means I help republish CMA authors’ backlists as ebooks and work to find new digital outlets for their work. I run our agency’s Instagram, and I do have to keep my own social media accounts fairly active so querying authors can learn more about me. Through those channels, I often participate in pitch events, and I usually have a writing conference on my schedule. And of course, I’m always collaborating with Paige Wheeler and Shannon Snow—my wonderful colleagues—and working with our dedicated team of interns to help ensure they receive the same learning experience at CMA that I did.

About the Agency:

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

Creative Media Agency has launched the careers of bestselling authors and sold millions of copies of books around the world, but it still has the feel of a small, personalized, boutique agency. It’s one of the things that immediate drew me to the company. We’re seeking to nurture long-standing partnerships with the authors we represent on top of selling the books they create, which means we want our authors to be as excited about working with us as we are about working with them! Each of us approaches manuscripts with an editorial eye; we want to help make a project all that it can be before it goes on submission. Perhaps most important, though, is that our agents work collaboratively. At any time, I know I can reach out to Paige and Shannon for advice and opinions about projects, revisions, and editors, and they can do the same.

As our website says: “From queries and contracts to subrights and promotion, CMA agents will be with you through every step of your publishing journey.”

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?

When it comes to children’s lit—though I’m happy to work with clients of mine who write picture books—I’m seeking to represent MG and YA across most genres.

In MG, I always like character-focused, relatable contemporary fiction that showcases diverse experiences; creative and compelling mysteries, like The Westing Game; well-conceived fantasy with high stakes, as in Gregor the Overlander; science fiction that teaches young readers something new; and dystopian settings that speak to the world around us.

In YA, my tastes are even wider! I love complex contemporary fiction that speaks to family dynamics, multifaceted friendships, and personal growth as much as romance—and I do love romance and all the tropes that come with it. I’m also very into mystery and horror for this age group right now, like Karen McManus and House of Hollow; fantasy, especially non-Western, that uses magic and character to say something meaningful, as in The Belles or Cemetery Boys; light science fiction with creative takes on the future of technology; hard-hitting dystopians, like Uglies; and nonfiction with a strong voice and unique perspective.

In all things, I’m seeking to uplift minority voices, including POC, LGBTQ+, disability, and mental health issues. I love thoughtful and meaningful magical realism for any age group; manuscripts with nuanced character relationships; unique urban fantasies; clever fairytale retellings; and reimagined classics. I have to fall in love with your engaging writing; your complex, flawed, and dynamic characters; and your plot, which should breathe new life into your favorite clichés. Whatever you submit, tell me what makes your manuscript different!

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

At the very top of my list at the moment are minority voices across genres and age groups. I’m especially excited about fantasies that aren’t based in Western settings, because I think they’re so interesting and so needed.

I would love to be queried with more books with unreliable narrators, interesting antiheroes, compelling villains, and psychological intrigue.

I’m craving a YA romance with a male love interest who oozes charisma and absolutely know it. As I described it on Twitter: “Please give me your Henry Montagues, Ian Flannerys, Jesper Faheys, and yes, even Jace Waylands.”

Something I’m eternally seeking are contemporary stories with a tight focus on ride-or-die female friendships, like Hello Girls or Booksmart.

Whether for MG or YA, I’m always in the mood for a fun and purposeful heist story with a wonderful and diverse cast of characters.

And truly, I would die for a fantastic, creative, dark, and whimsical take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I already read every retelling I can get my hands on, so to represent one is a dream.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

In general, I’m not looking for children’s picture books, chapter books, or graphic novels, and I’m not the best champion body horror or satire. In nonfiction, I’ll usually pass on self-help and how-to manuscripts and religious, scientific, and academic 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?

I want all of my authors to feel like they know me, that I understand their manuscripts and their writing goals, and that I have their best interests at heart. I want to use my career and the platform it creates to champion underrepresented voices and make sure I’m working to publish works by authors who can help readers—especially young readers—feel seen.

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! Editors see so very many submissions that I want the work I send to have its best chance at standing out in the crowd. However, any revisions I suggest go through the author first—and I tell authors as much before they sign with me.

The first step in my editorial process is to write what we call an “editorial letter.” I’ll take all of my developmental notes from reading the manuscript and describe my suggested changes—and the reasoning behind them—in paragraph form in a 3- to 4-page document. As I always tell authors, I think listing edits isn’t nearly as effective as explaining why I feel they might be necessary; this also gives the author a chance to think through a different change that might have the same effect for the manuscript.

Once I send the editorial letter to the author, they’re encouraged to talk over any concerns or questions with me. If we’re on the same page, however, they’ll dive back into the manuscript to make changes and send it back. If I feel there are still developmental concerns, I may write a second, shorter editorial letter to address them. Often, though, as I read the newly edited manuscript I’ll simply make comments and track changes on the page. This may include anything from suggestions to further draw out a specific scene and its emotional resonance to line edits. This, again, returns to the author for their input or acceptance. We may go back and forth with minor changes once or twice more, but once we’re both happy with the strength of the finished product and everything it has to say, it’ll be ready for submission!

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 send any queries to query@cmalit.com—addressed to me specifically! For any agent at CMA, we request that you include the first five pages of your manuscript below the query letter for fiction, or an extended author bio and the marketing section of your book proposal for nonfiction. (Memoirs can be a bit of a hazy area, but personally I prefer to see the pages in that case more than the book proposal sections, as the voice will be key.)

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

Query letters can be so difficult to write, and you’re probably going to hear different pieces of advice from anyone you ask. For me, first and foremost, you have to get my name right. If you don’t, I’ll be skeptical right away—and it happens more than you think. Same with following query guidelines. More specifically, though, while I do want to know a little about you as the author and where your inspiration started, I need to know about your book and its plot, conflicts, themes, and characters. If an author spends multiple paragraphs describing themselves and the reason they began writing, I’ll lose interest because I’m not hearing about the project they’re pitching me.

As for the first pages, I recommend doing your absolute best not to start the manuscript with backstory. You only have five pages to give your book its best chance with me, and an intriguing situation, a compelling voice, and/or emotional resonance will hook me more than hearing the history of a character I’m not yet connected to.

Response Time:

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

I try to respond to queries no later than two months after they’re sent, partial manuscript requests (the first three or five chapters) in two to four weeks, and book proposal or full manuscript requests within three months. Generally, I hope you’ll hear back from me earlier than that, but if I have a lot of client or agency work waiting for me, reading queries and manuscripts will be put on the backburner.  

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 represented previously self-published authors, or those who have been published by smaller presses. In fact, some authors I represent now fall into that category! However, generally I’m looking to represent new projects by those authors, not the same book that’s already been published.

I think it’s best to be upfront with any potential agent about the fact that you’ve been previously published in some manner, because finding out after the fact can sometimes change our plan for pitching what you’ve written. Personally, I like to know whether that book is still available for purchase, or whether you’ve taken it down (if self-published) or had the rights reverted back to you (if published by a small press). If it’s no longer available, I also like to know why. Having all of the information helps me make the best possible decision about whether I’m the right agent to represent you, and how best to move forward should I choose to do so.

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 think that the role of an agent is to act as an author’s inroad into traditional publishing as well as the custodian of their career, and I don’t think that should change no matter how publishing shifts. Those changes to the publishing industry simply effect what we should be aware of as agents, what we need to learn about to best assist our clients, and what responsibilities we may have in the future.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

As of this interview, my clients are Alli Vail, Stephanie Campisi, Sara Pintilie, Ana Wesley, Emma Duval, Stacey Anthony, Elizabeth Barrera, and Isabel Yacura.

Interviews, Guest Posts, and Podcasts:

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

The Manuscript Academy podcast: https://manuscriptacademy.com/podcast-haley-casey

SWW Workshop on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MFqf7xYQb4

Links and Contact Info:

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

To query me, please send your query letter to query@cmalit.com. Our detailed submission guidelines can be found at https://cmalit.com/submit/.

Online, I can be found at…

CMALit.com: https://cmalit.com/haley-casey/

Manuscript Wish List: https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/haley-casey/

Publisher’s Marketplace: https://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/HCasey/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Haley_J_Casey

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/haley_j_casey/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/haley-casey-6805a9127/

Additional Advice:

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

My evergreen piece of advice for aspiring authors is that no agent is better than a bad agent. Make sure that any agent you query—especially those who make you an offer—is someone you genuinely want to work with, who shares your goals, and who sees a long-term future for you and the books you want to write.

And I do want to finish with some encouragement: Just by being here and following Natalie’s incredible posts, you’re putting in the time to help make your journey into publishing a successful one, but I know it takes time, and it can feel discouraging. Keep researching, writing, pitching, and querying; ask questions of people in the industry when you have a chance; and be patient! Your time will come.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Haley.

­Haley 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 January 29th. 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.