Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
  • Sheila Fernley Agent Spotlight Interview, Critique Giveaway, and One-Hour Zoom Call on 7/29/2024
  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

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: Chelsea Eberly Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Chelsea Eberly here. She is a literary agent at The Greenhouse Literary Agency. Since her interview, she has become the director of the agency.

StatusUpdate on 1/27/2023: Temporarily closed to submissions except for referrals. Check the agency website to find out when she reopens to queries.

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 was an editor at Random House Books for Young Readers for over a decade and loved so much about my job, but I realized that the more I was promoted, the more I was feeling distant from the part of publishing that I love most, namely working closely with authors to grow their careers. When Sarah Davies, the founder of the Greenhouse Literary Agency, called me about a position opening at Greenhouse, she wanted to know if there were any agents who I would recommend, and instead I surprised her and said that I would love to hear more about the role. I’ve always admired how Greenhouse supports their clients. The agency has an extremely positive reputation within the industry. I joined in 2019 and was thrilled to be mentored by Sarah until her retirement at the end of 2021, at which time I was promoted to Director.

There’s a great deal of crossover in the role of editor and agent. I now use my editorial knowledge to help my clients polish their manuscripts before going on submission, and then I use my background writing acquisition memos to inform on those submission emails. I know how busy editors are, and so I try to use my skills to take as much off their plate as possible to increase my clients’ chances for success. I’ve always loved negotiating, but I enjoy it even more now that I’m fully representing authors’ best interests. And understanding the in-house publisher milestones helps me to ask questions about marketing and publicity at key moments. In turn, I hope that I can explain the publishing process to my clients because I understand the nuts and bolts of it.

I’ve witnessed first-hand how a good agent can advocate to help their clients succeed, and after working with numerous agents over the years and taking note of which strategies were most effective during auctions and beyond, I’m thrilled that I can bring that knowledge to representing my own clients at Greenhouse. I am also a proud member of the Association of American Literary Agents.

I represent a diverse list of award winners and New York Times bestsellers. My focus is middle grade, young adult, graphic novels, illustrators who write picture books, and select upmarket adult book club fiction.

About the Agency:

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

Greenhouse Literary Agency is where authors can put down roots and grow their careers. We’re passionate publishing professionals who put our clients and their stories at the center of everything that we do. Our clients benefit from our agents’ backgrounds as former editors at Big 5 publishing houses, which gives them tremendous industry connections and a deep understanding of how to best advocate for our clients.

As part of our larger business, we have an unusual business structure that gives us exceptional support behind the scenes with our sister companies, Contracts People and Rights People, as well as a dedicated Finance team which has decades of experience reviewing royalty statements and advising on international taxation. With our sister companies all under one umbrella, we feel we can be the best of both worlds for our clients: a nimble boutique agency with the back-of-house resources of a larger, more corporate agency.

Contracts People is a dedicated team of three contracts advisors, each with over a decades’ worth of experience on both the publisher and agency side of the desk, negotiating a wide variety of publishing contracts. I always know that beyond my own close read of each contract, Contracts People will bring their expertise to bear so that Greenhouse clients have favorable contractual language.

Rights People is a team of seven—that’s right, seven!—foreign rights agents who sell children’s and adult titles direct in all but a few territories to foreign publishers (i.e., no subagents). This means that Greenhouse clients are well positioned for success around the world. Rights People is headquartered in the UK and attend all the major rights fairs, such as Bologna, Frankfurt, and London Book Fair. Rights People is routinely ranked #1 in Publishers Marketplace as the top agency selling children’s international rights. Greenhouse is fortunate to have their expertise in the international market.

Greenhouse is obsessed with selling every possible right associated with our clients’ work, and so we partner with all major book-to-film agencies to exploit dramatic rights as well. Our ethos is that passion for an author’s work is what sells it, so we partner with the film/TV co-agent who is most passionate about the work, rather than having a single co-agent for all 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 YA fiction and nonfiction as well as illustrators. Typically my illustrator clients also write graphic novels and picture books as well as create jackets and illustrate others’ work. I’m not actively seeking clients who only write picture books. I also selectively represent clients in upmarket/book club fiction.

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

I’d love to see more magical realism in middle grade along the lines of WHEN YOU TRAP A TIGER by Tae Keller, which is a book I’m extremely proud to say that I edited while still at Random House. I like when authors play with structure and there are stories within stories. Across all age categories, I am always interested in authors who can successfully employ mixed media, such as journal entries, letters, podcast scripts, interview transcripts, group text chains, emails, and so forth.

I love witty banter, clever twists, high stakes, and ticking clocks, whether in a fantasy world like Leigh Bardugo’s SIX OF CROWS or a contemporary thriller in the vein of Karen McManus and Tiffany D. Jackson. I’m always on the hunt for the next high-stakes, epic love story, especially if it’s playing with genre. An interesting genre mashup is always intriguing! I love fantasy and am always interested in it, but I’m highly selective in this category, so please send me a new take and diverse worldbuilding.

I love a great ensemble cast and a story with a found family vibe. I want to see projects that evoke strong emotions and book club conversations. I recently loved THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB, which had a ton of humor, great twists, a found family, and poignant moments of heart. ANXIOUS PEOPLE by Fredrik Backman is another adult favorite and is high stakes with a found family and a ton of heart as the connections between each character are slowly revealed. The setting is also essential to the success of each of those books (a retirement home and a vacant apartment being viewed by prospective buyers). I love when setting is another character on the page. And I’d love to see those kinds of story in the MG and YA space.

I am always dying to see a middle grade mystery like THE WESTING GAME and books with clever puzzles and clues like ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO’S LIBRARY. I love to see queries from BIPOC authors and illustrators as well as those marginalized identities that include sexuality, gender identity, and disability. My family has a history of Type 1 diabetes and so main characters with T1D (particularly where it’s just a part of life) are always intriguing to me.

For graphic novels and picture books, I am always thinking, why does this story need to be in this medium? How are the art and text elevating each other to become something more? I love to feel strong emotions and would like to be crying (whether through humor or sadness, your call!) and feeling uplifted and/or surprised by the final page turn.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I’m not interested in picture book manuscripts, adult nonfiction, and adult fiction outside of upmarket/book club fiction. I hate to put boundaries on what I’m looking for because the minute I say I’m not looking for something I read the exact book that breaks that rule, but I will say that books focusing on sexual assault, suicide, and eating disorders are often not the right fit for me. I’m also generally not the right fit for gross-out humor, violent/gory horror, or books that feature alien invasions.

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 love literary ambition and authors who are striving to write the book of their heart. Often this means authors who are extremely well-read in their category who are taking risks and writing the book that they know they would have loved or needed at a certain time in their life. I’d like to help authors publish books that will start conversations and shape the marketplace. Books that other authors will eventually comp to. Being an author is an expression of bravery—there’s nothing harder than putting yourself out there and exposing pieces of your heart on the page—so why not swing for the fences?

I tend to work best with authors who are collaborative and open to feedback. I appreciate clients who are professional and who treat their career as a business in which they are the CEO. I love being in the corner of any author who has exceptional talent and a strong work ethic. Authors who understand the “hurry up and wait” of publishing and who are comfortable asking questions and communicating their needs—strong communication is ideal for a healthy working relationship.

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 often work with clients to help them bring their work more closely to their ideal vision. Hopefully I can help them highlight the most commercial and/or literary aspects of their work prior to submission. Each project is different, but usually I give Big Picture feedback as needed, and then specific line edits as needed.

My editorial support doesn’t end after the first book is sold. I work with authors to develop their proposals and sample chapters for their next book in a series, option materials, and new ideas. I’m always willing to hop on the phone to brainstorm or to talk through story. Hopefully my background as a former senior editor can be my clients’ secret weapon.

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?

For the most current information, please see the submission guidelines on the Greenhouse website here: https://www.greenhouseliterary.com/submissions/

In query letters, I like to see that an author is well-read in their category and up to date on the current market. Your sample pages are the most important aspect in whether or not I will request a full manuscript, so a concise query with a quick elevator pitch, a brief description, and something about your background and what inspired you to write this book is most helpful to me.

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

I prefer recent comp titles in queries. Your book may be the next classic-in-the-making, but only comping to classics makes me worry that you haven’t read outside your high school syllabus, which does not bode well for your work in the current marketplace.

Try not to open with a scene of waking up or long descriptions of the weather or a random voice shouting at someone—these are common openings that tend to blend in with all the other openings agents see as we review queries. Instead, try to open with something more specific to the story that you want to tell.

Response Time:

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

My goal is to respond within eight weeks. Previously, if we did not respond within that timeframe, it was considered a pass, as we would only reply to those queries we wanted to pursue. We’ve recently decided to respond to all queries as the other system felt like it was creating confusion via Query Manager.

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11.  Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?

I am open to representing authors who have been published by smaller presses as well as self-published authors who have built a strong audience and are looking for someone to represent their new projects. I am not interested in representing previously published works. Most agents will not want to represent self-published projects unless the sales are outstanding, so your best bet is to work on something new.

Beyond making sure that you’ve revised your manuscript and it is in the best shape possible for querying, the key to finding the right agent is first evaluating your career goals. Then search for the agent whose track record consistently accomplishes those goals. If your goal is to be published by a Big 5 publisher, research agents who primarily do deals with those editors. (Publishers Weekly and Publishers Marketplace are good resources for this research.) Similarly, if you have your eye on a small press that specializes in your genre, who is routinely selling to that press? If you would prefer an up-and-coming agent who perhaps has more room on their client list, then does their agency have a track record selling to those editors and publishers? Past deals are the best indicator of future deals.

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?

The role of an agent stays the same—being an author’s advocate and publishing resource—but the job itself is expanding as publishing rapidly changes and there are more innovations, avenues toward publication, and ways to exploit rights to keep track of and advise our clients on.


13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Gavin Aung Than, Katryn Bury, Sarwat Chadda, Andrea Contos, Bill Doyle, Theanne Griffith, Michelle Lam, Gabriela Martins, Rebecca Mock, Kelis Rowe, Ali Standish, Emily Thiede, and Ngozi Ukazu are a few of the authors and illustrators who I represent.

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.

SCBWI Interview

The Darling Axe Interview

The Horn Book Profile of Newbery Medal Winner Tae Keller

Update on 1/27/2023

Podcast with Journey to KidLit (04/2022)

Agent of the Month at Writing and Illustrating Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 (01/2020)

Links and Contact Info:

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

Publishers Marketplace:https://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/ChelseaEberly/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chelseberly

Website: greenhouseliterary.com

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

Please follow the guidelines on our submission page to query me: https://www.greenhouseliterary.com/submissions/

Update on 1/27/2023

Manuscript Wish List

MS Wish List

Query Tracker

Additional Advice:

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

Thank you for this wonderful interview! I don’t have much more to add except to tell authors to take some time between drafts to get space from their work so that they can come back with fresh eyes. It’s important to refill your creative well! When querying, remember that alongside talent and hard work, there’s also luck and timing. Sometimes a “no” from an agent just means that wasn’t the right project at the right time and another project down the road will be the perfect fit. Keep working on craft and write the book of your heart.

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 March 19th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.

Profile Details:
Last Updated: 1/27/2023
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes
Last Reviewed By Agent? 3/7/2023

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com

Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.





Ilona Bray said...

Thank you, this really is a helpful interview; Chelsey has an unusual ability to express what type of work she's looking for.

Ilona Bray said...

Oops, typo on Chelsea's name in my previous comment! (Apologies, I can't seem to figure out how to fix it.)

Sam McEnhimer said...

Thanks for sharing info about Chelsea. These agent spotlights are super helpful. Fingers crossed for a query critique!!!

Karen K. said...

Thank you for another great interview. I wasn't familiar with Greenhouse Literary and appreciate the opportunity to learn more about them and what Chelsea is looking for. I would love a query critique. (kkobylar@gmail.com)

Jwrites said...

It's always wonderful to get inside information about what excites agents and editors. Thank you as well for the critique opportunity! jennamhammond@gmail.com

Mewla said...

I appreciate this wonderful interview with Chelsea Eberly. I am new to the biz and have loved her ever since I read her interview with Tae Keller. Thank you for the excellent site.

Edie Parsons said...

Chelsea Eberly sounds like a great agent. Greenhouse has an excellent reputation,and I love all the publishing expertise that she brings to her agenting.

Carolyn Cory Scoppettone said...

Thank you for that thorough interview. Ms. Eberly sounds like she has the right combination of skills to really advocate for her clients.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Seems no one likes books opening with a dream.
Congratulations Chelsea on becoming an agent and then the director.

Lidia said...

I love learning more about various agents through these interviews and I'm definitely looking forward to querying Chelsea Eberly! Thanks for the opportunity to win a query critique (lidia.elsdon@gmail.com)

Diane Bradley-Kantor said...

Great interview and it looks like Greenhouse is in good hands.

Jessica said...

Thank you so much for your work on these agent interviews (and thank you to Chelsea for participating)! I would love a query critique, so fingers crossed for that. Best wishes, Jessica

Liz A. said...

Very informative.

Dina.creative.lives said...

Thank you for all the info on your background and what you're looking for. Very helpful

Joy said...

Thank you for this helpful interview! I don't know if my email is included in this profile so here it is: joy.netanya [at] gmail [dot] com

BrookeC said...

Thank you for sharing a bit about you, your agency, and your 'wants' for submissions.

cdoucett515 said...

I love stories within stories as well. Tae Keller's When You Trap a Tiger captured my heart for sure.
Thank you for this interview. I queried Chelsea Eberly last week, but I'd love to win a query critique.

AbbyVail said...

Chelsea seems awesome. I also love when setting is a character on the page. Thank you for this opportunity! I'd love a critique for my spooky middle grade. abbyvailbass@gmail.com

Melissa said...

Thank you for this delightful interview! It's always great getting to know an agent more like this.

Thank you also for the opportunity to enter in for query critique!


cindyg said...

Thank you for this illuminating interview. And thank you for the opportunity to win a query critique.

Computer Tutor said...

What an interesting peek into the backend of a publishing house. Thank you.

Alison said...

Thank you for this interview. Interesting that she is accepting fiction for all ages.

Tonja Drecker said...

It's always fun to read about agents who love what they do. Thanks! (no giveaway for me :) )

Debbie Moeller said...

Great interview!

Melissa Miles said...

I loved this interview! Thanks for the chance to win. I’m also sharing on Twitter @mjmiles.

Unknown said...

This is an amazing interview! I have been following Chelsea since I first thought about writing a book! Thank you so much! The interview was very insightful and helpful. It answered many questions of mine! It's amazing she's also offering an Query Critique Giveaway! Goodluck and congratulations to the winner!

Shannon Marie said...

This is an amazing interview! I have been following Chelsea since I first thought about writing a book! Thank you so much! The interview was very insightful and helpful. It answered many questions of mine! It's amazing she's also offering an Query Critique Giveaway! Goodluck and congratulations to the winner!

(This is my comment - ShannonMariePetrou@outlook.com. For somereason it isn't showing up with my account)

Heather Gallagher said...

Great interview! Would love the chance for a query critique :)

Barbara Kimmel said...

Another excellent interview! Thank you. I would love the opportunity to have a MG critique with Chelsea! Such a generous offer.

Steve Cromwell said...

I remember when Sarah Davies announced on Twitter when Chelsea Eberly joined her team, but never knew the behind-the-scenes story. A very helpful interview!

Jennifer Walker said...

Great, informative interview! Chelsea seems like a wonderful agent to work with.

Kiley said...

Thank you SO much to Chelsea for this fantastic interview! I loved learning more about the ins and outs of Greenhouse. I would love a query critique and also mentioned this on Twitter. Thank you, Natalie! orchardka@gmail.com

Abigail L said...

Wonderful interview! Absolutely loved When You Trap a Tiger.

Sharon Pegram said...

Thanks for this thorough and informative interview!

Rosi said...

Thanks for another interesting and informative interview. I always get so much out of your interviews.

Martin Porter said...

Another great interview and useful insight. Thank you again.

Danielle DeFauw said...

Chelsea's point about "write the book of your heart" makes me think of the saying I have displayed on my desk as I write: Write the story you want to read.

Teresa Huffman Traver said...

Thank you for this great interview! Lots of good tips here.

gowri said...

Wonderful interview. Really helpful. Thank you!

Ellie Langford said...

Posted the interview on Facebook and Twitter. I haven't illustrated a book yet. I'm an artist and taking a course on illustrating. Enjoyed the informative interview.

Tharvey said...

Thank you for a great interview! I've been following Chelsea since she started and she seems so nice & helpful.

Carolyn Lê said...

Thank you for a great interview. I love reading about agents who love what they do.