Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Sarah Stephens Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveawawy on 10/10/2022
  • Eve Adler Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 10/17/2022
  • Adria Goetz Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 11/14/2022
  • Kelly Dyksterhouse Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 12/12/2022
  • Savannah Brooks Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 12/19/2022

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.

Agent Interview: Kari Sutherland and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Kari Sutherland here. She is a literary agent at kt literary.

Hi­ Kari! Thanks so much for joining us.

Thanks so much for having me!

About Kari:

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

I began in publishing on the editorial side—first at Disney Press and then at HarperCollins Children’s before moving cross-country to CA and freelancing. But I missed the longer-term connection to authors, so I became an agent. This is my sixth year on the agenting side and I love the variety and flexibility I have as an agent to sign clients whose work I’m passionate about, to explore new genres and formats, and to work the hours I choose (which are sometimes very late at night).

About the Agency:

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

KT Literary is a terrific group of agents who are very collaborative and approach the industry with a positive attitude. For us, it’s about finding talented authors and championing their voices. We work directly with co-agents to place foreign, and film/TV rights and we’re always on the lookout for opportunities for our clients and ways to boost their backlist as well as upcoming titles. We have our own podcast: kt literary podcast on Apple Podcasts and Instagram: KT Literary Agency (@ktliterary) • Instagram photos and videos and offer office hours to our clients for questions.

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?

The focus of my list is middle grade and YA across all genres, but I also represent picture books, select chapter books, and graphic novels. In picture books right now my primary goal is to sign author/illustrators with unique perspectives and styles. In middle grade, I’m drawn to fantasy, light horror, and contemporary realistic with a lot of heart. For YA, I’m very open across genres—from contemporary realistic to fantasy to speculative to thrillers and everything in between.

What I look for in a submission first and foremost is voice—a character who sweeps me away or fully engages my attention. Beyond that, I love stories with layers—where themes are explored in new ways or woven together organically and that sift through human emotions and relationship dynamics with depth and heart. I am also a fan of stories that are compulsively entertaining with unexpected twists or loads of humor.

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

In the YA space, I’d love a thriller or horror novel that grapples with a real-world issue teens face today, explored either metaphorically or literally.

I would love to find a funny middle grade fantasy story with a female or nonbinary main character going on adventures with supportive, but snarky friends.

In nonfiction, I enjoy quirky topics and would love a Mary Roach-style project for middle grade readers or teens! I’d also love a nonfiction teen or upper MG project that digs into standards of beauty and celebrates all styles and looks, but also examines the economic, social, and psychological costs of the beauty industry.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I don’t like to say I’m closed to anything as sometimes I’m surprised by something I thought I wouldn’t enjoy. In general, though, I’m not the best match for sports-centered stories (unless there’s an additional layer to it, like a women’s team at a high school protesting the uniforms they’re forced to wear) or books that are sci-fi and plot-driven as opposed to character-driven.

I love reading novels-in-verse for pleasure, but I’m not the best match for them as an agent. I likewise am not usually the best fit for rhyming picture book texts.

Agent Philosophy:

6. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?

My aim is to work with authors whose stories inspire emotion—whether that’s feelings of coziness, rebelliousness, dread, hilarity, romance or something else—and whose voices are compelling. I’m eager to champion books that break the rules, explore universal truths through a specific lens, encourage readers to think in new ways and embrace who they are, and are books you can’t stop thinking about and just have to recommend to everyone you know so you can talk about it with someone!  

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! Very much so, given my background. I will usually go through two rounds, sometimes more, with an author before doing a light line edit. I start with bigger notes that get at the crux of the story, pull out its heart and make sure we’re mapping out the character arc and plot beats, then a round or two of minor in-scene changes/tweaks. I aim to submit polished work, something that I consider “acquisition-ready,” but I don’t want to over-work projects as editors will have their own visions and will definitely be doing rounds of editing as well!

All my feedback are suggestions only and I always work with my clients to ensure that their story is the one being told.

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?

The best way to query me is through Query Manager (Query Submission (querymanager.com). I like to see a query letter, a short synopsis (spoilers are okay! Sometimes I need to know how it ends), and the first chapter.

If Query Manager provides an accessibility issue, KT Literary’s general query inbox is queries@ktliterary.com and you can address the email to my attention. But I tend to review my Query Manager submissions more frequently.

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

Please start at the beginning of your book, don’t choose a chapter from the middle and make sure to specify your genre and age range in the query letter.

Response Time:

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

Longer than I’d like. I aim to respond to queries within 4-6 weeks. Partials and fulls take another month or two beyond when I receive them.

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

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

I’m happy to look at work that hasn’t been published before, so if someone has self-published or released through a smaller press, my advice is to query with your next project (that is not a sequel to the published one). You may want to indicate whether you’re willing to use a different name with your new project to separate from any existing sales track. I’ve had authors go from smaller presses to large publishers in the past, especially in a new format.

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 is still to advise and guide an author’s career so while there are new avenues opening up, agents can discuss which pathways are best for an author’s particular publishing goals and then advocate for them whether it’s with a small, independent publisher, an app designer, an IP project, etc.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I’m very lucky to represent a slew of talented people! Some of my authors whose titles have released include: Saadia Faruqi (the Yasmin series, A Thousand Questions, Yusuf Azeem is Not a Hero, and co-author of A Place at the Table); Laura Pohl (author of the New York Times bestseller The Grimrose Girls and the Last 8 duology); Kelly Coon (the Gravemaidens duology); PJ Gardner (the Horace and Bunwinkle series); and Dr. Amitha Jagannath Knight (Usha and the Big Digger). I’ve got two authors debuting this year: Isabel Cañas (The Hacienda – on sale May 3) and Rimma Onoseta (How You Grow Wings – on sale August 9th).

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.

My manuscript wishlist is posted here and I try to update it every few months. You can find my KT Literary podcast interview here.

8/22/2022: Agent/Author Guest Post With Debut Author Rimma Onoseta Getting Revise and Submit Requests at Literary Rambles on 8/3/2022

Links and Contact Info:

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

You can find my Query Manager page here: (Query Submission (querymanager.com)

From time to time, I will close to catch up or close to certain genres/formats if I’m focusing on a different direction. You can also find more information about me on the KT Literary website: www.ktliterary.com.

Additional Advice:

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

You’ve heard it before—read widely! Both in the genre/format you write in and also in other arenas to help you hone your craft. Remember when composing your pitch (that oh-so-dreaded, but valuable x meets y line) that you can refer to characters from TV shows/movies or use podcasts or songs to help convey the vibes/content/themes of your project. Build an online presence based on positive energy. Evaluate what your particular writing/publishing goals are and don’t compare your journey to others’. Everyone’s path is different! Find willing and helpful beta readers and return the favor. Learning to critique others’ writing can help you analyze your own. Remember that at the end of the day, your writing should bring you joy as that will shine through in your manuscript.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kari.

­Kari 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 April 23rd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments.

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

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

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

43 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Just from her responses, she sounds like a fun person to work with.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Nice to meet you, Kari. I don't have any book-length YA or middle grade at this time. I'm working on a YA short story collection, though. At this time, most of the stories are less than 2000 words each. Could you recommend how many stories should be included in a collection of this type? The stories are contemporary/adventure.

Thank you, Natalie, for an informative interview. I always learn something new on your blog. Have a beautiful week, ladies!

Victoria Marie Lees said...

I forgot to say that some of these short stories have been published in Cricket Magazine. I have my rights back.

Edie Parsons said...

KT Literary has a fine reputation, and Kari sounds like she would be great agent to work with. Thanks for this interview!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Sorry that I don't know the answer to your question, Victoria.

Cathy Sheafor said...

Tweeted a link to the interview just now @sheafor_c. Great interview.

Danielle H. said...

Thank you for today's interview and chance to get to know an agent. I am impressed by her client list and would value a query letter critique. I follow Natalie on Twitter and shared: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/681260708554489856/agent-interview-kari-sutherland-and-query

Brenda said...

Lovely interview as usually, Natalie. Hope you have a lovely week. No need to enter me in the giveaway.

Karen K. said...

Thanks for another great interview and the opportunity for a query critique. kkobylar@gmial.com

Karen's Kiddos said...

I loved reading Kari's advice. Thanks for the opportunity and for another great blog post Natalie!

Liz A. said...

Lots of good info.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Great advice!

Joy said...

Thank you for this interview! joy.netanya [at] gmail [dot] com

Allison said...

Another GREAT interview, Natalie! Kari sounds like a professional, thorough, delightful agent to work with. I'd love the opportunity to win a query critique. allison.prueitt@gmail.com.

Allison said...

I forgot to mention that I'm a faithful follower of the blog, your Twitter, and check out your Facebook page often!

Erin Pearson said...

Wonderful interview! I hadn't realized KT Literary had a podcast. I'll have to check it out!

Eileen said...

Thank you for the interview - you're already on my "to query" list on Query Tracker. (-:
Would love a critique! Shared on FB & on Twitter @ELarkinWilkin
eileen@wilkinusa.com

Melissa Miles said...

Great interview! Thanks for the chance to win a critique!

Shanah Salter said...

Great interview! I have shared on twitter and would love to be considered for a critique. Thank you!

Joe Samulak said...

Thank you for a great interview and the opportunity to query!

Jacqui Murray said...

Love the list of authors you represent, Kari. I'm not YA, but best of luck with your group.

Julie M said...

I especially liked Kari's advice to refer to TV shows/movies and songs in query letters if it helps convey what a story is about. I never thought of that, thanks for the tip!

Sandra Cox said...

What a fascinating interview. Thanks for sharing;)

suetwiggsbooks said...

Yes I’m interested in a query critique. I enjoyed the interview very much.

Nick Wilford said...

Great interview. Kari sounds very hard working and dedicated.

Tonja Drecker said...

Her love for literature really comes through. How fun!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Wonderful interview!
Yes, please, for a query critique, if that's possible. I have both a YA and an older YA project I'm working querying these days.
tyreantigger@gmail.com

Mal Malme said...

Great interview, love hearing specifics about querying, always so helpful! Yes, please enter me for a query critique. Thanks!
Mal.malme@gmail.com

Angie B. said...

I always learn from these interviews. Thank you.

Kat All said...

Great and really thorough interview, thanks for posting!

Judith L. Roth said...

Stories that inspire emotion is a helpful thing to keep in mind. Thanks for the interview and chance for a query crit!

Anna S said...

Very helpful!

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

Thnk you so much for this interview! It was great perspective! I am very interested in a query critique. :)

Mewla said...

Thank you for a fantastic interview and more great advice!

david said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Xavier Clayton said...

Dear Ms. Sutherland,
I am so grateful to you and Ms. Aguirre for this opportunity to analyze a query letter! I have a one-page QL, a 2-page synopsis, and the opening chapter of my first MG Action-Adventure novel to send you if selected:
“Skyler Bluestone and The Kaleidoscopic Hat.”
The urgent, non-stop journey Skyler goes on to save his dead twin brother makes it globally an action-adventure. However, its sub-genres are MG Fantasy, Family Drama, and Magical Realism. At 110,000 words, it is a stand alone first book in a Trilogy. One that has never published, self-published, nor is part of a saga.

My novel has already been beta-read twice by two paid, professional MG, genre-specific readers. They’ve helped me develop the simultaneous character- and plot-driven revisions that Skyler, Zengar, Sara, and Mayor Finn (The Antagonist) go through in every chapter (… and scene) on their journeys through the magical forest I’ve world-built.
But more than that, there’s a lot of humor, suspense, and plot twists along the way! “It’s a fun ride!” as one of the Beta-readers has told me.

These last weeks, I have been lovingly going over my manuscript once more before sending it to a copyeditor – However, the QL has been written for quite some time. That’s why I was so happy to read your interview and your query critique opportunity. I would love a professional like you to read its opening 2-paragraph hook to know your thoughts. You’d be Skyler’s first step into the real world!

To enter this contest, here is my email address: xclayton@hotmail.com

I’ve shared this interview on my Facebook page (“Awaken Your Inner Phoenix”) and on my Instagram profile (xavier.clayton.56).
I am a 20-year scientist and published, Non-Fiction author of spirituality books based on scientific research: “The Two Paths to God” (Adelaide Books.org - New York and Lisbon) and “Awaken Your Inner Phoenix” (Amazon and ACX audiobook).
“Skyler Bluestone and The Kaleidoscopic Hat” is a novel based on some of the universal theories found in my spirituality books… especially its ending!

Kind regards,
Xavier Clayton

ashley said...

Hi, new to the blog. Thanks for the great agent interview and query critique opportunity! ashleyp128@gmail.com

momo said...

Wow! Very good to know about this, thank you so much for sharing it with us,

Unknown said...

Helpful advice! (jtgarrison97@gmail.com)

Unknown said...

Another great interview. Would love to win a query critique! alicia [at] aliciacurley [dot] com

Lauri Meyers said...

Love an editorial agent! Thanks for the great interview. (laurimeyers@gmail.com)

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

My dream agent will definitely collaborate editorially with me on projects. :-) sherylsr at ymail dot com