Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

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  • 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.

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.

Status: Open to submissions

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.


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.

Update on 2/16/2023

Podcast at AndItsWriting (01/2023)

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.

Updated on 2/16/2023
Manuscript Wish List

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.

Profile Details:
Last updated: 2/16/2023
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 6/6/2022 

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.






Ann Finkelstein said...

Thanks for another great interview, Natalie. It's always good to find an agent who likes thrillers.

Mattea Orr said...

I'm happy to see a newer agent still really excited about YA, and I'd love a query critique!

Martin Porter said...

Great interview- one of the best sources I come to for agent information. Thank you! martinleeporter@gmail.com

Shamyla S said...

Oh I would love to enter the query critique giveaway - shamaila.siddique@gmail..com

Shamyla said...

correction: shamaila.siddique@gmail.com - 1 period!!

Computer Tutor said...

"Issue books"--what a great way to define them. Love the glasses. I just got some big ones, too!

Tonja Drecker said...

There's so much energy in the answers- fun interview!

Donna K. Weaver said...

So much great information in these interviews. Well done!

feecaro said...

Great interview. I look forward to querying Chelsea! And I'd love to be entered into the query critique giveaway.

Edie Parsons said...

Great interview. I love that Chelsea likes genre MG.

Karen K. said...

Thanks for another great interview. I'd love to have the chance for a query critique. kkobylar@gmail.com