Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • 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.

Literary Agent Interview: Sarah Stephens Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Sarah Stephens here. She is a literary agent at Red Fox Literary.

NOTE: Sarah is closed to queries but has created a special submission form on Query Tracker for Literary Rambles followers that will be open until March 2023. You can find the link in this interview. 

Hi­ Sarah! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Sarah:

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

I joined Red Fox in May of 2021, I was looking for way to work more collaboratively in the children’s book world that I adore, and a good friend told me I should talk to Abigail Samoun about agenting. The timing was perfect because Abi and Karen Grencik, the other principal at Red Fox, were in need of assistance and generously offered me the chance to help out and do some shadowing—to try on the fox ears, if you will. Turns out they were a great fit!

I have signed nine clients, four single-title projects, and negotiated twelve contracts in a year and a half—though a few of those contracts were in the works before I stepped onto the scene. I have amazing clients and the work of making connections is truly satisfying!

 

 About the Agency:

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

Red Fox is a boutique children’s literary agency with eight amazing agents. Though we all have strengths—industry knowledge, editorial prowess, negotiating know-how, straight-up magic—to varying degrees, we support one another to get the best for our clients. I think relationships are paramount for all of us and we work hard to provide every client what they need. For that reason the services tend to be as personal and unique as the individuals. I knew I was in the right place when Karen told me that the most important things to her are honesty and kindness. (Which together equal integrity, right?) That’s when I knew I was in the right den!

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 all age groups, board books to YA. I would say my sweet spot is picture books, but I’d love to work with a feisty beginning reader or chapter book creator or see a character driven series for this age group. I like innovative and entertaining nonfiction picture books. In all ages I am looking for untold stories, strong voice, and diverse creators.

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

N/A

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I do not like books with overt lessons, or jokes that wink over the heads of children. I don’t generally go for sentimental or issue books and I’m not a good agent for sci-fi or fantasy unless it’s a really fun fuzzy mash-up like Catstronauts.

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 order for me to be the best champion for a person or a project I need to feel a connection and I think that should go both ways. Trust and honesty are essential (again, both ways). I think we are all looking for the right match. It may be cliché, but when I am looking at queries I need the goosebumps, the excitement, the can’t-stop-thinking-about-it feeling. This all sounds like bad relationship metaphors! But agenting is a commitment so it’s best to be in love with the stories.

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 do consider myself an editorial agent—largely because of my experience writing co-writing and editing, and the fact that I love the creative process and being collaborative! I give feedback from general to detailed line edits depending on what a project needs. This feedback can come in the form of letters, emails, or phone calls depending. I make suggestions and I am always cognizant of the facts that my client is the creator and has control of their work and I am not the ultimate editor. My goal is to help my client get their work to a point that an editor can see its potential.

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?

In a query letter; tell me briefly about why you are passionate about the story you’re submitting, what makes you uniquely suited to tell it, and also (of course) a brief idea of what the story is.

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

I like queries to be brief because I want to get to the story!

Response Time:

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

I do my best not to keep anyone waiting longer than three months. Most of the time it’s 3-4 weeks.

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 that. I encourage writers to pursue traditional publishing because there are SO many aspects to bookmaking beyond writing. Publishing with a small press is a great avenue. I submit to small presses for my clients because they are often able to give creators more attention.

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 haven’t been wearing my agent hat for very long so it’s hard for me to speak to how that role has and is changing. But I have been working in the industry for 26 years and can tell you the only constant is change. We are all adapting constantly. The good news is that great books continue to get published.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Monica Clark-Robinson, Vicki Conroy, Moni Ritchie-Hadley, Rebecca Hirsch, author/illustrator Emmeline Forrestal, and illustrator Melodie Stacey, to name a few.

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.

Links and Contact Info:

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

QueryManager.com/Sarah_Stephens/Spotlight

I am not currently open, but I created an event submission form on Query Tracker that will be open until March.

http://www.redfoxliterary.com/index.html

Find me on Instagram at quick.redfox

Additional Advice:

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

You may have heard this advice before, because it is some of the best, but read, read, read! Knowing your craft, working hard, and persevering are the key ingredients.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Sarah.

­Sarah 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 October 22nd. 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.


64 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I can imagine it would definitely be a relief to read shorter queries! Nice interview with Sarah, Natalie!

abby mumford said...

Red Fox's motto of honesty and kindness is a beacon and Sarah herself sounds like she fits right in. Thanks for the wonderful interview and access to an agent who is a fantastic champion for children's books!

Garden Girl said...

Thank you for sharing this informative interview with Sarah.

Suzy Leopold

Anonymous said...

Fantastic interview and a fascinating insight into agenting

@Trunkythetree
Trunkyandowlbert at gmail dot com

Ana K said...

Honesty and kindness...two words that pack a punch. Natalie, thank you for what you do...and Sarah, thank you for championing children's lit.

Ryann Jones said...

Thank you for sharing and for offering a query review. It is nice to get to know you virtually. :) I retweeted the link to this interview and my email is ryann.jones117@gmail.com

Katie TheLogonauts said...

What an amazing opportunity! Thank you for sharing about yourself and your journey to agenting. What a world it would be with a little more honesty and kindness.
@katie_mcenaney on Twitter
1logonaut for email

Christina Shawn said...

What an incredible opportunity. The Fox Literary den sounds like a wonderful place to be. Thank you. Christinashawnbooks@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I love your reference to “fox ears” claudine.pullen@gmail.com

E. T. Charles said...

Thank you for this interview and critique opportunity.

ET Charles
http://bethsbiblio.blogspot.com/

Samantha Bryant said...

So interesting! I haven't written for children yet, but I have some ideas…

Yangmama said...

Thanks so much for sharing with the Lit Rambles crew! I really appreciate your genuineness describing Red Fox Lit, too. Honesty, integrity and kindness go a long way. Curious...do new agents get their own pair of fox ears upon hiring? :)(Now wouldn't that be fun, LOL!)Thanks again!

(buchetbooks@gmail.com)

Liz A. said...

Good information.

Sarah Skolfield said...

I love that honesty and kindness are important values at Red Fox. And that the agents support each other.

Mewla said...

Thank you for sharing about your great work and journey to agenting. Thank you for a great interview, Natalie!

Mewla.Young@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Very interesting interview and fabulous giveaway! Thank you for this opportunity. I am posting this on twitter.

Ashley Sierra said...

Sarah sounds like she has a true passion for children's books. Thank you for the opportunity for the critique and opening up for queries. I shared on Twitter: @AshleySierra06

Anonymous said...

What a pawsome interview. Packed full of informative and insightful information. It's great to see agents so excited about children's books. My fox ears, are up and alert so inspiring! Thank you for offering us fox cubs a chance to get a, query letter looked at and given a chance to shine! Be still my brush tail! 🐾 Had to share this amazing offer on twitter @dywest

Mary Rudzinski said...

What a helpful interview! Sarah’s passion for picture books comes through- thanks for the giveaway!

Melissa Miles said...

I enjoyed the interview. Thanks for the chance to win a critique and also for accepting submissions from Literary Rambles followers!
Congratulations on your sales. That's great!

Anonymous said...

This is such a wonderful opportunity! Thank you for the great interview. (jenniferbrennise@gmail.com)

Rose Cappelli said...

Thanks for this fabulous interview and oportunity. I think Sarah would be a fabulous agent! I'm spreading the news on Twitter. My email is ryc1011@hotmail.com.

Jessica Haster said...

Thank you for the opportunity of a query critique and for opening to submissions! Jessica.Haster.writes@gmail.com

Sarah Meade said...

Thank you for this informative interview and for the submission opportunity! --Sarah Meade

Hollie Wolverton said...

Great interview and amazing opportunity with the submission and query critique giveaway! Thank you so much! hgwolverton@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing such an informative interview with Sarah!

Eileen Mayo
Emayo@kidfunideas.com

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this interview and submission opportunity.

Mariautumn@hotmail.com

suetwiggsbooks said...

I am researching agents and Sarah sounds like one that I would like more information about. thanks for introducing her to me.
sue

Biz said...

Love how this opens with integrity as a prized value! Please put me down for a chance to win a query critique and thanks for this kind offer. elizabethchestney@gmail.com

Judith L. Roth said...

Thanks so much for this opportunity to sub to a wonderful literary agency! And also the query crit chance....

Anonymous said...

Another wonderful interview!! Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom!

Emilyholewczynski@gmail.com

Julianna said...

Thank you! Great interview!

Kim A. Larson said...

Thank you for the great interview, Sarah and Natalie! I shared this on Twitter.

Claire B. said...

Thank you for sharing about the collaborative spirit and emphasis on kindness and honesty at Red Fox Literary. I will be sure to follow!

Rosi Hollinbeck said...

Another wonderful and useful interview. Thanks!

Deb Buschman said...

What a great opportunity. I think your values are important.

Jay Linden said...

Honesty and kindness = good relationships - I'm with Sarah all the way on that one. Especially important when dealing with the roller coaster of the publishing world - thank heavens wonderful books are still getting published. Stories help us make sense of the world and isn't that a lifeline to children and parents right now - and also wonderful when they offer some comic relief:-)

Unknown said...

Honesty and kindness-- there is no better foundation for any relationship. Thank you for another interesting interview!

Anna I. Smith
annaismith@outlook.com

Angie B. said...

Thank you for the interview and opportunity to submit to you.

Andi Chitty said...

Such a great (and helpful) interview, thank you Sarah and Natalie! I've only heard great things about Red Fox and the agents who work there, so it was nice to read more about Sarah's experience there as an agent!

I retweeted Natalie's and Sarah's posts about this interview on Twitter. Thank you for the opportunity!

Andi Chitty

Erin Pearson said...

Wonderful interview! I love the focus on honesty and kindness.

I retweeted Natalie's post on Twitter.

Ashley Sierra said...

Email: teach0704@gmail.com

Anne said...

Thank you both for these wonderful opportunities and this thorough interview.

Weaver said...

Great interview. And nice of her to have a special opening for your followers. Even if it's not until March. :D

Tonja Drecker said...

I had to smile at the shorter queries comment. Thanks for the interview!

Anonymous said...

I follow via email and would love to win this!
helloelizaethjames at gmail.com

Nick Wilford said...

Great interview! Sarah sounds so passionate about the authors and books she represents.

Karyn Curtis said...

Great interview! I would love a critique from Sarah Stephens! My email is fz472@ncf.ca

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ellie Jay Kim said...

Hi! This interview was really helpful. You gave me hope about small press publishing. And I'd love to get feedback from Ms. Stephens!
My email is elliejaykimcozy@gmail.com

Laurie Smith Murphy said...

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Sarah! This is a great opportunity! --Laurie Murphy
lauriemurph@hotmail.com

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

As always, another great agent interview. So helpful!

Lauri Meyers said...

I love Red Fox's Children's focus and the overall character of the agency. Great to learn more about Sarah!

Jennifer P. said...

As others have said, your focus on integrity and kindness is so appreciated. I also hear great things about Red Fox. And thank you for offering a lucky author a query critique!

Kelley S. said...

It's great to have another interview with a Red Fox Agent. I listened to one with Eve Adler over the summer and I appreciate their overall philosophy as an agency!

sburdorf said...

Absolutely love the honesty and sincerity in this interview. Working with you sounds like an awesome opportunity! I have shared this on Twitter. My email is susan.burdorf@comcast.net (not sure the google one will show up). Thank you for the chance to win.

Janet Frenck Sheets said...

I'm so glad to hear from an agent who says her sweet spot is picture books. I wish the whole world would recognize how much fun they are!

Jenna Johnson said...

This is so great! Thank you for sharing.

Laddy Lau said...

Red Fox is definitely on my list. I would love a critique!

Stacey May said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stacey May said...

Connection and relationships are so important during this journey. Thank you for the great interview!

Alexia Andoni said...

Great interview. Thank you Natalie and Sarah!
alexiamandoni [at] gmail dot com

Kate Pellegrino said...

Thank you so much for posting this!
kathleen (dot) kacevich (at) gmail (dot) com

Unknown said...

Thank you for the insight in this interview! And it's so kind of you to create a special query form. It's so appreciated!