Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Agent/Author Claire Friedman & M.K. Lobb Guest Post w/Seven Faceless Saints Giveaway on 2/1/2023
  • Lori Steel Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 2/6/2023
  • Bethany Funk Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 2/23/2023
  • Agent/Author Lizz Nagle & J.A. Nielsen Guest Post w/The Claiming and Query Critique Giveaway on 3/6/2023
  • Kristen Terrette Agent Spotlight Interiew and Query Critique Giveaway on 3/20/2023

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: Savannah Brooks Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

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

Hi Savannah! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Savannah:

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

I started thinking about working in publishing while I was in grad school, earning my MFA in creative writing, but I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to do. I took roles in various capacities—from an editor at a small local publishing house to the editor-in-chief of a literary magazine to a teaching assistant for creative writing classes—and eventually landed an internship with the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in 2018. In 2019, I was brought on board as an associate agent, and this past summer I joined the amazing team at KT Literary as an agent. It’s funny, when I started out, I was very focused on children’s literature but only YA and MG. It took a year and a half for me to pick up a picture book, but once I did, I quickly realized how much I adore them. So that’s really been an area of specialty for me.

 About the Agency:

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

KT was founded by Kate Testerman in 2008, and it started out very specifically focused in MG and YA. It’s grown quite a bit since then but has kept its expertise in children’s lit while broadening out to adult work, too. In my mind, how KT differentiates itself is that the whole agency dedicates themselves to each client. Clients get to know multiple agents, we host office hours where all the agency clients can get together and ask questions—it’s such an intentional, welcoming community.

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 the whole gamut of kid lit: picture books, chapter books, MG, and YA, in both fiction and nonfiction. Across the board, I’m primarily dedicated to representing marginalized authors and bringing informational, empowering, joyful stories into the world. I love to learn, so projects that share fun cultural staples—be they holidays, traditions, practices, etc.—always jump out at me, as do bilingual stories. For picture books, I like more serious topics, and I’m not afraid to get political—I encourage it, actually. For MG, I really only represent highly commercial genres like portal mythologies and mysteries. For YA, I’m pretty limited to contemporary, urban fantasy, and thrillers.

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

Oh gosh, I could go on about this for ages, but I think it’s easier to mention a couple client projects that really show what I’m looking for:

      A picture book about how genetics plays in disability

      A picture book about all the roles a Black barbershop plays in a community

      A MG bilingual summer camp mystery with a Choctaw main character

      A MG portal mythology about Indonesia sea queen folklore

      A YA historical (from the 90s! yikes!) based around the murder of Matthew Shepard

      A YA urban fantasy about a girl who makes a deal with a Japanese goddess to try and work through a traumatic friendship breakup

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

For picture book folks, I’m not a good fit for animal protagonists, rhyme, or purely whimsical stories. For MG, I’m not looking for quieter stories or for coming of age tales. For YA, SFF and hetero romance are tough sells for me. In general, stories that have a classic feel probably aren’t for me. I’m primarily looking for stories told from new perspectives and lenses.

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 believe that books make people better people, so above all, I’m looking for stories that create empathy. I want to bring books into the world that teach kids and teens to be curious and kind, that can guide them through tough times, and that celebrate different cultures and communities.

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’m a very editorial agent, yes. I have an MFA in creative writing, I’m a lit professor, and I came up through publishing on the editorial side first, so all that plays into how I interact with my clients’ work. I take a telescoping approach: we start with an editorial letter than gets at big content edits, then we work down to lines edits and finally copyediting. I’m also a very collaborative agent. I rarely give prescriptive edits, preferring to give guidelines and see where my authors go from there. I also love brainstorming with them.

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?

I only take queries through QueryManager, so if people email me, I’ll respond asking them to resubmit there. In a query letter, I really want to see what the project is about—as opposed to why the project is important or why the author wrote it—and get a good sense of the voice/tone. So long as a query does that, is in a genre I represent, and is within a solid work count, I’ll read through the first couple of pages, at least.

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

My main dislikes aren’t so much about projects as they are about how writers present themselves. I’m not down with writers who 1) come across as arrogant (“this is going to be the next great American novel”), 2) come across as disparaging of their own work or the querying process (“this probably isn’t even that good,” “you probably won’t even read this”), and 3) put other books/authors/agents down. Agents are signing writers for what’ll hopefully be a long working relationship, so we need to feel like we’d enjoy working with you.

Response Time:

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

This really depends. Sometimes I’m very on top of my query inbox and get back to folks in a couple weeks, but other times I fall behind. If I have seven client manuscripts in my queue to be edited, chances are I’m not looking at queries. I also have some pretty serious health issues, so my personal life can throw work off track.

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 open so long as the project they’re querying hasn’t already been published. Those I won’t take on because the project really needs to be an Indie bestseller in order for editors to consider it. Otherwise it doesn’t really matter to me unless those projects are problematic/poorly written. My general advice is don’t try to use self-publishing as a way to launch yourself into traditional publishing. It backfires more often than it works.

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?

Not really. There have always been presses that accept unsolicited submissions, and large publishers are such a powerhouse—for better and for worse—that they’re always going to be appealing to authors. I also see my job as much more client-focused than business-focused. I spend most of my time working with them on bettering their writing, which in turn makes them better writers. Selling their work is the ultimate goal, but it’s not what I value the most.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I represent a good amount of folks, almost all of them debuts. You can find the whole list at sblitagent.com/clients.

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.

At the bottom of the homepage of my website, sblitagent.com, you can find a handful of interviews I’ve done over the years. The most recent are going to be the most helpful. In general, I highly recommend the podcast Print Run. It’s done by two literary agents, Laura Zats and Erik Hane—fellow Minneapolis people!—and is written for writers to better understand the publishing industry. It’s incredibly informational and has won some pretty sweet awards.

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 pretty much all relevant info on my website, sblitagent.com, including links to my Manuscript Wishlist page and QueryManager site. Feel free to follow me on Twitter, too—@sblitagent—where you can find a lot of pictures of a tiny monster who masquerades as my cat.

Additional Advice:

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

The whole publishing process is long and hard, and it can be really rough on writers. Try to find a writing group or some other support network; they can be lifesavers. Also remember that the “I found an agent in two weeks!” success stories you hear on Twitter are so, so rare. Most people query for months if not years. It can be lonely, but I promise you’re not alone in your experience.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Savannah.

Savannah 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 December 31st. Due to the holidays, the winner will not be notified until after January 1, 2023. 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 email 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.

Dashing December Giveaway Hop

 


Happy Friday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Dashing December Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox. I hope you're all excited for the holiday season and have some fun plans coming up.

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 12/16 – 12/31/2022 at 11:59 pm EST. NO PURCHASE IS 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 Guest Posts

Monday, December 19 I have an agent spotlight interview with Savannah Brooks and a query critique giveaway 

Hope to see you on Monday, and have a Happy Holiday Season!

And here are all the blogs participating in this blog hop:




MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.

Literary Agent Interview: Kelly Dyksterhouse Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Kelly Dyksterhouse here. She is a literary agent at The Tobias Literary Agency.

Hi­ Kelly! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Kelly:

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

Literary Agenting is a career that still operates on an apprentice model in many ways. In other words, the way to train is by working your way up, first an intern, and then as an assistant, and then as an associate, until you are finally an agent. And that is largely the path I followed. I started working as an intern back in 2012—wow, 10 years ago! I interned and then assisted at both a large agency and small boutique kidlit-only agency for almost 8 years. In fall of 2019, my colleague Jacqui Lipton made plans to start her own agency and invited me to work with her, and I joined her at Raven Quill Literary Agency in January of 2020. We built the agency from the ground up for 2.5 years, and in May of 2022, we merged with The Tobias Literary Agency.

As an agent, I represent authors and illustrators. My first year as an agent was focused on building a list of clients, and since, the focus has been on selling their works. I have sold picture books, middle grade, and young adult books, both fiction and nonfiction in every category, as well as illustrator deals for picture books.

 About the Agency:

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

The Tobias Literary Agency is a full service agency that offers its clients the personalized attention of a boutique agency with the full-service rights management. Each agent has the freedom to develop their practice to suit their personality and their list to suit their tastes. I tend to be more editorial and to work closely with my clients to develop projects for the market. We all work hard to manage and exploit rights in all fields: foreign, translation, film, audio, merchandising, etc.

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 ages, Picture Book through YA, and both fiction and nonfiction, as well as illustrators, and I am pretty open in terms of genres I will consider. I am particularly looking to grow my illustrator list. In broad terms, I would say that my tastes really walk the line between literary and commercial, but I am drawn to character-driven stories that have amazing voice and stellar writing. I find that in genre fiction (fantasy and sci-fi), it’s really important to have a world that is well-defined. I love worlds where the setting is so well described it almost becomes a character in the book. I also think it’s really important in genre fiction to ensure that the character’s desires are rooted in a universal emotion to create relatable stakes. In contemporary books, I am drawn to characters whose stakes are well-defined and whose stories add something new to the shelves – new outlook, new perspective, new cultural statement. In all genres, the voice of the story must be unique and compelling.

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

Right now I would love a middle grade action adventure book, along the lines of Rangers Apprentice—books that have a vivid, well-developed world, a cast of characters that the reader loves to root for (or against), humor and high stakes. I have long been on the lookout for a spooky ghost story in middle grade. That really goes for YA as well as MG. And I would love to find a great, twisty heist story. I am also on the lookout for humor—I want a book that makes me laugh out loud. I would love a YA rom-com, but there needs to be depth to the character and the story.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

Gratuitous violence, sexual violence, and hard sci-fi are probably not a good fit.

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 to represent books that bring something new to the table, books that respect the child reader, prompting them to look at the world around them in a new way, as well as their place in that world, but that are not didactic or speak down to them. Also books that are just plain—fun!

As for authors, the best kind of client is one who is always curious and never completely satisfied. Someone who is willing to do the work, someone who is thick-skinned but not hard-hearted. Someone who relentlessly pursues their craft and does so while building others up, as well.

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 editorial, and I love working with clients to refine their manuscripts. With novels, once a client feels like their work is submission ready, they send it to me (I am usually expecting it, as we have talked about what work is best for them to work on next.) We usually put the manuscript through a developmental round of development, where I am looking at big picture edits: character arcs, plot, structure, themes, and world building. A second round goes in a little closer, and a final line edit to make sure the draft is clean and ready to go.

I always send back an editorial letter as well as the manuscript with comments in the text, and I ask for the client to let the comments sink in for a day or two and then we hop on a call and talk through any questions they may have and brainstorm possible fixes.

For picture books, my method is similar, but first a client may send me 4-6 pitches of finished works, and we would pick out one to lead with, and put that through edits.

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?

Authors should query me through Query Manager: QueryManager.com/KellyDyksterhouse.

The best query letters showcase both the author’s knowledge of their work, their craft and the business, all written in the unique voice of their work.

I want to see a logline—one sentence that describes the protagonist, the inciting incident, the Story problem and goals, and the stakes. Less is more—the snappier the better! You would be surprised as to how many queries do not have this. And then a single paragraph that fleshes out the log line a bit, giving a sense of character growth, world, themes, and a bio.

The most successful queries also showcase the author’s knowledge of the industry and where their project will fit into it, utilizing comps to showcase themes and target audience. 

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

I am not fond of overly informal queries. This is a business, and your query is a business letter. It need to be professional. Also (this isn’t a dislike as much as a warning), I see a huge number of queries that tell me about the book rather than what the book is about. Keep that focus on the characters and plot, ie: that logline/pitch!

Response Time:

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

I just checked my stats for 2022, and my average response time this year is 30 days.

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 have several clients who have self-published, but the works that I am representing have not been previously published. Traditional publishers want to publish first rights—the right to be the first one to publish a work—so they’re not likely to pick up a book by an unknown author that has been self-published. Now, if new work makes the NYT bestseller list, previous works may hold more of an interest to publishers. As they say, the best way to sell your book is to write another one!

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 have definitely seen the role of agents becoming more editorial, mainly because editors have so much on their plates. But in terms of more small presses, this is only good news for agents, as it means more places to submit their clients work!

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I represent Tom Birdseye, CS Surrisi, Dana Swift, Jess Brallier, Callie Miller, Nedda Lewers, Leslie Stall Widener, and to name just a few. You can check out all of my amazing creatives on my website: KellyDyksterhouse.com

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.

The best resource would be to check out my website and MSWL, which I keep updated.

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:

www.QueryManager.com/KellyDyksterhouse

Website: www.KellyDyksterhouse.com

Or www.TheTobiasAgency.com

MSWL:

https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/kelly-dyksterhouse/

Additional Advice:

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

Pursue your craft relentlessly. Love your stories. Lift others up.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kelly.

­Kelly 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 December 24th. Due to the holidays, the winner will not be notified until after January 1, 2023. 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.

 

 

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Post: What I’m Focusing on This Holiday Season

 


Happy Wednesday Everyone! I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and is excited about the holiday season. I celebrated with my daughter, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s family. It was very special.

Posting: The first Wednesday is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

I’m excited to be a co-host this month with Joylene Nowell Butler, Chemist Ken, Nancy Gideon, and Cathrina Constantine!

Optional Question: It’s holiday time! Are the holidays a time to catch up or fall back on writer goals?

I don’t worry too much about writing goals during the holidays. It’s more important to me to be excited about the holidays and enjoy them with family and friends. My daughter and I always like to spend an afternoon baking around the holidays too. I wouldn’t give up any of the holiday joy for my writing, though I try to write when I can.

This is in line with a big life change I’m going through. This was a super hard year where I was overcommitted with producing two plays and being co-coordinator of the Michigan SCBWI critique carousel. At the same time, I was also dealing with my boyfriend breaking up with me and moving across the country to be near his kids and taking care of my mom in hospice for four months until she passed away in early October. I miss her but am glad she’s not withering away from not eating anymore and is at peace.

I’ve done some soul-searching and plan to cut back on being so busy volunteering so I can slow down and focus on healthy living and enjoying all the things—including writing—that are important to me. A friend told me her mantra is “I only do what I want to do.” As much as possible this next year, that’s what I’m planning to do as well.

What about you? Are you focusing on the holidays or writing this month?

Upcoming Interviews and Guest Posts

Monday, December 12 I have an agent spotlight interview with Kelly Dyksterhouse and a query critique giveaway

Friday, December 16 I’m participating in the Dashing December Giveaway Hop

Monday, December 19 I have an agent spotlight interview with Savannah Brooks and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, January 4 I have an agent/author guest post with Emily Fortney and Kaylie Smith and a giveaway of Kalie’s YA fantasy A Ruinous Fate and a query critique by Emily

Monday, January 9 I have an interview with debut author Tamika Burgess and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Sincerely Sicily

Monday, January 16 I have an agent spotlight interview with Kortney Price and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Monday!

 

Winter Is Coming Giveaway Hop-$15 Amazon Gift Card



Happy Tuesday Everyone! Today I'm thrilled to be participating in the Winter Is Coming Giveaway Hop hosted by The Mommy Island and The Kids Did It. I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and are looking forward to more holiday celebrations with family and friends. I had a fun Thanksgiving with my daughter and her boyfriend and his family. The Saturday before I went wedding dress shopping with my daughter and her bridal party. It was so much fun!

Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

 I'm offering a $15 gift card to Amazon for this giveaway. 

Giveaway Details

One lucky entrant selected by the entry form will receive a $15 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 12/6 – 12/29/2022 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 Guest Posts

Tomorrow, December 7th I have a guest post by debut author Deeba Zargarpur and a giveaway of her YA contemporary House of Yesterday and my IWSG post

Monday, December 12th I have an agent spotlight interview with Kelly Dyksterhouse and a query critique giveaway

Friday, December 16 I’m participating in the Dashing December Giveaway Hop

Monday, December 19 I have an agent spotlight interview with Savannah Brooks and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you tomorrow!

And here's all the other blogs participating in this blog hop: