Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Hillary Fazzari Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 4/22/2024
  • Miriam Cortinovis Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/6/2024
  • Jenniea Carter Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/8/2024
  • Caroline Trussell Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/20/2024
  • Jenna Satterthwaite Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/10/2024
  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/24/2024

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: Daniele Hunter Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Daniele Hunter here. She is a junior literary agent at McIntosh and Otis.

Hi­ Daniele! Thanks so much for joining us.

Thank you so much for having me—I really appreciate your interest!

About Daniele:

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

I’ve known I wanted to be an agent since I was a little kid (I know, I was a bizarre one!), but it took me quite a while to get here. After college, I hopped around in the publishing industry—teaching creative writing classes, working for submission services and literary magazines, tutoring, and so forth. Following about a zillion applications, I landed a remote job reading for McIntosh & Otis in 2016, and they haven’t been able to get rid of me ever since! I’m very grateful to be here, especially with my incredible boss and mentor, Christa Heschke.

About the Agency:

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

McIntosh & Otis works with both children’s and adult clients. The agency has been around since 1928 (it was the first literary agency started by women, in 1928, which is a fun fact I share whenever possible!). We’re very small and personal, and work with authors not just on domestic book deals, but on subsidiary rights such as foreign translation, audiobooks, stage adaptations, and film/TV adaptations.

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 order of priority, I’m looking for: YA, MG, and picture books!

For YA and MG, in terms of genre: Contemporary, novels-in-verse, and contemporary fantasy are my favorites and top priorities! I also look for select suspense/thriller, historical, and higher fantasy. I’m a fan of genre-bending books, too—for example, I don’t work on genre horror, but am open to contemporary or fantasy with horror elements. For picture books, I tend to prefer real-world stories with human narrators, but am open to touches of magic here, too.

I have a heavy preference for first-person—I’d say that about 90% of the time, a third-person book isn’t going to be for me. I’m more relaxed on this when it comes to picture books, though!

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

I love the “heavy” and “dark” and “gritty” books, the ones that center hard-hitting topics like grief, loss, abuse, mental health battles, etc. And I love books that focus in on relationships, but that doesn’t have to mean romance for me; I’m equally passionate about friendship stories, complex family dynamics, etc.

Overall, the most important elements to me are writing style and character development: Whether a book is verse or prose, and even in more commercial genres, I love writing that’s incredibly literary and lyrical. I fall for books with three-dimensional, lived-in character and relationship dynamics; books with tons of narrative interiority. I’m also excited about books that are immersive and descriptive in terms of both emotion and physical setting, and I love mixed-media or unconventional formats in manuscripts.

It’s important to me to work with stories from all underrepresented creators, whether or not their books are explicitly about marginalization. I’m quite open in terms of a book’s topics—but as a queer and disabled agent, I’m also extremely passionate about books that center LGBTQIA+ and/or disability or chronic illness representation!

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

In picture books, rhyme is not for me, and I tend not to be a good fit for concept books—while I do value characterization, I also prefer picture books with more of a plot arc! I don’t work with chapter books or early readers, middle grade with narrators under 11, or adult books. I tend to be most drawn to books with narrators who are 12 years old and above.

Of course, if a client I already represent has one of those categories, I’m more than happy to work with it, often with the help of my boss!

In terms of genre, I’m not a good fit for graphic novels, sci-fi, or most horror. I’m also not the right reader for anything that heavily features insects (with apologies to my boss’s client Ann Fraistat, whose upcoming bug-centric book is amazing!).

In MG and YA, I’m not a fit for talking animal characters, pirates, court fantasy, or any non-human characters other than ghosts (I LOVE ghost stories!). And while I love YA stories set in college, and books with crossover potential, I’m not right for any book that is solidly New Adult (hopefully someday, though!). In any age range, I’m also not a good fit for Christian religious themes or parables.

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 foremost priority with my clients is, and always will be, communication. I know agents can be intimidating to authors, and I never want my clients to feel afraid of me! Whether they have questions or want to raise issues, I’m always here to listen and troubleshoot. For authors working with me, I want every part of the publishing process to be an open dialogue, from creating and editing manuscripts, to the submission process, to contracting with a publisher, to working with that publisher toward publication, and beyond.

I also believe that, though publishing is a business, creating these deeply personal, vulnerable stories is not. I will always treat my clients and their stories with respect. To me, this also means that working with underrepresented authors necessitates willingness to champion and protect these authors and their books in the industry.

As far as the books I work on, I want to work with such heavy topics because I’ve always believed that young readers and teens experience much more, and feel much more deeply, than adults tend to give them credit for. I think books have so much power for readers who are struggling—I know they did for me!

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’m extremely editorial! I love working with clients on both developmental edits and line-level tweaks, and I almost never recommend going on submission with a manuscript before it’s had some editing. In such a tight, competitive publishing market, I think it’s in the client’s best interest to make sure their manuscript is as strong as possible before going on sub.

I always lay out my editorial vision for a manuscript when I first offer representation—it’s important to me to make sure that the author is on board with how editorial I am in nature, as well as my vision for their book specifically.

Once I already represent a client, I’m excited to offer my editorial opinions at any stage of the process, whether they’ve just gotten the idea for a new book, get “stuck” while writing, or have a completed draft. Typically, my clients and I will volley back and forth on a few drafts before going on submission.

This all being said, though, I make sure my clients know that my notes are suggestions, not requirements. While I’ll always have lots of editorial ideas, I want to make sure the author is happy with the book they’re putting into the world—so if they want to go in a different direction than I’ve proposed, I’m always okay with that! The only exception would be any potentially problematic content flagged in a draft.

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?

Please query me only via Query Manager—this helps me keep much better track of queries than I could via email. Include a query letter, synopsis (this should be a summary of the whole book, including the ending), and either the first 25 pages or first 3 chapters of your manuscript (whichever is more).

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

In my personal opinion, a query letter should be one page or less: While you want to give agents a solid idea of your premise and world, you also don’t want to get too bogged down with details. Often, for picture books, writers may need even less space—a paragraph or two might be enough space to adequately set up the plot.

I also appreciate comp titles! From the moment I first read a query, I’m thinking about where I as an agent might be able to place this book in the literary market, and being able to picture some comparative books (or shows, movies, albums, etc.) is very helpful.

I tend to connect most strongly with opening pages that strike a good balance between action and exposition: It’s difficult to hook a reader’s attention with paragraphs of expository narrative; but it can also be jarring to start in the middle of a battle scene, for example, where readers may lack proper context. In perpetually seeking this balance, I don’t tend to be a fan of prologues (but they’re not a dealbreaker for me by any means!). Also, I love seeing dialogue in the opening pages, to give me a sense of characters’ voices right away.

For novels, I like to come away from the opening chapters with an idea of where the plot is heading: a solid sense of the protagonist, a feel for the setting and atmosphere, an inciting plot incident. Though of course revealing the entire plot is a tall order for only three chapters, I find it’s easiest for me as an agent to want more when the author has set up a solid foundation for the story!

Response Time:

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

I know how tough it is for authors in the query trenches right now, and how vulnerable it can feel to put your book out there—I never want to leave an author hanging. That being said, my response times can lag more than I’d ideally like them to. For one thing, my job as a junior agent is incredibly busy, especially because I assist on my boss’s list, and also have a handful of clients I share with her. Also, I’m a chronically ill agent, which makes my health and capacity variable. I always strive to get back to authors within 2-3 months’ time, but can fall behind on that (I am right now).

I’ll also admit that sometimes I catch myself sitting on manuscripts I’m interested in—if something about a query has hooked my interest, but I’m not sure about it for whatever reason (editorial vision, similarity to another book I’m working on, voice, etc.), I can hold onto it for much longer than I intend by mistake.

All of this is to say, I apologize in advance for any delays and welcome nudges from authors! I will always respond to queries, no matter how long it’s been, and am happy to confirm receipt with writers or give them a sense of my current timeline.

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?

Of course! I don’t work with manuscripts that are currently published or self-published, but am always happy to hear from writers who have pursued these avenues for past projects. (Also, I love small presses—I submit to many of them as an agent! I think they’re an integral part of the publishing world.)

I know the query trenches can be especially frustrating for already-published writers, but I believe this is the best way to match with an agent. (Almost all of the clients I co-represent with my boss started out as cold-call queries!) I’m always excited to hear about other books an author has published, and always Google them while reading my queries, so definitely feel free to include those in your query letter. I also appreciate when published writers tell me in their queries whether they envision their next books being similar to what they’ve already published, or whether they want to branch out into new genres or age ranges.

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?

That’s a great question! At its heart, agenting is about advocating for and protecting authors: It’s my job to make sure that authors and their stories are in the best hands possible, and get the best possible deals. That being said, the list of things we need to watch out for and new technologies we need to know about is ever-changing (a good example right now is the growing popularity of AI technologies, and how AI can affect publishing components like audiobooks, editing, and art). I think a core part of being an agent is being adaptable.


13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I actually just recently signed with the first client for whom I’m the primary agent, Kade Dishmon! His book is YA—a trans, gorgeously lyrical and dark, emotional ghost story that centers grief, queerness, and friendship—trust me when I say I’m head-over-heels. :) I’m also incredibly lucky to co-represent some extraordinarily talented creators with my boss, Christa Heschke: Jennifer Archer (YA), Eric Bell (MG), Stacey Byer (PB author-illustrator), Maribel Castells (PB author-illustrator), Kim Chance (MG, YA), Catherine Cal Tanner (YA), Tiffany Golden (PB, MG, YA, and she illustrates!), Chad Lucas (MG), Diana Ma (MG, YA), Amren Ortega (YA), and Karyn Riddle (YA).

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.

Just one so far—earlier this summer, I had the amazing opportunity to do a podcast interview for the AALA subgroup I’m part of, Literary Agents of Change:


Update on 4/19/2024: Interview at Writing and Illustrating Part 1 and Part 2 (04/2024)

Links and Contact Info:

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

Website: https://www.dhunteragent.com/

Query Manager: https://www.querymanager.com/ddhunter/

AALA Member profile: https://aalitagents.org/author/dhuntermcintoshandotis-com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/danieledhunter/

Bluesky: https://bsky.app/profile/danieledhunter.bsky.social

Additional Advice:

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

As rough as the query trenches are, as backlogged as many agents are, and as slowly as the publication process can move—don’t lose hope. Your voice, and your story, matter. Find a band of authors to get you through the many idiosyncrasies of publishing (and a band of non-authors to occasionally pull you away from your laptop J).

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Daniele.

­Daniele 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 August 26th. If your email 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 follow me on Twitter or 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.

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

FYI, I do not have as much planned this summer. I’m taking a little break to enjoy my daughter’s wedding celebrations and to help get ready for the wedding.

Wednesday, August 16 I’m participating in the Old School Giveaway Hop

Wednesday. September 6 I have a guest post by Victoria Wlosok and a giveaway of her YA mystery How to Find a Missing Girl

Thursday, September 7 I’m participating in the September Holiday Giveaway Hop

Monday, September 11 I have an agent spotlight interview with Heather Cashman and a query critique giveaway

Monday, September 18 I have an interview with Emi Pinot and a giveaway of her MG modern fairytale retelling Bee Bakshi and the Gingerbread Sisters

Monday, September 25 I have an agent spotlight interview with Jen Newens and a query critique giveaway 

Hope to see you on Wednesday!


Kate Larkindale said...

Another agent to add to my query list for when (if??) I ever finish editing my book!

Lauren Reed said...

I have an open query with Daniele and am excited to read more about what she is looking for. It would be amazing to win a query critique from her! lmtasaki@gmail.com

Computer Tutor said...

You sound like a lot of fun. Sad I don't write your genres!

E. T. Charles said...

Always great to learn about a new to me agency and agent.

Liz A. said...

Very good info.

Laya said...

What a great interview! I appreciate and value that you are so dedicated to your clients, Daniele. I also have an open query but would love to have the opportunity for a query critique. lasword(at)rcn.com


Sounds like a great novel. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity. Sidlaw0425@yahoo.com

mhberg said...

Thanks so much for this great interview! I'd love to be included for the giveaway. I receive the newsletter at mhberg@sbcglobal.net but I think my google email is mhberg61@gmail.com !

Alicia J Novo said...

Another insightful interview. It makes such a difference to know more about an agent. Thanks for doing these! aliciajnovo@gmail.com

Becky Levine said...

Lots of interesting info!

Shanti Thirumalai said...

This was an inspiring interview.
Thank you!

Shanti Thirumalai said...

I would like to be included in the giveaway please.

Laddy Lau said...

I enjoyed learning more about Daniele's taste and work ethic. Thank you for the interview.

Anonymous said...

This is a fabulous interview. Thanks for the effort and insight! Jen.jasinski.author[at]gmail

Sandra Cox said...

Love the fact that women started the agency in 1928.
Great interview, ladies.

ptnozell said...

Thank you both for the informative interview!

Marie Prins said...

Great interview! I love that this agency was started by women almost a century ago! And I'd love to win a critique by Daniele. My email address is readingroom@eagle.ca. Thanks!

Dedra Davis Writes said...

Thank you for this interview! I read "hard subjects" and "ghost," listened to the podcast listed, and queried! Thank you, Natalie!

Jonni said...

What a great post! Very informative, and a giveaway, too! Nice!

Lauri Fortino said...

It's so nice to learn more about you, Daniele! You seem like you'd be fantastic to partner with, and I hope to query you soon.

LindamoodD said...

Thank you for this invaluable information. It's so nice to get insight, even if my protagonist is to young for her. Would still love to win a critique though! danarlindamood@gmail.com

Judith L. Roth said...

Thanks for another great interview, Natalie!

Anonymous said...

Great interview! I also prefer stories written in 1st person 🙂. Thanks for the opportunity! I follow you both on Twitter. Brilawyer@gmail.com

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I think you were a very wise child!

Rosi said...

Thanks for another very informative interview.

Sarah Skolfield said...

Fun interview. I appreciate the time Daniele and Natalie spent to share this with us! Thank you!

Michelle Renee Stimpson said...

I would appreciate an opportunity for a query critique! michelle.r.stimpson@gmail.com

Also, post shared to Facebook.

Mary said...

Thanks so much, Natalie, for introducing us to Agent Danielle Hunter and offering this chance to win a query critique.

Shamaila J said...

Great interview. I would love to enter the critique giveaway. My email is shamaila.siddique@gmail.com

Jennifer P. said...

Lots of great insights in this post. Thank you, Daniele and Natalie, for sharing!

Cindy Johnson said...

Another wonderful interview! Thanks so much Natalie and Daniele!

Kim said...

Great interview!

Anonymous said...

I would love to query you with my mg Anastasia X Indiana Jones book.

Anonymous said...

My email is suzysteele2006@gmail.com

Leela said...

I'm an email subscriber.

Greg Waring said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Greg Waring said...

Great interview! Daniele seems like a wonderful agent. My manuscript checks several items on her list—it's a genre-bending YA contemporary fantasy with horror elements that deals with grief and loss and includes ghosts but not a single insect. There is a ghost who was a pirate, but he's got a very minor role. ;) A query critique would be awesome!

SusanHughes said...

What a great interview! I'd love to win a critique from Daniele!

Elliot Olshansky said...

Great interview. I've submitted to Daniele in the past, and even though she passed, she gave me great feedback that helped me feel like I was on the right track. I would LOVE to be able to have her critique something else of mine!

Ree said...

Great interview. Love your dedication to craft!

Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction said...

Hey, I'm able to comment on Google again! Yay!!

I always get excited when I see publishing professionals specifically mentioning novels in verse. I'm not even looking for an agent, and it still makes me happy!

Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction