Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Ashley Reisinger Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 12/11/2023
  • Leah Moss Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 1/8/2024
  • Laura Gruska Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 1/31/2024
  • Stuti Telidevara Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 2/12/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "H" as of 5/11/2023 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: Heather Cashman Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Heather Cashman here. She is a literary agent at Storm Literary Agency.

Update on 11/9/2023: Heather is currently closed to submissions. Please check the agency website to find out when she reopens to queries.

Hi­ Heather! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Heather:

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

What seems like a lifetime ago, I was an agent intern at The Bent Agency and working as an editor while also helping the amazing Brenda Drake run Pitch Wars. About five or six years ago, I was at a conference giving a presentation about pitching when I met Victoria Selvaggio, owner of Storm Literary Agency. She said she was expanding into middle grade and young adult fiction and was looking at bringing on another agent. I told her at dinner that I would love to be considered, and in January of 2019 I became an agent.

About the Agency:

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

Storm is a boutique agency that has grown from primarily picture books to now representing all age categories and genres, both in fiction and nonfiction. We have a client-only facebook group with the wealth of accomplished authors helping one another. We have foreign rights and film agents we work with, as well as a marketing specialist who guides our authors to find strategies that are right for them. We’re very collaborative and family oriented, and work to create a positive environment that will be nurturing and conducive to creativity, including offering free workshops to our clients.

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’ve been described by my colleagues as a literary omnivore because I represent all age categories and all genres, in both fiction and nonfiction. I’ve considered everything you can imagine. While I do have commercial taste in premise, I love literary-leaning line writing, unique twists, and timeless themes. I look for the things that are different, that should be out there and aren’t. And I love learning about new people and places and perspectives.

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

Anything that fills a hole in published works. Anything that brings a new and fresh perspective. I love to find new formats and writers who are pushing against norms in form.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

Generally, I’m not a good fit for talking animals, circuses, non-humanish creatures, and sad elephants. Yes, those might sell, but I generally can’t get through them (or can’t get through them the seven or ten times it takes to get a book published—I’ll just bury my head in the sand).

Please, nothing misogynistic or prejudiced.

I’m usually not a good fit for memoir, military SF, or books where animals are killed.

Also, I don’t appreciate gore or anything gruesome on the page, anything gratuitous, or slasher-esque. I also don’t like graphic sex on the page, and I’m starting to shy away from issue books. I don’t mean to say that you can’t have problems, and I believe that’s a true part of any character. However, the books I lean toward balance this with levity and other emotions rather than just darkness.

I’m also not interested in seeing a book that’s been subbed to me multiple times or withdrawn multiple times because you want to sub and then do edits and then sub and do more edits.

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 one word: uplifting.

My general philosophy is that I want books that uplift us as individuals, as a society, as a nation, as citizens of the world.

As for my clients, I try to lift them up in every way: elevate their writing, elevate their creative mood, elevate their careers. I want to support their hopes and dreams.

And I want them to always be reaching as well. I love it when my clients take continuing education workshops or get edits from experts to elevate their work. I love it when they look for opportunities, when they search out awards, when they work to market themselves, when they are actively studying the market and finding a way to break into it with their own unique ideas and perspectives to share.

The agent/author relationship is a creative team, and it only works when both are giving their all.

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 very editorial. I generally do the traditional three-step edits. Developmental—any big-picture issues with theme, character, world-building, and plot. Consistency—anything having to do with being consistent such as character behavior and arc, rolling plot on a more action/decision oriented scale, and world rules. Line—word choice, sentence order, paragraph and chapter issues.

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 take queries through Query Manager (link on Storm submission page). I prefer my queries with a ‘Hi Heather,’ opening, personalized title paragraph with comps and logline, the pitch, and a biography paragraph about the author’s writing credits and anything that would influence the project being submitted, and a full-name signature.

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

I don’t appreciate arrogance or condescension. Big surprise, but I see it too often. Your pitch and premise should speak for themselves. In other words, I should need convincing.

Response Time:

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

Here is where I have to apologize. I am very slow!

Because I love so much, it’s very difficult to decide what I should take on. I give a lot of thought to every query, and when I get 200+ per week, it takes a long time to process them and give each one individual attention.

So unfortunately, it takes me three to four months for a query, and then another three to six months for a full read. I know—it’s terrible. But during the day I have a fairly full schedule with current clients, and so I have to do queries on nights and weekends, and that’s also when I edit client manuscripts. I love looking through my query submissions, but it’s hard to find time as well.

All this said, I know that queries are the life-blood of the publishing industry. This is where I find the unique, the wonderfully creative, and amazing books that I want to champion!

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.

They need to know their numbers, meaning the number of sales, the price points of those sales, and the timeframe of those sales. Because that’s what an editor I’m submitting to will want to see. They are not really a debut author and so, might not be billed as such. Of course, there are a lot of exceptions and considerations for this that can’t be covered here. But previous sales will be something that’s discussed.

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?

Yes. I think as authors need to adapt to keep their careers healthy, agents also need to be flexible and willing to discuss options. For instance, a hybrid author needs an agent to sell their traditional books, but they might also be able to sell audio, film, foreign rights, etc. to their client’s self-published works. There are opportunities everywhere if authors and agents are willing to work together.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Mariely Lares, author of the gender-swapped Zorro retelling Sun of Blood and Ruin (HarperVoyager, Feb 2024) and it’s sequel (2025)

Matthew Broberg-Moffit, author of the food-aversion cookbook Color, Taste, Texture (Penguin Avery, Aug 2023)

Nathalie Alonso, author of Call Me Roberto (Calkins Creek, 2024) and

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.

Manuscript Wishlist Post & Podcast Link (at the bottom)

https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/heather-cashman/

Storm Literary Agency About Us Page

https://www.stormliteraryagency.com/aboutus

Publisher’s Marketplace Page

https://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/HeatherCashman/

Links and Contact Info:

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

Query Manager

http://QueryMe.Online/HeatherCashman

Personal Website

http://heathercashman.com/home/

Storm Literary Agency | Way-Word Writer | Twitter

LinkedIn | Instagram | Facebook | Publisher's Marketplace

Additional Advice:

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

There is so much advice I could give, but my condensed version would be to decide what you want to do with writing and publishing, then stick with it as long as it’s worth it to you. There are different paths now, and I think people should do what makes them happy. I’ve had wonderful writer friends who loved writing and then went on to decide they were happier doing weaving or theater. And we should all give ourselves permission to do whatever we love.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Heather.

­Heather 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 September 23rd. 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

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

Wednesday, October 4 I have an interview with debut author Kellie Parker and a giveaway of her YA thriller Thin Air

Thursday, October 5 I’m participating in the Howl-O-Ween Giveaway Hop

Monday, October 9 I have an interview with debut author Sean O’Brien and a giveaway of his MG historical White House Clubhouse

Wednesday, October 11 I have an agent spotlight interview with Lane Clarke and a query critique giveaway

Monday, October 16 I have an agent spotlight interview with Jane Chun and a query critique giveaway

Monday, October 23 I have an interview with debut author Elisa Stone Leahy and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Tethered to Other Stars

Hope to see you on Monday!

59 comments:

L. Diane Wolfe said...

The writer who keeps editing and resending drives me crazy, too. Send me something new.

abby mumford said...

Heather's practical outlook and advice continues to inspire me to keep writing and working! Thank you for this interview and for sharing so much with the writing community.

Jamie Bills said...

Thank you for your advice in insight! So helpful for those of us in the querying trenches. :)

S. Bohman said...

Thank you for sharing your industry knowledge in this interview. It is much appreciated.

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Great to see Heather's graciousness and enthusiasm!

Alicia J Novo said...

So lovely to hear an agent with such a positive perspective! I'm just sad she is currently closed. Aliciajnovo@gmail.com

Valinora Troy said...

Very interesting interview, thanks! :)

Kimberly Bartosch said...

I know Heather! I remember attending her Pitch War seminar in SCBWI Kansas City and doing the writer's retreat with her at Conception Abbey. It's a small world indeed. Yes I would love to enter the giveaway! I hope I did everything right to enter. :) Just in case my email is kimsayers998@gmail.com or Kimberlybartosch@gmail.com

Jessica Haster said...

I love how no nonsense her interview was! Thank you!

Emily Winter said...

Great interview! I would love to enter the giveaway. My email is emilyhrouton@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Great interview. After three years of writing, finally I think it's time for me to seek publishing. It's daunting. The interview helps.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I think every writer could always use an agent, even if it's just for career advice.

Veronica Jorge said...

Loved Heather's philosophy about books that uplift as well as helping to elevate writers, and encouraging writers to continue learning to elevate their work. Hope I win a query from her. My e-mail is: verojorg@rcn.com

Anonymous said...

Books that uplift. That sounds like a worthy goal. I'd love to win a critique. Catgiery @ gmail dot com

Patricia Keig said...

I love Heather's phrase, literary omnivore. My work is middle grade nonfiction so I deeply appreciate the agents who are curious and ready to be surprised. Thanks to both of you for helping us keep on keeping on!

lkrichmanauthor said...

Uplifting πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

mhberg said...

Wonderful interview with Heather! Thanks, Natalie! (Just FYI I receive the newsletter at a different email than my Google account.)

Rachel said...

Thanks for the great info! So rare to see an omnivore agent!

Ilona Bray said...

I love that Heather's enthusiasm carries on even when it means she has a backlog of reading material! Thanks for an insightful interview.

Carol Baldwin said...

Great and honest interview. Thanks!

Mary Holm said...

Great interview, Natalie. Heather's on my list of agents I would love to work with. I love her "uplifting" philosophy.

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

So inspiring! Cannot wait until Heather reopens.
Also posted on Twitter @katie_mcenaney
Email is archaeo frog at gmail dot com

Liz A. said...

Uplifting. Yeah, I like uplifting books too.

Anonymous said...

You sound like a great agent, Heather.

Judith L. Roth said...

Another great interview, Natalie. Interesting to hear about the agency as well.

Allison said...

Heather is a breath of fresh air in the daunting world of publishing for us new/aspiring authors. I would love to enter for a chance at the query critique. allison.prueitt@gmail.com. Thanks, Natalie!

Amy Houts said...

I remember how nice it was to meet you in person, Heather, when you visited Maryville, Missouri for a retreat. So good to read about your success as an agent. Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Great interview! Thanks for the opportunity!

ET Charles said...

Thanks for the interview with interesting information. I would like to enter the critique giveaway opportunity.
bethsbiblio@gmail.com

Jodelle55 said...

Thanks once again for a wonderful interview. Please continue to post these agent interviews. I find them very helpful in my continuing search for representation!

Diane T said...

Another wonderful interview. Thanks for sharing, Natalie, and thanks for Heather for her detailed answers!

Laddy Lau said...

I totally agree about uplifting work. Our society does need it and I describe my work in this way too! Twitter @morgancreates.

Suzette Garvey said...

Thanks for sharing, Heather! Things we have in common: uplifting genre-splitting stories, LOTR, Star Wars, YA/MG sci-fi/fantasy, and working with experts to boost all layers of storytelling before an agent dives in.

Kate Larkindale said...

What a great interview. So interesting to hear about different agents and their processes.

Sandra Cox said...

Great interview. Love that you're an editorial agent.
'Lo, Natalie.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful interview! Would love to win a critique!

Aruna said...

Hi Heather, I loved your interview and your advice. Thanks. Please include me in the query contest...My email is ashekar.phd@gmail.com

Rosi said...

What a wonderful in-depth interview. Thank you so much for all the information and advice!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I love that Heather looks for the things that are different, that should be out there and aren’t.

Great interview.

Stephanie J said...

Storm Literary sounds like an amazing company, to offer continuing education for their authors.

Leela said...

I'm an email subscriber.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great interview! Thank you for sharing.

Kamilla said...

Thanks for this interview! I particularly appreciated your specifics about what to include in a query letter and "don'ts" with querying. I'd love a critique if I win--at kamillab@gmail.com

Laura said...

LOVED the reflection about agent philosophy - uplifting is a beautiful concept. It's always very nice to read about how clear Heather is about her MSWL, and what she's not looking for. Thanks for this interview!
(laura.wippell@gmail.com)

Jen said...

I like how you relate uplifting books to uplifting your clients - you have lucky clients.

Melissa said...

Heather seems like an amazing agent. I love her philosophy and her approach to agenting.

If possible, I'd love to be added to the query opportunity (bergum.meli@gmail.com)

Thank you and thanks for doing the interview!

SusanHughes said...

What wonderful advice from an experienced agent. Thanks for adding me to the query opportunity. My email is susanhughesbooks@gmail.com.

Angela Hartman said...

Thank you for sharing such valuable information. What a lovely interview!

DJ Christie said...

I love these interviews! Discovering an agent’s like and dislikes is very helpful in the querying process. Hopefully, it helps Heather’s inbox to be more tailored to what she wishes to represent as well.

Fundy Blue said...

What a great interview with Heather, Natalie! She shared a lot of good information! Don't enter me in the giveaway, because I am not a match for what Heather's looking for. Have an enjoyable weekend!

Lauri Meyers said...

Great interview! I appreciate Heather keeping it real about timing:)

Mary Malhotra said...

Thanks so much for another awesome agent interview! I'm building my list--of agents to query!--and your blog is such a great resource :)

I'd love a critique from Heather. Fingers crossed!

Lauren H. Dowdle said...

Great interview and advice—love your philosophy as an agent!

Cathy said...

I am a new follower. Thank you for providing this amazing resource. Heather's positive philosophy is very refreshing. I would like to be considered for the query giveaway.

Maria Altizer said...

I enjoyed learning about Heather's philosophy as an agent. I'd like to be considered for the critique. mariautumn@hotmail.com

Andy Narwhal said...

What a lovely resource! Heard about you from Storyteller Academy and I will be checking back frequently. (QueryFromAndy@gmail.com)

Dream4u said...

Great interview! I would love to win a critique from Heather. I also shared on Twitter.

Laurie Elmquist, author said...

I really enjoyed this interview and all the tips it contained about writing the query letter. I usually use a more formal address in my queries but I like the idea of writing Hi Heather, as if we are already getting to know one another. I see there are other Storyteller Academy members here and that makes me feel like I'm in the right place to learn about the industry.