Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024
  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
  • Sheila Fernley Agent Spotlight Interview, Critique Giveaway, and One-Hour Zoom Call on 7/29/2024
  • 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: Caroline Trussell Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Caroline Trussell here. She’s a junior literary agent at Metamorphosis Literary Agency.

Hi Caroline! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Caroline:

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


My journey to becoming an agent was a bit of a long one but I’m so glad I’m here. I realized I wanted to be in publishing around 2019 and worked very hard to procure an internship either with a publishing house or an agency. In early 2020, I cold emailed a ton of agencies and I wound up having the opportunity to be an assistant for the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency and I learned a lot about reader’s reports and evaluating manuscripts based on agent’s wants.

In 2021, I attended the Columbia Publishing Course, which taught me so much about publishing and the different areas you can work within and I really knew from that experience that I wanted to be an agent.

In 2022, I served as a reader for the Bent Agency, which I loved doing. Reading and evaluating manuscripts will always be one of my favorite parts of being an agent.  Finally, towards the middle of 2022, I became an intern at my current agency, Metamorphosis Literary Agency, and I was mentored by the amazing Amy Brewer until I became an agent in late December 2022.

As a newer agent, I’ve been really focused on working with my current authors to find the right editors for them and making sure their stories are the best they can be. I’ve also been prioritizing using platforms to talk about publishing topics to help authors learn more and to be transparent and open about what agenting and publishing involves.   

About the Agency:

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

Metamorphosis Literary is a very close-knit agency. It’s one of the reasons I was so happy to become an agent here. We have a very collaborative approach and are willing to help each other with industry information and answer any questions between agents.

Just like most agencies, we offer representation for authors, including dealing with subsidiary rights (audio, film, TV, etc.) but what I like to think we offer that’s unique is a tailored experience to each author, ensuring that they are comfortable, at ease, and feel empowered.

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?

Right now, I represent mostly children’s books and YA is my ultimate favorite age group to work with. Fantasy in any genre is what I enjoy working with most, but what I find most important in stories is representation- whether it’s chronic illness rep, stories written by BIPOC or LGBTQ authors, or especially mental health representation. Mental health is a topic near and dear to my heart and I want to see stories with protagonists that deal with mental health from day to day and still get what they want.

However, what I’m currently looking for is different than what I represent right now, as I’m seeking to acquire other genres and age groups. I would really love to see a quirky romcom, a gripping thriller, a heart racing horror, or a fantasy that has setting as a character- all of these I am looking for in the adult space. 

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

Personally, it would be amazing if someone had a psychological thriller akin to THE SILENT PATIENT or SHUTTER ISLAND. I love thrillers that play on ‘is this real or all in my head’ and ‘is this person going down the rabbit hole or is everything actually crazy and they’re right?’

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I’m not currently representing any kind of nonfiction. Although, someday I would love to take on memoirs and narrative nonfiction, I don’t have the capacity as of yet. I tend to shy away from historical fiction and cop procedural type of mysteries.

In any genre, if there are triggers such as suicide, self-harm, alcoholism, or abuse, I can’t take those stories on.

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 philosophy is that I hope to have a lifelong or as long as possible partnership with my authors. I genuinely want them to become the best writers they can be and to publish as many books as they want to. I am very accessible and open with my authors and I share a lot of submission information and processes with them because, as an author myself, I would want the same transparency.

When signing authors, I look for if our communication styles match because this is something that can make or break a relationship and being an author and agent is a type of relationship- it’s a partnership for years. I also try to weed out if the person is kind, if they’re passionate, if they’re willing to take constructive criticism and if they have other story ideas besides the manuscript I would sign them for.

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?

ABSOLUTELY. My favorite part of being an agent is diving into manuscripts and providing editorial feedback. I love honing my authors’ stories to help them shine and to make their already amazing stories the best they can possibly be.

Before submitting to editors, I’ll work with my authors by taking another look at their manuscript and seeing if there are any scenes or areas that need to be developed more, any line edits that need to be done, or any character arcs that need to be reevaluated, among other things. Depending on where the story is, sometimes I will only need to look at the manuscript once before going on submission and other times it may be a few back-and-forth rounds of edits.

But my ultimate goal is to make sure that the author’s vision is kept intact and that their story is in its best shape before we send it out on submission.

As a side note, I love editing so much that I also have an editorial service, Tru Story Editing, and will be reopening this month to query packages and first three chapter evaluations.

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 can query me through my QueryManager link: https://QueryManager.com/carolinejtrussell

Within the query letter, I don’t have particular preferences but I do like to see a strong hook, what the stakes are for the main character/what will happen if those stakes aren’t met, and comparative titles as well as the genre, age group, title of the book, and word count of the manuscript. 

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

If the author spends most of the query letter stating their accomplishments, it gives me a sense that they are selling themselves and not their writing. Don’t get me wrong, it is very important to include an author bio so that I can get a sense of your experience with writing and any previous publications but the query letter, to me, is to sell your book first and foremost.

Response Time:

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

I try to respond to authors as quickly as I can. I don’t enjoy keeping people waiting and, if I have the capacity, sometimes authors will even get a response within a few days or a week.

I generally know what I am looking for in a query letter and opening pages and can quickly tell if the material is something I believe I could take on and be passionate about. As far as full manuscript requests, I normally have the same time frame as sending rejections- anywhere between a few days and a week.

When I request a full, I try to take my time in reading and evaluating the story. If I’ve requested a full, I see a lot of potential in it, but I have to ask myself if I feel that the material is sellable, if it’s strongly written and developed, and if the plot is engaging. Of course, I’m not expecting stories to be perfect and ready to go out on submission, though.

I’d say between 1-3 months is my normal response time for fulls. If I do not offer representation, I do my best to provide several points of critique and how the author could revise their story to make it stronger. 

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, of course. I think this shows that these authors have put a lot of effort into their writing and have what it takes to publish other stories. My advice is the same as to everyone, which is to have a strong query package, to do research on the agents they hope to submit to, make sure their story aligns with the agent’s wish list, and to never stop writing and believing in themselves.

Querying can oftentimes be a long and draining process and I advise all authors to remember to take care of themselves, to do what’s best for them, and to continue to have hope.

Clients:

12. Who are some of the authors you represent?

My current authors are Demri Redmon, Veronika Kiley, and Jessica Guest- who are all currently on submission.

Demri has written a gripping YA gothic horror that includes a haunted house and is centered around Edgar Allan Poe’s fictitious daughter as she fights to save her house and humanity.

Veronika has written an immersive YA fantasy with themes of one’s perceived destiny being ripped away from them only to be replaced by a more powerful one. It includes a unique take on Greek mythology and the zodiac and has lots of female empowerment, strong friendships, and amazing worldbuilding.

Jessica has written a very poignant middle grade story about a girl who is bullied for her weight but finds power and solace through poetry and who is gifted with a magical quill that allows her wishes to come true. However, she makes a huge mistake and has to right all of her wrongs before time runs out.

If any editors see this and are interested in reading the full manuscript of any of my authors’ work, please message me on X: @carolinejtrulit

Interviews and Guest Posts:

13. Please share the links to any interviews, guest posts, and podcasts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.

I haven’t been featured in any podcasts or interviews yet besides this one, which I’m very grateful for, but I was on Demi Schwartz’s podcast, Literary Blend, this month to talk about Mental Health Awareness Month and how mental health plays into my strategy as an agent.

https://open.spotify.com/episode/7KfFWtB6KfI3O0ElmtAl4R?si=Jzhm10PrSIOOc1GvH2n_BQ

I also have a page on Manuscript Wishlist that authors may find helpful in learning more about me and my preferences: https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/caroline-trussell/

Links and Contact Info:

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

Writers should use my QueryManager link to query me. That's the only way I accept submissions currently.

If authors would like to see what I’m up to, they can take a look at my social media and the Metamorphosis website. I also provide editorial services for authors who would like beta reading or query critiques.

Twitter/X- https://x.com/carolinejtrulit?s=21

TikTok- www.tiktok.com/@carolinejtrulit

Metamorphosis website- https://www.metamorphosisliteraryagency.com/submissions

Editorial Services- https://www.litagentcarolinetrussell.com/services-4

Additional Advice:

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

My advice would be to continue to hone your craft. Utilize beta readers, become friends with other writers, cheer each other on throughout this whole process of trying to get published. Secondly, prioritize your mental health and do what is best for you when it comes to how long you query, how many agents you query, and so forth.

At the end of the day, remember why you write and the stories you have inside you that need to be told.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Caroline.

Giveaway Details

­Caroline 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 1st. 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

Saturday, June 1st I’m participating in the Berry Good Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, June 5th I have an interview with author June Hur and a giveaway of her YA historical A Crane Among Wolves and my IWSG post

Monday, June 10th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jenna Satterthwaite and a query critique giveaway

Sunday, June 16th I’m participating in the Dad-o-mite Giveaway Hop

Monday, June 17th I have an interview with debut author Leah Stecher and a giveaway of her MG magical realism The Things We Miss

Monday, June 24th I have an agent spotlight interview with Bethany Weaver and a query critique giveaway

I hope to see you on Sunday, June 1st!

 

Moms Rock Giveaway Hop



Happy Thursday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Moms Rock Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox. Spring is definitely here, and I've been enjoying planting my vegetables and flowers. Normally, I'd hold off on planting the flowers, but we've had a really warm spring. I've been producing Glengarry Glen Ross for a community theatre group that I'm a board member of. Performances run through this weekend, and then I will thankfully be done with this job.  

Book of Your Choice or Amazon Gift Card

I am offering a book of your choice that is $20 or less on Amazon. 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

To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by May 31st telling me whether you want a book, and if so, which one, or the Amazon gift card and your email address. Be sure to include your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media sites and/or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. The book giveaway is U.S. only and the Amazon gift card giveaway is International.

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Monday, May 20th I have an agent spotlight interview with Caroline Trussell and a query critique giveaway

Saturday, June 1st I’m participating in the Berry Good Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, June 5th I have an interview with author June Hur and a giveaway of her YA historical A Crane Among Wolves and my IWSG post

Monday, June 10th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jenna Satterthwaite and a query critique giveaway

Sunday, June 16th I’m participating in the Dad-o-mite Giveaway Hop

I hope to see you on Monday!

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


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

How to Nail Your Query Letter by Rose Atkinson-Carter

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have Rose Atkinson-Carter, a writer with Reedsy, here to share her fantastic tips for nailing your query letter. I found her advice and examples very helpful. I hope you will too.

Now here’s Rose!

Query letters are sent to literary agents to assess their potential interest in representing your writing for publication. These agents receive hundreds of queries, but they only select a few authors for representation each year. That’s why mastering the art of crafting a compelling query letter is crucial for aspiring authors.

But don’t worry, you won’t be penning another epic. Although each literary agency has its own requirements, most query letters aren’t expected to be longer than 400 words. With that said, here are 5 necessary steps to nail your query letter and entice any literary agent.

Start with a strong “hook”

In the same way that most successful books start with a strong hook, your query letter needs to compel literary agents to keep reading! In addition to a greeting or salutation to your letter’s recipient, the beginning of your query letter should include a short description that gives agents an overview of your book’s concept.

Before expanding into a successful movie franchise, Michael Crichton’s novel Jurassic Park was an instant bestseller with a powerful and intriguing hook: 

An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now humankind’s most thrilling fantasies have come true. Creatures extinct for eons roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them—for a price. 

Until something goes wrong. . . . 

From this example, the literary agent immediately sees the unique premise of a park filled with dinosaurs and a deadly challenge to overcome. Your hook doesn't necessarily need to show danger or action, but it must be engaging. 

Some practical advice is to look at the short descriptions for movies on streaming platforms used to “hook” potential viewers as inspiration. This is arguably the most important element of your query letter, so make sure you do justice to your writing. 

Include a synopsis 

You’ve now hopefully “hooked” the agent, so it's time to pique their interest with a book synopsis. Think of this as an opportunity to reveal the important elements of:

      The plot

      The primary characters

      The conflicts and questions that drive your story 

You can find some inspiration by reading the blurbs of successful books in your genre to see how their authors introduce their writing effectively. 

Make comparisons to other titles 

Once you’ve written an engaging synopsis, you can make comparisons to similar titles and authors. This not only shows that you have an awareness of the market, but it could also make the agent think, “I like those books, maybe I’ll like this one, too.” Here are two ideas to start with:

      “For fans of”: this helps to show the potential of an existing audience.

      “X meets Y”: this shows how your book combines elements of other titles. 

Keep in mind that there are some comparisons worth avoiding in your letter:

      Outdated books. Market trends change so keep your comparisons current. Using Dickens as a comparison might be a little difficult!

      Chart-topping books. Your work may well become successful, but making comparisons to a franchise as huge as Harry Potter might not come across too well.

      Unknown books. If the comparisons are too niche, the agent might just get confused. 

Don’t forget to talk about yourself 

Following an overview of your book, you should write a short author bio to show all your writing-related accomplishments. This will give the agent a better idea of your publishing experience and potential. It's good practice to only stick to what’s relevant to your writing credentials — there's no need to discuss your dreams or your day job! 

Here are some examples that you might want to include:

      Have any of your books, short stories, poems, essays, etc. been published before?

      Have you won any awards or writing contests?

      Are you a graduate of a creative writing program?

      Have you attended any writing conferences or workshops? 

If you also have a substantial social media following, this is the ideal place to mention an existing audience that could help make your book successful. 

A simple one-line bio is fine 

Equally, many agents are open to debut authors and will mainly focus on the details about your story in your letter. So if you don’t have any particular writing experience yet, don’t worry! You could simply say something like: “I live in Timbuktu with my wife and two kids. This is my first novel.” 

Close with a “thank you” 

Don’t overcomplicate the ending of your query letter. You’re effectively writing a business email, so the best thing to do is to simply end with a formal salutation: 

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you. 

Sincerely,

Your Name 

No need to try to organize a meeting or go into how excited you are at the idea of potentially working together. Just say your thanks and leave it there!

Double-check each agent’s requirements 

Once you’ve crafted a great letter, you’ll have to do some housekeeping to make sure it follows each agent’s submission guidelines. Otherwise, it could unfortunately be disregarded automatically. 

You should, of course, start with a self-proofread. But if you’d like more feedback, there are many editors and agents out there who offer query letter reviews. 

There are two main ways to send queries these days: online submission forms (e.g., QueryManager) and email. It’s common for authors to prepare their letter in a word processor like Microsoft Word and then copy and paste the text into the online form or the email body, depending on an agent’s requirements. Be sure to carefully check the submission requirements of each agent and tweak as needed — if an agent prefers receiving PDF files over Word documents, do as they say!

—------------- 

If you’ve been struggling to put together a solid query letter that does justice to the quality of your work, then hopefully these tips have been helpful. Good luck and happy writing! 

Rose Atkinson-Carter is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors with the world’s best self-publishing resources and professionals like editors, designers, and ghostwriters. She lives in London. 

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Tomorrow, May 16th I'm participating in the Moms Rock Giveaway Hop

Monday, May 20th I have an agent spotlight interview with Caroline Trussell and a query critique giveaway

Saturday, June 1st I’m participating in the Berry Good Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, June 5th I have an interview with author June Hur and a giveaway of her YA historical A Crane Among Wolves and my IWSG post

Monday, June 10th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jenna Satterthwaite and a query critique giveaway

Sunday, June 16th I’m participating in the Dad-o-mite Giveaway Hop

I hope to see you tomorrow!

How Writing in Verse Can Improve Your Prose by Debut Author Sandy Deutscher Green and Ghost Writers: The Haunting of Lake Lucy Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Sandy Deutscher Green here with a guest post to celebrate the release of her MG horror in verse Ghost Writers: The Haunting of Lake Lucy. It sounds like a creepy story with a mystery to solve that I’d enjoy.


Here's a blurb:

A lakeside summer vacation is just what 13-year-old Jayce needs… except he’s convinced the ghost from his nightmares lives in the creepy house next door. But when he decides to team up with his twin sister to write a letter to the phantom neighbor, he’s shocked when THE GHOST WRITES HIM BACK. Now Jayce must uncover the dark secret of a cursed lake—or remain haunted forever.

 

Follower News

Before I get to Sandy’s guest post, I have Follower News to share. Eric Haan recently released book 2 in his Drakenaarde Chronicles, Xander the Shadow Girl. Here’s a blurb: Xander the stable girl is tough and smart; she also likes to keep a low profile – she’s an expert in camouflage. Then, she’s kidnapped and loses her memory. When Jake tries to rescue her, Xander must remember who she is and choose: step into the light and make a stand… or remain hidden in the shadows. And here are a few links: https://www.jakethedragontalker.com/



J.Q. Rose just released Introducing Mom's Memories and Reflections on Motherhood: A Guided Journal. Here's a blurb: Mom’s Memories and Reflections on Motherhood: A Guided Journal is adorned with bright yellow sunflowers and created with pages to journal about mom's unique life experiences, capturing the laughter, tears, and growth that define motherhood. This journal promises to be a timeless heirloom, safeguarding memories and reflections for generations to cherish. And here are a few links:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0D1Q6M13H and http://www.jqrose.com/


Now here’s Sandy! 

How Writing in Verse Can Improve Your Prose

The thought process behind writing a novel in verse can help you write tight and interesting prose without losing the storyline, sacrificing character development, or skipping important beats in your narrative. It can weed out tedious detail and infuse your story with emotional and sensory richness.

In verse novels, word placement on the page enhances the theme of the story and mirrors the emotions of the character. Matching the cadence of the scene by crowding or spreading words mimics the emotional range of a character feeling elation, apprehension, trepidation, longing, jealousy, or any of the dozens of emotions our characters are capable of feeling. Words are sparse and choosing the perfect word encourages you to write the way the narrator is conveying the story. Do your characters always think or speak in perfect sentences? We often communicate in fragments or clauses.

Writing free verse is more than dropping articles and punctuation. It’s being conscious of the rhythm of the words and stanzas by taking natural breathing breaks in the text.

Identify the theme or purpose of your first chapter and rewrite it using shorter lines. Take natural line breaks where you would if you were reading it aloud. Read it aloud yourself, or have your computer’s read aloud function or a person read it to you.

Inside your stanzas, you might discover alliteration or imbedded rhyme, where rhyming words are scattered throughout the text. If not, you might add them, or not, whatever you feel is appropriate. At the end of the chapter, reread the last stanzas. Your chapter title might be there, if you’re inclined to name your chapters (or the title of a poem).

Each poem represents a scene and must fulfill the same requirements as a scene:

Here's an exercise to tighten the words in your story. Try it on one chapter. I’ve used a few lines as an example:

·       Write one chapter in prose:

“There are some people who live year-round at the lake,” Ally said. She pointed to a boy, about thirteen years old, playing some sort of video game on a towel. “Like that kid.”

“How come he’s not out here?” I asked. All that bouncing and sliding was way too much fun.

Ally shrugged. “All I know is that he’s not very friendly. He never talks to anybody. I think he might already be a teenager.” 

·       Rewrite it in free verse, concentrating on emotion and reaction:

she points to a boy on a towel

absorbed in a video game

older than us

wearing cut offs

a leather band wraps his wrist 

hair the color of sand

back curved like the moon

blending into the beach

lonely afternoon 

living at a lake resort

isn’t a vacation for everyone. 

·       Switch back to prose from the verse:

             The year-round boy scowls at him from behind his game. Older than us, he’s wearing cut offs and a leather band around his wrist. His sandy-colored hair blends into the beach.

            An offer to him to join us dies in my throat. Living at the beach isn’t a vacation for everyone.

 

If you’re having trouble with a scene, this exercise might be just what you need to jumpstart your writing by concentrating on transitions between scenes, senses, foreshadowing, advancing the plot, and whether the scene resolves the conflict.

Ultimately, your story will be one that children will love!

You can find Sandy at: Website: www.sandydgreen.com

Giveaway Details

Sandy is generously offering a hardback of Ghost Writers: The Haunting of Lake Lucy for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by May 25th. If your email is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter or follow Sandy on her social media sites, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This book giveaway is U.S.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Wednesday, May 15th I have a guest post by Rose Atkinson-Carter, a freelance writer for Reedsy

Thursday, May 16th I'm participating in the Moms Rock Giveaway Hop

Monday, May 20th I have an agent spotlight interview with Caroline Trussell and a query critique giveaway

Saturday, June 1st I’m participating in the Berry Good Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, June 5th I have an interview with author June Hur and a giveaway of her YA historical A Crane Among Wolves and my IWSG post

Monday, June 10th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jenna Satterthwaite and a query critique giveaway

Sunday, June 16th I’m participating in the Dad-o-mite Giveaway Hop

I hope to see you on Wednesday!

 

Literary Agent Interview: Miriam Cortinovis Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Miriam Cortinovis here. She’s a literary agent at ArtHouse Literary Agency.

Hi­ Miriam! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Miriam:

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

When I started my MA program at DePaul University with a focus in Writing & Publishing, I did not want to become an agent. In fact, I distinctly remember writing in my statement of purpose that I aspired to work at Tor as an editor. I’ve always loved book, but more than that, I loved the spinning gears and delicate clockwork that made all the elements function in elegant harmony. At the time, that seemed like the best position to fulfill that aspiration.

However, between my studies and internships, I’ve learned of the role of the literary agent and swiftly fell in love with it. In particular, through my wonderful internship at Aevitas Creative Management, I gained invaluable exposure to the multi-faceted responsibilities and tasks that an agent carries on. I could still tinker on stories, my hands dirty with oil and red with scarps, but also I could champion the author with negotiation, pitches, and long-term partnership.

My desire solidified into a proper vocation through my internship with ArtHouse Literary in the summer of 2023. I felt welcomed in its tightly knitted environment and encouraged in asking questions, volunteering for projects, analyzing queries, reporting on manuscripts, and shadowing agents during network meeting. So when ArtHouse’s wonderful director Felice offered me a promotion, I had to say yes (after nearly dying of cardiac arrest and spending the rest of that day happy-weeping).

I’ve been an Associate Agent since January 3rd, 2024. Since then, I’ve been reviewing a flood of most wonderful queries in my inbox, assessing partials and reading fulls, offering on my first clients, writing edit letters for their manuscripts, and line-editing the final drafts while also networking with editors through a sleuth of emails and virtual chats.

And oh, secrets things I’d prefer not to give a timestamp to.

About the Agency:

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

Not all have heard of ArtHouse Literary, but I promise that will change in the upcoming years! We’re a fresh, hungry, and experienced literary agency with boutique vibes. We’re looking for almost every genre spread across a dynamic team that always stays in contact and can rely upon each other’s advice to best represent our clients.

We have Felice—our powerhouse of a director and co-founder, who can sell a book like a spell. She’s honestly magic, and also an invaluable mentor for everything publishing and legal. We have Carleen—our sharpshooter agent with thriller, contemporary, romance, and recently nonfiction aims. She’s a tough fighter with such sharp editorial skills. And then we have Esty—my work mom second, and a supernova first and foremost. She’s probably the main reason I decided to work at ArtHouse long-term. There’s no book she can’t cheer, no author she can’t champion. She’s such a kind and respectful literary advocate with a brilliant mind.

Oh, and I guess there’s me too!

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 like to say that I represent everything and anything speculative, ranging from the nitty-gritty grounded fantasy and far-reaching space operas, to cozy magical books and slipstream experiments. No magic system is too rigid or too lose for me.

I do this across most age targets, starting from upper Middle Grade to YA and Adult. For YA, however, the speculative element doesn’t have to be there for me to represent it! I love contemporary, romance, thriller, horror, and historical in that age range.

I like to quantify myself as omnivorous, which I know isn’t exactly helpful.

You can find my complete MSWL at https://arthouselit.com/who-we-are.

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

I’m asking, nay, begging for a Young Adult SFF novel from a BIPOC and/or queer author, specifically one that is written for and addressed to teens (as opposed to the recent crossover appeal, which I still love!). I want to be transported into the empowering magic I felt when, as a young adult growing up, I religiously watched Winx and W.I.T.C.H. and ATLA.

I want stories about friendship first and foremost. I yearn for fantasy novels where the primary stake isn’t saving the world. I want magical girl (gender neutral) transformation à la Sailor Moon and deeply emotional, honest voices à la The Astonishing Color of After. I crave non-binary representation where gender identity isn’t at the core of the plot and disabled/chronically ill voices where the bottom line isn’t, ‘just push through the pain and you’ll be fine.’

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

In general, I’m not interested in picture books, chapter books, adult fiction books without a speculative element, poetry, and nonfiction.

In particular, I’m not looking for speculative historical books set in WWI-WII (unless from a non-European or non-White American perspective), paranormal books centered around werewolves (it’s just my thing, I’m sorry), European fairytale retellings (see, the client section), virus-based dystopias, superhero books (conflict of interest), and hetero romantasy.

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 agent philosophy boils down to transparency and collaboration, ultimately distilled in the mantra: “I’m representing you, not my ideation of you.” Which is, of course, tough and unattainable, as there will always be a layer of human bias from both parties. At the end of the day, I’m not the author, I don’t get their story as they do, but I will strive to anyway.

My clients have nearly unfiltered access to the submission process and other materials. I discuss with them our pitch package and keep them updated through a shared document with editor responses. Though each client communicates with me differently, they are all always welcome to ask questions and express concerns. It’s really important to me that I champion their books as they want—and, vice versa, they trust my expertise and guidance.

The same principle applies to revisions. I always make sure to explain why I’m suggesting an edit; I’m available to discuss how to best implement it. With respectful and clear communication, I always provide flexibility with deadlines (life is life, for the both of us). Overall, I strongly believe in the tenant of partnership and of mutual enrichment, where each of us brings to the table the best of our skills and isn’t afraid of constructive, pertinent critique.

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 hardcore editorial agent, and because of that I feel like I’m very selective when taking on clients, as I spend a lot of time and energy collaborating with them on their manuscript before the submission process starts. I’m also more prone to detailed Revise & Resubmits.

Depending on the novel’s readiness as discussed during the offer call, an author can expect to complete at least two rounds of edits with me: one developmental, looking at larger elements of crafts, and one concerning line-edit, thus, at the sentence level. After delivering an editorial letter, I usually give the floor to the writer to revise their work on their own terms. I’m of the idea that ‘the author knows best.’ That being said, so far me and my clients have always agreed on a revision plan, and they have delivered the most stunning manuscripts.

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?

To submit a query to me, please follow the guidelines listed here: https://arthouselit.com/submissions. If you specifically want to query me, please ensure to address me in the beginning (‘Dear Miriam’ will suffice). Please don’t send me queries through my email. They will be deleted on sight.

While I don’t require personalization, I love seeing in queries if there was a specific aspect of my MSWL or other social media posts that resonated with your manuscript.

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

My dislikes honestly vary from query to query and are usual situational. If I were to compile a general list of pet-peeves for letters and first pages, I would include:

Queries of a genre I specifically don’t represent and that are addressed to me.

-       Queries that don’t discuss the plot of the book, at all.

-       Queries with non-specific comp titles (for example, a YA fantasy book comp’ed to Leigh Bardugo and Victoria Aveyard. I don’t find comp titles necessary, and for me in particular they don’t have to be books, but if you include them, I recommend mentioning what aspects resonate of those novels resonate with yours).

-       First pages that hit the ground running. I’d rather have first pages be in the process of falling, and then finish them off with the landing and sprint.

-       First chapters that are convertible to short stories or prologues. If at the end I’m not left with a question, deadline, or push to read further—if at the end I don’t feel like the story has even started, I’m likely to pass that query.

Response Time:

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

My response time highly depends on my clients’ schedule, since they are my priority. When I’m line-editing/editing a manuscript for submission, my response is quantifiable in months. When I’m not, it can be weeks. I also mention in my template response to requests that, if I don’t reach out with any update in sixty days, the author should feel free to touch bases with me.

Because of how our shared inbox operates, I’m up to date with the most recent submissions and usually weekly reject the queries I know I’m not interested into (or don’t represent). Those that do interest me get pinned with the maybe-pile label. I usually comb through that list every couple of weeks, reading first pages and deciding which queries stay and which instead I sadly have to pass on. The process gets finer and finer, until I request the partials of 3-4 manuscripts at a time. From there some turn to fulls, and from fulls fewer turn into offers.

It's also important to mention that I’m a chronological person and work in strict chronological order.

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?

At the moment I don’t represent any authors who have self-published or been publishing by smaller presses, but I’m very much open to! I also submit to mid-size and smaller presses myself.

I would say: traditional publishing is a frustrating, occult industry with wait times so long, they will seriously test your patience and resolve. If you’re a self-published author (which is so impressive!), do consider these cons before committing to a full switch. That being said, having previously published book isn’t at all a deterrent for me as an agent!

Clients:

12. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Oh, I’m so ready to gush about this. At the moment I represent six authors—six wonderful human beings that took a chance on me, and that I relentlessly cherish.

Chiarra and Kerani Arpaia are a terrific duo of talented sisters writing the most delicate and cleverly reimagined origin story of one mistress of all evil. Ashton Marchand is a superb fantasy writer crafting a unique epic fantasy trilogy featuring grumpy monks, feral chosen ones, and lots of enthralling political schemes. Maria Minaeva is a fantastic SFF author recently done with an ambitious time-traveling novel featuring disaster siblings grappling with incarnated grief. To note, both Ashton and Maria came to me through R&Rs.

I also represent the wonderful ray of sunshine Peyton June Leatherman, with her plethora of horror-leaning YA and Adult projects—in particular, her summer-set YA horror dealing with rotting ghosts and drowned sisters. In my list there’s also Rebecca Washburn, whose stunning polyamorous magician x scholar x demon manuscript captured my ravenous heart (and then tore it to pieces with some of the most high-octane action sequences I’ve ever read).

Interviews and Guest Posts:

13. Please share the links to any interviews, guest posts, and podcasts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.

Tiffany Liu (@tiffanyliu.xx on Instagram) is a most generous and delightful human being offering such keen advice to querying writers. Please make sure to subscribe to her newsletter. I also religiously visit the sadly defunct Pitch Wars website, specifically their resources section. (https://pitchwars.org/resources/). It’s a little outdated but still, a great list!

Moreover, a lot of agented and published authors will usually have a “How I Got My Agent” post where they detail their journey. Not only is it helpful to see that overnight miracles happen rarely—and that longer wait times are normal—but they usually share the very query that led them to representation, so you can take inspiration on structure and verbiage.

Links and Contact Info:

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

I’m shamefully active on Twitter (X, I guess) at @chamomeriam, where you can always (and respectfully) DM with questions and concerns. I also lurk on Instagram with the same username and host a website over at miriamcortinovis.com.

Additional Advice:

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

Oh, I’ve so much to tell, I fear I will keep you here forever if I start. I’ll try to remain concise. Shot your informed shot. No agent is too shiny, too baby, or too scary. Do your diligent resource and respect agents’ anti-MSWL, and then just! freaking! do! it! You’ll never know what might happen. Just like shitty first drafts, a rejection is better than never trying.

Find a private community of writers to cultivate ideas and mutual support, with the foremost goal of making friends rather than network contacts. They can also help you process the natural flux of fury and grief that comes with querying.

Lastly, agent feedback can be highly cryptic and unreliably pertinent to a story. So, while I don’t advise you to follow every scrap of comment you get, I also encourage you not to dismiss every personalized rejection as useless—especially from editorial professionals. If an agent is friendly and has given you a personalized rejection, you could (as always, respectfully!) reach out to them and ask for more details. Be prepared for some honest critique, if so, but sometimes it can help you grow and maybe even secure the attention of another industry professional. And besides, at least for me, I’m always happy to see familiar names in my inbox and significantly revised manuscripts whose partials I might have rejected.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Miriam.

Giveaway Details

­Miriam 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 May 18th. 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

Wednesday, May 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jenniea Carter and a query critique giveaway

Monday, May 13th I have a guest post by debut author Sandy Green and a giveaway of her MG novel in verse Ghost Writers: The Haunting of Lake Lucy

Wednesday, May 15th I have a guest post by Rose Atkinson-Carter, a freelance writer for Reedsy

Thursday, May 16th I'm participating in the Moms Rock Giveaway Hop

Monday, May 20th I have an agent spotlight interview with Caroline Trussell and a query critique giveaway

I hope to see you on Wednesday!