Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • 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 6/26/2024

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: 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!


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!




Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Suggesting revisions is always helpful for querying writers! Sounds like Miriam does it in a thoughtful way.

Erica Dex said...

This was a really helpful post! I look forward to finishing the next (and final?) round of edits on my MG Fantasy manuscript so I can query Miriam. *Fingers crossed for query critique!*

Mary said...

Thanks, Natalie and Miriam, for this post. Love the positive encouraging vibes. I'm posting on my twitter and FB.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sounds like she got the position and hit the ground running!

Jacqui said...

Wonderful overview of the agency and yourself.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks for this thorough interview. No need to enter me in the giveaway.

Liz A. said...

So much good advice.

Alanna Phelan said...

Really appreciate all these great tips.

nancywestbooks said...

I appreciate these agent interviews so much! Not only do they help writers get to know agents a little better, but there are always so many helpful tips! It was a pleasure to learn more about Miriam and her approach to agenting! Thank you!

Kassandra said...

Thanks so much for this! I'd love to be entered in the critique giveaway.

gowri said...

Really enjoyed reading this! Thank you!

Sandra Cox said...

Another great interview and some good advice there.

Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction said...

Thanks for sharing this interview! Sounds like Miriam has some great clients!!

Stephanie Smith said...

What a great interview. I loved Miriam's approach and honesty about the realities of writing and being a professional. I'd love to be entered in the critique giveaway. Many thanks Natalie

Kate Larkindale said...

great interview with Miriam. Very useful information.

Rosi said...

Thanks, Natalie. Another great interview. I'll pass on the giveaway.

Cel said...

Fantastic advice - "shoot your informed shot" - adding this to my list of favorite phrases!

Melisa Ozen said...

I love that Miriam is an editorial agent! Please sign me up for the giveaway :)

My email is: melisaozenryan@gmail.com

Iridescent Words said...

This was an insightful interview. I like how Miriam describes her editing process, query preferences and "the six wonderful human beings that took a chance on me"! The projects of all of these authors sounds exciting.
I'd like to enter the contest.