In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, Barri Evins offers writers invaluable pointers on navigating the pitfalls, as well as capturing the potential of the true story, peppered with lots of real-life examples.
I love sharing the weekly agent alerts, because these are the agents who are the hungriest for finding new writers and projects to represent. That said, I'm taking a week off the literary agent alerts to share this list of our 20 most recent literary agent alerts all in one post.
Let's get into this.
(Note: If you're an agent who would like to be featured on WritersDigest.com, send an email to email@example.com with the subject line "Agent Alert.")
Breaking into traditional book publishing can be tough work. After you write and revise the book, there’s finding an agent or an independent publisher, which involves time spent researching instead of what you really want to be doing—writing. So, Writer’s Digest has done the work for you with this 144-page guide. The Get Published in 2022: Breaking In Resource Directory collects the resources you need to make 2022 the year your book gets published.
Tasneem Motala of The Rights Factory
Currently Seeking: Tasneem is actively looking for character-driven MG and YA stories written by BIPOC authors.
Retellings of well-known myths and classics, the enemies-to-lovers trope, and anything with mechas or androids are just a few of Tasneem's favorite things when it comes to fiction. She also adores anything with something important to say hidden within all the action.
Zeynep Sen of WordLink Literary Agency
Currently Seeking: When it comes to nonfiction, I represent works that try to start a social discussion, that prompt the reader to think on social change or books that unveil inspiring life stories or hidden histories few people know about. A book by one of my authors, Un-American, by Erik Edstrom, recently published by Bloomsbury, is an excellent example of this.
When it comes to fiction, I'm drawn to family sagas, historical novels and coming-of-age stories that embrace themes such as LGBTQ+ issues, mental health, interculturality, immigration, identity, belonging and race.
I do not represent thrillers or mystery/crime. Regardless of genre, though, what's most important to me in a work is character development and relationships, as well as unique narrative voices.
Pete Ford of Credo Communications
Currently Seeking: Some of my favorite reads recently include The Common Rule and Scandalous Witness. I am interested in receiving submissions for both fiction and nonfiction in the Christian publishing arena.
In fiction, I am especially fascinated with parallel storylines that enhance each other. For nonfiction, "lay academic" titles interest me, from spiritual growth and practical living to topics that bring liturgy to an evangelical audience.
Crystal Orazu of Context Literary Agency
Currently Seeking: What moves Crystal above all else is simple, open, and honest writing true to an author's wild imagination or lived experience. Anything that brings equal measures of humor, introspection, or feelings of second-hand embarrassment appeals to her. She loves both sweet meandering stories as well as more fraught and thrilling narratives in both YA and adult fiction. Perspectives that make her question the way that she or others move in the world, as well as her assumptions/opinions of societies and systems (à la Black Mirror), are also welcome in her inbox.
Crystal is especially partial to narratives centering Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQ+, and neurodivergent persons that include joyful, romantic, or lighthearted elements (#ownvoices that aren’t solely issue driven). Crystal is also looking for middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction that explores interpersonal relationships amongst traditional/chosen family members and friends using either realistic or fantastical elements (especially from a first or second-gen immigrant perspective). Fun sleight of hand/heist/spy narratives like the Gallagher Girls series and darker stories along the lines of Coraline are also very welcome.
The world of literary agents can be confusing. It can also seem extremely unfair. During this live webinar, literary agent Andrea Somberg will demystify the process, revealing what it is that a literary agent is looking for, and how it is that they arrive at their decision of "yes"—yes, I want to take this author on as a client, yes I want to sell their book, and yes I want to help build their career.
Barb Roose of Books & Such Literary Management
Currently Seeking: In nonfiction, Roose is looking for:
- Women's issues
- Christian living issues
- Race & culture
- Narrative nonfiction
In CBA adult fiction, Roose is looking for:
- Romantic suspense
- Legal and family issues
Amy Collins of Talcott Notch Literary Services
Currently Seeking: Amy Collins is currently looking for manuscripts and authors in nonfiction, gift books, reference, history, fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction.
Margaret Danko of Paper Over Board of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency
Currently Seeking: Margaret is actively looking for attention-grabbing voices, literary fiction with teeth, historical fiction with a dash of magical realism, fresh literary and commercial suspense, spooky contemporary and fantasy YA, narratives with a deep sense of place and history, quirky and heartwarming family stories, and rom-coms full of charm and whimsy.
She is also interested in nonfiction in the areas of humor, lifestyle, popular science, health/wellness, true crime, politics, and current affairs.
Stefanie Rossitto of the Tobias Agency
Currently Seeking: Steffi is currently looking for historical fiction, and funny, modern romances. She also enjoys anything and everything medieval as well as exciting historical romances and/ or fiction based on real characters.
Aria Gmitter of the Whimsy Literary Agency
Currently Seeking: Aria is looking for nonfiction, mind/body/spirit, pop culture, astrology, mystical arts, self-help, romance, crime/mystery novels, psychological thrillers for adult, middle grade, YA, gift books, illustrated, humor and joke, cookbooks, humorous parodies, and children's books.
Ayla Zuraw-Friedland of the David Black Agency
Currently Seeking: I am interested in acquiring adult literary fiction and nonfiction that inspect queerness, disability, race, class, and community in fresh new ways. I have a soft spot for short story collections with magical elements, and essay collections that look at identity through an interesting and specific cultural lens (motorcycles, rock climbing, pottery, you name it). Some pitches I've read and loved: a memoir of coming out as trans later in life, a case against high school football from a sociological standpoint, a collection of essays about mental health and climate change, a novel about immigrant ghosts.
A few of my favorite contemporary writers are Carmen Maria Machado, Kristen Arnett, Hanif Abdurraqib, Helen Oyeyemi, Daniel M. Lavery, Raven Leilani, Candice Carty-Williams, Kacen Callendar, Alexander Chee, Akwaeke Emezi, and Samantha Irby.
Emily Forney of BookEnds Literary Agency
Currently Seeking: In picture books, seeking whimsical and fun adventure stories that allow for the setting and the world around the characters to play just as important of a role; progressive stories about childhood strength, trauma, and identity; and something spooky, maybe a little dark humor, and child appropriate fantasy.
In middle grade fiction, seeking historical fiction that turns typical histories on their head and write about "hidden" stories with plenty of humor and whimsy; paranormal and fantasy stories with conventional twists and character driven narratives; and something spooky, maybe a little dark humor, and child appropriate fantasy.
In YA fiction, seeking warm romances that capture the magic of teenage summer nights, road trips, and summer camps; paranormal and fantasy stories with solid world building and romantic twists; contemporary romances and contemporary stories that delve into how digital media affects social activism for young people; and LGBTQI+ stories that don't use identity as a plot twist.
In adult fiction, seeking fantasy stories that flip traditional tropes; historical fiction centered outside of modern and contemporary eras. I like ancient worlds, Renaissance times, and unique story arcs that don't have to do with wars with modern technology; and chick-lit made for reading on the beach to escape hot summer days.
Analieze Cervantes of Harvey Klinger Literary Agency
Currently seeking: For young adult, I'm looking for sci-fi (a Dystopian feel, think Divergent, hacking, neurolinks, AI blend with reality); contemporary romance (think If He Had Been With Me and To All the Boys, a sweet romance that develops over time, I want to believe in love again); rom-com (a love story that provides comedic elements, meeting in a unique moment/setting); mystery (think Riverdale, twists & turns, should not give me any hints); paranormal (vampires, werewolves, blend of reality & fiction with a love story—but no zombies!); crime fiction (thorough investigation for murders and other cases, strong MC with a clear desire); LGBTQ (a love story that progresses over time, no triangles); and thriller/suspense (cliffhangers, want to be on the edge of my seat).
For adult, I'm seeking physiological & domestic thriller/suspense (think Karin Slaughter's The Good Daughter); mystery (twists & turns, want a surprise ending, should not give me hints on who "dun" it); contemporary romance (a love story that conquers all, no love at first sight); romantic suspense (a love story with suspense elements webbed in); rom-com (a love story that provides comedic elements, meeting in a unique moment/setting); paranormal (vampires, witches, etc. blend of reality & fiction with a love story—no zombies); sci-fi (soft sci-fi, blending the two worlds); and crime fiction (want to feel connected to the MC and clearly shows MC’s desire to solve a case).
Writing strong first pages requires a great hook, a strong voice, and a clear premise. The first sentence should immediately catch the reader’s attention, while the subsequent text should leave the reader wanting to dive further into the pages of the manuscript. But making the first pages of your story absolutely un-putdownable takes practice, patience, revision, and an eye for detail. Which is why we’re here: to discuss what to do (and not to do) to make your opening pages stand-out.
Jennifer Herrington of Harvey Klinger Agency
Currently seeking: I am looking for character and voice-driven books that I connect with on an emotional level. I want a book that makes me laugh or cry and extra points for both!
In middle grade fiction, I'd like to see contemporary stories that deal with tough and realistic issues kids are facing today; stories that feature humor and adventure; and paranormal, fantasy (except high fantasy), mystery, horror, and graphic novels are also of special interest.
In YA fiction, I'd like to see feel-good contemporary and contemporary romance; paranormals with strong world building and an interesting twist in vamps, wolves, or witches; romantic comedy; mystery series featuring a YA detective; and sci-fi, fantasy (except high fantasy), horror, and graphic novels are also of special interest.
In adult fiction, I'd like to see romance with a fresh twist on trope-driven plots includes best friend's little sister/brother, enemies to lovers, friends to lover, etc. (I like sweet to spicy); a strong sports romance (would love a heroine athlete!) or a sexy cowboy; dark paranormal romances with gritty vamps, wolves, or witches (think outside the box for world building); romantic comedy with snarky protagonists and hilarious plot lines; romantic suspense with equal parts steamy as action; mysteries, thrillers, and suspense that keep me up all night; and sci-fi and fantasy with romance threads are also welcome.
Kristina Pérez of Zeno Literary Agency
Currently seeking: She is actively building her list in both fiction and nonfiction, and particularly encourages submissions from marginalized writers.
On the adult side, she is looking for fantasy, romance, sci-fi, and nonfiction. Kristina loves lush historical fantasy like Tasha Suri's Empire of Sand and well-researched historical romance along the lines of Joanna Shupe or Courtney Milan. She is a huge Battlestar Galactica fangirl with a soft spot for light space opera, but she's not the right agent for hard/military SF.
For nonfiction, she is primarily looking for current affairs, cultural history, and popular science. Recently, she's enjoyed Latinx, by Ed Morales, and Invisible Women, by Caroline Criado Perez.
Kristina is open to all kinds of MG and YA, but does not represent picture books or chapter books. She adores retellings with a twist, whether it be contemporary or fantasy, especially LGBTQIA+ and those that draw on non-Western folklore and mythology. She also has a penchant for novels-in-verse. Favorite MG reads include The War that Saved My Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley; The Unicorn Quest, by Kamilla Benko; and The Storm Runner, by J.C. Cervantes.
Pam Gruber of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency
Currently seeking: Pam is looking for adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction with literary voices and commercial hooks. She is particularly interested in layered fantasy, speculative fiction, fantastical realism, rom-coms, and coming-of-age stories with a twist. She is also open to realistic middle grade and YA graphic novels, as well as select narrative nonfiction on lesser-known subjects. Pam would not be the best fit for prescriptive nonfiction, anthologies, potty humor, paranormal, or erotica.
Matt Belford of Tobias Literary Agency
Currently Seeking: Some of my favorite reads include The Summoner, by Gail Z Martin; Kings of the Wyld, by Nicholas Eames; Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse; and Red Rising, by Pierce Brown.
I'm interested in receiving submissions for both graphic memoirs and graphic novels, as well as adult science fiction and fantasy, and some popular nonfiction. I'm not interested in YA.
Maria Rogers of Tobias Literary Agency
Currently Seeking: I'm currently looking for nonfiction that explores big events from new angles, whip-smart cultural criticism, as well as original and urgent journalism and science writing. I'm also on the lookout for books to engage kids in nonfiction topics, from ancient history to contemporary issues. I am not currently considering poetry, picture books, romance, science fiction, or fantasy at this time.
Some books I recently enjoyed include The Unwinding, by George Packer; Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments, by Saidiya Hartman; In the Dream House, by Carmen Maria Machado; Bottle of Lies, by Katherine Eban; River, by Elisha Cooper; and Pet, by Akwaeke Emezi.
Erin Clyburn of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency
Currently Seeking: In children's, Erin is looking for nonfiction picture books, high-concept chapter book series, middle grade (especially mysteries, stories with big hearts, and all things creepy), dark YA (horror, thriller, and mystery), graphic novels, high-interest nonfiction, and, across the board, magic realism.
In adult fiction, she is looking for character-driven literary fiction; plot-driven suspense, mysteries, and domestic thrillers; humor; all horror from psychological to gothic to slasher; and multi-generational family sagas.
In adult nonfiction, she is looking for pop science; high-interest nonfiction, particularly stories about fascinating people and issues that haven’t been told before; true crime; cookbooks; and science- or culture-focused memoirs.
Across the board, Erin would love to see character-driven sci-fi, stories set in the South, #ownvoices, and neurodiverse representation.
Erin is not the right person for fiction picture books, romance, Westerns, epic fantasy, political or military thrillers, hard sci-fi, short stories, or stories with a strong focus on religion.
Amaryah Orenstein of GO Literary
Currently Seeking: Thematic interests include but are not limited to: contemporary + historical fiction; family relationship + coming-of-age stories; history + current affairs; social + cultural issues; memoir; food.
In addition to negotiating contracts, Amaryah works closely with each of her clients throughout every step of the publishing process, from concept development through publication and beyond. She takes a particular interest in the editorial process, offering skilled advice and guidance to help clients bring out the best in their writing.
Abigail Frank of Sandford J. Greenburger Associates
Currently Seeking: Her wish list includes:
- big concept and/or offbeat picture books, preferably (but not exclusively) by author/illustrators
- voice-driven chapter books!
- middle grade that is hilarious (think Better Nate Than Ever series), poetic (think The Girl Who Drank the Moon or Other Words for Home), or profound (think Tuck Everlasting)
- swoon-worthy YA rom-coms!!
- stories with a drop of magic or set in the not-so-distant future
- stories that grapple with ideas of masculinity
- select adult titles: cultural criticism and anything that looks closely at healthcare or higher education/campus life (fiction or nonfiction)
- contemporary commercial fiction written for and about people in their 20's.
Enter your email below to receive a free webinar ($80 value), "How to Attract an Agent: From Query to Career," presented by literary agent, Andrea Somberg.
*Please note the webinar does not include the critique.
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