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Meet the Agent: Helen Adams, Zimmermann Literary

Helen Adams (formerly Zimmermann) got her start in publishing more than 20 years ago: first at Random House—where she became Director of Advertising and Promotion—then as Author Events Director for an independent bookseller, where aspiring writers would often ask her how to get published. “I would always say, ‘You need to find an agent,’” Adams says. “After I said that a dozen times, a light went off and I thought, ‘Hey, why don’t I become an agent?’” So she did: In 2003, Zimmermann Literary was born.

Helen Adams, Zimmermann, Agent, Literary Agency

“For nonfiction, my dream project is one that has a clear market, is fresh, informative and entertaining, and has an author with a large platform,” she says. “For fiction, my dream project [is one that] makes me miss a meal.”

Find her online at and You can find her on Twitter at @AgentZimmy. Below, discover writing tips, what Helen is currently seeking, tips on pitching, how to query her agency, and more.

No matter what you’re writing—fiction or nonfiction, books for adults or children—you need a literary agent to get the best book deal possible from a traditional publisher. Guide to Literary Agents 2017 is your essential resource for finding that literary agent and getting a contract with one of the country’s top publishers. Along with listing information for more than 1,000 agents who represent writers and their books, this updated edition of GLA includes:

literary agents, GLA 2017
  • A one-year subscription to the literary agent content on
  • The secrets of query-writing success: Learn 5 common mistakes that make an agent stop reading—and how to avoid them.
  • “New Agent Spotlights”: Get targeted profiles of literary reps who are actively building their client lists right now.
  • Informative articles on writing a synopsis, pitching your work online, utilizing writing peers, and much more.


“Wellness/fitness/sports, relationships, popular culture, women’s issues, music, memoir, reading group fiction.”

Writing Tips

“Never forget that publishing is a business: It’s not going to happen overnight, and numbers matter.”

“Content is king. If your material falls apart a few chapters in, agents will notice.”

“For fiction writers, writers’ groups are invaluable.”

“For nonfiction writers, being completely passionate about your subject matter is great; obsessed with your subject matter is even better.”

Pitch Tips

“Make sure your query letter focuses on your strengths. You want to start strong.”

“Do your research.”

“Your biography should pertain [only] to your work.”


"Queries are preferred via email. Please no attachments until I express interest. For non-fiction queries, initial contact should just be a pitch letter. For fiction queries, I prefer a summary, your bio, and the first chapter as text in the email (not as an attachment). If I express interest I will need to see a full proposal for non-fiction and the remainder of the manuscript for fiction. I receive many submissions and regretfully can't reply to each one, so please understand that if you don't hear from me in two weeks it is most likely because the project isn't right for my agency."



Kent Hartman, author of The Wrecking Crew (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2012)

Jim Afremow, author of The Champions Mind (Rodale Books, 2014)

Susan Richards, author of Chosen by a Horse (Mariner Books, 2007)

Upcoming Conferences

Books Alive!, Washington D.C., April 2017

ASJA Writers Conference, New York City, May 2017

Life in a Nutshell

“Grew up in Westchester County, N.Y.; was a Girl Scout way longer than most; played field hockey in college; am the proud mother of two college students; and when I’m not working I’m almost always in the woods.”

Fun Facts

“I was a volunteer EMT for 10 years, two of them as captain of the rescue squad—totally badass.”

“I love to cook without a recipe.”

“I am painfully neat. I can’t work unless my space is tidy.”

The February 2017 issue is on newsstands now!



Drink: Chardonnay


Living author: Ian McEwan

Dead author: Anne LaBastille

Poem: "My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light." —Edna St. Vincent Millay

Quote: “Solvitur ambulando.” (“It is solved through walking.”)

Place: Adirondack Mountains

Most Proud Of

“Hiking all 46 of the Adirondack High Peaks, making me ADK 46er #8058.”

Why She Does What She Does

“Making writers’ dreams come true is pretty darn fun.”

How to Write a Compelling Premise for a Thriller

How to Create a Compelling Premise for a Thriller

Learn how to create a compelling premise for a thriller or mystery novel by asking a simple question and tying it to a specific circumstance to set the stage for a thrilling read.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Make a Plan

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Make a Plan

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have your characters make a plan.

3 Tips for Writing Dystopian Young Adult Fiction

3 Tips for Writing Dystopian Young Adult Fiction

If you've ever heard it said that there's no new way to write a story, let author Julian R. Vaca tell you otherwise. Here, he shares 3 tips for writing dystopian young adult fiction to help silence our inner critics.

Rimma Onoseta: On Trusting the Process of Revision

Rimma Onoseta: On Trusting the Process of Revision

Author Rimma Onoseta discusses how seeing other Black female authors on bookshelves encouraged her to finish writing her contemporary YA novel, How You Grow Wings.

Writer's Digest September/October 2022 Cover

Writer's Digest September/October 2022 Cover Reveal

Writer's Digest is excited to announce our Sept/Oct 2022 issue featuring our Annual Literary Agent Roundup, an interview with NYT-bestselling YA horror novelist Tiffany D. Jackson, and articles about writing sinister stories.

Your Story #120

Your Story #120

Write the opening line to a story based on the photo prompt below. (One sentence only.) You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

5 Tips for Writing as a Parent

5 Tips for Writing as a Parent

Author Sarah Grunder Ruiz shares how she fits writing into her life and offers 5 tips on how to achieve a sustainable writing life as a parent.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 621

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write an animal poem.

Why Is This Love Scene Here? How To Write Compelling Love Scenes

Why Is This Love Scene Here? How To Write Compelling Love Scenes

Not sure which way to turn when writing intimate scenes? Author Jo McNally shares how to write compelling love scenes that make sense for the story you’re writing.