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Get to Know Literary Agent John Cusick, Who Just Moved to Folio Literary Management

"I’m particularly focused on finding great fiction for middle-grade and teen audiences. I love contemporary realism, fantasy, realistic stories with a fantastical twist, and really anything with imagination and heart. I work with first-time authors as well as veteran writers, and am always on the prowl for fresh voices. I’m seeking for author/illustrators and artists as well."

John Cusick, who formerly worked for Greenhouse Literary, just became part of Folio Literary Management/Folio Jr. With that in mind, please get to know a little more about John and see if he's a good fit for your query. (Find him on Twitter.)

John M. Cusick is the author of GIRL PARTS and CHERRY MONEY BABY (2010 and 2013, Candlewick Press), as well as a regular speaker at writers conferences. His clients include New York Times bestselling author Tommy Wallach (WE ALL LOOKED UP, March 2015, Simon & Schuster), Courtney Alameda (SHUTTER, February 2015, Feiwel & Friends) and Hannah Moskowitz (A HISTORY OF GLITTER AND BLOOD, August 2015, Chronicle Books) You can find him online and on Twitter, @johnmcusick.

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How did you become an agent?

Craigslist! I answered an ad for an agent’s assistant/dog walker and began my career at Scott Treimel NY. To begin with, I focused on selling foreign and sub-rights and negotiating contracts, and soon began representing my own clients. In 2013, I had a small stable of excellent writers, including Ryan Gebhart (THERE WILL BE BEARS, Candlewick Press), Sharon Biggs Waller (A MAD, WICKED FOLLY, Viking) and Hannah Moskowitz (NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED, Simon Pulse). I moved over to Greenhouse Literary, where I became a full-time agent, focusing on middle-grade and young adult with a few picture books thrown in. This July, I started at Folio Jr. with the same focus, and am eagerly looking forward to bringing on new talent as I continue to work with my phenomenal crew of authors and illustrators.

(Can you query an agent for a short story collection?)

Tell us about something you’ve sold that was released recently. 

This spring, Tommy Wallach’s gorgeous debut WE ALL LOOKED UP was published by Simon & Schuster, and since its release, it’s become a New York Times bestseller, sold in thirteen countries, and been optioned for film by Paramount Pictures. Tommy’s follow-up, THANKS FOR THE TROUBLE, is coming out next year and I cannot wait. I’m also excited for Hannah Moskowitz’s new book, A HISTORY OF GLITTER AND BLOOD, which is coming from Chronicle Books in August. It’s a gritty fantasy that follows a group of fairies in a war-torn city, and is truly unlike anything I’ve ever read. Chronicle’s done a beautiful job with the cover and internal artwork; I can’t wait to hear what readers think.

You just made above to Folio Literary Management/Folio Jr. Tell us about the move. 

I’m delighted to be working alongside Folio’s team of top-tier agents. This is my first time working at a larger agency, and the energy in the office is infectious. It’s also great to bounce ideas around with my fellow-agents, all of whom have such excellent taste and insight. Above my desk are shelves upon shelves of books by Folio clients, so many bestsellers and award winners; just seeing them all up there gives me a little thrill.

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Help writers understand what kind of fiction and nonfiction projects you take queries for. Any open to subs right now?

I am currently open to subs. I’m particularly focused on finding great fiction for middle-grade and teen audiences. I love contemporary realism, fantasy, realistic stories with a fantastical twist, and really anything with imagination and heart. I work with first-time authors as well as veteran writers, and am always on the prowl for fresh voices. I’m seeking for author/illustrators and artists as well.

My full submission guidelines can be found at http://www.foliojr.com/john-cusick.

Will you be at any upcoming writers conferences where writers can meet/pitch you?

I’ll be at the SCBWI Inland Northwest conference in Spokane on September 18th, the SCBWI Central-Coastal California conference on October 17th, and with SCBWI Kansas City on November 6th. I also post my conference schedule on a Where to Find Me page on my blog.

Any final pieces of advice for writers seeking an agent?

Finding an agent is a bit like dating—it’s all about the right match. Find the agents who represent the books you love (the author’s Acknowledgements section is a good place to start), and find out whether that agent is accepting queries, and what his or her submission guidelines are. It’s a very competitive market, but targeting agents who represent your brand of writing, and following their query directions, will help separate you from the pack.

(How many Twitter followers will impress an agent?)

Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers Conferences:

Other writing/publishing articles and links for you:

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