Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Rachelle Gardner of Gardner Literary

Rachelle Gardner is a literary agent and the founder of Gardner Literary.

As a literary agent since 2007, Rachelle has negotiated 300+ contracts with more than 20 publishers, and worked with more than 200 authors to bring their books to publication and build their careers.

She’s been in publishing since 1995, worked in-house at two publishing companies, and edited books published by Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, and many more. Nowadays she feels lucky to work at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

When she’s not working, you can usually find her out hiking the local trails, riding her bike, haunting bookstores, or having coffee at Starbucks.

She is seeking:

“I represent NONFICTION books for the Christian market (CBA) as well as for the general market, and we are accepting queries for both.

“If you’re writing nonfiction, we can’t really sell it unless you have a sizable platform. If you don’t, you may want to pursue smaller publishers on your own — you don’t need an agent. Only pursue an agent if you have a platform and want to work the medium to large publishers.

“We’re interested in:

  • Next generation voices in the faith community
  • Books about the intersection of faith and culture
  • Deconstructing and reconstructing faith; asking hard questions about faith
  • Books by BIPOC authors; books that grapple with racial issues, LGBTQ+ issues, and all social issues
  • Deeper spirituality and prayer books
  • Books about animal conservation, animal sanctuaries, and animals that help people
  • Feminism and women’s issues
  • Memoirs about any of the above — must be well-written and the author should have a platform.
  • Family life — interested in really unique and/or extraordinary takes on parenting and family, whether it’s memoir or self-help
  • Devotionals with depth, originality, and a definable audience
  • Gift books: journals, guided journals, gifty devotionals; other gift-type books for occasions such as graduation

She is NOT seeking:

— Fiction
— Cookbooks
— Poetry
— Short stories
— Novellas
— Screenplays
— Graphic novels
— NO children’s, middle grade, or YA books

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Shauna Turnmore of Arthouse Literary

Shauna Turnmire is a literary agent with Arthouse Literary.

After graduating with her Masters in Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago, Shauna moved to LA to pursue a career in the music industry. She quickly realized this particular avenue was not for her and decided to pursue her first and longest love, books. She is currently back home in Orlando and is excited to help authors develop their stories and be their biggest cheerleader. As an associate agent, Shauna is looking for New Adult fiction, YA Fantasy, and historical fiction – including a particular interest in books that give a glimpse into the Holocaust experience. She also has her own Booktube and Bookstagram accounts at “Shauna’s Book Journal.” When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she loves playing with dogs and relaxing with friends and family and a glass of wine.

She is seeking:

As an associate agent at ArtHouse, Shauna is often drawn to stories that are a little strange, and especially ones that use speculative or fantastic elements in beautiful, original ways. Across the board, she’s looking for an inclusive cast of characters, across gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, and mental health spectrums. Of course, if any manuscript that is submitted to Shauna makes her see the world through a new perspective (i.e. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi) then this is an extra plus plus!

Pitch her: Contemporary Romance, Upmarket Fiction, YA Fantasy, New Adult Fantasy, Thriller & Speculative Fiction

Shauna is mostly looking for YA and New Adult fantasy with major character development. She loves to see fantastical and unique worlds but needs to see the characters overcoming challenges and learning about themselves. If there is an epic or dark romance interspersed, even better! She loves reading about strong, badass women as well in all genres! Favorites in this genre: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, Hibiscus Daughters Series by Lana Popovic

Shauna is also looking for contemporary or commercial romance. She is extremely interested in books that delve into complicated relationships and don’t have a pretty bowtie ending. Shauna has a background in the music industry and loves stories centered around bands writing music. Favorites in this genre: Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Stolen by Lucy Christopher, The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Shauna is intrigued by historical fiction, preferably centered around the Holocaust and the French Revolution. Favorites in this genres: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly.

She would love to see anything centered around Irish or Celtic history and lore/mythology.

She does NOT want: Erotica, Westerns, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Middle Grade, Children’s books.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kat Kerr of Donald Maass Literary

Kat Kerr is a literary agent with Donald Maass Literary Agency.

Kat joined Donald Maass Literary Agency in 2019. She graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelors in English in 2009 and is drawn to literary and commercial voices within the adult and YA markets, as well as adult nonfiction. Kat feels strongly about supporting programs like We Need Diverse Books and is passionate about creating space in this industry for those from historically marginalized communities. She is actively seeking to grow her client list and is particularly hungry for magical realism, literary leaning speculative and science fiction, women’s fiction, YA works with a lot of heart, and narrative nonfiction with something to say.

Submission Interests:

Literary and Upmarket Fiction:

Kat is drawn to strong, character-driven works with rich, literary prose. She loves books that make her think and have a strong emotional pull.

Contemporary
Women’s Fiction
Multicultural Lit
Speculative
Magical Realism
Family Sagas
YA

Favorite Books: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, Big Fish by Daniel Wallace, About a Boy by Nick Hornby, Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, The Leavers by Lisa Ko, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi, More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera, Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen, anything by Amy Tan

Commercial Fiction:

For the commercial market, Kat is looking for high concept, voice-driven works with a close POV and well-developed, distinct characters.

Select Science Fiction and Fantasy
Women’s Fiction and Rom-Coms
YA (all genres)

Favorite Books: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab, The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwan, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow, Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce, I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee

Nonfiction:

Narrative nonfiction and journalistic non-fiction tackling current affairs and social justice issues, particularly covering topics of racism, immigration, LGBTQIA+ rights, gender equality, and poverty
Select biographies and memoirs

Do NOT send:

– Plots/themes centering around unresolved trauma
– Previously published or self-published works
– MG, Chapter books, picture books
– Novellas, short stories, or poetry collections
– Military/war stories
– Westerns

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Abby Saul of The Lark Group

Abby Saul is a literary agent with The Lark Group.

Abby founded The Lark Group after a decade in publishing at John Wiley & Sons, Sourcebooks, and Browne & Miller Literary Associates. She’s worked with and edited bestselling and award-winning authors as well as major brands. At each publishing group she’s been a part of, Abby also has helped to establish ebook standards, led company-wide forums to explore new digital possibilities for books, and created and managed numerous digital initiatives.

A zealous reader who loves her iPad and the ebooks on it, she still can’t resist the lure of a print book. Abby’s personal library of beloved titles runs the gamut from literary newbies and classics, to cozy mysteries, to sappy women’s fiction, to dark and twisted thrillers. She’s looking for great and engrossing adult commercial and literary fiction and is a member of the AALA. A magna cum laude graduate of Wellesley College, Abby spends her weekends—when she’s not reading—cooking and hiking with her husband and son. Find her @BookySaul on Twitter.

She is seeking:

  • Adult literary fiction
  • Adult commercial fiction (including historical fiction, women’s fiction, mysteries, and thrillers)

She does NOT want:

— Science fiction, nonfiction, children’s books (including YA), or screenplays
— Unsolicited manuscripts sent without a query letter (we won’t read them)
— Queries for books that aren’t yet written
— Queries with attachments (we won’t open them)

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Michelle Richter of Fuse Literary

Michelle Richter is a Senior Literary Agent at Fuse Literary.

Michelle joined Fuse Literary in 2014 from St. Martin’s Press, where she worked on a variety of fiction and nonfiction including MELISSA EXPLAINS IT ALL by Melissa Joan Hart. She has a Master’s degree in Publishing from Pace University, where she is an adjunct lecturer. Michelle’s clients have won or been finalists for such awards as the Edgar, Mary Higgins Clark, Strand Critics, Anthony, Agatha, Lefty, ITW Thriller, Macavity, Barry, Derringer, IPPY, and International Book Award. She is a member of Sisters in Crime.

Michelle is seeking:
-suspense
-mystery
-psychological thrillers
-domestic suspense
-women’s fiction
-book club fiction
-YA mystery/thriller
-select contemporary YA

She’s especially eager to find suspense and psychological thrillers with complex lead characters. BIPOC, LGBTQ, and disabled voices in fiction always welcome. Michelle loves unreliable narrators, stories of family secrets, friendships, and sibling relationships. Her favorite writers include Colson Whitehead, Celeste Ng, Ruth Ware, Laura Lippman, Megan Miranda, Lori Rader-Day, Jennifer Hillier, and Tana French. She’d love to find the next BATH HAUS, SUCH A FUN AGE, WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING, THE LADY UPSTAIRS, LONG BRIGHT RIVER, THE DUTCH HOUSE, EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, WINTER COUNTS, BLACKTOP WASTELAND, or BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Becky LeJeune of Bond Literary

Becky LeJeune is a literary agent with Bond Literary.

Becky met Sandra Bond at the Denver Publishing Institute when she was a student there in 2007. After DPI, she spent 2 years working as the managing editor for a cookbook imprint, and then 5 years as an acquisitions editor at The History Press before joining Sandra at BLA in 2014.

She is interested in adult and teen general fiction, horror, mystery/thriller, historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy, and cookbooks.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Stephanie Winter of P.S. Literary

Stephanie Winter is a literary agent at P.S. Literary.

She first joined the agency as an intern before becoming the agency’s relations assistant. Stephanie holds a B.A. from the University of Toronto in English Literature and an M.A. in English: Issues in Modern Culture from University College London. She is looking for diverse, inclusive voices in fiction and graphic novels for adults and young readers. Stephanie particularly appreciates strong characters who bend stereotypes, genders, and more.

Stephanie is acquiring: adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade fiction, in addition to Graphic Novels. She’s actively seeking titles with diverse and inclusive representation that offer smart, culturally aware, and enriching narratives. For young readers, Stephanie loves a good adventure story, light SFF, and STEAM topics. In the adult space, she appreciates all sorts of fiction but particularly enjoys Rom-Coms and Thrillers (located outside the home) and LGBTQ+ stories that bring joy. Stephanie also acquires select nonfiction in all age groups, with a soft spot for projects that blend illustration with information on culturally relevant topics.

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Eric Smith of P.S. Literary

Eric Smith is a literary agent with P.S. Literary.

Eric has a love for young adult books, literary fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, and non-fiction. He’s worked on award-winning and New York Times bestselling titles, and began his publishing career at Quirk Books. A frequent blogger, his ramblings about books and the publishing industry regularly appear on Book Riot, Paste Magazine, and Publishing Crawl. He also occasionally writes books when he finds the time, like his latest, Don’t Read the Comments (Inkyard Press).

Eric is eagerly acquiring fiction and non-fiction projects. He’s actively seeking out new, diverse voices in Young Adult (particularly sci-fi and fantasy), Middle Grade, and Literary and Commercial Fiction (again, loves sci-fi and fantasy, but also thrillers and mysteries). In terms of non-fiction, he’s interested in Cookbooks, Pop Culture, Humor, Middle Grade, essay collections, and blog-to-book ideas.

Tips For Pitching Your Book at the 2022 MWW

If you are coming to the 2022 Michigan Writing Workshop, you may be thinking about pitching our agent-in-attendance or editor-in-attendance. An in-person pitch is an excellent way to get an agent excited about both you and your work. Here are some tips (from a previous year’s instructors, Chuck Sambuchino) that will help you pitch your work effectively at the event during a 10-minute consultation. Chuck advises that you should:

  • Try to keep your pitch to 90 seconds. Keeping your pitch concise and short is beneficial because 1) it shows you are in command of the story and what your book is about; and 2) it allows plenty of time for back-and-forth discussion between you and the agent. Note: If you’re writing nonfiction, and therefore have to speak plenty about yourself and your platform, then your pitch can certainly run longer.
  • Practice before you get to the event. Say your pitch out loud, and even try it out on fellow writers. Feedback from peers will help you figure out if your pitch is confusing, or missing critical elements. Remember to focus on what makes your story unique. Mystery novels, for example, all follow a similar formula — so the elements that make yours unique and interesting will need to shine during the pitch to make your book stand out.
  • Do not give away the ending. If you pick up a DVD for Die Hard, does it say “John McClane wins at the end”? No. Because if it did, you wouldn’t buy the movie. Pitches are designed to leave the ending unanswered, much like the back of any DVD box you read.
  • Have some questions ready. 10 minutes is plenty of time to pitch and discuss your book, so there is a good chance you will be done pitching early. At that point, you are free to ask the agent questions about writing, publishing or craft. The meeting is both a pitch session and a consultation, so feel free to ask whatever you like as long as it pertains to writing.
  • Remember to hit the big beats of a pitch. Everyone’s pitch will be different, but the main elements to hit are 1) introducing the main character(s) and telling us about them, 2) saying what goes wrong that sets the story into motion, 3) explaining how the main character sets off to make things right and solve the problem, 4) explaining the stakes — i.e., what happens if the main character fails, and 5) ending with an unclear wrap-up.