Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Jamie Vankirk of Rainbow Nerds Literary

Jamie Vankirk is a literary agent with Rainbow Nerds Literary.

Jamie is looking for young adult novels in the below genres. She is particularly interested in LGBT, POC, and other marginalized groups. #OwnVoices are encouraged.

  • Contemporary Fiction—in the vein of Nicola Yoon (The Sun Is Also a Star), Sandhya Menon (When Dimple Met Rishi), Ashley Herring Blake (How to Make a Wish), and Brandy Colbert (Little & Lion)
  • Fantasy—think Audrey Coulthurst (Of Fire and Stars), Sabaa Tahir (Ember in the Ashes), Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles), and Libba Bray (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy)
  • Science Fiction—similar to Corinne Duyvis (On the Edge of Gone), Marie Lu (Warcross), and Cindy Pon (Want)
  • Historical Fiction/Fantasy— like Justina Ireland (Dread Nation) or written within the Tudor period (bonus if centered around Anne Boleyn) or Victorian period
  • Thriller—either with an unreliable narrator or in the vein of Kendare Blake (Anna Dressed in Blood)
  • Mystery—such as Maureen Johnson (Truly Devious) and Karen McManus (One of Us is Lying)

About her agency: “This is not about us. This is about you–the authors and the readers. This is about the trans girl who longs to see herself in stories. This is about the black boy who yearns to be the hero. This is about the disabled child who wishes for someone to relate to. This is about every marginalized community being heard. Founded in 2017, Rainbow Nerds Literary is an advocate for diversity. We work with first-time authors or long-time veterans to better hone their craft and reach broader audiences. We adhere to the AAR Canon of Ethics.”

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kelly Peterson of Rees Literary

Kelly Peterson is a literary agent with Rees Literary.

Kelly is a West Chester University graduate with a B.S.Ed in English and Literature. She worked as a Junior Literary Agent for two years before moving to Rees Literary Agency, continuing to champion her authors and the manuscripts she loves.

Kelly seeks manuscripts in various genres within Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult age ranges. In Middle Grade, she loves fantasy, sci-fi, and contemporary that touches on tough issues for young readers. Her Young Adult preferences vary from contemporary to high fantasy, sci-fi (not the space kind) to paranormal (all the ghost stories, please!), and historical all the way back to rom-coms. Kelly is proud to continue to represent Adult manuscripts in romance, fantasy, and sci-fi. She is very interested in representing authors with marginalized own voices stories, witty and unique characters, pirates, witches, and dark fantasies.

Kelly is excited to be expanding her client list and finding new authors who have a strong story to tell.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kaitlyn Johnson of Belcastro Literary Agency

Kaitlyn Johnson is a literary agent with Belcastro Literary Agency.

As a Literary Agent with Belcastro Literary Agency, I am accepting submissions for Upper MG, as well as Young Adult and Adult.

I love seeing contemporary from voices not already flooding our bookshelves, perspectives that not everyone can claim to be familiar with. I want fantasy/urban fantasy/paranormal from non-American/non-European myths and legends, concepts relevant to the culture and plot. I’m more into ghosts/vampires rather than werewolves, but always open to being surprised. Give me historical from places we never hear of, battles and events and changes that shifted world views yet never feature in mainstream discussions. Reading of people completely unlike myself, in places I’d love to explore and learn of, captivates me.

I’d love more LGBTQ+ storylines in all genres and ages (especially bi, ace, and trans voices!). Dying for MG with first crushes. People just being people and living life and not necessarily focusing on being forced to explain themselves. I love enemies-to-lovers and blind dates and rival romances. I’m also very much looking for more main characters living with mental health issues or disability.

Specific wishlist:

  • I’m not huge on retellings. They need to be so deep and layered, I have to dig before I realize what the retelling actually is based off. I’d love a gender-swap of Hercules retelling aaaand an Atlantis retelling (yes, the freaking amazing movie version).
  • Funny, witty contemporary romance that makes me laugh or heart-squishing romance the likes of Gayle Forman. I’m not a fan of uber dominating men or jock/sports storylines. Probably also not a good fit for female divas as main characters either (whether labeled diva for money, personality, or fashion, just not a fan of reading it). But I DEFF want feminists who find inclusive, non violent ways of pushing back the patriarchy (all genders/identities).
  • I absolutely love darker voices in YA if tackling mental health issues and I’d love to see MG take on some deeper themes (homelessness, foster homes, autism, racism, feminism, etc.). Still looking for an amazing creepy mermaid/siren book as well as a Madame de Pompadour historical! Parent/teen dynamics like those in Easy A are on the wishlist. I also think a rom-com b/w workers in a house redesign or the client/contractor would be hilarious.
  • Really wanting contemporary, modern Wiccan, like with homes of hanging herbs and jars of remedies and cats!
  • MG with creepy freaking dolls or poltergeists; no clowns, please!
  • Very much want Graphic Novels! All ages! Mainly historical, fantasy, and contemporary.

Here’s a run-down of genres I want in age groups:

​Upper MG
– Really on the hunt for more Contemporary in MG; also eager for fantasy, Horror (more creepy dolls and curses, less blood and guts), and Historical

Young Adult
– Fantasy (high, urban, or magical realism), Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Historical, Paranormal (ghosts, witches, and vampires if unique; looking for new legends/creatures)

Crossover/Adult
– Fantasy, Contemporary, Historical, Contemporary Romance

I do NOT accept:

Nonfiction
Chapter/Picture Books
Thriller/Suspense/Mystery
Romantic Suspense
Novellas/Poetry/Short Story Collections
Stories heavily dependent on religious motives/events/themes
Stories heavily dependent on rape, drug or physical abuse
Stories focusing on Henry VIII, Shakespeare, American Civil War, or Greek gods/myths

At the end of the day, though, I just want great writing! Lyrical, literary, commercial—if the voice is strong, I’ll take a look. You may just surprise me!

Fun facts about me:

  • I have a calico cat named Keiko, a gray tabby named Nilly, and a Chackie (chihuahua corgi Jack Russel) who often star on my Twitter feed
  • I LOVE pickles, especially fried
  • While I can’t drink red (damn tannins), I’m always happy with a full wine glass or a whisky ginger
  • Karaoke Queen

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Sera Rivers of Martin Literary Management

Sera Rivers is Senior Literary Manager at Martin Literary Management.

Sera is currently accepting queries for middle grade and young adult fiction and graphic novels, as well as the occasional picture book.

She is seeking:

Own Voices: Sera is especially interested in inclusive narratives and #ownvoices representation. She welcomes queries by children’s authors and illustrators who identify as BIPOC, LQBTQIA+ and other underrepresented and marginalized identities and cultures.

​Young Adult: Sera loves fast-paced, compelling, and mind-bending stories with unreliable narrators. She enjoys stories that incorporate setting as a character (such as Stolen by Lucy Christopher) and twisting plots with endings that are surprising yet inevitable (such as They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera). She would love to see contemporary stories that tackle tough topics, especially if they incorporate a magical element to them (such as We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson); horror (no demonic possessions or gratuitous gore/sex); psychological thrillers; and speculative fiction, including magical realism, ghost stories, and fantastical worlds (no high fantasy). Sera is also very interested in novels in verse and graphic novels.

Some of her favorite YA authors include Elizabeth Acevedo, Shaun David Hutchinson, Walter Dean Myers, Amy Reed, Adam Silvera, Courtney Summers, Renée Watson, and Nancy Werlin.

Middle Grade: Sera is seeking voice-driven contemporary stories that tackle tough topics (such as From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks; George by Alex Gino).

Some of Sera’s favorite MG authors include Kwame Alexander, Katherine Applegate, Erin Dionne, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Rebecca Stead, and Jacqueline Woodson.

Graphic Novels: As an experienced graphic novel publishing professional, Sera would love to represent more graphic stories in all genres of the children’s market, especially stories with a parallel imaginative or magical world to them (such as Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani).

Some of Sera’s favorite graphic novelists include Cece Bell, Jerry Craft, Victoria Jameson, David Small, and Gene Luen Yang.

Picture Books: Sera is only looking for picture books that tackle tough topics (such as Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty and Bryan Collier; The Breaking News by Sarah Reul); or horror (such as Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown; Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann).

Some of Sera’s favorite picture book authors and illustrators include Deborah Freedman, Ezra Jack Keats, Jon Klassen, Larissa Marantz, Yuyi Morales, Kadir Nelson, Raul the Third, Dan Santat, Allen Say, and David Weisner.

——–

Sera believes that words have the power to change lives, and she’s looking to represent authors and illustrators who want to make the world a more inclusive, welcoming place for us all. Sera seeks stories that grab her attention from the first page and take her on a wild ride of emotions; stories that move and inspire readers to evaluate their own selves and strive for something more. Her most favorite books make her laugh, cry, and feel so connected to the characters that her heart aches for them when she reads the last page.

Sera started reading at age four and has been obsessed with books ever since—if she could live in creative worlds, she would. Some of her all-time favorite childhood books are The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, Peppermints in the Parlor by Barbara Brooks Wallace, Behind the Attic Wall by Silvia Cassedy; and Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.

​Sera worked in educational publishing for seven years and launched Avenue A Books, a children’s graphic novel imprint at Center for Responsive Schools. As Avenue A’s acquiring and managing editor, she worked with new and established children’s book writers and illustrators to create picture books and middle grade graphic novels. She loved helping writers and illustrators hone their craft to produce their best work. Now, as an agent, Sera provides editorial feedback to help clients get their manuscripts submission ready.

​In 2007, Sera joined SCBWI when her best friend insisted that Sera belonged in the kid lit world. She’s volunteered for the New England chapter since 2012, co-directing NESCBWI’s 2017 and 2018 annual spring conferences. Sera earned her bachelor of arts degree in Creative Writing and Journalism Studies from the University of Massachusetts and her master of fine arts degree in Writing for Children, with a concentration in young adult novels, from Simmons University. Her young adult memoir THE WICKED ONES won the 2016 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award.

​Sera lives in Western Massachusetts with her partner Mike and her son Indigo (when he’s on break from college). When she’s not reading, writing, or story slamming, she can be found running all over New England training for her next ultramarathon.

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Erin Hosier of Dunow, Carlson and Lerner

Erin Hosier is a literary agent with Dunow, Carlson and Lerner.

Erin primarily works with nonfiction authors and has a special interest in popular culture, music biography, humor, women’s issues and memoir.

She grew up in rural Ohio, and lives in Brooklyn.

Erin is the author of the memoir Don’t Let Me Down (Atria, 2019), and the coauthor of Hit So Hard by Patty Schemel (Da Capo, 2017). She is the co-creator – with Elizabeth Thompson and Matthew Phillp – of the podcast TELL ME ABOUT YOUR FATHER. She has been a literary agent since 2001 (currently with Dunow Carlson & Lerner), and was an original co-host of the Literary Death Match.

Get to Know a Literary Agent: Amy Giuffrida of Jennifer De Chiara Literary

Amy Giuffrida is a literary agent with Jennifer De Chiara Literary.

Amy’s life is consumed with all things bookish. When she’s not working on books, she’s talking about stories with her classes as an 8th grade ELA (English/Language Arts) teacher. In her spare time, you can find her renovating her house, binge-watching TV shows on Hulu, or reading something scary—all while snuggling with her three rescue dogs.

She is seeking:

I am always looking for #ownvvoices stories written by traditionally underrepresented authors that feature BIPOC and LGBTQ+ characters.

MIDDLE-GRADE AND YA:

Horror- Give me your dark and twisted tales that make me question reality. I am especially looking for stories set around Halloween, since this is my favorite time of year—ghosts and hauntings with themes of friendship. I also love campy stories full of tropes, so send them my way!

Romance- Remember your first kiss? I really want to see sweet first love stories. I want to feel that wave of butterflies first love creates and the awkwardness of a first kiss or that tension of having a crush—no matter the type of coupling (F/F, M/M, or F/M).

Contemporary- I’m always in search of strong, young characters that fight to change the world. Also, enemies to friends, friendship break-ups, and feel good family stories are always at the top of my #MSWL—think MG or YA Schitt’s Creek.

Mystery- I’d love to see stories including a group of teens that band together to solve puzzles and mysteries. Think of a modern day Goonies or Scooby-Doo with diverse characters.

ADULT FICTION:

Horror- I want scary, smart stories.

Romance/Rom Com- Give me books that make me swoon, laugh, and cry all at the same time. Stories of best friends turned lovers makes me super happy, no matter the coupling. I’d love to see more of true love stemming from blind dates and making it in the face of diversity. I also seek f/f love stories—give me RED WHITE & ROYAL BLUE, but with female characters. Would also LOVE to see some stories set during holidays in non-Western settings.

Psychological Thrillers- Give me all the unreliable narrators and unexpected twists and turns.

NONFICTION:

MG, YA, and Adult- I am looking for powerful stories from diverse voices, including cookbooks that highlight family stories or ancestral anecdotes.

What I am NOT looking for:

• Pandemic stories

• Angel, demon, werewolf, zombie, mermaid, or pirate stories

• Political/military thrillers

• Novellas, short story collections, screenplays

• Previously published work

• Historical stories in fiction or non-fiction

• Chapter/picture books

• Time travel

• Science Fiction

• Stories including religious themes, suicide, rape, physical/mental abuse, or abductions

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Chelsea Eberly of Greenhouse Literary

Chelsea Eberly is a literary agent with Greenhouse Literary.

She represents authors of middle grade, young adult, graphic novels, and women’s fiction, as well as illustrators who write picture books.

“I joined Greenhouse Literary Agency after over a decade as an editor at Random House Books for Young Readers, where I rose to become a Senior Editor. I’ve had the honor and pleasure of editing the Newbery Medal winner WHEN YOU TRAP A TIGER by Tae Keller as well as numerous New York Times bestsellers by Tamora Pierce, Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Sarah J. Maas, Mark Siegel, and Kim Johnson to name only a few. Prior to Random House, I was an editor of Kindergarten and Pre-K reading textbooks at McGraw-Hill, which gave me a solid respect for everything that the school/library market does. I also attended the Columbia Publishing Course, making valuable connections across the industry. My editorial background gives me a deep understanding of how publishers think. This experience allows me to be an expert advocate and negotiator for my clients. I am also a Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree, which recognizes “the rising stars of the US publishing industry.

“I love to help my clients think Big Picture about developing a strategy to achieve their career goals, while also working closely with them editorially to make sure their work stands out in a crowded market. Basically, I love books and the people who make them. There’s nothing better than falling in love with a story and then telling everyone you know that they HAVE to read this book! If I love something, you will hear about it, and I bring that energy and enthusiasm to my clients’ work on a daily basis.

“My taste is upmarket and both literary and commercial. Bring on multiple hooks and best-in-class storytelling!

SEEKING:
High-concept, commercial and literary reads with unforgettable characters and a unique voice. Projects by BIPOC creators, as well as those marginalized identities that include sexuality, gender identity, and disability.

I am actively building my list and looking for:
• Middle Grade across all genres except sci-fi and horror
• Young Adult across all genres except sci-fi and horror
• Graphic Novels for all ages except adult
• Illustrators of Picture Books
• Upmarket/Book Club Women’s Fiction
• Non-fiction with a unique and timely point of view (why now? what’s new?) and/or a platform-driven project.

I am not the best fit for stories centered on suicide, sexual assault, or eating disorders.

I do not represent the following:
• Picture Book Authors (unless you are already a client)
• Poetry Collections
• Short Story Collections
• Screenplays
• Erotica
• Christian/Inspirational Market

Middle Grade
An unforgettable voice and an uplifting take on the problems that middle-school readers face, especially if the story is told from a specific point of view that can act as a mirror, window, or sliding glass door into diverse experiences. I love when authors tackle Big Truths in a heartfelt way. Send my your school stories with strong hooks and memorable characters. I would love a mystery like THE WESTING GAME. I am also on the lookout for memorable characters in action-packed fantasy adventures (similar to Rick Riordan Presents titles) and humorous voices that can grow to become series juggernauts. If you have a humorous main character with a voice like comedian Mitch Hedberg, send your project my way! I also love when kids are connecting with animals in a BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, bring-your-tissues kind of way. Unique structures and interesting, ambitious POV choices are right up my alley.

Young Adult
A great love story with fantastic banter and/or a unique fantasy world with high stakes. Stories that sit at the crossroads of literary and commercial. I would love a mystery/thriller that features teens being teens in school similar to ONE OF US IS LYING rather than a mystery where the teen is mostly working with adults, e.g. interning at the FBI. I love when authors are thoughtful about structure and voice; e.g. a ticking-clock timeline, a closed setting, a journal-entry format, Death as a unique narrator, and so forth. Ambitious projects with multiple commercial hooks and an empowering sensibility with feminist and social justice angles are a plus. I am a voracious YA reader, so I fall head over heels for any voice or plot that can surprise me. And, as always, I am looking for underrepresented and marginalized voices.

Graphic Novels
Middle grade and YA contemporary, fantasy, magical realism, humor, slice-of-life romance, and select historical/non-fiction projects if they have clear hooks. I love when creators are mining their own experiences in an autobiographical or semi-autobiographical way. Hit me with side-busting humor and/or box-of-tissues feels. I have a soft spot for cats. And, as always, I am looking for underrepresented and marginalized voices.

Picture Book Illustrators
I am looking for illustrators who can also create a strong character, a clear conflict, and write with a silly, laugh-out-loud voice and/or a surprising twist at the end. I love creators who understand the power of the page-turn and the heartwarming sense of community that being read a book aloud delivers. I am open to non-fiction if the story has multiple hooks and an evergreen, contemporary delivery. And, as always, I am looking for underrepresented and marginalized voices.

Adult Women’s Fiction
I love upmarket fiction featuring female main characters that are perfect book club reads. Think QUEENIE, ANXIOUS PEOPLE, ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE, WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE, AYESHA AT LAST, BIG LITTLE LIES, and WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING as examples of my taste. And, as always, I am looking for underrepresented and marginalized voices.

ABOUT GREENHOUSE LITERARY AGENCY
Greenhouse is where authors’ careers grow. A transatlantic literary agency, Greenhouse provides exceptional individual attention to each of its clients while working closely with a robust team of foreign, accounting, royalty, and contract departments. Founded in 2007, Greenhouse has since established itself at the forefront of the US and UK children’s markets and built a powerful, supportive community of bestselling and critically acclaimed clients whose books have been translated into many languages. Our vision is to work with clients in as full a way as possible, so if our authors and illustrators diversify into other markets, we are often able to represent that work, too. With our vast editorial backgrounds at major publishing houses, Greenhouse can help authors develop their voice and craft and then be their advocate and partner through the publishing process and beyond. Our sister company Rights People is an industry leader and represents our foreign rights to the rest of the world. We also have strong relationships with some of the best film agents in Hollywood, including Creative Artists Agency, The Gotham Group, United Talent Agency, Paradigm, ICM Partners, and so forth to always partner with the most passionate advocate when selling creators’ dramatic rights. Most of all, Greenhouse seeks talented authors who are ready to put down roots.