2022 Washington Writers Conference Literary Agents
(Note: Agents are subject to change. Check back often for updates.)
Susan Hawk has worked in children’s books for over 25 years and represent books for children and teens. She’s looking for diverse stories, elegant writing, and books that make the reader feel. Her clients include Alison Oliver, illustrator of the bestselling Baby Lit board books and the picture book Moon; Ruth Spiro, author of the Baby Loves Science board book series; Marcie Colleen, author of the Super Happy Party Bears chapter book series and the picture books Love, Triangle and Penguinaut!; Lisa Tyre, whose second middle-grade novel, Hope in the Holler, was an Amazon Best Book for 2018; and Rachael Allen, author of the YA novels 17 First Kisses, The Revenge Playbook, and A Taxonomy of Love. @susanhawk
I represent: Both fiction/nonfiction, but for children and teens only. I’m open to all genres, including literary, mystery, fantasy, science fiction, contemporary, humor, magical realism, historical fiction, adventure, horror, thriller, and graphic novels.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: Projects and creators that are diverse, books that are unabashedly feminist, and something that will make me laugh!
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: One: Deep breaths! There’s nothing to worry about. Two: Think carefully about your hook — I definitely want to be intrigued! Three: More than details of the plot, I’m interested in what feeling you plan to leave your reader with — what’s the take-away?
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Adult books, because I don't rep them.
I hope to be pitched the next: Rita Williams-Garcia, Laini Taylor, Rainbow Rowell, Jacqueline Woodson, Meg Medina, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, M.T. Anderson, or Cece Bell!
Two fun facts about me: I’m a Washington, DC, native. The last book I read, as of this writing, is Miss Benson’s Beetle, which I loved!
Sam Hiyate of the Rights Factory represents adult and YA fiction and nonfiction. In adult fiction: debut; voice-driven; literary; thriller; commercial; and women's fiction. In adult nonfiction: narrative; memoir; health, lifestyle and self-help; and business (a humorous approach in voice or tone helps). In YA fiction: character-driven; literary; and commercial. Also, graphic novels.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: Anything voice-driven or funny, and I love genre mashups.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: Know some of my bigger books. Get me emotionally invested. Use great comparables.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Picture books.
I hope to be pitched the next: New York Trilogy by Paul Auster.
Two fun facts about me: I signed a handful of authors from pitches they made at parties/launches. I hate stories with sad endings.
Kat Kerr of Donald Maass Literary represents adult and YA fiction and nonfiction in the following genres: literary (contemporary, historical, magical realism, science fiction, women's fiction, family saga), commercial (contemporary romance, women's fiction, science fiction, fantasy, select historical), and YA (all genres).
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: I would like to see more literary multicultural fiction in my inbox, as well as literary speculative, particularly within the science-fiction sphere. For commercial, I would love more #OwnVoices stories from BIPOC in both issue-driven and non-issue-driven works.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: The more concise, the better! Really work on getting who your character is, what they are setting out to achieve, what’s standing in their way, and what’s at stake. For literary pitches, I’m interested in knowing some of the themes your story touches on, but am still looking for a key conflict whether it is internally or externally driven.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Westerns, military centered stories (this includes military sci-fi), war stories (unless told from a civilian POV), picture books, chapter books, or middle grade stories, stories revolving around unresolved trauma, sexual assault and abuse, or stories that are rooted in bigotry, false history, or problematic representation.
I'd love to be pitched the next: contemporary work (either YA or Adult) focusing on the Native community similar to the show "Reservation Dogs." I also love The Leavers by Lisa Ko, The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez, and An Indian Among Los Indigenas by Ursula Pike.
Two fun facts about me: I am such a puzzle geek and always have one going on a table behind my work desk. I am the proud owner of an incredibly intelligent hound mix who is sweet, cuddly, and lets me know daily that I am not the boss of him.
Bridget Wagner Matzie of Aevitas has represented projects such as the #1 New York Times bestseller Shattered by Jon Allen and Amie Parnes, the national bestseller The Case for Impeachment by Allan Lichtman, the New York Times bestseller The Party Is Over by Mike Lofgren, and the acclaimed novel The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma by Ratika Kapur, as well as Smithsonian scientist Nick Pyenson’s Spying on Whales, and Emory professor Ruby Lal’s Empress, among others. Matzie graduated from Colgate University with a B.A. in English and writing. She attended the Columbia University publishing program and subsequently worked for ICM in New York and London as an agent and rights director at the Sagalyn Agency, and as foreign-rights manager at Random House India. Matzie represents nonfiction and commercial fiction as an Aevitas agent based in Washington, DC, where Washingtonian magazine listed her as one of DC’s top book agents. She is most interested in strong original ideas, new and international voices, big-think topics, and books that challenge readers and create discussion.
James Mustelier of the Bent Agency is looking for a range of commercial and literary fiction. He represents adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction in the following genres: literary, sci-fi, horror, mystery, and fantasy. In commercial, he’s seeking compact horror and mysteries and grounded sci-fi and fantasy. In YA and MG, he’s interested in epic fantasy, grounded sci-fi, and irreverent retellings of fairytales, myths, and historical events, specifically from diverse perspectives.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: Grounded speculative fiction.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: Let me know how your book is unique right away. Give me a sense of the tone of the book through the pitch. Give me your best approximation of where the book fits in the publishing market.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Romance, epic fantasy, space opera, or military thrillers.
I’d love to be pitched the next: The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner.
Two fun facts about me: I’ve lived in Spain, France, and Italy, and I have five siblings.
Lizz Nagle of Victress Literary represents both adult and YA fiction and nonfiction: memoir; biography; narrative nonfiction; literary and commercial fiction; SFF; mystery; thriller; magical realism; women’s fiction; dark comedy; humor; and contemporary YA.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: In nonfiction: substance use/mental health/grief memoirs; anything exploring anything with humor and resilience. For fiction, I’m looking for layered characters, challenging themes, and anything generally unusual, dark, and twisty highlighting taboo subjects and diversity while propelling minority opinions in a real-world setting.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: Just be chill and let’s have a conversation about why you wrote this book, its message, and what it means to you. Of course, I need to know genre, word count, plot points, conflicts, and tensions. But what I really want to know about is the characters you’ve created — their motivations, fights and causes, their deepest fears, darkest adversaries, boundless minds, and resilient hearts.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Romance, historical, Western, religious, or academic.
I hope to be pitched the next: Everything Is Horrible and Wonderful or The Heart Goes Last.
Two fun facts about me: I travel to see concerts and sometimes go alone. I’m incredibly gifted at falling up the stairs. Any and all stairs. Carpeted or concrete.
Dana Newman is an L.A.-based independent literary agent representing authors of practical and narrative nonfiction and literary and upmarket fiction. She’s always on the lookout for compelling voices, ideas, and stories, and is a passionate believer in the power of books to connect and transform us. Dana is also an attorney, focusing on publishing law and contracts. She’s a member of the California State Bar and the Association of Authors’ Representatives. Before founding her literary agency, she worked as in-house counsel in the entertainment industry. @DanaNewman
I Represent: Adult fiction and nonfiction. Literary, historical, women's fiction; non-fiction: pop culture, biography, memoir, business, cooking, health, wellness, lifestyle, history, politics, current affairs, mind/body/spirit, science, technology, self-help, sports, travel.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: practical nonfiction by authors with smart, unique perspectives and established platforms; compelling, inspiring narrative nonfiction that reads like a novel; upmarket and literary fiction featuring character-driven stories written in a distinctive voice.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: It's a conversation, no need to recite a canned speech; include a strong hook or "why" about your project; let me know a little about you and your experience as a writer.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: children's/YA, poetry, screenplays, religion, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, horror, Western, technical, or textbooks.
I hope to be pitched the next: Fiction: The Nix; Nonfiction: Wild or The Orchid Thief.
Two fun facts about me: I've run five marathons, and have always lived in California.
Sera Rivers of Martin Literary and Media Management is a senior literary manager currently accepting queries for middle grade and young adult fiction and graphic novels, as well as the occasional picture book. She is not looking for high fantasy, historical fiction, or adult fiction or nonfiction. In 2007, Sera joined SCBWI when her best friend insisted that she belonged in the kidlit world. She now attends SCBWI conferences and workshops every year. She’s volunteered for the New England chapter since 2012, co-directing NESCBWI’s 2017 and 2018 annual spring conferences. In 2009, after immersing herself in the kidlit community, she decided to pursue her passion — a career in the children’s book industry. She went back to college, earning 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 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 novels. She loved helping writers and illustrators hone their craft to produce their best work. Now, as an agent, she provides editorial feedback to help clients get their manuscripts submission ready.
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. She 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 is excited to sign #OwnVoices. She 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. Sera is specifically looking for:
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); ghost stories; psychological thrillers; and speculative fiction. 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 and Melissa's Story 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: 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 and The Breaking News by Sarah Reul) or horror (such as Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown and 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.
Max Sinsheimer represents a range of adult and select children's nonfiction, with a particular interest in food, science, and society. Sometimes those interests intersect, as in Larissa Zimberoff's Technically Food (Abrams Press), about the lab-driven future of food. Many of his books have a policy or advocacy angle, including Marion Nestle's Unsavory Truth (Basic Books), Michael Jacobson's Salt Wars (MIT Press), and Catherine Donnelly's Ending the War on Artisan Cheese (Chelsea Green). He’s on the lookout for more great place-specific food narratives, having recently sold a sake travelogue called Exploring the World of Japanese Craft Sake (Tuttle).
There's more on his plate (pun!) than just food and drink, though. Max is arguably representing the opposite of food and drink with a book about fasting called The Oldest Cure in the World (Abrams Press). He loves working with investigative and longform journalists like Steve Hendricks, and he’s also keen to represent more environmental and social issues books, having sold Mario Ariza's Disposable City (Nation Books), about Miami's sea level rise crisis, and If I Don't Make It, I Love You (Skyhorse), a collection of narratives from school shooting survivors.
Prior to founding his agency, Max managed Oxford University Press' influential food and drink Companion series, multi-authored, subject-defining works that included The Oxford Companion to Beer (2011), The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets (2015), Savoring Gotham (2015), The Oxford Companion to Cheese (2016), and The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails (2021). The series has won or been nominated for James Beard, IACP, Gourmand, and other food-writing awards. While he enjoyed his time at OUP immensely, he wanted to represent his authors’ interests more completely. Since founding his agency in 2016, he can!
Max has a B.A. in English literature from Middlebury College and an M.A. in liberal studies from Duke University. He lives with his fiancé in Washington, DC, and, in non-pandemic times, travels back and forth to NYC often to meet with editors and visit family. In his free time, he plays an unhealthy amount of online chess.
Leslie Truex is a nonfiction and fiction author (under a penname) of over a dozen books. She is passionate about helping writers through her online community for romance writers, as the president of the Virginia Writers Club, and as an agent with Blue Ridge Literary Agency. In fiction, she is looking for contemporary romance, romantic comedy, romantic suspense/mystery, paranormal/fantasy romance, new adult romance, YA romance, and YA fantasy. In nonfiction, she’s interested in small/home/online business, marketing, success-oriented self-help, and writing/authorship/publishing.
I’m specifically looking for this at the conference: romcoms or romantic suspense, as well as nonfiction how-to, self-help, or business.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: Give me the genre, word count, and premise off the bat: (Novel Name) is a (word count) (genre) about (character info) who must (goal that needs to be achieved) in order to (stakes and opposition). Tell me the main plot of the book and why it's unique. Let me know if the book is a series and/or your ambitions as an author (where do you see yourself as an author in five years).
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Historical romance (unless romcom), any genre without romance being the major plot of the story (no cozies with a love interest), with the exception of YA Fantasy. No erotica. No memoirs. Nothing that has been previously published. Nothing over 100,000 words.
I'd love to be pitched the next: The Hating Game, Red, White, and Royal Blue, Just One Damned Thing After Another, Six of Crows, Discovery of Witches, Black Dagger Brotherhood, or something similar to Colleen Hoover.
Two fun facts about me: I'm an author, so I have been where you are — looking for an agent to represent you and your book(s), and working with agents and editors to get a book published. I'm a notebook and Happy Planner fanatic.
Paige Wheeler, founder of Creative Media Agency, Inc., has artfully merged her creativity and business savvy to create an agency that is dedicated to maximizing author potential. With over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, Paige is propelled by an entrepreneurial spirit, ignited by the thrill of discovery. Through all of her professional endeavors, Paige has ventured to support her clients and their unique voices in an unprecedented way.
In 2006, Paige also became a founding partner of Folio Literary Management, LLC. Deciding she missed focusing on growing the author, not the business, Paige pivoted to a boutique approach to author representation. Through CMA, she is now able to manage the intellectual property rights of authors by selling both domestic and foreign rights, co-agenting film and audio rights, and maximizing the long tail of a book’s life in the e-book marketplace.
She is looking for women’s fiction (Big Little Lies, What Happens in Paradise, The Overdue Life of Amy Byler), book club fiction (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine), romance,
including contemporary (books by Kristan Higgins), historical, (books by Eloisa James) and inspirational (Melissa Ferguson), crime fiction (in the vein of Louise Penny, Paula Hawkins, BA Paris, Walter Mosely), as well as mystery, thriller, and suspense.
In nonfiction, she’d like to see memoir (The Blueberry Years, Under the Tuscan Sun, Wild), narrative (Into Thin Air, Seabiscuit), women’s issues (Girl Wash your Face, Survival Mom), business/entrepreneurship (Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office) and practical nonfiction (home, science, self-help, parenting, pop reference). In young adult she’s interested in contemporary (books by Jenny Han, Sarah Dessen), mystery (One of Us Is Lying), dystopian (Hunger Games, etc.). In middle grade, she’d like to see contemporary (crossover, wonder), mystery (Escape from Mr. Limoncello’s Library, Trixie Belden series from long ago), and fantasy (The Library of Ever).
“I’m motivated by projects that are commercially viable and that I’ve totally fallen for and can’t stop talking about. I need to be a cheerleader for a project so my enthusiasm level must be very high. However, sometimes I love books that aren’t commercially viable. That’s when I sadly have to turn away projects. I like books that are well organized, smartly constructed, and have a brilliant and unique voice. It’s even better if I learn something fascinating along the way. Don’t just write a story, write it intelligently.
“More specifically, in fiction I look for…plotlines that make sense and are cleverly written, a fun twist to a tired storyline, engaging, believable characters that shine and well-written, thoughtful prose. In nonfiction, I like for the author to have the expertise to write the book and the platform to help sell it. The projects should cover a niche that has yet to be addressed and be timely and necessary, or at the very least, interesting.
“I love to be an author’s advocate. It’s a thrill to make a writer’s dream come true of selling their book. It’s even more exciting to help that person grow their career. As much as I’d love to shut myself off from the world and read, I’m also an extrovert and love meeting with people. This job really fits my personality. Also, the individuals that make up the publishing industry are simply wonderful: they’re smart, opinionated, well-read, and a bit quirky.”
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: I especially love upscale fiction and nonfiction books that tell a unique story or ones in which the author is an expert in their field. I seem to be especially attracted to a story if it has a high concept and a fresh, unique voice — I want that voice to take over the page. If you have a clever plot, that’s a bonus. I want to be immersed in the story.
Absolutely do not pitch me: picture books, short story collections, science fiction, poetry, screenplays and academic nonfiction.
Two fun facts about me: I’m left-handed; I’ve been a home show addict since Bob Vila was on “This Old House,” so it was fun to work with him on his book.