2023 Washington Writers Conference Literary Agents
(Note: Agents are subject to change.)
Rachel Beck of Liza Dawson Associates is a reader, runner, agent, wife, and mom to three small humans and one cat. A Pittsburgh native who spent 12 years in NYC and L.A. before coming back home in 2021, she’s been in the publishing industry since 2009, first as a romance editor at Harlequin Books and then as an agent since 2015. In adult fiction, she represents upmarket/book club women’s fiction, contemporary millennial fiction, romantic comedy, and domestic suspense/thriller. She also represents contemporary YA and select nonfiction.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: Women’s fiction, family sagas, historicals, dual-timeline novels, non-genre fiction.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: Don’t be nervous — I’m excited to chat with you and hear about your book! Know your genre (and applicable subgenre/s), word count, and comp titles/authors. Be able to describe how your book is unique and why it’s necessary in the marketplace at this time (especially for nonfiction).
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Children’s/picture books, poetry, epic/high fantasy, or erotic romance.
I’d love to be pitched the next: Does My Body Offend You?, We Are Not Like Them, Malibu Rising, The Witch Elm, It Ends With Us, or Book Lovers.
Two fun facts about me: I ran a marathon and did a triathlon while pregnant. And I once slept in Rockefeller Center to see my favorite musician perform.
Andrea Blatt has been with WME (William Morris Endeavor) since 2016. She represents a wide variety of adult fiction and nonfiction, and particularly loves books that tackle the issues at the heart of being human, that make the political personal, that teach her something new, that make her laugh, or that have a deeply empathetic eye. Blatt’s clients include adventurer and writer Blair Braverman, feminist historian April White, award-winning journalist Caleb Gayle, co-host of “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend,” New York Times bestselling author Sona Movsesian, “Last Week Tonight” writer Taylor Kay Phillips, and novelist Cecilia Rabess.
I represent: Adult fiction and nonfiction.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: Upmarket fiction, narrative nonfiction, and news-you-can-use in health and science.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: Come as yourself! I’m excited to hear about your book and a bit about who you are and why you wrote it. Don’t sweat the small stuff — I just love good stories, and I won’t hold nerves against you.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: children’s picture books or poetry.
I’d love to be pitched the next: True Biz by Sara Novic, Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, The Perfectionists by Simon Winchester, or Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.
Two fun facts about me: I’m NYC-based, but I have three nieces in DC, so I’m excited to have an excuse to be there! I’d prefer to read every single manuscript outside with a foster dog.
Jennifer Chen Tran is a literary agent at Folio Literary Management. With over a decade of experience in publishing, Jennifer is passionate about nurturing and championing authors and their creative lives. She represents a wide range of talent, including journalists, physicians, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, chefs, and graphic novelists, among others.
Prior to joining Folio, Jennifer was a literary agent at several West Coast literary agencies and served as Of Counsel at the New Press. She obtained her Juris Doctor from Northeastern School of Law in Boston, MA, and a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Washington University in St. Louis. She is an attorney in good standing in New York and California.
Recent nonfiction titles Jennifer represented include Stuart Palley’s memoir Into the Inferno; 101-year-old physician and mother of holistic medicine Dr. Gladys McGary’s The Well-Lived Life: A Centenarian Doctor’s Six Secrets to Health and Happiness at Any Age; Kate Oliver’s The Modern Caravan; contributing cartoonist for the New Yorker and BuzzFeed artist Natalya Lobanova’s Everyone Is Awful, a debut collection of darkly humorous comics; and clinical professor at Stanford University School of Medicine Dr. Elizabeth Landsverk’s Living in the Moment.
Recent fiction titles Jennifer represented include author Kristen Kiesling The Harrowing, a YA graphic novel about a psychic teen girl who is forced to use her powers to track down killers until she discovers her boyfriend is her next target; Lily Quan’s middle-grade novelization of the Disney-Pixar movie “Turning Red”; and Rebecca Kelley’s contemporary novel No One Knows Us Here.
Jennifer is an editorial agent who believes in the art of collaboration and works closely with her authors from concept to proposal to publication and beyond. As a person of color and daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, Jennifer is committed to amplifying voices from underrepresented and marginalized communities. Her ultimate goal is to work in concert with authors to shape books that will have a lasting positive social impact on the world — books that illuminate, entertain, and inspire.
Genres represented: In nonfiction: cookbooks, memoir, narrative nonfiction, neurodivergent, prescriptive nonfiction, middle grade, and YA (including BIPOC and LGBTQIA+). In fiction: graphic novels, book-club fiction, commercial fiction, and women’s fiction.
What I’m looking for in nonfiction: narrative or memoir (with a platform) that sheds light on an unseen corner in society or history. Prescriptive nonfiction with practical takeaways, cookbooks with a unique angle or narratives centered on culinary life (see David Chang’s Eat a Peach), lifestyle titles (see Kate Oliver’s The Modern Caravan), humorous or visually driven projects, and business books that read like memoir. Big-idea books that shift how we perceive or navigate the world.
What I’m looking for in fiction: middle-grade and Young Adult with heart and humor or visually driven elements (see Remy Lai’s Pie in the Sky), contemporary fiction that braids together issues of social significance and identity (see Angie Kim’s Miracle Creek).
What I’m not looking for: Science fiction, fantasy, romance, erotica, or screenplays.
I am specifically looking for these genres at the conference: narrative nonfiction and graphic novels.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: Tell me why you’re writing this book now, why you are the right person to write this, and what inspired you.
I’d love to be pitched the next: Braiding Sweetgrass or Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow.
Two fun facts about me: I am a two-time spelling bee champion and was on a television show.
Jennie Dunham has been a literary agent for over 30 years representing award-winning and bestselling literary fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books. She founded Dunham Literary in 2000. She is a member of AALA, SCBWI, and the Author’s Guild. [NOTE: JENNIE IS TAKING VIRTUAL PITCHES ONLY, AND ONLY ON FRIDAY, MAY 12TH.]
I represent: Fiction and nonfiction for adults and children’s books from novelty and picture books through middle grade and young adult.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: Be able to talk about your book without reading a written pitch. Know your identity as an author and incorporate that into your pitch. Include which shelf your book would belong on in the bookstore, and convey that and the central conflict in the story during your pitch.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: genre romance.
I’d love to be pitched the next: I’m eager to find #ownvoices stories.
Two fun facts about me: I collect modern first editions, and I start the day with Wordle and Spelling Bee.
Facebook: Dunham Literary, Inc.
Anne Glusker of the Spieler Agency is a longtime editor at publications ranging from the Washington Post to Forbes to the American Lawyer. She has overseen stories and projects on everything from food to business, fashion to politics, healthcare to education. As an agent, her interests lie in nonfiction with a strong narrative that treats of-the-moment social and political issues and in can’t-put-it-down memoir and fiction that features strong storytelling. She is particularly interested in stories and situations featuring women, disability issues, people of color, and LGBTQ+ issues. She loves a contrarian point of view and a look into rarely seen worlds.
Jennie Goloboy is a literary agent at the Donald Maass Literary Agency specializing in science fiction and fantasy for adults, and history for a popular audience.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: History for a popular audience.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: My secret favorite things include stories about how a community was built, and business history (or fiction informed by business history). I love historical fantasy with a strongly drawn historical setting. Magic and fantasy-tinged novels for an audience that generally doesn’t read sci-fi and fantasy are really popular right now, and I would love to represent more.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: My irrational dislikes include stories about pirates, stories about competitions, stories with a school setting, and stories about elves.
I’d love to be pitched the next: game-changing science fiction or fantasy novel, or a genuinely funny history book.
Two fun facts about me: I published a novel in 2021, Obviously, Aliens, and am currently trying to turn it into a screenplay.
Irene Goodman of the Irene Goodman Agency represents nonfiction in the areas of politics, health, business, cooking, and lifestyle. She is not interested in memoir unless it comes with a sizable platform. [NOTE: IRENE IS TAKING VIRTUAL PITCHES ONLY, AND ONLY ON FRIDAY, MAY 12.]
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: Adult nonfiction.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: Be yourself. Have a platform. This is not life or death.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: poetry, sports, or fiction of any type. Please take this seriously.
I’d love to be pitched the next: big Instagram baking star, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Good to Great, or Dare to Lead.
Two fun facts about me: I adore anything French. I love to bake.
Susan Hawk of Upstart Crow Literary has worked in children’s books for over 25 years and represents 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.
I represent: Both fiction/nonfiction, but for children and YA only. I’m open to all genres.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: I’m open to all genres and am specifically hoping to see MG and YA novels.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: I’m grateful you’ve chosen to share your work with me. Have fun with your pitch and don’t forget to breathe. Remember: Even if a pitch doesn’t go the way you planned, you can learn something from the experience.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Adult projects, as I don’t rep them. Also, no poetry collections.
I’d love to be pitched the next: Hybrid novels/graphic novels, aka heavily illustrated middle grade novels. Think Max Brallier’s Last Kids on Earth or Rachel Russell’s Dork Diaries.
Two fun facts about me: I’m a Washington, DC, native. My first job, back in the 80s, was at the Cheshire Cat Bookstore in Northwest DC. What a perfect bookstore that was!
Haley Heidemann has been at WME (William Morris Endeavor) since 2016. She represents adult commercial and literary fiction, along with nonfiction. Her clients and projects include NYT bestselling author and head Peloton instructor Robin Arzón; You Deserve Better by Tyler Cameron; NYT bestselling author Jenny Mollen; and Fulbright scholar and winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Sasha Velour.
I’m especially looking for this genre at the conference: upmarket commercial and literary fiction.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: Be confident, have a clear sense of your audience and the other books you’d compare yours to, and have fun!
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: genre fantasy.
I’d love to be pitched the next: Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow; The Girls; or Daisy Jones and the Six.
Two fun facts about me: I worked at the San Diego Zoo. I am the oldest of five kids.
Sam Hiyate ran Gutter Press and launched the literary division of the Lavin Agency in 2003. At the Rights Factory, he’s keen to discover new writers and to help them launch and build lasting careers. Sam is also the host of the podcast “Agent Provocateur,” giving a unique look into agenting.
I represent: Adult and YA fiction and nonfiction, as well as the graphic novel or children’s book. I’m open to most genres and am looking for fresh voices and new stories.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: Fiction and nonfiction, any genre.
Advice for pitching me: Do your homework about what I like and use comps to give me market positioning.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Anything tired or cliche.
I’d love to be pitched the next: High-concept anything.
Two fun facts about me: I started my first lit mag with a credit card in 1991, and on my first agenting meetings in NYC, I had a writer without a specific book idea and still got a huge offer for a nonfiction book by that writer.
Michelle Z. Jackson, originally from Jamaica, is a literary associate with LCS Literary. She has been an educator for over 20 years, and she is also a published author, writing professionally as Michelle Lindo-Rice (for Mira and Harlequin Special Edition) and Zoey Marie Jackson (for Harlequin Love Inspired). She has earned degrees from New York University, SUNY Stony Brook, Teachers College Columbia University, and Argosy University. She works with many authors on developmental/content editing to build strong, memorable characters and story arcs.
I represent: Adult fiction and nonfiction in the following genres: commercial, historical, humor, new adult, romance, science fiction, fantasy, thriller, women’s fiction, true crime, self-help, relationships, cookbooks, narrative, spirituality, and select memoirs.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: Any area of adult nonfiction, including memoir. Also, historical fiction, women’s fiction, romance, and narrative nonfiction.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: Start off with the hook, the word count, and the genre.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Self-published works or children’s/YA books.
A fun fact about me: I am a twin.
Bridget Wagner Matzie is an agent and partner at Aevitas Creative Management. She has represented many bestselling books and experts in fascinating fields. She is most interested in strong original nonfiction ideas, new and international voices, big-think topics, and books that challenge readers and create discussion.
I represent: NONFICTION ONLY.
I am specifically looking for: serious, well researched nonfiction by experts in a field, or unforgettable memoirs.
Advice for pitching me: Make sure that you and your experience are an excellent match for your book idea.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: a book that you are unqualified to write.
I’d love to be pitched the next: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or Evicted.
Two fun facts about me: I lived in India for several years. I’m originally from Ohio.
James Mustelier of the Bent Agency is looking for a range of commercial and literary fiction. In adult fiction, he wants horror, mystery, and grounded speculative fiction. In YA and middle grade, he’s interested in horror, mystery, and irreverent retellings of fairytales, myths, and historical events.
I represent: Adult, YA, and middle-grade literary, horror, mystery, suspense, and speculative fiction.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: Horror and mystery.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Romance, memoir, space opera, or high fantasy.
I’d love to be pitched the next: Leave the World Behind or Annihilation.
Two fun facts about me: I have five siblings and I’m half Cuban.
Lizz Nagle is a senior agent at Victress Literary. When not agenting, she might be found writing poetry, playing guitar, traveling, at a concert, or on a hiking trail with her menagerie of kids and rescue animals.
I represent: adult, YA, and middle-grade fiction and nonfiction.
Genres: Fantasy, contemporary, historical, horror, humor, suspense, romance, and YA.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: For YA and MG, I’m looking for contemporary diverse, underrepresented stories with messy, resilient characters driving the show. Bonus points for a mystery, adventure, or thriller element. For adult, I’m looking for psychological thrillers, domestic suspense/mysteries, and historical fiction. Always bonus points for LGBTQIA, found families, physical disabilities, grief, addiction, dark and twisty, and characters questioning the status quo and deepening their understanding of the human condition. Also, all of your thought-provoking, laughter-inducing, social-movement-inspiring narrative nonfiction.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: If you’re nervous, tell me about your dog first. But don’t be nervous. Just go for it. I’m excited to meet you and hear about your book!
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: picture books.
I hope to be pitched the next: They Both Die at the End.
Two fun facts about me: I got my first guitar at the Gibson Garage after a Zach Bryan concert last year and now I can play three songs...kinda badly! I paint paintings for my authors based on their books.
Rita Rosenkranz of the Rita Rosenkranz Literary Agency represents all areas of adult nonfiction.
I am specifically looking for this genre at this year’s conference: Any area of adult nonfiction, including memoir.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: Come prepared, which means honing the pitch in order to use the limited pitching time well. Understand what genre you are pitching and how it is different/better than what’s already been published. Underscore how you are well-paired to the project.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: projects tied to fiction, poetry, children’s, or other categories outside my stated interests.
I’d love to be pitched the next: project that changes the way we think about a topic we thought we knew.
Regina Ryan of Regina Ryan Books has been the head of her own independent literary agency for over 35 years, handling adult and juvenile nonfiction. Her areas of interest are wide-ranging and eclectic and include narrative nonfiction, natural history (particularly birds), science, the outdoors, the occasional memoir, and books that help people live better lives (particularly women).
I represent: both adult and juvenile nonfiction.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: Nature and science, especially new understanding about humans and about the world in which we live.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: Please explain why you are the one to write this book, why this book is needed, and how you can and will help the publisher promote it.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Fiction, poetry, or sad memoir.
I’d love to be pitched the next: The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben.
Two fun facts about me: I love to make soup and I “read” books only by listening.
Katharine Sands of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency has worked with a varied list of authors who publish a diverse array of books. Highlights include Sell Your Story in a Single Sentence: Advice From the Frontlines of Hollywood by Lane Shefter Bishop of Vast Entertainment; Spiritual Pregnancy: Nine Months that Change Your Life Before You Give Birth by Dr. Shawn Tassone and Dr. Kathryn Landherr; Talk to Strangers: How Everyday Random Encounters Can Expand Your Business, Career, Income and Life by David Topus; The New Rules of Attraction: How to Get Him, Keep Him and Make Him Beg for More by Arden Leigh; Stand Up for Yourself: Resolve Workplace Crises Before You Quit, Get Axed or Sue the Bastards by Donna Ballman; Dating the Devil by Lia Romeo; XTC: SongStories; Chasing Zebras: THE Unofficial Guide to House, MD by Barbara Barnett of Let’s Talk TV; CityTripping: a Guide for Foodies, Fashionistas and the Generally Style-Obsessed; Writers on Directors; The Apothecary’s Curse: Girl Walks Out of a Bar; Ford model Helen Lee’s The Tao of Beauty; Elvis and You: Your Guide to the Pleasures of Being an Elvis Fan; New York: Songs of the City; Taxpertise: Dirty Little Secrets the IRS Doesn’t Want You to Know; The SAT Word Slam; Divorce After 50; Trust Your Gut; The Little Book of Healthy Beauty: Simple Daily Steps to Get Your Glowing by Dr. Oz guest Dr. Pina LoGuidice; and Make Up, Don’t Break Up with Oprah guest Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, to name a few. She is the agent provocateur of Making the Perfect Pitch: How to Catch a Literary Agent’s Eye, a collection of pitching wisdom from leading literary agents. She recently contributed “Grey Is the New Black” to Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey, a nonfiction look at the cultural phenom of the bestselling novel. Actively building her client list, Katharine likes books that have a clear benefit for readers’ lives in categories of food, travel, lifestyle, home arts, beauty, wisdom, relationships, parenting, and fresh looks, which might be at issues, life challenges, or popular culture. When reading fiction, she wants to be compelled and propelled by urgent storytelling, and hooked by characters. For memoir and femoir, she likes to be transported to a world rarely or newly observed.
Dani Segelbaum is a literary agent at the Carol Mann Agency. She is interested in both fiction and nonfiction. In both, Dani hopes to work with authors from diverse backgrounds to tell stories that are important to them. She loves compelling narrators and is drawn to writing that is voice-driven, highly transporting, and features unique perspectives and marginalized voices.
I represent: adult fiction and nonfiction. In fiction: commercial, general, historical, humor, LGBTQ+, literary, mystery, and women’s fiction. In nonfiction: Biography, cookbooks, history, journalism, LGBTQ+, memoir, pop culture, psychology, science, and true crime.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: Commercial and literary fiction, and narrative nonfiction.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: Make sure your pitch has a clear and compelling hook. Use your comp titles in your pitch. Tell me a bit about yourself! (Add a short bio to the end of your pitch.)
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Sci-fi, fantasy, or children’s.
I’d love to be pitched the next: Horse by Geraldine Brooks; The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead; Girls and Sex by Peggy Orenstein; or Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner.
Two fun facts about me: I have an Aussiedoodle named Dottie, and if I wasn’t a literary agent, I’d be a full-time baker.
Sian-Ashleigh is from the suburbs of New York and goes by her full first name. At WME for five years and counting, she’s always on the hunt for books that’ll make her laugh or cry on the subway.
I represent: Adult, YA, and MG fiction and nonfiction, particularly upmarket, commercial, and genre fiction.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: Fiction of all sorts!
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: Tell me the hook and what makes your book special. Clarify in what way your book relates to the comps you use. Don’t be nervous!
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: detective-driven thrillers, murder mysteries, or WWII fiction or nonfiction unless it’s about an untold POV.
I’d love to be pitched the next: If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha; Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter; or Notes from a Young Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi.
Two fun facts about me: I can almost rollerblade (still figuring out how to brake!), and I find all things science fascinating (and was pre-med in college).
Max Sinsheimer of Sinsheimer Literary is a nonfiction literary agent based in Washington, DC, focused on food, popular science, history, memoir, and social issues. He’s also a former Oxford University Press editor with a soft spot for academics who can write for general audiences!
I represent: adult nonfiction in the following genres: history, biography, memoir, narrative journalism, popular science, prescriptive, cookbooks, travel, and true crime.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: Journalistic nonfiction that weaves a personal narrative into a larger societal story. For instance, Mario Ariza’s Disposable City is about how inadequately prepared Miami is for the inevitable sea-level rise. But his pitch to me began with his decision to move back to Miami and buy a home in the city he grew up in, only to realize that many of the properties he viewed would literally be under water within a 30-year mortgage term. Climate change can feel like a distant threat, but Mario managed to make it concrete and immediate. That approach of finding a personal hook into a wider issue will get me every time.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: A good pitch tells me what the book is, who it’s for, and why you are the right person to write it in as few words as possible. And it leaves me wanting more. I promise I’ll read the more detailed description in your proposal if you tell me just enough to intrigue me during the pitch session.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: anything that purports to prove the existence of God or miracles. Motorcycle and hiking memoirs. A relative’s autobiography or memoir that you are helping them write or sell. (Family histories make wonderful gifts; I know because I helped my grandfather self-publish his memoir. But unless your relative is truly noteworthy and has a strong promotional plan, there is very little commercial appeal!)
I’d love to be pitched the next: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone (Lori Gottlieb) or Five Days at Memorial (Sheri Fink). I’d love to represent more funny, illuminating memoirs and works of entrenched/investigative journalism that make closed worlds suddenly accessible.
Two fun facts about me: When I was 8, I complained to my parents that movies always have happy endings, so my dad sat me down and showed me “Planet of the Apes.” Also, my first job out of college was as an editorial assistant at Oxford University Press, and the first book I worked on was The Oxford Companion to Beer. It got me deep into homebrewing for much of my twenties!
Alisha West of Victress Literary has had a lifelong love affair with stories — writing, reading, editing, or watching, she loves it all.
I represent: Adult, YA, and children’s fiction and nonfiction. In fiction, I’m looking for contemporary, family saga, historical, LGBTQIA+, literary, mystery, and thriller. In nonfiction, I’m looking for film, humor, cultural/social issues, LGBTQIA+, women’s issues, and politics.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: LGBTQIA+.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: Relax, I’m new at this, too. Show me your passion. Don’t be afraid to be yourself.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Religious stories.
I’d love to be pitched the next: Last Night at the Telegraph Club.
Two fun facts about me: I love films almost as much as I love books. I name all my pets after TV characters.