Agents Attending the 2019 Washington Writers Conference
Lauren Bieker, after a brief career in the fashion industry, made her move to publishing as an intern for agent Paige Wheeler. She moved to FinePrint to assist with day-to-day administrative tasks, but is now developing her client list and is open to queries. Lauren is looking for commercial and upmarket women’s fiction and some well-crafted and differentiated YA novels. She is also open to select science fiction, as well as high-concept and literary fiction works. She appreciates great storytelling and is a sucker for outstanding writing and convincing characters. While primarily interested in fiction, she will consider nonfiction proposals related to the world of fashion. She is also looking for #OWNvoices, feminist lit/#MeToo, and LGBTQ authors in both fiction and nonfiction. Lauren writes during her free time and has been published on various online platforms. She has attended many writing workshops and intensives, including the National Academy of Writing’s intensive at Cambridge University in the UK. @lauren_bieker
I represent: both fiction and nonfiction, adult and YA. Genres: Open to all except for religious fiction, horror, fantasy, or political/military fiction.I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: commercial women’s fiction and #OWNvoices YA.Three sentences of advice for pitching me: No need to fear me, I’m nice. And, have fun with your pitch. If you’re passionate about your story, I will be, too.
Diana Finch, of the Diana Finch Literary Agency, opened her own agency in New York City’s Flatiron District in 2003, after more than 15 years with the Ellen Levine Literary Agency and a start in agenting at Sanford Greenburger Associates. She looks for strong storytelling in fiction — literary, YA, and the occasional genre novel — while most of her list is nonfiction: science, environment, progressive politics, memoir, health, and business. Many of her clients are journalists, foreign correspondents, and memoirists, and she’s proud that three clients were at the 2015 COP21 Climate Summit in Paris. She chairs the AAR’s International Committee and loves selling to foreign publishers. She began her publishing career as an editorial assistant, learning the inner workings of a publishing house at St. Martin’s Press. She has a BA in English from Harvard and an MA in American literature from Leeds University, UK. Diana loves sports — both watching and playing — and lives in the Bronx. @DianaFinch
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: Relax! I love meeting authors and hearing about their projects. I want to know why you're excited about your project.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Adult books, because I don't rep them.
I hope to be pitched the next: Debut YA novel that is literary and confident, with beautiful, surprising prose and characters that make you fall passionately in love with them, break your heart, and repair it by story's end.
Two fun facts about me: I grew up in DC. My first job was at the Cheshire Cat Bookstore on Connecticut Ave. in NW DC.
Dara Kaye escaped academia in 2012 for the Ross Yoon Agency, a DC-based agency known for its award-winning and bestselling adult nonfiction. There, she works closely with all the agency’s clients to shape their proposals into the sharpest, most commercial works possible. As Ross Yoon’s foreign rights manager, she also brokers clients’ contracts in more than 50 territories. Dara is currently growing her own list of domestic clients in adult nonfiction. Her literary soft spots include books about language, theater, Native issues, women’s history, medical and science history, and all things Victorian and Elizabethan. More broadly, she loves books that shed light on unexpected intersections of topics, styles, and problems, and in work that amplifies underrepresented voices. She is a proud Smith College alum and graduated with distinction in Renaissance literature from University College London. She tweets (mostly about books) at @darakaye.
I represent: all adult nonfiction except self-help, from history to science to parenting, and a select list of speculative fiction (e.g., science fiction, fantasy).
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: On my wishlist for nonfiction: New perspectives ready to be launched from a substantial platform. Remarkable untold histories. Unexpected intersections of topics, styles, and audiences. Books that turn what we think we know on its head. On my wishlist for fiction: Nonwestern fantasy. Adaptations of Korean myth or history. SFF Shakespeare adaptations.
Advice for pitching me: Come with questions — if we’re not a match, I can still help you tackle the publishing process.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: poetry, kid lit, self-help, or books arguing Shakespeare’s plays were written by someone else.
I hope to be pitched the next: In nonfiction, gripping “story behind the story” investigation like Bad Blood. Candid, juicy page-turners from authors with a big existing platform like a recent bestseller I worked on, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. Science with a compulsively readable narrative core, like another new book I worked on, The Perfect Predator. Books that face hard truths and fight for social justice, like my colleague’s remarkable project Solitary. In SFF, books that compellingly incorporate deeply researched history like The Poppy Wars or The Calculating Stars. Original, vivid magical worlds like Spinning Silver, and worlds with fully realized, sympathetic characters like The Goblin Emperor. Crossover YA that asks big “what if?” questions and invests in characters who leap off the page to solve big mysteries like in Dread Nation or The Belles.
Two fun facts about me: 1) I lived in South Korea for two years and love Korean food, and 2) I collect antique editions of Shakespeare adaptations for children.
Trena Keating represents authors with bold voices, clever stories, and cutting-edge ideas, including novelists, journalists, and experts writing for a popular audience such as professors, doctors, and scientists. Prior to becoming an agent, Trena was editor-in-chief of Dutton and associate publisher of Plume, both imprints of Penguin Books, senior editor at HarperCollins, and an editorial assistant at Stanford University Press. She has had the honor to work with esteemed writers like Tracy Chevalier, E.L. Doctorow, Toni Morrison, and Joyce Carol Oates, as well as estates from George Orwell to James Jones. Since becoming an agent, she’s represented three memoirs that became NYT bestsellers. Favorite contemporary authors include Rachel Cusk, Kate Atkinson, James McBride, Ann Patchett, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Anne Lamott, and Atul Gawande. Next, she hopes to find a literary novel set in an exotic place or time, a transformation novel for young readers, a distinctly modern novel with a female protagonist, an eerie page-turner, a memoir that addresses larger issues, nonfiction based on primary research or a unique niche, a great essayist, and any voicy writer on any subject who is a great storyteller or makes her laugh.
I represent: Fiction and nonfiction, both adult and YA/children’s.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Romance, mysteries, and thrillers.
I hope to be pitched the next: Educated by Tara Westover.
Two fun facts about me: I’m originally a West Coaster. I have three sisters and three sons. [Note: Trena is now completely booked. Please select another agent.]
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. [Note: Dana is now completely booked. Please select another agent.]
Tina Pohlman joined Union Literary as an agent in 2018 after more than 20 years as an editor and publisher at various houses in New York. She represents literary fiction, memoir, and narrative nonfiction.
I represent: Both fiction and nonfiction.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: Literary fiction, memoir, narrative nonfiction, and nonfiction in animal behavior and psychology.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Prescriptive nonfiction, self-help.
Two fun facts about me: I grew up in Manhattan, Kansas (aka the Little Apple). I was once on a darts team that competed in the C Division of the New York Dart League in NYC.
BJ Robbins established her Los Angeles-based agency in 1992 after a multifaceted career in book publishing in NY, first in publicity at Simon & Schuster and later as marketing director and then senior editor at Harcourt. Her agency represents quality fiction, both literary and commercial, and general nonfiction, with a particular interest in narrative history, memoir, biography, pop culture, sports, travel/adventure, and medicine and health. Clients include New York Times bestselling authors and award-winning writers such as J. Maarten Troost, James Donovan, John Hough Jr., Max Byrd, Nafisa Haji, Stephen Graham Jones, and Deanne Stillman. A member of AAR, Robbins has led workshops at UCLA Extension, UC Irvine Extension, the Writer’s Pad, and at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers Fiction Workshop. She is looking for fiction and nonfiction projects of literary merit that are fresh and original.
I represent: both fiction and nonfiction: literary fiction, some psychological suspense/mystery/thriller, narrative nonfiction, biography, and history.
Advice for pitching me: Avoid rehashing the plot of your novel or delivering a rehearsed pitch. Let's have a conversation! [Note: BJ is now completely booked. Please select another agent.]
Regina Ryan, of Regina Ryan Publishing Enterprises, Inc., has been the head of her own independent literary agency company 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), popular science (particularly the brain), the outdoors, gardening, women’s issues, parenting, psychology, business, health, wellness, self-improvement, lifestyle, history, food, travel, popular reference, and a limited amount of memoir. Among the authors she represents are Andrea Warren, Donald Kroodsma, Nathan Pieplow, Randi Minetor, Peter Meltzer, Kurt Stenn, Andrea Lyon, and David and Kathryn Deardorff. She loves good stories and good writing. @ReginaRyanBooks
I represent: both adult and juvenile nonfiction.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: good, riveting narratives.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: Tell me why you are the right person to write this book, what your idea is, and what your platform is. Be aware of any competition. Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: poetry or fiction.
I hope to be pitched the next: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
Two fun facts about me: I love to make soup (and eat it, of course). And I love to hunt for birds and mushrooms.
Katharine Sands has worked with a varied list of authors who publish a diverse array of books including both fiction, memoir and nonfiction. Among the books she represents are The Apothecary’s Curse, nominated for the Bram Stoker Award in the First Novel category for 2017; and Girl Walks Out of a Bar, a memoir that was featured by People Magazine as Notable Nonfiction. She is actively building her list and looking for books that have a clear benefit for readers’ lives in the categories of food, travel, lifestyle, home arts, beauty, wisdom, relationships, parenting, fresh looks, life challenges, or popular culture. When reading fiction, she wants to be compelled and propelled by urgent storytelling and hooked by characters. For memoir, she likes to be transported to a world rarely or newly observed.
Latoya C. Smith is an award-winning editor and literary agent. She has been featured in Publishers Weekly and USA Today, as well as on various author, book conference, and book blogger websites. Latoya provides editorial and consultation services through her company, LCS Literary Services. She is also a literary agent. @glameditorgirl
I represent: Fiction: High-concept women’s fiction; romance (contemporary, romantic suspense, cowboys, LGBTQ, erotic, inspirational, paranormal); high-concept thrillers and horror; comedy. Nonfiction (platform/market-based); memoir; how-to/advice; relationships; health/wellness; politics/current events/history.
Three sentences of advice for pitching me: Know your word count, genre, and marketplace (comp authors/titles).
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Poetry, self-published works, projects under 50,000 words.
Two fun facts about me: I love to cook. Italy and Fiji are on my bucket list of places to travel to.
Says Julie Stevenson, of Massie & McQuilkin: I am drawn to fiction with unforgettable characters, an authorial command of voice, and a strong sense of narrative tension. I look for work that has a spark of originality and that explores the depths of human experience and the many facets of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, social class, and regional backgrounds. I have an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College, and I specialize in editing fiction and enjoy contemplating craft and storytelling with clients. Books I have agented have become New York Times bestsellers and have won the Pulitzer Prize, the MWA Edgar Award, the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Carnegie Medal for Excellence, and the Tim McGinnis Award for Humor. I represent literary and upmarket fiction, suspense and thrillers, memoir, narrative nonfiction, YA, and some children's books. I am open to work in all genres (nonfiction, fiction, YA, suspense, children's books), as long as it commands my attention and conveys a story I won't soon forget.
I represent: Adult fiction and narrative nonfiction. (I don't do prescriptive nonfiction such as diet books, business books, etc.) Plus, literary YA (mostly realistic as opposed to fantasy/sci-fi), and I rep a small number of children's picture book author-illustrators.
I am specifically looking for this genre at the conference: Crossover YA with literary appeal (Kathleen Glasgow's work would be an example); voice-driven adult fiction with strong story telling/plot elements (such as Sharma Shields or Jesmyn Ward); nonfiction proposals for scholarly political and cultural books that would appeal to a wide audience (our MMQ client Carol Anderson's One Person, No Vote is a good example).
Know this when you pitch me: I have great respect for anyone attempting to do this very difficult task of writing and publishing a book, so there is no need to be nervous. Don't necessarily think of the pitch session as your chance at the big time, but rather as an important step in a learning process. If you're willing to listen and learn, this session will be helpful. If you want a rocket to fame and fortune, then you're probably not going to find it in publishing. This is a tough business that requires great fortitude and willingness to work doggedly toward long-term goals.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Books that you have fully designed yourself. Publishers don't want you to lay out your work in book form.
I hope to be pitched the next: Fiction: Margaret Atwood or Stephen King. There, There by Tommy Orange. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (a book I agented). Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. Nonfiction: White Rage by Carol Anderson; Educated by Tara Westover. YA: Kathleen Glasgow (my client).
Two fun facts about me: I work remotely from my hometown of Missoula, Montana. I lived and worked in New York for 12 years before moving back to Montana. I geek out on Ancient Aliens and theoretical physics (but I am not looking for books in these categories!). [Note: Julie is now completely booked. Please select another agent.]
Laura Strachan has been representing authors for 20 years. She established the Strachan Literary Agency in 1998, focusing on literary fiction and narrative nonfiction. She has a background in English literature as well as a law degree, which is useful when advising clients in all aspects of their work and the business of publishing. @StrachanLit
Gerrie Sturman is an agent with Goldfarb & Associates, which represents established and debut authors in both the fiction and nonfiction fields. Through their legal work with writers’ organizations, they are constantly adding new and talented writers to their list of literary clients and matching collaborators with projects in need of authors or editors. Gerrie has an eclectic background as English teacher, PR and sales executive, and now office manager and agent. She is building her list, but represents all Goldfarb & Associates agents at the Washington Writers Conference. Serious nonfiction is her most active area, but a hair-raising thriller, true crime, health/food and living, as well as inspirational subjects also speak to her. No children's literature or science fiction.
Roger S. Williams has worked in publishing for over 40 years. He has been a sales rep, co-owner of a bookstore, and a VP of sales at a major publishing house. In 2010, he bought New England Publishing Associates, a literary agency founded in 1981.
I represent: Nonfiction. Specifically, biography, memoir, and history, with an emphasis on American military or social history. I am also interested in books on marketing; communications and consumerism; current events; politics; popular culture; and social policy. I met five of my clients at the Washington Writers Conference.
Know this when you pitch me: Relax. I am not some magical gatekeeping wizard. I am a book-industry professional and I am at the conference to help you and to learn about your project. I may or may not be the best agent for you; agenting can be very subjective. When you sit down with me, rather than just launching into your project, please introduce yourself — give me a sentence or two on who you are and how you have come to work on your project. Then we can talk more about the specifics. Think of presenting your work in the form of jacket flap copy — about 200 words or less — I want to know about the book and why it is important. The more preparation you do in advance, the more productive our few minutes together will be. There is a wealth of information about getting published on the “Resources for Writers” tab at my website, including a series of white papers.
Absolutely, positively do not pitch me: Fiction, poetry, or children’s books. If you have written a novel, I am happy to talk to you about the business of publishing, but just know that I do not represent fiction or books for young readers.
Two fun facts about me: 1. My wife is author Gina Cascone. Gina has written about 37 books, three movies, and a TV series. She is currently writing picture books with our daughter. 2. I am a public historian. I give tours, staff rides, and lectures on the American Revolution.
Finally, you also need to know: Along with being an agent, I am a publisher — a partner in the Pike and Powder Publishing Group LLP, sold and distributed by Simon & Schuster. We publish military history, science, and historical fiction, and historical books for young readers — both fiction and nonfiction. I realize this sounds funny — that I publish fiction and books for young readers. That is a different conversation. You still need an agent. @publishliterary