Agents Attending the 2020 Washington Writers Conference
It’s with sadness that we announce the 2020 Washington Writers Conference is canceled. Please read the full announcement here. Contact us at [email protected] with questions.
(Questions or concerns about your agent selections? Please contact [email protected].)
Andrea Blatt has been at WME since 2016. A Kansas native and graduate of Vanderbilt University, she worked on the Vanderbilt Hustler and the Vanderbilt Review before attending the Columbia Publishing Course in New York. Andrea started in the foreign rights department at WME prior to assisting literary agent Suzanne Gluck, under whom she has had the pleasure of supporting incredible authors such as bestselling novelist Meg Wolitzer, National Book Award winner Sarah M. Broom, and generation-defining Judy Blume. She will be attending the conference on behalf of WME, which represents a wide roster of bestselling and award-winning authors in all areas of fiction and nonfiction. She is seeking upmarket commercial fiction and thrillers, literary fantasy and science fiction, and political, narrative, and idea-driven nonfiction, in addition to humor and memoir.
Alicia Brooks began her career over 20 years ago as an editorial assistant at Penguin USA. She worked her way up to an assistant editor position at Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, where she worked with noteworthy authors, including Margaret Atwood, Pat Conroy, and Ian McEwan. Alicia then became an editor at Picador/St. Martin's Press, where she edited over 39 hardcover titles and several trade paper original titles, including Noelle Howey's Dress Codes: Of Three Girlhoods — My Mother's, My Father's, and Mine; Nega Mezlekia's award-winning Notes from the Hyena's Belly; and Ben Brantley's New York Times Book of Broadway. As an agent at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, she is looking for memoir, narrative nonfiction, self-help, pop culture, literary fiction, commercial fiction, YA fiction, mystery/crime, and historical fiction. Alicia is a graduate of Wellesley College with a B.A. in English and philosophy and has a Master's Degree in the teaching of English from Columbia University.
Sheree Bykofsky founded Sheree Bykofsky Associates, Inc., in 1991. A longstanding member of the AAR, and the first agent to have a web page, Sheree has represented over a thousand authors in all areas of adult nonfiction as well as literary and commercial fiction. Her nonfiction specialties include popular reference, business, health, psychology, poker, spirituality, self-help, humor, cookbooks, pop culture, biography, women’s issues, decorating, crafts, music, and much more. Among the agency’s nonfiction clients are Howard Kaylan, Taro Gold, Cy Tymony, Jennifer Basye Sander, Paul Mladjenovic, Mark Ryan, Jane Eldershaw, Bill Walsh, Mike Matusow, Margo Perin, Jack Stahl, CEO of Avon North America, John Carpenter (the first millionaire on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”), Dr. Roberta Temes, supermodel Roshumba, and Richard Roeper (of “Ebert and Roeper”). In the area of fiction, the agency’s clients include Julia MacDonnell, M. Thomas Gammarino, Bruce Holbert, Donna Anders, and Leslie Rule.
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
Dawn Michelle Hardy has been called a "literary lobbyist" by Ebony magazine for her ability to help authors reach their readership using strategic promotions, win awards, and garner national and local media attention. As a publicist, she has spent the past 13 years managing pre-publication details and publicity elements for debut book campaigns consisting of galley mailings, development of proper angles and pitches for national and regional mediums, quote requests, coordinating and implementing book tours, award submissions, and speaking engagements resulting in several bestseller lists, year-end lists, and other distinctions for self-published authors, including: USA Best Book Award for Fiction, Phillis Wheatley Award for Fiction, Break-Out Author of the Year (African American Literary Award Show), Essence Bestsellers, and a 2014 White House Champion of Change honoree. She represents fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, including New York Times bestseller D. Watkins, author of The Beastside: Living and Dying While Black in America, Tia Williams, former magazine beauty editor and author of The Perfect Find, and Clint Smith, award-winning poet, contributor to the New Yorker, and author of Counting Descent, a collection of poetry. In 2010, the African-Americans on the Move Book Club Awarded her “Publicist of the Year” for her work with debut authors of color.
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.
Chris Kepner, founder of the Kepner Agency, has been working in the publishing industry since 2008, both as a literary agent and, more recently, as a director of international rights. He has negotiated hundreds of book licenses all over the world, and he couldn't be more excited about establishing his agency. Discovering authors is his passion, and building a new list is an absolute thrill.
Kat Kerr joined the Donald Maass Literary Agency in 2019 after working previously at Corvisiero Literary Agency. She graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s in English in 2009 and is drawn to literary and commercial voices within the adult and YA markets, as well as adult nonfiction. Kat feels strongly about supporting programs like We Need Diverse Books and is passionate about creating space in this industry for those from historically marginalized communities.
Linda Konner, founder of Linda Konner Literary Agency, has been in the publishing business for over 30 years as an agent, author, editor, columnist, and lecturer. She has served as editor-in-chief of Weight Watchers Magazine and Richard Simmons’ monthly newsletter, “Richard Simmons & Friends,” and was a features editor at Redbook, Seventeen, and Woman’s World. She was a columnist for Glamour and Fitness magazines, and her articles have appeared in dozens of publications, including the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Playboy, the N.Y. Daily News, Cosmopolitan, TV Guide, and Woman’s Day. Her controversial piece for New Woman magazine, “Living Apart and Loving It,” became the basis for Donahue and Sally Jessy Raphael shows. Linda has lectured on book and magazine publishing at more than four dozen writers’ conferences and colleges, including New York University, the Willamette Writers’ Conference (Portland, Oregon), the Cape Cod Writers’ Conference, Brooklyn College, the BlissDom bloggers’ conference, and the University of Wisconsin (River Falls). She is a member of the faculty of Harvard Medical School’s annual three-day course “Writing, Publishing and Social Media for Healthcare Professionals.” She is also a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives, the Authors Guild, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors.
When Paul S. Levine opened the Paul S. Levine Literary Agency in 1996, he had fewer than 200 editors in his private database; he now has over 2,200 editors to whom he has sold more than 250 fiction and nonfiction books. As an entertainment lawyer, Levine has written the legal contracts for several books adapted as movies for television. With over 37 years of experience in the entertainment and book industries, Levine is one of the few lawyers on the West Coast who also understands the world of book publishing. As such, he is able to act as both literary agent and publishing attorney for his clients.
Caitlin McDonald joined the Donald Maass Literary Agency in 2015, and was previously at Sterling Lord Literistic. She represents adult and young adult speculative fiction, primarily science fiction, fantasy, horror, and related subgenres, as well as contemporary fiction about geeky characters. She also handles a small amount of nonfiction in geeky areas, with a focus on feminist theory/women’s issues and pop culture. Caitlin grew up overseas and has a B.A. in creative writing from Columbia University.
Shannon O’Neill is a literary agent who helps thought leaders, public personalities, and current and recovering journalists and academics bring their book ideas to life. In her 15 years as a developmental editor, book doctor, and publishing consultant, she worked with writers at every stage: idea generation, proposal writing, manuscript composition, and published book. She continues to work with her clients through the full life cycle of a project. Shannon seeks nonfiction books that inform, intrigue, and inspire: areas of special interest include current affairs, popular science, history, memoir, and psychology. She also seeks literary fiction that reveals the inner workings of complex characters or offers a fresh look at a seemingly familiar time, place, or situation. Shannon is a cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College and earned a Master's in Writing from Johns Hopkins University. A Washington, DC, native, in her post-college years she was able to fulfill her tweenage dream becoming a bookseller at landmark indie bookstore Politics and Prose. She has taught writing and publishing courses in a variety of venues and to audiences ranging from first year American University students to retired diplomats. She now lives in the Maryland suburbs with her family, where she enjoys logging long miles on the C&O Canal towpath.
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!
Rita Rosenkranz represents almost exclusively adult nonfiction titles. Her wide-ranging list includes health, history, parenting, music, how-to, popular science, business, biography, sports, popular reference, cooking, writing, humor, spirituality, illustrated books and general interest titles. She represents first-time as well as seasoned authors, and looks for projects that present familiar subjects freshly or lesser-known subjects presented commercially. Rita works with major publishing houses, as well as regional publishers that handle niche markets. Representative titles include Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories from the Underground Railroad by Betty DeRamus; Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World; 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life by Cami Walker; and A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even if You Flunked Algebra) by Barbara Oakley, Ph.D. She is a member of the Association of Authors' Representatives (AAR), The Authors Guild, and Women's Media Group.
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.
Steven Salpeter is a literary agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd. A graduate of the University of Florida, Steven edited Tea and founded the Palmetto Prize for Fiction. He began his publishing career at Writers House and Brandt & Hochman before moving to Curtis Brown to assist a senior literary agent and help Timothy Knowlton manage many of the agency’s venerable estate clients, including W.H. Auden, Stanley Ellin, John Knowles, Alfred Lansing, and Ayn Rand, among other bestsellers and literary award winners. He is now actively building his list, seeking literary fiction, fantasy, graphic novels, historical fiction, mysteries, thrillers, young adult, and authors who can blend elements of these genres. Steven is also interested in narrative nonfiction, gift books, history, humor, and popular science.
Lauren Spieller, of Triada US, has a background in literary scouting and editorial consulting. She has a sharp editorial eye and is passionate about author advocacy. Lauren is seeking middle grade and young adult fiction, as well as select adult fiction and nonfiction. Whatever the age category or genre, Lauren is passionate about finding diverse and underrepresented voices. In MG, she’s drawn to heartfelt contemporaries, fantasy and sci-fi, and exciting adventures. Some of her recent favorites are Rules for Stealing Stars, The Serpent's Secret, The Science of Breakable Things, Hour of the Bees, and The Night Gardener. In YA, she’d love to find authentic teen voices in any and all genres. She is especially fond of fantasy, magical realism, and space operas; contemporary stories with a hook; and anything with a feminist or intersectional bent. A few favorites include Dumplin’, An Ember in the Ashes, The Hate U Give, Blood Water Paint, Six of Crows, The Raven Boys, and More Happy Than Not. In adult, Lauren is seeking upmarket and commercial fiction, particularly female-driven psychological thrillers (a la Lauren Beukes and Gillian Flynn), immersive literary fantasies such as The Night Circus, The Miniaturist, and A Darker Shade of Magic, and commercial SFF, such as The Fifth Season, Jade City, and The Rook. She is also interested in unique nonfiction with an existing platform. She's particularly hungry for pop and counterculture books, cocktail books with a twist/theme, or narrative nonfiction with a unique hook (if you’re the next Lindy West, Roxane Gay, or Lauren Duca, she wants to hear from you).
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
Kelly Thomas, of Serendipity Literary Agency, has over 15 years of experience in sales, having served as a headhunter specializing in matching candidates with dream positions. Now she brings her extensive sales and business expertise to the literary world as a champion for writers to secure publishing deals for their projects. Kelly has a bachelor’s degree in English from Pace University, where she concentrated on literature and communications. Prior to joining Serendipity, she provided manuscript analysis for the president of D4EO literary agency. Kelly is a published poet with publications in “Tales for the Disenchanted” (2008) and “Penumbra Art & Literature” (2015). Kelly is a ferocious reader and lover of books, and has a passion for writing. Indeed a writer at heart, no matter the form — essays, articles, blogs, poems, short stories, marketing literature, resumes, reports, or full-length manuscripts — she will quickly put pen to page. Kelly is eager to build her client roster and is actively seeking the next bestselling author! Kelly is most interested in nonfiction (memoirs, autobiographies, biographies, and true crime) and fiction (psychological thrillers, mysteries, suspense, adventure stories, young adult, fantasy, and comedies). She is always on the lookout for manuscripts with twists, turns, and jaw-dropping moments. She has an affinity for manuscripts about serial killers and mental illnesses.
Rachel Vogel is a literary agent at Dunow, Carlson & Lerner, a NYC-based agency known for its stellar works of fiction and nonfiction. Rachel focuses mostly on nonfiction, working closely with writers to hone their books’ focus and salability. She is constantly looking for projects that range from untold stories by underrepresented voices, to experts in their field who have something groundbreaking to share. Rachel represents history, science, current events, investigative journalism, pop culture, memoir, and some food and wine. She is looking for great storytelling by authors with unique experiences and points of view in the categories of history, current events, science, and memoir. Find her on Twitter at @vogelrachelm.
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
Helen Zimmermann started her publishing career about 20 years ago in the marketing department of Random House. She soon became the director of advertising and promotion for one of their divisions, the Crown Publishing Group. After 12 years, she moved to New York's Hudson Valley, where she worked at an independent bookstore as the author events director. She founded Zimmermann Literary in 2003 and enjoyed early success with the New York Times bestseller Chosen by a Horse. Her experience working at a large publishing house and an independent bookstore gives her a unique and invaluable insight into each project that she works on. She is well aware of the value of in-house buzz, online marketing, store placement, social media, author platform, etc., and works hard to make sure all of these marketing components are in place for each and every project. It is her goal to successfully steer her clients through the entire publication process, from writing, editing, and polishing the content to marketing, publicity, production, and all aspects of the publication process. She has been a member of AAR since 2007.
NOTE: The agent roster is subject to change and will be finalized shortly. Click HERE to register now!
[Illustration by Rakel Davis-Sankar.]