Dawn Frederick’s Representative Categories:
· Biography-Historical, media-related, political—ABSOLUTELY NO PERSONAL MEMOIRS
· Creative Nonfiction — It needs to be smart, with noticeable platform, and commercial. I enjoy a wide range of topics.
· History – Books that will engage the commerical reader. ex:I listen to a LOT of MPR and NPR (all the shows, most of the podcasts)
· Humor – I love a good laugh (I represent the CHOOSE YOUR OWN MISERY series)
· Pop Culture – Especially Americana, and anything quirky
· Social Issues/Current Affairs—Women’s Studies, GLTB Studies, Social Sciences, and more.
· Sports — Less mainstream, more extreme sport, ex: Roller Derby, not so much into traditional sports
· Women’s Narratives – women’s nonfiction, diverse stories please!
· Young Adult – Fiction, Nonfiction
· Middle Grade – Fiction, Nonfiction
Laura Zats’s Representative Categories:
• Young Adult — Fiction, I’m looking for all genres here, and am especially interested in settings or characters I haven’t seen before and queer romantic relationships if there’s a romance. Some examples of recent YA (that I didn’t sell) that I loved include When Dimple Met Rishi, Bone Gap, The Hate U Give, And I Darken, Walk on Earth a Stranger, The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Forest of a Thousand Lantern, and An Ember in the Ashes. I will always love anything that reminds me of Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, or Diana Wynne Jones.
• Science Fiction/Fantasy — In these genres, I love everything from big, commercial voices to literary crossover novels. As I have an anthropology degree, I’m interested in well-drawn cultures and subverting traditional Chosen One, quest, and colonial narratives. I will fall on the floor and salivate if your writing reminds me of N.K. Jemisin or Nnedi Okorafor. No white dudes on quests, dreams, or Western ideas of Hell, please.
• Romance/Erotica — I am looking for all settings and subgenres here. Must have verbal consent throughout and a twist to traditional romance tropes. If you send me the next The Hating Game, I will be the happiest agent in all the land. Please no rape, querying anything shorter than 60K, or shifters.
Note: I am interested in working with marginalized authors across all genres. Does not have to be #ownvoices. I love third-wave feminism and geekery in my books. Please see #mswl on twitter for more wish list specifics.
Amanda Rutter’s Representative Categories:
• Science Fiction/Fantasy, the non-YA ideas.
• Young Adult and Middle Grade– Science Fiction/Fantasy.
Stacey Graham’s Representative Categories –
I’d love to see projects on:
• Spiritualism: MG or adult, nonfiction or fiction
• Ouija: Adult, nonfiction
• Witches: MG or adult, fiction with a new twist
• Old West: MG, nonfiction or fiction. Think Wild Bill, Calamity Jane, women of the Wild West, African-American cowboys
• Romance with heart…but that doesn’t take itself to seriously
• MG nonfiction series on women with moxie: Agatha Christie, Beatrix Potter, Hedy Lamarr, Mary Shelley, Ida Lupino
• Middle-grade with a great voice — especially funny and/or spooky.
• MG/YA/Adult: Nonfiction — looking for fun, quirky, fascinating topics with commercial appeal.
• Adult: Romance
• Adult: Mystery with a humorous bent.
Erik Hane’s Representative Categories:
Nonfiction (Narrative very much preferred across all these!)
•History, especially American. I’d love to see more dynamic history writing on labor movements, The Left, the shaping of our economy, revolutions large and small, and the art and aesthetics that sprang up in any of these things’ wake. Specificity in angle is always preferable.
•Science, specifically evolution, biology, animals, or neuroscience; think Elizabeth Kolbert, Ed Yong, E. O. Wilson, Yuval Hurari
•Cultural criticism, essays, commentary, politics: this could be on anything, but off the top of my head I really like great writing on politics, race, social trends, leftism, video games, Weird Twitter, our relationship to the Internet, and anything else you’re thinking deeply about in a way that might matter to others.
•Sports with a larger (and necessary) cultural angle; think Specifically I really like tennis, football, and basketball.
•Literary nonfiction: so often, it’s not the topic, it’s the writing. There are some people I’d read about absolutely anything from. If you love reading and your writing takes after people like Leslie Jamison, Alexander Chee, Jia Tolentino, or any other contemporary literary writer in that vein and your subject isn’t listed here, send me a note anyway. Right now I’m a big fan of what’s happening in The Baffler, Current Affairs, The Outline, Pacific Standard, and places like that.
I read a ton of adult literary fiction, but I’m pickier in representation and so it’s a smaller part of my list than nonfiction.
I don’t place much of a premium on literal subject matter in fiction. It’s all in the writing; everything I like, I like because of the way it’s told. I’m interested in unique structural or craft decisions—multiple perspectives, metafictions, disparate threads that end up weaving together—as long as they make sense and feel necessary. I like folklore, ghost stories, local legends, myths, religion; I typically pick up realist fiction, especially when that world feels a little bit surreal as a result of the prose. As with the nonfiction described above, I like novels that are class- or power-conscious, that set up shop in the many divides, dangers, and inequities of late capitalism. I like understatement—the most important craft decision an author makes is what to leave unsaid but present, just off the edge of the page.
I would gladly read something speculative, surrealist, or fantasy as long as it’s thinking deeply about some of the above themes.
One highly specific request, in case the author of this specific story is reading: I’d love a novel that engages with what would happen, and how the world would look, if the workers won.
Miscellaneous things I’m probably not the right agent for: stories of privileged people self-actualizing away from external consequences; long, static backstories; stories that would primarily get called “light” or “whimsical”; office culture; police or other types of officers as protagonists; benevolent rich people.
I do not represent Thrillers, YA, middle grade, or children’s books.
Liz Rahn will be handling the following rights:
· TV/Film/Dramatic Performing
· Any Foreign Rights inquiries
· Merchandising Rights
Kelly Van Sants’s Representative Categories:
I am seeking Middle Grade, Young Adult, and very limited women’s fiction across all genres, including fantasy, science fiction, adventure, historical, and contemporary. I love character-driven stories with intricate plots, and am always drawn to explorations of friendship and found family. I am especially interested in #ownvoices, inclusive narratives, and diverse writers. I’ve expanded on my interests within each category below.
• Middle Grade – I am seeking Upper MG only. Chapter books or early readers are not for me. My ideal middle grade needs to be whimsical, funny, and full of adventure. My tastes lean away from contemporary in this genre, and more toward fantasy, speculative, science-fiction, or magical realism. I like intricate world-building and MCs with gumption. Give me a quest, give me steadfast friendships, give me insightful, magical parallels with the real world, and make me laugh. No books with an educational thrust; I want to have fun!
• Young Adult – I dearly love fantasy, science-fiction, speculative, and other magical elements in YA stories. Even better if mixed and matched with other genres. Alternate universes, fictional worlds, your very own hometown with a secret or sinister twist. If the world-building is original and intricate, if you’re either dismantling existing tropes or executing them exceptionally well, if your characters are complex and come alive on the page then what are you waiting for? Send me your query.
Let’s talk about romance in YA. I prefer romance in my YA to be an undercurrent (even an urgent one) but not the main point. Something needs to be going on in universe and in your characters’ lives beyond their love story. Instant love is not for me; I appreciate when characters grow together over the course of a book. Attraction can happen instantly, but intimacy takes time.
I am selective about YA contemporary. A strong voice is vital, and again, I love to see a complex web of relationships beyond just romantic (though romance can be included): especially friendships and family relationships. These books above all else must absolutely be character-driven. I appreciate books that explore questions of identity, and books with a darker edge, but books firmly centered on and driven by a single issue–abuse, suicide, drug use, mental illness, rape–are not for me. I welcome books whose characters are grappling with those same issues, if those things are woven into the character and are undercurrents of a different, main plot. But I am not the right agent to represent so-called Issue Books. I would love to see some lighter YA contemporaries. Something that balances between poignant and funny, with a compelling, flawed protagonist and an authentic, accessible voice.
• Women’s Fiction – I’m seeking women’s fiction on a very limited basis. I want books written for and by women, about women’s lives and experiences and issues (women’s lives are complicated and varied and extend well beyond bad marriages/relationships! Please send me something fresh). Prose matters to me here, but as always, the characters are paramount. I’m interested in genre-blends, but straight-up contemporaries should be new and nuanced to catch me eye. No books about dead or dying children, please.
I am NOT seeking picture books, poetry, or non-fiction at this time.
I do not represent previously published books, whether self-published or put out by a small press. Please only query me with new work.
PLEASE NO PERSONAL MEMOIRS (unless a person specifies they are interested the category), or SPIRITUAL/RELIGIOUS QUERIES UNLESS INDICATED BY THAT AGENT. QUERY ONLY THOSE WHO WILL CONSIDER YOUR SPECIFIC FICTION:
Preferred Submission Guidelines (for Red Sofa Literary):
We highly encourage everyone to email a query initially, before attempting to send a full book proposal or sample chapters. If there is an interest, we will directly contact the author. Once these materials are received, there is usually response time of 2-3 months if it’s the Fall/Spring/Winter, this will depend with our individual conference schedules and commitments to our current authors.
When querying, please only put the contents of your query IN the email. We will not open attachments unless they have been requested in advance.
Materials to have ready, should we request your book:
1. The full ms (should we request a partial or the full ms)
2. A full book proposal with Author Bio, Competition, Market (WHO will read the book), Promotion (HOW readers will learn about the book), Chapter Summaries (for non-fiction), and a Synopsis/Overview.
3. Sample chapters (if nonfiction)
4. Sample artwork (if a graphic novel)
Dawn’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura’s email: email@example.com
Amanda’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stacey’s email: email@example.com
Erik’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Liz’s email: email@example.com
Kelly’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Reading Fee Policy: You will not be charged a reading fee. Going by the usual standards of the query process, please send them via email, clearly explaining the project, who you are, and why you are passionately pursuing it. Remember to always avoid including any type of email attachment (unless we’ve requested it in advance). Regarding queries by phone, these phone calls will NOT be returned, except in circumstances where the author has been referred by a current author or client.
What we’d like to see in your FULL book proposal (if requested): an Overview/Synopsis, a Bio, Market (WHO will read your book), Competition, Promotion (HOW readers will learn about your book), Chapter Summaries, and any other pertinent info, i.e. endorsements, estimated date of completion, etc.
Most common mistakes made
It’s essential any author reads the newest resource material during the agent query process. Otherwise, time and possibly patience may be lost due to lack of research on the author’s part. We know what we’re looking for, so it’s essential anyone querying Red Sofa Literary consider the types of categories represented at this agency. Know who your competition is, as well as the experience of building a public platform. In summary: Do your research, follow the industry standards of queries and book proposals, and know your competition—while building your own writing platform.