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: anything Scott Simon/NPR may like
· 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:
I typically like things that are “realism” or at least close to it, though I do love light speculative elements or just a touch of science fiction, closer to just “surreal” than overtly SF/F. I like novels that probably get called “literary” even as they’re doing other things or fitting into other categories. I love family stories, memorable settings that matter to the book, characters with a harebrained scheme, legends, folklore, mythology, and games. I want “ambitious” novels that reach for something memorable. Books and/or authors I’ve really enjoyed over the last few years:
• Karen Russell (especially Swamplandia!)
• Marilynne Robinson
• Michael Chabon
• Jonathan Lethem
• Paul Beatty
• Brit Bennett (The Mothers)
• Garth Risk Hallberg (City on Fire)
• Marlon James (A Brief History of Seven Killings)
• David Mitchell
• Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Sympathizer)
• Louise Erdrich
Nonfiction (Narrative very much preferred across all these!)
• History, especially American political or social. Cultural movements, political movements, the forgotten but significant moments in between the famous points in history we’ve already read so much about
• Science, specifically evolution, biology, animals, or neuroscience; think Elizabeth Kolbert, Ed Yong, E. O. Wilson, Yuval Hurari
• Cultural criticism, essays, commentary, current events: this could be on anything but off the top of my head I really like great writing on politics, race, social trends, leftism, videogames, Weird Twitter, and anything else you can convince me the world should care about.
• Sports with a larger (and necessary) cultural angle; think Grantland. Specifically I really like tennis, football, and basketball.
• International stories, especially in places undercovered by Western media, and ESPECIALLY places and people affected by U.S. foreign policy
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 send an email and/or query letter 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 6-8 weeks if it’s the Fall/Spring/Winter, this will depend with our individual conference schedules and commitments to our current authors.
If querying via email, 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:
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
As practiced at Sebastian Literary agency, it’s essential that 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. I know what I’m 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.
Other info worth knowing:
There’s a 99.9999% chance that most agencies, including Red Sofa Literary, will not consider the majority of queries sent from prisons or jail. However there is a wonderful resource made available by Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop – for anyone who is artist or writer, that happens to be in imprisoned. Hopefully this will assist anyone in this predicament who is looking to be published.