The 2023 Carolina Writing Workshop: July 7-8, 2023

Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 10.34.26 PM.pngAfter successful 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2021 events in North Carolina, Writing Day Workshops is excited to announce The 2023 Carolina Writing Workshop — an online “How to Get Published” writing event on July 7-8, 2023. (Writers are welcome to attend virtually from everywhere and anywhere.)

This writing event is a wonderful opportunity to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch a literary agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more. Note that there are limited online “seats” at the event (200 total). All questions about the event regarding schedule, details and registration are answered below. Thank you for your interest in the 2023 Carolina Writing Workshop!

ONLINE: Writing Day Workshops plans both in-person and virtual/online conferences. The 2023 CWW is an Online Conference, on July 7-8. Online events are easy and awesome, and the virtual events we’ve done thus far have received wonderful feedback. You do not have to be tech-savvy to do this, and understand we are keeping all aspects of a traditional in-person event, including one-on-one agent & editor pitching, which will now be done by Zoom or phone. Learn all details about what it means to have a writers conference online.)

WHAT IS IT?

This is a special two-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on July 7-8, 2023. In other words, it’s two days full of classes and advice designed to give you the best instruction concerning how to get your writing & books published. We’ll discuss your publishing opportunities today, how to write queries & pitches, how to market yourself and your books, what makes an agent/editor stop reading your manuscript, and more. No matter what you’re writing — fiction or nonfiction — the day’s classes will help point you in the right direction. Writers of all genres are welcome. And even though this is the “Carolina” Writing Workshop, make no mistake — writers from everywhere are welcome to attend virtually. Our WDW writers conferences have helped dozens of writers find literary agent representation — see our growing list of success stories here.

This event is designed to squeeze as much into two days of learning as possible. You can ask any questions you like during the online classes, and get your specific concerns addressed. We will have literary agents online to give feedback and take pitches from writers, as well. This year’s 2023 CWW agent & editor faculty so far includes:

  • literary agent Mariah Stovall (Trellis Literary)
  • literary agent Gordon Warnock (Fuse Literary)
  • literary agent Laura Southern (Wolf Literary Services)
  • literary agent Reiko Davis (DeFiore & Company)
  • literary agent Claire Draper (The Bent Agency)
  • literary agent Carlie Webber (Fuse Literary)
  • literary agent Kate Davids (Arc Literary Management)
  • literary agent Kiele Raymond (Thompson Literary Agency)
  • literary agent Leticia Gomez (Savvy Literary / Kensington Books)
  • literary agent Renée C. Fountain (Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary)
  • literary agent Kelly Thomas (Serendipity Literary)
  • literary agent Jaidree Braddix (Park & Fine)
  • literary agent Kristen Terrette (Martin Literary Management)
  • literary agent Shannon Lechon (Azantian Literary Agency)
  • literary agent Lindsay Flanagan (Tobias Agency)
  • literary agent Latoya C. Smith (Arthouse Literary)
  • literary agent Paul Levine (Paul Levine Literary)
  • literary agent Erin Clyburn (Howland Literary)
  • literary agent Sarah Fisk (Tobias Agency)
  • literary agent Jared Johnson (Olswanger Literary)
  • literary agent Eric Smith (P.S. Literary)
  • and more agents to come.

By the end of the day, you will have all the tools you need to move forward on your writing journey. This independent event is organized by coordinator Brian Klems of Writing Day Workshops. Contact him at WDWconference@gmail.com to register.

EVENT LOCATION & DETAILS:

ONLINE: Writing Day Workshops plans both in-person and virtual/online conferences. The 2023 CWW is an Online Conference, on July 7-8. Online events are easy and awesome, and the virtual events we’ve done thus far have received wonderful feedback. You do not have to be tech-savvy to do this, and understand we are keeping all aspects of a traditional in-person event, including one-on-one agent & editor pitching, which will now be done by Zoom or phone. Learn all details about what it means to have a writers conference online.)

THIS YEAR’S SESSIONS & WORKSHOPS (JULY 7-8, 2023):

What you see below is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.

Agent pitches and critique consultations overlap with Saturday sessions. The schedule of presentation topics below is subject to change and updates:

FRIDAY, JULY 7, 2023

TBD

* * * * *

SATURDAY, JULY 8, 2023

TBD

Agent pitches and critique consultations overlap with Saturday sessions. The schedule of presentation topics below is subject to change and updates:

(What you see here is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.)

Agent & Editor Pitching: All throughout the day.

————-

PITCH AN AGENT OR EDITOR:

Eric Smith is a literary agent at P.S. Literary Agency, with a love for young adult books, literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction. Eric is eagerly acquiring fiction and nonfiction projects. He’s actively seeking out new, diverse voices in young adult (particularly sci-fi and fantasy), middle grade, and literary and commercial fiction (again, loves sci-fi and fantasy, but also thrillers and mysteries). In terms of non-fiction, he’s interested in cookbooks, pop culture, humor, middle grade, essay collections, and blog-to-book ideas. Learn more about Eric here.

Kristen Terrette is a literary agent with Martin Literary Management. Kristen is a literary manager excited to build her list featuring titles in middle grade, young adult, female-driven crime thrillers, faith-based books, and the occasional picture book with an author/illustrator. Kristen has long been a voice for diversity. She’s written extensively on topics of racial reconciliation and unity and is a facilitator of groups around these topics in her church. In all her focused genres, she welcomes books with BIPOC or disabled main characters and diverse friendships. Kristen is seeking middle grade (all genres except sci-fi), young adult (all subgenres except sci-fi), women’s crime thriller, faith-based fiction and faith-based memoirs, and picture books by author-illustrators. Learn more about Kristen here.

Claire Draper is a literary agent with The Bent Agency. “I am building my list with a collection of very queer books for kids of all ages, including graphic novels, picture books, middle grade, and young adult. And then I embarked on books for adults, when I decided to return to my favorites with particularly queer memoir, queer romance novels, and select adult nonfiction. For all the books I work with, I prefer to work with queer creators and BIPOC creators, and strongly encourage those creators to send me their work. Regardless of genre, age, or subject, I like lighthearted, emotional, hopeful, adventurous reads. I am largely genre-agnostic, but I do prefer books with a fast pace, high stakes, and strong emotional development for the main character(s). I do not want to see books from authors writing identity-based books not of their own identity.” Learn more about Claire here.

Reiko Davis is a literary agent with DeFiore & Company. Reiko’s interests are varied, but on the adult side she’s primarily seeking literary and book club fiction. She loves historical, contemporary, or multigenerational novels both in the U.S. and internationally; family sagas; voice-driven coming-of-age stories; the occasional rom-com; and fierce, compassionately written works that grapple with identity and belonging and portray diverse lived experiences. She’d love to connect with promising writers of short fiction who are at work on a debut story collection and/or novel. She also represents select narrative non-fiction projects that explore social justice, issues of race and gender, and the history and experiences of women and people of color. She consumes a lot of true crime in her free time so is open to seeing projects in the vein of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. On the children’s side, Reiko is actively looking for middle grade fiction and nonfiction. Learn more about Reiko here.

Laura Southern is a literary agent with Wolf Literary Services. In adult, she is looking for fantasy, science fiction, and horror with lush worldbuilding and voice that vibrates off the page. She’s a fan of villains, setting as character, and stories that dive headfirst into the weird or strange. Romcoms and fantasy romcoms with sharp, witty prose are also high on her list, as well as upmarket fiction with off-beat premises. As a Texan native, Laura has a soft spot for narratives set in the South, particularly when told from diverse perspectives and featuring LGBTQ+ narrators. In young adult and middle grade, Laura is interested in speculative fiction across any subgenre, as well as select contemporary fiction. Laura loves the fae, talking/magical animals, marching band, new twists on quest narratives, genre-blending, found family, mythological retellings, and dragons. Additionally, Laura is looking for memoir and narrative nonfiction. She’d especially like to work with scientists, journalists, and other experts writing on animal and nature conservation. Learn more about Laura here.

Jaidree Braddix is a Literary Agent with Park & Fine Literary & Media. Jaidree represents a broad range of nonfiction authors who are changing the ways we think about, talk about, and move through the world we live in. Her clients are Guinness World Record-holding athletes, activists who are challenging societal standards and institutions, trailblazers who have created globally trending wellness movements, and acclaimed thought leaders in the fields of psychology, neuroscience, business, and organizational behavior. Specializing in platform-driven nonfiction, Jaidree is committed to helping authors turn their assets—be they courageous ideas, academic studies, foundations for social good, popular podcasts, transformative programs, or online communities—into compelling proposals and noteworthy books. Learn more about Jaidree here.

Renee C. Fountain is a literary agent, publishing industry veteran, a reviewer for Kirkus and New York Journal of Books, and a book scout for The CW Network. She is the president of Gandolfo, Henlin and Fountain Literary. Renee is looking for all types of adult and YA fiction and nonfiction. She prefers: thrillers, horror/dark fantasy, urban/contemporary fantasy, humor, science fiction, pop culture, memoirs, and narrative/commercial. Learn more about Renee here.

Screen Shot 2019-09-27 at 1.37.27 PMPaul S. Levine is a literary agent and the founder of Paul S. Levine Literary. He is also an attorney. His fiction interests include adventure novels, mainstream fiction, mysteries, romance, thrillers, and women’s fiction. His nonfiction interests include business/commerce, pop culture, how-to, self-help, politics/law, relationships, and sports. Learn more about Paul here.

Leticia Gomez is the editorial director for Kensington Books and Dafina. Leticia is the Editorial Director for Dafina Books, an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp., which focuses on high-quality fiction and nonfiction that centers on race, identity, and its impact on our experiences. Dafina’s carefully curated list is a home for dynamic stories that innovate and amplify voices too long ignored through books that entertain, challenge, and inspire. Launched in 2000 as the first African-American imprint, Dafina has led the market for more than twenty years in highlighting voices of color. Leticia is actively seeking to acquire multicultural fiction and nonfiction of all genres, including literary fiction, commercial fiction, historical fiction, romance, mystery, and narrative nonfiction of all genres with a focus on authors of color (BIPOC) hailing from all walks of life, as well as specific nonfiction projects for marginalized communities. In addition to her role at Kensington, Leticia is a prominent literary/film/television agent who specializes in bringing culturally diverse voices to the forefront. Savvy Literary is now an industry leader specializing in Self-help, Narrative Non-fiction, Memoir, True Crime, Spiritual/Inspirational, Political/Current Affairs, Suspense/Thriller, Family Drama, and the Young Adult market. Championing the work of minority writers continues to be a top priority for the agency. Learn more about Leticia here.

Kate Davids is a literary agent with Arc Literary Management. Kate is looking for nonfiction projects, particularly practical nonfiction, in cooking, personal finance, business, pets/animals, gardening, mental health, and new age. She also enjoys history books that delve into interesting subcultures, like anime or tabletop RPGs. In fiction, Kate has a soft spot for science fiction and fantasy that has great action and world building that leverages real world cultures or histories. She loves fiction that represents diverse cultural backgrounds in their settings and characters. For children’s books, Kate is looking for titles that can help both parents and their children explore the world together. This includes bi-lingual books and books about travel and multi-culturalism. She also likes a good laugh and an “aww” moment or two. Learn more about Kate here.

Erin Clyburn is a literary agent with Howland Literary. Erin represents middle grade fiction, YA fiction, and adult fiction and nonfiction. In MG and YA, she is looking for horror, mystery, thriller, big-hearted contemporary, and grounded stories with magical or speculative elements. In adult fiction, she is most interested in upmarket and literary fiction, and she gravitates toward the dark and strange: horror, thriller, mystery, and grounded stories with speculative or magical elements. Send her your weirds. In nonfiction, she’s interested in intersectional perspectives and is looking for narrative nonfiction, memoir, and deep dives into topics including pop science, nature, food and culinary history, and sports and adventure. An Alabamian with Louisiana roots, Erin is particularly interested in Southern literary and upmarket fiction from diverse voices in the above genres. Learn more about Erin here.

Latoya C. Smith is a literary agent and Co-Founder of Arthouse Literary. Latoya is looking for projects in a variety of fiction and nonfiction categories. For fiction: women’s fiction, book club and upmarket fiction, general commercial fiction, LGBTQ stories, fast-paced thrillers, and contemporary romance. For nonfiction, an established platform is a must! Latoya is open to the following subgenres: Memoir, How-to/Advice and Relationships, Health and Wellness, Politics/Current Events/Social Justice, Sports, Pop-culture, Business/Entrepreneurship, Personal Finance. Learn more about Latoya here.

Sarah N. Fisk is a literary agent with The Tobias Agency. Sarah loves books that challenge societal norms, especially gender norms. They have a personal interest in stories featuring queer characters or characters with disability, neurodiversity, chronic illness, or mental health challenges. They are interested in Young Adult fiction of all genres as well as Adult Romance. They especially enjoy anything under the speculative fiction umbrella and high-concept contemporary or historical stories with a strong hook. Hardcore horror is probably not right for them. Sarah is on the lookout for young adult and middle grade of all genres, adult romance, and adult science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction. No hardcore horror. Learn more about Sarah here.

Shannon Lechon is a literary agent with Azantian Literary Agency. She is looking for middle grade fiction and young adult fiction. In adult fiction, she is looking for literary books with a speculative element that feel lush and magically possible. She is also interested in manuscripts that incorporate elements of myth, especially if they are from underrepresented cultures or give voice to figures often forgotten. She is looking for mysteries and thrillers. Speculative horror is a massive favorite of hers. For graphic novels, Shannon is looking for young adult fantasy that is grounded in our world (right now, she is only interested in taking on author/illustrators). She is interested in select adult nonfiction proposals. She’s looking for memoirs about specialized careers and experiences, as well as proposals on medicine, trauma, wildlife, nature, and mental health. Learn more about Shannon here.

Jared Johnson is a literary agent with Olswanger Literary. “My fiction is also a bit all over the place. I have a strong interest in speculative fiction, especially when those stories don’t feel the need to explain the “why” of the speculative elements. I also love mystery and thriller with main characters who simply find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m also hoping to add some thought-provoking upmarket horror to my list. I am also a huge fan of genre-bending stories that have upmarket or literary elements to the writing.” In Nonfiction he seeks: “My list is fairly broad at the moment.  I am looking for narrative-driven books. I am drawn to popular cultural topics (music, fashion, biography, science, history) with an academic approach. I especially love projects that engage with current social issues, ones that address the origins of cultural values, especially in matters of race, gender and sexuality, religion, and language” Learn more about Jared here.

Mariah Stovall is a lterary agent with Trellis Literary. She is actively seeking writers with strong voices and intersectional and interdisciplinary perspectives. She works on adult literary and upmarket fiction, narrative nonfiction, essay collections and memoir. She’s most passionate about music, mental health/illness, Black America, linguistics, histories of objects and ideas, pop science, and deep dives into subcultures and social movements, but great writing can get her interested in any topic. Learn more about Mariah here.

Lindsay Flanagan of Tobias Literary Agency is an agent assistant, editor, and author living in Utah. As of 2023, she is now taking on her own clients. She’s looking for adult work only in fantasy (all categories), mystery, thriller, romance, women’s fiction, upmarket, and maybe even a thriller. Her dream acquisition would have been The Night Circus. She likes work that has hints of magic and a bit of darkness. She is open to all voices and is seeking a diverse list of authors to represent with a particular interest in seeing work from Indigenous creators. Lindsay is also happy to take pitches on behalf of co-agent Jacqui Lipton. Jacqui is head of the Adult Department, although she selectively represents children’s books, particularly middle grade and young adult novels and nonfiction. Jacqui is open to pretty much anything but has a soft spot for genre fiction (mystery/thriller, romance, selective science fiction). Jacqui is not the best fit for high fantasy (think Game of Thrones) or books with animal protagonists. Jacqui is open to unique takes on nonfiction but is not seeking memoir currently. Learn more about Lindsay and Jacqui here.

Gordon Warnock is a literary agent and Partner with Fuse Literary. In nonfiction: Gordon seeks large-platform projects in which the book represents something bigger than the book itself, of which you are the expert, the one best fit to bring it to the page. He enjoys Memoir and Biography, Food, Graphic and Illustrated Nonfiction, Essays on Social Issues, Pop-Science, Pop/Punk/Geek Culture, Self-Help, Historical Narrative, Humor, How-To, Business and Career. In fiction: High-Concept Suspense, Book Club Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction,  Verse Novels for YA and MG, and Graphic Novels for Adults, Young Adult, and Middle Grade. Learn more about Gordon here.

Kelly Thomas is a literary agent with Serendipity Literary. Kelly considers herself a generalist who is drawn to lyrical writing and strong voices. She is interested in nonfiction (narrative nonfiction, memoirs, true crime, self-help, business, travel writing, photography, medical, STEM, psychology, health and fitness, music, food & drinks, cooking) and adult fiction (psychological thrillers, suspense, comedies). She enjoys working with musicians, television personalities, athletes, and other pop culture figures to help translate their stories or expertise onto the page. She also represents children’s books including picture books, middle grade, and young adult. The truth is often stranger than fiction, so Kelly is actively looking for the next great true crime manuscript with a murderous and methodical plot. Learn more about Kelly here.

Kiele Raymond is a senior literary agent with Thompson Literary Agency.  She is seeking: bold new voices in literary fiction and narrative nonfiction. Her list includes critically acclaimed and award winning writers such as Lee Matalone, Tana Wojczuk, Ari Braverman, Peace Adzo Medie, Nichole Perkins, Destiny O. Birdsong, and Candice Wuehle. Learn more about Kiele Raymond here.

Carlisle Webber is a literary agent at Fuse Literary. Carlisle is looking for: high-concept commercial fiction in middle grade, young adult, and adult. If your book is fresh and exciting, tackles difficult topics, reads like a Shonda Rhimes show, or makes readers stay up late turning pages, she’s the agent for you. Diverse authors are encouraged to submit their fiction. Within the genres she represents, Carlisle is especially interested in stories by and about people of color; with both visible and invisible disabilities and illnesses; who are economically disadvantaged; who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer; or who are members of religious minorities. Pitch her: Middle grade (any genre), Young adult (any genre), thriller, mystery, suspense, horror, women’s fiction, and popular/mainstream fiction. Learn more about Carlisle here.

 

 

        More 2023 agents to be announced as they are confirmed. You can sign up for pitches at any time, or switch pitches at any time, so long as the agent in question still has appointments open.

These one-on-one meetings are an amazing chance to pitch your book face-to-face with an agent, and get personal, individual feedback on your pitch/concept. If the agent likes your pitch, they’ll request to see part/all of your book — sending you straight past the slush pile. It also gives you an intimate chance to meet with an agent and pick their brain with any questions on your mind.

(Please note that Agent/Editor Pitching is an add-on, separate aspect of the day, for only those who sign up. Spaces are limited for these premium meetings, and pricing/detail is explained below.)

———

PRICING:

$189 — EARLY BIRD base price for registration to the 2023 CWW and access to all workshops, all days. (You also get 10+ additional free pre-recorded webinars on writing and publishing.) As of late 2022, registration is now OPEN.

Add $29 — to secure a 10-minute one-on-one meeting with any of our literary agents or editors in attendance. Use this special meeting as a chance to pitch your work and get professional feedback on your pitch. (Spaces limited.) If they wish, attendees are free to sign up for multiple 10-minute pitch sessions at $29/session — pitching multiple individuals. There is no limit. Here are quick testimonials regarding writers who have signed with literary agents after pitching them at prior Writing Day Workshops events. Our bigger, growing list of success stories can be seen here.

Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 11.11.29 AM.png“I met my client, Alison Hammer, at the Writing
Workshop of Chicago and just sold her book.”
– literary agent Joanna Mackenzie of Nelson Literary

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 11.47.54 PM.png“Good news! I signed a client [novelist Aliza Mann]
from the Michigan Writing Workshop!”
– literary agent Sara Mebigow of KT Literary

Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 12.56.10 PM“I signed author Stephanie Wright from
the Seattle Writing Workshop.”
– literary agent Kathleen Ortiz of New Leaf Literary

Screen Shot 2018-05-17 at 9.07.44 PM“I signed an author [Kate Thompson] that I
met at the Philadelphia Writing Workshop.”
– literary agent Kimberly Brower of Brower Literary

Screen Shot 2016-10-16 at 2.54.50 PM.png“I signed novelist Kathleen McInnis after meeting her
at the Chesapeake Writing Workshop.”

– literary agent Adriann Ranta of Foundry Literary + Media

Add $69 — for an in-depth, personal critique of your one-page query letter from Brian Klems, one of the workshop’s former instructors. (This rate is a special event value for Carolina Writing Workshop attendees only.) Registrants are encouraged to take advantage of the specially-priced critique, so they can send out their query letter with confidence following the workshop. Also, if you are meeting with an agent at the event, you’re essentially speaking your query letter aloud to them. Wouldn’t it be wise to give that query letter (i.e., your pitch) one great edit before that meeting?

Add $89 — for an in-depth personal critique of the first 10 pages of your novel. Spaces with faculty for these critiques are very limited, and participating attendees get a phone/Zoom critique meeting with the faculty member. Options:

  • TBD
  • More critique options possibly forthcoming.

How to pay/register — Registration is now open. Reach out to workshop organizer Brian Klems via email: WDWconference@gmail.com, and he will provide specific instructions for payment and registration to get you a reserved seat at the event. Payment is by PayPal or check or credit card. Because Brian plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Carolina workshop specifically.

REGISTRATION:

ONLINE: Writing Day Workshops plans both in-person and virtual/online conferences. The 2023 CWW is an Online Conference, on July 7-8. Online events are easy and awesome, and the virtual events we’ve done thus far have received wonderful feedback. You do not have to be tech-savvy to do this, and understand we are keeping all aspects of a traditional in-person event, including one-on-one agent & editor pitching, which will now be done by Zoom or phone. Learn all details about what it means to have a writers conference online.)

Are spaces still available? Yes, we still have spaces available. We will announce RIGHT HERE, at this point on this web page, when all spaces are taken. If you do not see a note right here saying how all spaces are booked, then yes, we still have room, and you are encouraged to register.

How to Register: The easy first step is simply to reach out to workshop organizer Brian Klems via email: WDWconference@gmail.com. He will pass along registration information to you, and give instructions on how to pay by PayPal or check or credit card. Once payment is complete, you will have a reserved seat at the event. The CWW will send out periodic e-mail updates to all registered attendees with any & all news about the event. Because Brian plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Carolina workshop specifically.

Refunds: If you sign up for the event and have to cancel for any reason at any time, you will receive 50% of your total payment back [sent by check or PayPal or CC refund]. The other 50% is nonrefundable and will not be returned, and helps the workshop ensure that only those truly interested in the limited spacing sign up for the event. (Please note that query editing payments and manuscript editing payments are completely non-refundable if the instructor has already started edited your work.)

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 4.10.21 PM

Thank you for your interest in the 2023 Carolina Writing Workshop.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Reiko Davis of DeFiore & Company

Reiko Davis is a literary agent with DeFiore & Company.

Before joining DeFiore in 2016, Reiko Davis was at Miriam Altshuler Literary Agency for four years. She grew up in Kansas City, received her BA in Comparative Literature and Art History from Brown University, and is a graduate of the Columbia Publishing Course.

Reiko’s interests are varied, but on the adult side she’s primarily seeking literary and book club fiction. She loves historical, contemporary, or multigenerational novels both in the U.S. and internationally; family sagas; voice-driven coming-of-age stories; the occasional rom-com; and fierce, compassionately written works that grapple with identity and belonging and portray diverse lived experiences. She’d love to connect with promising writers of short fiction who are at work on a debut story collection and/or novel.

She also represents select narrative non-fiction projects that explore social justice, issues of race and gender, and the history and experiences of women and people of color. She loves compelling journalistic narratives that read like fiction or that use an intimate personal story as a lens for a larger issue or analysis. She consumes a lot of true crime in her free time so is open to seeing projects in the vein of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, The Fact of a Body, or Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil if a project like that were to cross her desk.

On the children’s side, Reiko is actively looking for middle grade projects that aren’t afraid to tackle big questions or important emotional truths, and do so through remarkable storytelling, humor, and heart. Right now she’s especially on the lookout for middle grade non-fiction in the areas of mental health, science, political activism, environmentalism, and narrative history. She has a real soft spot for middle grade novels that empower kids to make a difference in their communities.

She’s not looking for adult genre category fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, thriller, horror) or adult nonfiction with a highly prescriptive bent.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kate Davids of Arc Literary Management

Kate Davids is a literary agent with Arc Literary Management.

Kate is looking for nonfiction projects, particularly practical nonfiction, in cooking, personal finance, business, pets/animals, gardening, mental health, and new age. She also enjoys history books that delve into interesting subcultures, like anime or tabletop RPGs.

In fiction, Kate has a soft spot for science fiction and fantasy that has great action and world building that leverages real world cultures or histories. She loves fiction that represents diverse cultural backgrounds in their settings and characters.

For children’s books, Kate is looking for titles that can help both parents and their children explore the world together. This includes bi-lingual books and books about travel and multi-culturalism. She also likes a good laugh and an “aww” moment or two.

Kate joined Arc Literary after 3 years working at Simon & Schuster as part of their Organic Growth Initiative. She uses her background in market research and digital marketing strategy to help her clients find new audiences and better appeal to the audiences they may already have. Prior to working in publishing, Kate worked in marketing strategy and research in a variety of industries for brands like Weight Watchers and Unilever. She loves exploring different cultures, including subcultures. For her, books enable readers to explore new and different perspectives, with authors as the all-important guides and gateways.

Born in Arizona, Kate moved to New York City after first studying and living in Toulouse, France, and then London. She has always loved international cultures and travel, visiting her family based in Rome as often as possible. She has become an expert on traveling on a budget. She currently speaks French and Italian, and has also studied Japanese and Spanish. When she is home, she can be found reading comic books, watching anime, or trying out new recipes in the kitchen.

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Claire Draper of The Bent Agency

Claire Draper is a literary agent with The Bent Agency.

“I fell in love with books later than some, when my high school best friend dragged me to the theater to see Twilight. I became a book fanatic after that. There was not a time you could catch me without a book on my person or fanfiction open on my phone. I read every YA novel available and quickly moved on to the adult romance section, which was decently larger at the local Borders. I decided I wanted to be involved in books any way I could. I ended up moving from California to New York to try and get a degree and weasel my way into book publishing.

“After studying Queer Diversity in Children’s Literature at New York University’s Gallatin School and pursuing multiple internships, in 2016 I spent a fantastic (if short-lived) two weeks working as a bookseller for the Strand, before joining InkWell Management as a receptionist and agents’ assistant. In early 2019, I moved to the Bent Agency to start building my list with a collection of very queer books for kids of all ages, including graphic novels, picture books, middle-grade, and young adult. And then I embarked on books for adults, when I decided to return to my favorites with particularly queer memoir, queer romance novels, and select adult nonfiction.

“For all the books I work with, I prefer to work with queer creators and BIPOC creators, and strongly encourage those creators to send me their work. Regardless of genre, age, or subject, I like lighthearted, emotional, hopeful, adventurous reads. I am largely genre-agnostic, but I do prefer books with a fast pace, high stakes, and strong emotional development for the main character(s). I do not want to see books from authors writing identity-based books not of their own identity.

“For graphic novels, I like a diverse cast of characters, in nearly any genre or location. I love art that challenges traditional styles and is easily recognizable as belonging to a particular artist. I like stories for all ages, fiction and nonfiction, but especially love when a book has strong themes of love and/or friendship, and is extra queer.

“For illustrator portfolios, I like to see a decent sampling of your work, including anything from character design, to fan art, to sequentials (any paneled work, webcomic, zine, etc., will suffice). Please let me know whether you are exclusively an illustrator or author/illustrator.

“For YA and middle-grade contemporary, I love fiction where the main character has average, everyday challenges and we see how they overcome them. I love books that are lighthearted and emotionally poignant. I am especially interested in queer, disabled, and BIPOC protagonists, especially when the books are not issue-driven.

“For YA and middle-grade genre, I love fast pacing and high stakes. I am generally not preferential to any specific genre (fantasy, horror, sci-fi, etc.) as long as the rules of the genre are respected and understood. Much like with contemporary, I am especially interested in queer, disabled, and BIPOC protagonists, especially when the books are not issue-driven. But above all, give me a good, page-turning adventure.

“For queer adult romance novels, I want books with queer protagonists that have distinct personalities and a fast pace. I love nearly any genre, but require that the story is queer, feminist, and body-positive. I can’t bear to read dated ideals of partnership, relationships, femininity, and masculinity. I DO NOT want books where the characters participate in sexual acts without consent and/or while heavily intoxicated. Consent is key and a non-negotiable. Sweep me off my feet, please! I’ve been reading romance novels since I was a teenager, so make sure to respect the rules of HEA and give me some good trope-filled romance. To reiterate, I love a wide range of sub-genres in this space, so send it all.

“For memoir, I am particularly interested in queer authors writing about their queerness and the intersections of their identity. I love books with humor and interesting perspectives, and enjoy a big personality or narration to go with the contents of the memoir. I do not want conservative or conservative-leaning memoirs.

“For select adult nonfiction, I love creators with a fun and interesting platform, who are the experts in their field, and have something interesting and crucial to say. Subjects for this may include but are not limited to: plants, crafting, DIY, cleaning, homemaking, cooking, art, feminism, queer theory, parenting, and media criticism.

“By pitching me at a conference, please address me as Claire or Mx. Draper and ensure your manuscript will NOT contain the following or it will be considered an automatic pass: Suicide ideation, Eating disorders, Sexual assault, Gratuitous violence.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Annalise Errico of Ladderbird Literary

Annalise Errico is a literary agent with Ladderbird Literary.

Annalise is a graduate of Lesley University where she earned a B.A. in Creative writing with a double minor in Literature and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies. She is excited about uplifting stories by authors with marginalized voices and intersectional identities, ultimately making room for the diverse voices that have long since been ignored and suppressed in the literary world and beyond. When she isn’t agenting, Annalise spends an excessive amount of time snuggling with her cat, Mittens, and writing romance novels that are more swoony than strictly necessary.

Annalise is looking for more queer, BIPOC representation across the board, especially in romances that give Happily Ever Afters to complex and palpable characters.

Nonfiction

Annalise is looking for narrative nonfiction centering in on women’s stories and queer stories, such as: true crime with a feminist lens (think “We Keep the Dead Close” by Becky Cooper); memoirs that focus on identity (think “Know My Name” by Chanel Miller) or alternative formatting (think “In The Dream House” by Carmen Maria Machado); and research-heavy historical narratives about queer or feminist icons (think “Romantic Outlaws” by Charlotte Gordon).

Adult Fiction

Romance:
Romance is Annalise’s genre of choice, especially when they center on queer and BIPOC protagonists and love interests, such as Talia Hibbert’s “Take a Hint, Dani Brown”. For historical romance, Annalise wants to see queer Regency period novels (think Cat Sebastian), and queer novels set outside of Euro-centric history. Romances about bisexual women sit particularly close to Annalise’s heart. Happily Ever Afters are a must (per rules of the genre, and Annalise’s adoration). Her favorite tropes are enemies-to-lovers; serious-and-sunshine; and second-chance romance. She does not accept erotica or romances featuring unhealthy or abusive relationships to any degree.

Mysteries/Thrillers:
Annalise is looking for queer thrillers that function as social commentary such as Alyssa Cole’s “When No One Is Watching”. She loves novels with interesting formats such as compilations of files and articles (think “Night Film” by Marisha Pessl). She is always intrigued by complex who-dun-its. It is hard to sell Annalise on thrillers that feature violence against women as their main plot. She is not a good fit for supernatural, ungrounded thrillers; thrillers that border too close to horror; or thrillers that use the “bury your gays” and/or “fridging” trope.

Commercial/Women’s/Contemporary Fiction:
Annalise wants character-driven contemporary fiction that has enough plot movement to keep the reader invested (no character studies, please!). She likes books that use alternative formats (like “Daisy Jones & The Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid) and question the boundaries of typical contemporary fiction. She loves books that focus in on fictional celebrities or reflect upon fame such as “The Comeback” by Ella Berman and “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Books with happy endings are a plus. Annalise also wants fiction featuring change as a thematic focal point with unabashed self-love and romance, like Claire Christian’s “It’s Been A Pleasure, Noni Blake”.

New Adult
Annalise wants New Adult romance and contemporary fiction that focuses on found family and a during- or post-college bildungsroman plot. She would especially like to see fiction set immediately post-college that follows the protagonist’s trials and tribulations in the “real world”. It is hard to sell Annalise on a new adult book that doesn’t feature romance in some facet.

Young Adult Fiction

Historical:
Annalise wants YA historical fiction that focuses in on a lost perspective such as Stacey Lee’s “The Downstairs Girl”. While it doesn’t have to be a foremost plot, she wants romance in her historical novels. As with all things, having a queer component is going to make work more appealing.

Graphic Novels:
Annalise will accept YA graphic novels by author/illustrators (only) who focus in on marginalized experiences (whether in a realistic or fantastical world). She wants sweet graphic novels like “The Tea Dragon Society” by K. O’Neill or emotionally resonant ones like “On A Sunbeam” by Tillie Walden.

Fantasy:
Annalise wants heist fantasy stories like “Six of Crows” by Leigh Bardugo that have a found family element and are high-tension. She wants fantasies that aren’t overrun by world-building, but are atmospheric enough to transport the reader; character-driven fantasies (especially with a dabble of romance) are her favorite. She also loves witchy fantasies that focus on queer women of color (think “When We Were Magic” by Sarah Gailey).

Mystery/Thriller:
She is looking for mysteries and thrillers that have elements of YA contemporary such as bildungsroman plots and romance (especially LGBTQIA +) but doesn’t stray too far into high-school drama (think “A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder” by Holly Jackson). Like Adult mysteries/thrillers, she does not want anything that ventures too far into horror.

Contemporary:
Annalise is looking for quirky and offbeat books that focus in on ride-or-die women-centric friendships. She also wants queer, BIPOC rom-coms like “I Wish You All the Best” by Mason Deaver that have found family elements and are shamelessly romantic. She loves romances that feature large families that are realistic and honest (think Morgan Matson). She does not want stereotypical high-school drama (no mean girls, please!) or tropes like cheating, nor does she want YA Romeo and Juliet retellings in any way, shape, or form.

What she is NOT looking for:
Picture Books
Middle Grade
Horror
Science Fiction
or Poetry at this time.