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.