Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Ben Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 6.31.13 PMBen Miller-Callihan joined Handspun Literary Agency as an associate agent in 2019, after working behind the scenes since the agency’s founding in tech support and bookkeeping roles.

He spent more than a decade teaching high school English, and has (under agency founder Courtney’s oversight) begun taking on his own clients at the agency.

His interests include: humor, young adult and middle grade novels, science fiction & fantasy (especially decolonial SF/F), cookbooks, mainstream-ish fiction a la David Mitchell and William Gibson, and anything food-related.

A graduate of the University of Kentucky (B.A., English), and New York University (M.A., English Education), he lives in San Diego with his human, canine, and kitchen appliance families.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 6.31.09 PMCourtney Miller-Callihan is a literary agent and founder of Handspun Literary.

Courtney founded Handspun Literary Agency in 2016, after more than ten years with Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. Her eclectic list includes women’s fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, romance, science fiction & fantasy, YA novels, humor, and practical nonfiction.

A graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz (B.A., Literature), and Johns Hopkins University (M.A., English), she lives in San Diego with her family.

She is always looking for stories she can’t stop reading.

For adult fiction, Courtney represents mainstream/upmarket fiction (including historical fiction and women’s fiction), romance (all subgenres except inspirational), mystery novels, and speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy).

For nonfiction, Courtney represents work targeting all age groups (children and adults). Though she will consider nonfiction on any topic, work that deals primarily with issues of religion or spirituality is unlikely to be a good fit.

She is not currently accepting new middle-grade, early reader, or picture book submissions.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Jill Marr of Sandra Dijkstra Literary

screen-shot-2015-05-28-at-3-22-28-pm.pngJill Marr is an agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

Jill is interested in: commercial fiction, with an emphasis on mysteries, thrillers, romantic suspense and horror, women’s commercial fiction and historical fiction. She is also looking for non-fiction by authors who are getting their work published regularly and who have a realistic sense of the market and their audience. Jill is looking for non-fiction projects in the areas of history, sports, politics, current events, cookbooks, health & nutrition, pop culture, humor, music, and very select memoir.

Please note that Jill is specifically not interested in: YA, children’s books, sci-fi, romance, screenplays, graphic novels, or anything involving unicorns.

She graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing and a minor in history. She has a strong Internet and media background and nearly 15 years of publishing experience. She wrote features and ads for Pages, the literary magazine for people who love books, and continues to write book ads for publishing houses, magazine pieces, and promotional features for television.

After writing ad copy and features for published books for years, she knows how to find the “hook” and sell it.

Some of Jill’s recent and soon-to-be-published nonfiction includes the Travel Channel’s Nick Groff’s Chasing Spirits (NAL); Maybe We’ll Have You Back (Skyhorse) by actor Fred Stoller; The Chosen Few (Da Capo) by USA Today writer Gregg Zoroya; Break Free from the Divortex (Seal Press) by Christina Pesoli; Teaching Kids to Think (Sourcebooks) by Darlene Sweetland, PhD and Ron Stolberg, PhD; Doulas A. Wissing’s Funding Our Enemy (Prometheus Books); Press One for English (The New Press) by Washington State Senator Pramila Jayapal; Why We Love Serial Killers (Skyhorse) by Scott Bonn; Mission High (Nation Books) by journalist Kristina Rizga; Don’t Lick the Minivan (Skyhorse) by Leanne Shirtliffe; William Jones’ More Than the Dream: The Untold Story of the March on Washington (Norton); and Spitting in the Soup (VeloPress) by Mark Johnson.

Some of Jill’s new and upcoming fiction includes Brain Storm (Thomas & Mercer) by Anthony-and-Agatha-Award winning author Elaine Viets; A Place We Knew Well (Ballatine Books) by Susan Carol McCarthy; Moving Day and The Teller (Thomas & Mercer) by Jonathon Stone; Fishbowl (St. Martin’s Press); and the Jaden Terrell series that includes the Shamus Award nominee Racing the Devil and A Cup Full of Midnight (The Permanent Press).

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Samantha Bagood of Samantha B. Literary

Screen Shot 2019-09-27 at 11.30.28 AMSamantha Bagood is a literary agent and founder of Samantha B. Literary.

She specializes in books for all kinds of books for children — picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult. (No adult fiction pitches of any kind please.) She enjoys out-of-the-box formats and styles done well, and would love to see more stories from an Asian-American perspective.

Samantha believes in being an ardent business partner and creative advocate for visionary authors and artists. She is also personally passionate about growing the imagination of young readers everywhere and boosting the voices of marginalized creators. Her career began at Adams Literary in 2012. Before then, Samantha was a book reviewer and freelance writer and designer.

In 2017, after a cross country move to southern California, she left to start her own agency, Samantha B. Literary.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Rachel Beck of Holloway Literary

Screen Shot 2018-11-18 at 3.21.51 PM.pngRachel Beck is a literary agent with Holloway Literary.

Rachel is interested in representing:

  • Women’s fiction, especially upmarket/book club fiction, such as Emily Giffin, Liane Moriarty and Diane Chamberlain
  • Contemporary romance with a humorous voice and subplots in addition to the romance, such as Kristan Higgins
  • Young adult, especially emotional/deep issue (even dark) stories (no historical, fantasy, paranormal, sci-fi or middle-grade please), such as Jandy Nelson and Courtney Summers
  • Psychological, character-driven women’s suspense/thrillers, such as Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins and Mary Kubica
  • Southern fiction, such as Elaine Hussey
  • Nonfiction — particularly memoir, true crime, and select health and self-help books (such as professional/career development).

Rachel Beck has been in the publishing industry since 2009. After completing an internship with two literary agencies, reading mostly young adult and thrillers, she then worked as an editor for Harlequin, acquiring category romance, contemporary romance, multicultural romance and women’s fiction.

Rachel’s career highlights include helping her authors achieve prestigious romance book nominations and two selective awards, including the National Readers Choice Award, and several top reviews in Romantic Times magazine for her books.

In her free time, Rachel likes reading first and foremost–mostly women’s fiction, psychological suspense and young adult–as well as traveling with her husband, spoiling her cat, Ginnie, and watching football (go Steelers!).

Rachel is drawn to voice-driven fiction, particularly in young adult; quirky, three-dimensional, flawed characters, including and especially secondary characters; beautiful writing; dark themes; books that explore good people in morally complicated situations; and complex, detailed plots.

Rachel is NOT interested in:

no children’s/picture books
no middle grade
no science fiction/fantasy
no romantic suspense
no action-driven suspense (prefer character/psychological-driven)
no heavily faith-based/inspirational material

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Elise Capron of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency

Screen Shot 2016-11-21 at 10.10.22 PM.pngElise Capron is an agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

In addition to handling her own list, she oversees the daily operations of the SDLA office, and works closely with Sandra Dijkstra on author development and management. She is most interested in character-driven literary/mainstream fiction and well-written narrative nonfiction (particularly serious history with a good story).

A graduate of Emerson College, Elise holds a BFA in Writing, Literature and Publishing. She has been with the Dijkstra Agency since late 2003.

Elise is interested in fiction that has unforgettable writing, a distinctive narrative voice, and memorable characters. She loves novels with an unusual or eccentric edge and is drawn to stories she has never heard before. She aims to work with writers who are getting their work published regularly in literary magazines and who have a realistic sense of the market and their audience. Some of Elise’s representative fiction titles include Tiphanie Yanique’s upcoming Monster in the Middle (Riverhead), Land of Love and Drowning (Riverhead) and How to Escape from a Leper Colony (Graywolf); Courtney Brkic’s The First Rule of Swimming (Little, Brown); Rachel Toor’s On The Road to Find Out (FSG); Jonathon Keats’ The Book of the Unknown (Random House); Rikki Ducornet’s Netsuke (Coffee House Press); Maureen McHugh’s After the Apocalypse (Small Beer Press), which was picked as a “Top 10 Best of the Year” by Publishers Weekly; Ali Liebegott’s The IHOP Papers (Carroll & Graf); and more.

On the nonfiction front, Elise is looking for fascinating true stories told in a compelling way. She is especially interested in working with up-and-coming scholars (particularly historians) who are looking to transition from the academic market to a trade readership, as well as journalists. Some of Elise’s representative nonfiction titles include Cynthia Barnett’s Rain: A Natural and Cultural History (Crown), which was long-listed for the National Book Award and the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award; Meera Subramanian’s A River Runs Again: India’s Natural World in Crisis, from the Barren Cliffs of Rajasthan to the Farmlands of Karnataka (Public Affairs); Jack Shuler’s The Thirteenth Turn: A History of the Noose (Public Affairs); Jonathon Keats’s You Belong to the Universe: Buckminster Fuller and the Future (Oxford University Press); Leo Braudy’s Haunted; Jane Vandenburgh’s The Wrong Dog Dream: A True Romance (Counterpoint); Billy Smith’s Ship of Death: The Voyage That Changed the Atlantic World (Yale); and more.

Please note that Elise is specifically not interested in: young adult, middle-grade, picture books, romance, fantasy, sci-fi, business books, cookbooks, poetry, religious/spiritual books, screenplays, or self-help.

And while she will consider memoir, please note that she is very selective.