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: Tara Gilbert of Corvisiero Literary

Screen Shot 2019-03-30 at 2.52.20 PMTara Gilbert is a jr. literary agent with Corvisiero Agency. At the 2020 SD conference, she is taking pitches on behalf of herself as well as co-agents.

Tara wants nothing more than to live and breathe literature. While every other girl grew up wanting to be Cinderella, Tara dreamed about being Belle. Not because she wanted a Beast to call her own. No. She wanted to spend her days with her nose stuck in a book and to find a home with a gigantic library.

Personally, she is seeking all kinds of young adult and middle grade, adult sci-fi, adult fantasy, graphic novels, and romance. On behalf of co-agents, she will take pitches for historical novels, women’s fiction, mainstream/general fiction, and children’s picture books.

When Tara isn’t reading for pleasure, writing, critiquing manuscripts for her CPs, or interning; she is a full-time recruiter and part-time student trying to get her Bachelors in English. She is happily married with four fur-babies in Portland, Oregon.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Katherine Wessbecher of Bradford Literary Agency

Screen Shot 2020-01-15 at 3.07.23 PM.pngKatherine Wessbecher is a literary agent with Bradford Literary Agency.

Katherine joined Bradford in 2020. Prior to becoming an agent, Katherine edited children’s and young adult books at Putnam, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, and was the science and technology editor at an academic book review journal. She holds a B.A. in English from the College of William and Mary.

As an editor, Katherine worked with debut and veteran authors, including Sherri L. Smith, Stacey Lee, Keir Graff, Jeff Seymour, and Eliot Sappingfield. She brings to her work a nuanced understanding of the publishing industry and a practiced editorial eye.

Katherine is looking for: children’s books (picture books through YA), upmarket adult fiction, and narrative nonfiction for all ages.

In MG and YA, historical fiction and fantasy have been favorites since she was young. But more than genre, she’s looking for the kinds of stories that transport her: to the past, an imagined world, or a perspective wholly different from her own. She’s drawn to stories that push readers to question their assumptions of the world. She’s interested in humorous voices; she’s also a fan of epistolary novels and other unexpected storytelling techniques, like Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae Files series or Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer.

Her favorite picture books are the kind that make both kids and grown-ups laugh. Inventive premises, twist endings, and quirky characters are all good ways to pique her interest.

Katherine is looking for upmarket adult fiction that straddles the literary and commercial divide. Books that inspire her list run the gamut from Where’d You Go, Bernadette to Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing. She loves unexpected takes on familiar stories and flawed yet endearing characters. Katherine is actively seeking adult and juvenile narrative nonfiction—particularly projects that highlight stories the history textbooks left out. In the same vein, she’d love to work with nonfiction graphic novel projects like John Hendrix’s The Faithful Spy.

Katherine is not looking for: adult genre fiction (romance, thriller, high fantasy/sci fi), business, poetry, memoirs, or screenplays.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Jemiscoe Chambers-Black of Corvisiero Literary

Screen Shot 2019-12-11 at 7.58.14 PMJemiscoe Chambers-Black is a jr. literary agent at Corvisiero Literary.

She is seeking: mainstream fiction, women’s fiction, romance in all genres (especially in contemporary and fantasy), thriller, crime, fantasy, middle grade, young adult, and literary fiction.

Jemiscoe cannot say that reading and writing came naturally. Rather, those interests were inspired by pizza. At seven, her school offered free Pizza Hut and Shakey’s Pizza coupons as rewards for reading books, and she was sold. Eventually, the books held more interest than the pizza ever did. And so began Jemiscoe’s love of imaginary worlds filled with interesting characters.

After working more than a decade as an Assistant Director for film and television, Jemiscoe ultimately returned to school to pursue her love of reading and writing. She holds a B.A. in English and Creative Writing, and an MFA in Fiction. Also, several of her short stories are published in literary journals and magazines.

Before joining the Corvisiero team, Jemiscoe was an assistant editor for the web content of the Assignment Magazine and a deputy editor for Odyssey. Jemiscoe is also a freelance editor, copyeditor, and beta reader, helping writers create emotionally resonant work. And when she is not reading, writing, or editing, she is usually spending quality time with her husband, Shane, and three kids, Wolf, Hok, and Phoenix.

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Greg Johnson of Wordserve Literary

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 12.34.47 PM.pngGreg Johnson is the founder of Wordserve Literary.

He is seeking: In the general market, he seeks historical fiction, children’s works, and YA. He also seeks inspirational/Christian fiction. His nonfiction tastes are more varied, and he specializes in religion/spirituality, memoir, military nonfiction, or history nonfiction. Business books, health, and humor rounds out what he is looking to acquire.

The agency still primarily represents authors of faith who seek to publish in any genre or market (the general trade or CBA).

Greg has been in publishing for more than 25 years. Before becoming a full-time literary agent in 1994, he wrote and published 20 works of nonfiction with traditional publishers, as well as being an editor for a teenage boys magazine for five years. In his years as an agent, he has personally represented more than 2,300 books and negotiated more than 1,800 contracts to over 85 publishing houses. These works include adult trade books (nonfiction and fiction), children’s books, specialty Bibles, movie options, video curricula, audio products, gift books and greeting cards.

While Greg’s stable of authors is near full, he will occasionally take on new authors and new projects. Along with representing a broad array of adult fiction, primarily in the Christian market, Greg works with pastors and speakers, male and female, who have important and compelling messages to author for their constituents. He has also carved a niche by representing military nonfiction/memoir for those who have served our country from WWII until today.

Greg is married to Becky and together they are parents of six adult children and seven grandchildren. They make their home near Denver, Colo.

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 Liza Dawson Associates

Screen Shot 2018-11-18 at 3.21.51 PM.pngRachel Beck is a literary agent with Liza Dawson Associates.

Rachel Beck joined Liza Dawson Associates in 2020 after working at a boutique literary agency for 4 years. She has been in the publishing industry since 2009 and worked at Harlequin editing romance novels for nearly six years before transitioning her skills to the agent world in order to be an advocate and champion for authors.

Rachel is looking for:

  • upmarket/book club women’s fiction in the vein of Emily Giffin, Jodi Picoult, Jennifer Weiner and Liane Moriarty
  • light-hearted millennial fiction or contemporary romance like Kristan Higgins or Sophie Kinsella
  • character-driven, psychological/domestic suspense that contain fresh plots and mind-blowing premises
  • contemporary young adult, primarily issue-driven material that explores topics such as sexual assault, LGBTQ issues, etc.
  • and select nonfiction, such as feminist material; career/business/personal growth books; extreme underdog, survival, accomplishment, or rising-from-poverty type stories; select health and wellness books (especially mental health, eating disorders, any rare or underrepresented conditions, Alzheimer’s/memory books); books about football/the NFL; marathoner/triathlete memoirs; parenting books with new angles; books that explore cult life or extreme religion; 9/11 survival stories.

She is not interested in middle grade, picture books, epic/high fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, erotic romance, short stories or poetry.

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.