17 Top American Literary Agents for Children’s Books
Writing is a tricky and taxing job.
Writing children’s books is even more complicated and challenging.
Authors or writers need to be well read and aware of what the children of today are reading and liking.
Before you make misguided attempts at writing, understand that the different genres and topics for children make writing for them a daunting task.
You need a guide, a mentor and someone with experience in the spirited world of children’s books and publishing to lead you, push you and support you.
That guidance can come in the form of a literary agent.
The publishing market is so competitive especially for children’s books because of the scope it can cover such as young adult, middle grade and picture books.
A literary agent can turn your raw, unfiltered manuscript into a book worth publishing and reading.
As an amateur writer and author, you need to find the right literary agent for your book.
We have decided to simplify things for you and list the 17 top American literary agents for children’s books.
1. Shadra Strickland
An agent at one of the popular literary agencies in New York, Painted Words, Shadra Strickland is a writer turned agent. An award winning illustrator and author herself, she became an agent to help amateur writers and authors navigate the complicated world of children’s books. Painted Words has won multiple awards and nominations over the years such as the New York Times Bestsellers List, Emmy, Coretta Scott King Award, TIME Magazine’s Top 10 Children’s Books, Applied Arts Award and NAACP Image Award. Shandra is interested in unique stories with a message and cultural perspective that uses a touch of comedy or humor to make it enjoyable. They only accept an exclusive submission which means you can’t simultaneously submit your manuscript to another place. Find guidelines and contact details on this page.
2. Jennifer Flannery
Founder and agent at Flannery Literary, Jennifer Flannery started the agency in 1992 in New York, moving to Chicago in 1997. An exclusive, selective literary agency that publishes only children’s books and Young Adult fiction, writers are expected to have a fresh point of view and a lesson in their story. You can contact her via email with a query regarding your manuscript. If you are submitting a picture book, you can paste the entire manuscript in the body of the e-mail. For novels, stories and non-fiction, paste the first 5-10 pages of your manuscript in the body of the e-mail. Jennifer does not open attachments so don’t include any with your mail. Writers can expect a waiting period of 4 weeks to get a response.
3. Mary Cummings
An associate at Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises, Mary Cummings has spent all her career (nearly 15 years of it) in children’s literature and publishing. Based in Los Angeles, the agency is a full-service agency and Mary has worked with award winning writers, authors and novelists. She is up for a challenge and is keen to mentor and guide first time writers for children’s book in fiction and non-fiction. She is looking for children’s picture books, poetry, young adult novels, middle grade fiction, history, fantasy and humor. Her belief is that children’s books need to have a solid story line and a particular zing to it that makes you feel invested in the story and elements. Submit your manuscript to Mary on this email address. Writers submitting a picture book can paste the entire manuscript in the body of the e-mail. Writers of novels, fiction and non-fiction should paste the first three pages of their manuscript in the e-mail. Mary will not read attachments so don’t include any.
4. Amy Stern
Amy Stern joined the Sheldon Fogelman Agency in 2010 as an agent assistant. Having a creative writing degree, Amy understands the creative process involved in writing a book. She also mentors writing students which enables her to use the same skills while helping new authors and writers. At present Amy is eyeing picture books, middle grade and young adult fiction. Writers can send their manuscripts to the New York based agency on this email address. Before sending the manuscript, read the submission guidelines carefully.
5. John Rudolph
Starting his career as an editor, John Rudolph transitioned to being an agent in 2010 at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. His client list is a mix of both children’s authors as well as adult authors. John is keen on maintaining that balance as he believes it gives him space to explore as many avenues as he wants. He is interested in middle grade, young adult fiction, writers and illustrators who have a real story with relatable characters. You can reach out to John via email. Writers, illustrators and authors should read the submission guidelines before sending their manuscript.
6. Alice Tasman
Alice Tasman is an agent at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency in New York; This 30 year old agency has represented award winning writers and authors across various countries and genres. Alice is eager to work with debut writers and first time authors as she knows that a lot of talent is waiting to be discovered and polished. Writers of middle grade, young adult novels can approach Alice with a manuscript. The agency doesn’t encourage submissions via email or post and has a detailed form that writers can fill out to send a query.
7. Dan Conaway
Being an agent at one of the largest literary agencies in the world has its perks and responsibilities as Dan Conaway would know. Working at Writer’s House, Dan has a varied range of interests and doesn’t hesitate to work with new authors. His clients include award winning writers such as Meg Abbott, Marcia Clark and Greg Iles. Writers, illustrators and authors of middle grade, young adult fiction, picture books and non-fiction can submit their manuscript to Dan via email. Your query letter should include a resume, a synopsis and why your book is different than any of the books out there.
8. Danielle Chiotti
Twelve years of experience in the publishing industry has led to Danielle Chiotti enjoying the process of finding a great story, collaborating with the writer and finishing a project that requires creativity, talent and hard work. Currently an agent at Upstart Crow Literary, it has given her a good eye to lock in previously unearthed talent and work with them to help them achieve their dreams. Writers of young adult, middle grade fiction can send a query letter to Danielle via email and paste the first 20 pages of your manuscript in the body of the email. Illustrators can paste the links to their portfolio in the email as Danielle doesn’t accept attachments.
9. Beth Phelan
Beth Phelan has been an agent since 2010 and joined Gallt & Zacker in 2017. A voracious reader and expert in finding new talent in children’s books, Beth has used social media to create various campaigns to urge new writers to pitch to her or discuss books and spread her love for books and literature. She is looking for middle grade, young adult fiction and non-fiction. You can contact Beth via email. Writers should read the submission guidelines before sending their manuscript.
10. Rachel Crawford
An agent with a stellar client list of award winning authors that have been nominated for prizes such as Lambda Literary Award, Pushcart Prize and the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, Rachel Crawford works at MacKenzie Wolf. She is searching for authors of middle grade, young adult fiction and non-fiction that don’t shy away from discussing the real issues affecting the country and the world. Young adult fiction with twists and unexpected turns, thrillers, horror, culture and a strong feminist angle are appreciated. Submit a query letter via email and include a 50 page writing sample if its fiction. A non-fiction manuscript requires a proposal. You can either paste it in the body of the email or send it as an attachment. Writers should address the query letter to Rachel since general queries are not read by the agency.
11. Becca Stumf
At Prospect Agency since 2006, Becca Stumf enjoys compelling stories and powerful characters. The agency fosters an atmosphere of positivity and honesty which Becca uses to work with writers and lead them to complete their dream project successfully. Presently, Becca is looking for middle grade, young adult fiction with intriguing storylines. Authors can contact Becca by filling out this submission form. The guidelines and instructions are explained there.
12. Jennie Kendrick
While it’s common to find writers, editors and teachers become agents, it is rare to find a criminal defense attorney become a literary agent. She is currently an agent at Lupine Grove Creative. Most of her career has been spent working with YA authors, holding workshops and book clubs for them and mentoring them through competitions. She loves reading horror, fantasy and magical realism in young adult fiction and middle grade but is also open to stories in different genres with a firm plot, real characters and research. Send a query letter to Jennie with the first 15-20 pages of your manuscript.
13. JL Stermer
Young adult non-fiction is a tough genre to write and not many agents pursue that subject and writers but JL Stermer at New Leaf Literary is building her list of non-fiction YA authors and writers. She wants writer to channel the rough and dark elements of writing, storytelling and plot in stories for young adults, or give their spin to non-fiction topics such as pop culture, memoirs and graphic novels. Her clients include names such as Jeffrey Bowman, Gina Cohen and Heather Huhman. Writers can send their manuscripts to JL via email. Do read the submission guidelines and instructions before sending your email.
14. Nicole Resciniti
Named as ACFW’s Agent of the Year in 2012, Nicole Resciniti is the President of The Seymour Agency and an agent there. A sharp negotiator and advocate for her authors and writers, Nicole has also been listed by Publisher’s Marketplace as one of the top dealmakers in the country. A highly educated woman with multiple degrees in subjects, she was also a teacher before deciding to join a literary agency. Nicole is accepting submissions for children’s books, young adult and middle grade. Send a one page query letter and the first 5 pages of your manuscript pasted in the email to Nicole. Writers should include the word count, genre, target audience, their contact information, bio as well as professional references in the email.
15. Maria Massie
Maria Massieis a literary agent since the 1990s, previously working for another agency and as her client list started developing she came to Massie & McQuilkin. Her extensive and rich client base of award winning authors and famous writers are testimony to her ability to work closely with the writers and get the best deals and contracts for them. She is seeking young adult and middle grade fiction. Write to Maria via email and send her a query letter, your bio, professional references and recommendations. Paste the first 5-10 pages of your manuscript in the email. Address the query to Maria specifically and include the word ‘Query’ in the subject line of the email.
16. Kate Testerman
Working for other companies in the publishing industry, Kate Testerman finally decided to start her literary agency kt literary in 2008. The founder and an agent, Kate still is actively involved in reading manuscripts, finding the right authors and mentoring them through it all. Her client list boasts of impressive names like Stephanie Perkins, Matthew Cody and Maureen Walsh. She is interested in middle grade, young adult fiction and non-fiction. Write to Kate via email to submit a query. Read the submission guidelines before sending your manuscript.
17. Jocquelle S. Caiby
The freshest recruit at Serendipity Literary Agency LLC, the largest African American owned agency in the country, Jocquelle started as an intern and moved up quickly to become a Junior Agent and Literary Assistant. Serendipity has been named as one of the top 25 literary agencies by Writers Digest. In her role as a literary assistant, she reviews proposals and works with clients through the editorial process. As a Junior Agent, Jocquelle is starting to build her own client list. For young adult fiction, she prefers stories that have the potential to challenge the imagination and question the conventional story telling format. Horror, thriller, fantasy, adventure and science fiction genres are also appreciated. She is currently not accepting children’s picture books. Serendipity has strict guidelines for submissions so read them before sending a query. Writers can fill this form to submit their manuscript.
There you have it folks. We have created a broad and fresh list of 17 of the top American literary agents for children’s books. Whether you are a first timer or a previously published author looking to make a change, these agents will be vital in landing you the perfect publisher and contract. It is possible that because you are so excited to start your career as a writer and get published, you can get impatient and want immediate results. But they say sweet are the fruits of patience and labor.
So, follow all the instructions mentioned on the websites and be patient while waiting for a reply from the agent. Before you submit to any of the agents, please check the agency website to reconfirm if they are open to submissions since that can keep changing. You have done the hard work of writing the book, now all you have to do is zero in on the right agent and let them take it from there.
Are you an American literary agent for children’s books? Please introduce yourself in the comments box below!
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