Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kaylee Zou of Williamson Literary

Kaylee Zou is a literary agent with Williamson Literary.

Kaylee graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a double major in Writing Seminars and English in May of 2020. Since graduating, she has worked as a Technical Writer in the DC area. Recently, she left the corporate world and began pursuing writing her first novel full-time. Currently, she lives in Arlington with her roommate–but best friend first–Kinsey, who is Kaylee’s writing accountability and reads all her drafts of everything.

Kaylee joins Williamson Literary out of her passion for literature and writing while she continues to work on her manuscript. To many’s dismay, one of Kaylee’s favorite activities is spoiling movies and books for herself, and as such Wikipedia is her most visited website. Her favorite genre of content to consume is sad–anything tragic will do. Kaylee loves reality television, taking naps, and promenading around the ton like they do in Bridgerton. Having recently quit coffee, she promptly entered an identity crisis but found herself again in green tea. So it is with a belly full of green tea that Kaylee supports Williamson Literary as Associate Agent. 

What the agency represents:

Nonfiction: history, sports, science, environmental, biographies, travel, culture, adventure, educational, motivational (i.e. work that informs or inspires social change or advocates for women and BIPOC). Give thought to your author platform and develop a strong marketing section for your book proposal.

Adult Fiction:  upmarket, contemporary, literary, and commercial; character-driven women’s fiction, book club fiction, domestic suspense, adventure, international, upbeat, feel-good, dark and dangerous, fiction with fantastical elements or magical realism, poignant social commentaries, humor, satire, new takes on old tropes. Pitch us writing that sings rather than tells, take us on an emotional journey, build vivid scenes for us, craft strong voices and unusual and unforgettable settings (we love stories where place is a character too). Any subject is welcome.

What we do Not represent:

The heavily partisan, inflammatory, or hateful
Children’s picture books, Middle Grade or Young Adult
Genre Romance or Erotica
Horror (as a strict genre, but we like classic horror elements)
Hard Science Fiction and High Fantasy (again as a strict genre, but we love out-of-this-world stories)

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kiele Raymond of Thompson Literary Agency

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. Kiele received her B.A. in Anthropology and English Literature from Johns Hopkins University and her M.A. in the Humanities from the University of Chicago before launching her publishing career as an editor at Simon & Schuster. Her studies in modernism, sociolinguistics, and affect theory continue to influence her reading tastes and she treats each project with great editorial care. Kiele is open to queries and particularly interested in narratives set in and around the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the American Southwest.

Her list includes Reese’s Book Club pick and NYT Notable Book of 2020 HIS ONLY WIFE by Peace Adzo Medie, THE BALLAD OF BIG FEELING by Ari Braverman, HOME MAKING by Lee Matalone, LADY ROMEO by Tana Wojczuk, and SOMETIMES I TRIP ON HOW HAPPY WE COULD BE by Nichole Perkins, among others.


Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Caroline Trussell of Metamorphosis Literary Agency

Caroline Trussell is a literary agent with Metamorphosis Literary Agency.

Caroline has a background in editing, writing, and communications and has worked as an agent assistant, editorial assistant, journalist, and communications consultant. She is passionate about finding writers with unique voices and points of view and is looking for steamy romances, out of this world fantasies, and YA and MG that touch on vital topics that can’t be ignored. She’s also a self-published young adult author, a Columbia Publishing Course graduate, and a mental health advocate.

She is seeking:

  • Romance (especially romantic comedies, enemies to lovers, and fake dating)
  • Fantasy (particularly magical realism and urban fantasy)
  • Middle Grade (with lots of heart and that discusses tough topics in an age appropriate way)
  • In any genre, stories that feature dynamic characters with non-visible disabilities and/or mental illness

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Keir Alekseii of Azantian Literary Agency

Keir Alekseii is a literary agent with Azantian Literary Agency.

Keir is an educator and anti-GBV activist born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, a twin island country in the West Indies. Keir is a writer, gamer, lover of folklore, and former research scientist. As a neurodivergent, queer woman of color, Keir is invested in discovering engaging work with similar representation, and is passionate about creating space for voices not often recognized. She is especially interested in stories from BIPOC who are born and raised in the Global South.

Keir is seeking YA & Adult SFF and YA contemporary. She is ONLY open to receiving queries from writers who identify as belonging to a marginalized or underrepresented group such as (but not limited to) BIPOC, LGBTQ+, immigrants, ND, folks who speak English as a second language, and DIS people.

Her favorite traits and tropes include:

  • Found family
  • Protags that are too smart for their own good
  • Stories about embracing your identity and finding your path
  • Stories that center BIPOC and queer happiness
  • Enemies to friends/unlikely friendships
  • Grump & sunshine/stabby & cinnamon roll pairings
  • Femme villains corrupting cinnamon rolls/himbos
  • Non-white power couples/non-white love interests
  • Sapphic everything
  • Enemies to lovers & friends to lovers
  • Slow burn & second chance romance

In YA contemporary, she is looking for books in the vein of TJ Powar Has Something To Prove where the romance is secondary but identity and self-love are primary. Keir would also love work like Icebreaker, with queer love and found family.

She has a fondness for disaster bi/pan characters, being one herself, and appreciates seeing diverse representations of queerness. She’d also love to read more books with nonbinary characters and love that runs deep even without a romantic element (yes, that means aro characters and stories with friendships that don’t turn romantic are welcome).

In fantasy, she loves immersive worlds that pull her in from the first page, like The Daevabad Trilogy and particularly enjoys secondary worlds that are based outside of western cultures like The Jasmine Throne. You’ll be even more likely to catch her eye if you’re West Indian or West Indian diaspora, drawing from Caribbean culture and mythology. In general, Keir would love to see more fae books with BIPOC leads that use fae and folktales from non-western cultures, like Trese.

She particularly enjoys characters with strong internal conflicts, like in The Sun Sword series and Gearbreakers, who wrangle with the consequences of others’ actions while fighting for (or maintaining) their autonomy. She also loves adult characters who must clean up generational messes, thereby healing from generational traumas or otherwise breaking cycles.

Keir loves complex, smart, emotional characters that aren’t afraid to take on oppressive systems, like in Kaikeyi, and who find their voice and a purpose by the end of a story, like in Raybearer. She would love to see more books with unapologetic characters like in Iron Widow.

Retellings or reimaginings with these characteristics are welcome, especially those which draw from underrepresented cultures.

In science fiction, Keir is primarily interested in seeing SF settings that force us to explore the human condition, like the Xuya Universe or The Space Between Worlds. She also likes to keep it weird with works like Snowcrash and is always intrigued by how the alternate lives/worlds offered by gaming, virtual and augmented reality might inform our future. Though Keir’s SF tastes do lean toward Adult, she would welcome YA that explores these ideas and makes her crave adventure.

Keir likes science fantasy as well, enjoying both the setting of sprawling space and powerful magic offered by Warhammer 40K, and the grounded, emotional connection provided by The Broken Earth Trilogy.

If you are pitch her Adult SF/F with a steamy element, Keir appreciates work that is kink- and poly-positive.

Keir’s hobbies, background and identity also deeply inform what she loves. In general, you’re likely to catch her eye if:

  • You’re burning down the patriarchy and/or destroying colonizers
  • You’re reversing or reimagining colonialism
  • You’ve got DnD or other TTRPG Easter eggs, or inside jokes for games like Hades, Devil May Cry, or Final Fantasy.
  • Your story has the emotional resonance of games like Gris or Old Man’s Journey
  • Your story has the political complexity and ethical realities of anime like Gundam or Full Metal Alchemist


Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: James Mustelier of The Bent Agency

James Mustelier is a literary agent with The Bent Agency.

“I’m looking for a range of commercial and literary fiction and nonfiction. In all genres (but particularly in literary fiction) I prize economical prose, complex characters, steadily building tension, narrative gravity, and the momentary relief of dark humor, even (or especially) amid dire circumstances.

“In commercial fiction I’m looking for compact horror and mysteries with big hooks and intricate plotting. In sci-fi and fantasy I’m drawn to stories that are grounded in reality and have high stakes that touch on contemporary issues — more speculative fiction and alternate histories than high fantasy or space opera.

“In nonfiction I’m looking for books that give me a vivid look into subcultures and events I might not otherwise have had the chance to explore. Much of my favorite nonfiction melds a distinct narrative voice with rigorous research.

“In young adult and middle grade I’m interested in epic fantasy, grounded sci-fi, and irreverent retellings of fairy tales, classic myths, and historical events. I’m specifically seeking stories written from diverse perspectives that draw from underrepresented cultures.”

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Callie Deitrick of Wendy Sherman Associates

Callie Deitrick is a literary agent with Wendy Sherman Associates.

Callie graduated from Hamilton College in 2016 with a major in creative writing and a minor in art and completed the Columbia Publishing Course in 2017. Professionally, she has worked as a publicity and editorial intern at Europa Editions, as an editorial intern at Henry Holt, where she illustrated the cover of Number One Chinese Restaurant, and as a bookseller at Little Joe’s. She has been working at Wendy Sherman Associates since the fall of 2018 and is taking on clients.

Callie is interested in books that change the way we look at the world, whether that is through magical realism, investigative research, or unique perspectives. In whatever she reads, Callie is drawn to strong and unusual voices and thought-provoking and moving stories. She is most excited by contemporary fiction with a solid plot and a fresh hook. She is primarily interested in adult literary or upmarket-commercial fiction and narrative nonfiction. A few books Callie loved reading recently were Nothing To See Here by Kevin Wilson, Pretend I’m Dead by Jen Beagin, Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, and Made for Love by Alissa Nutting.

Get to Know an Editor in Attendance: Leticia Gomez of Kensington Books and Dafina

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. She has helped her clients secure deals with the largest publishers in the world and has seen several of her projects successfully optioned for TV and film rights. As a literary agent, she has placed nearly 200 books with independent and mainstream traditional publishers. In January of 2007, Leticia launched Savvy Literary Services, becoming one of a highly select group of agencies in the world that specializes in the Latino book market.

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. Blending her experience as an author, literary/film/television agent and acquisition editor, she is truly excited to spearhead her very own Hispanic book imprint Café con Leche Books.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Eva Scalzo of Speilburg Literary

Eva Scalzo is a Literary Agent with Speilburg Literary.

Eva  was born in New Jersey, but has lived in Houston, Buenos Aires, San Juan, and Boston before settling down outside of Binghamton, New York. She has been reading romance since the fifth grade when she discovered the Sweet Valley High series. On inheriting her grandmother’s collection of vintage Harlequin Romances, she set a goal to someday finish reading them all on top of her already massive TBR.

Eva has a B.A. in the Humanities from the University of Puerto Rico and a M.A. in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College. Since graduating in 2002, she has spent her career in scholarly publishing, working for Houghton Mifflin, Blackwell Publishing, John Wiley & Sons, and Cornell University in a variety of roles. She has been with Speilburg Literary since 2013, and started accepting clients in 2017. Eva is a member the AALA (formerly AAR), RWA, and SCBWI.

In Adult Fiction, Eva represents Romance (all subgenres but inspirational) and Science Fiction/Fantasy. She also represents all subgenres of Young Adult Fiction.

Fun Fact: My name is not pronounced with a long E sound. I’m of Puerto Rican, Lebanese, and Spanish descent.


Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Zabé Ellor of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

Zabé Ellor is a literary agent with The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency.

Zabé joined The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in August 2018, after previously interning at the agency and at Inklings Literary, and serving as a Publications Assistant at IOP Publishing. He graduated from Cornell University in 2016 with a dual degree in biology and English. An avid reader and writer, his non-literary interests include running, travel, and finding the perfect dim sum.

He is seeking:

Middle Grade: I’m now open to MG and excited to find clients writing exciting, adventurous, hilarious books for preteens! My favorite middle grade books weave voice, whimsy, and heart together to meet young readers where they are, instead of talking down or patronizing. I love all things speculative, from wild new worlds to small hints of magic, and my dream would be to find something that innovates at world building how Gregor the Overlander does. I also love stories grounded in the contemporary world, but prefer humorous tones to the very serious. Projects with graphic elements always welcome. I’m especially interested in seeing submissions from diverse voices.

Young Adult: I love all genres of YA: swoonworthy romances, electrifying thrillers and mysteries, heartbreaking contemporaries, and SFF that sweeps me off to a new world. Whatever you’re writing, give me flawed characters who struggle with the complexities of growing up and tangled networks of relationships binding them together. Books with messy, real, and consuming emotions are my kryptonite; recent favorites include Three Dark Crowns, Burning Glass, The Astonishing Color of After, When Dimple Met Rishi, Eliza and her Monsters, When the Moon was Ours, and The Love Interest.

Adult Fiction: My first love is adult SFF, in which I’m drawn to expansive worlds inhabited by unforgettable characters. Favorites of mine include the Emberverse series, The Broken Earth trilogy, An Unkindness of Ghosts, and Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos novels. I’m also looking for commercial and upmarket contemporary fiction, especially projects that contain elements of literary mystery and thriller, or voice-driven projects that would make a fun beach—think Little Fires Everywhere, Crazy Rich Asians, or Big Little Lies. Any project that involves rich people, secrets, and tragicomic misbehavior is quick to catch my eye!

Graphic novels: I’m interested in graphic novel projects for all age groups. Give me children’s projects that will make me laugh, cry, or both: think The Prince and the Dressmaker, The Witch Boy, or anything by Dav Pilkey. Give me adult projects that can ONLY be told in graphic novel format—stories like Saga and Low where the art creates the world. Author/illustrators strongly preferred.

Nonfiction: In nonfiction, I want proposals for books about science and history that teach and entertain in equal measure. If you want to dive deeply into an intriguing quirk of our world—and can do so with voice, wit, and an eye for the human—I want to see your proposal! As a former evolutionary biology/Renaissance literature major, my interests are wide, but I’ll always be interested in projects about fossils. Show me your platform and your passion for the subject

Diversity is incredibly important to me. I strongly encourage marginalized authors to self-identify, if they are comfortable, especially if their identity is related to their project.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Jared Johnson of Olswanger Literary

Jared Johnson is a literary agent with Olswanger Literary.

“I am a recovering academic and love engaging with unique and excellent writers. I hold a Masters in medieval studies and spent several years working toward a PhD before leaving to pursue a career in publishing.”

In fiction, he seeks:

“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. Favorite recent reads in this vein would be Nothing to See Here and Piranesi, which explore difficult topics through an ethical (i.e. how they relate to those around them) lens.

“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.

“I love encountering new, vibrant worlds that feel like they extend beyond the borders of the page without detracting from the central narrative. I am drawn into a story by parent/child relationships (especially with adult children or non-traditional families), themes of reconciliation and redemption, strong non-romance relationships (especially where you would expect romance), and misunderstood rivals. Really, I am taken in by deeply ethical stories; i.e. stories that foreground how characters relate to one another and how those connections situate them in their world. Also heists… I want to read all the heists.”

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. In particular, I am interested in works that challenge long-held cultural narratives. I am always on the search for books that call into question cultural myths or the continuity of ideas.

“I want to read works that make me view an old concept in a new way. More recently, I find myself being drawn strongly to narratives about people who have caused a positive impact or left a positive legacy in the world or their community.”