Kelly Van Sant is a literary agent with Red Sofa Literary. She seeks middle grade, young adult, and women’s fiction.
In her own words:
“I am seeking Middle Grade, Young Adult, and very limited women’s fiction across all genres, including fantasy, science fiction, adventure, historical, and contemporary. I love character-driven stories with intricate plots, and am always drawn to explorations of friendship and found family. I am especially interested in #ownvoices, inclusive narratives, and diverse writers. I’ve expanded on my interests within each category below.
“Middle Grade – I am seeking Upper MG only. Chapter books or early readers are not for me. My ideal middle grade needs to be whimsical, funny, and full of adventure. My tastes lean away from contemporary in this genre, and more toward fantasy, speculative, science-fiction, or magical realism. I like intricate world-building and MCs with gumption. Give me a quest, give me steadfast friendships, give me insightful, magical parallels with the real world, and make me laugh. No books with an educational thrust; I want to have fun!
“Young Adult – I dearly love fantasy, science-fiction, speculative, and other magical elements in YA stories. Even better if mixed and matched with other genres. Alternate universes, fictional worlds, your very own hometown with a secret or sinister twist. If the world-building is original and intricate, if you’re either dismantling existing tropes or executing them exceptionally well, if your characters are complex and come alive on the page then what are you waiting for? Send me your query.
“Let’s talk about romance in YA. I prefer romance in my YA to be an undercurrent (even an urgent one) but not the main point. Something needs to be going on in universe and in your characters’ lives beyond their love story. Instant love is not for me; I appreciate when characters grow together over the course of a book. Attraction can happen instantly, but intimacy takes time.
“I am selective about YA contemporary. A strong voice is vital, and again, I love to see a complex web of relationships beyond just romantic (though romance can be included): especially friendships and family relationships. These books above all else must absolutely be character-driven. I appreciate books that explore questions of identity, and books with a darker edge, but books firmly centered on and driven by a single issue–abuse, suicide, drug use, mental illness, rape–are not for me. I welcome books whose characters are grappling with those same issues, if those things are woven into the character and are undercurrents of a different, main plot. But I am not the right agent to represent so-called Issue Books. I would love to see some lighter YA contemporaries. Something that balances between poignant and funny, with a compelling, flawed protagonist and an authentic, accessible voice.
“Women’s Fiction – I’m seeking women’s fiction on a very limited basis. I want books written for and by women, about women’s lives and experiences and issues (women’s lives are complicated and varied and extend well beyond bad marriages/relationships! Please send me something fresh). Prose matters to me here, but as always, the characters are paramount. I’m interested in genre-blends, but straight-up contemporaries should be new and nuanced to catch me eye. No books about dead or dying children, please.
“I am NOT seeking picture books, poetry, or non-fiction at this time.
“I do not represent previously published books, whether self-published or put out by a small press. Please only query/pitch me with new work.”