Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kelly Van Sant of Red Sofa Literary

Screen Shot 2018-11-10 at 10.37.40 AMKelly 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.”


Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Laura Zats of Red Sofa Literary

Screen shot 2016-05-16 at 5.47.13 PM.pngLaura Zats is a literary agent with Red Sofa Literary.

Laura seeks young adult fiction, especially contemporary, middle grade contemporary/adventure, adult fantasy and science fiction (loves non-traditional settings, fast-paced storytelling, anthropological elements, and smart humor; no high fantasy) romance and erotica (especially contemporary; please no vampires, werewolves, angels, demons, or mermaids).

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Jennie Goloboy of Donald Maass Literary

Screen Shot 2017-12-01 at 8.09.50 PM.pngLiterary agent Jennie Goloboy joined the Donald Maass Literary Agency in 2017. Before that, she was an agent at Red Sofa Literary for six years.

She has a PhD in the History of American Civilization from Harvard, and published a book based on her dissertation, Charleston and the Emergence of Middle-Class Culture in the Revolutionary Era, in 2016.

She is seeking:

Jennie is particularly looking for fun, innovative, diverse, and progressive science fiction and fantasy for adults. She thinks that one of the most important jobs of science fiction is to imagine a future we want to live in.

As a fan of character-driven novels, she wants to be desperate to know what happens to your hero by the time she’s finished your writing sample. Romance and humor are always a plus. If your book combines an oddball premise with a compelling protagonist, she wants to read it. Adorable body horror? Quirky intentional communities? Please send them on!

Jennie is also looking for nonfiction history for a popular, adult audience. She’s a particular fan of histories of an idea, and narratives about early America. She is not interested in historical novels, or in memoir.

Get to Know an Agency Assistant in Attendance: Lynnette Novak of The Seymour Agency

Screen Shot 2017-11-29 at 11.43.46 AM.pngLynnette Novak is an agent assistant at The Seymour Agency and is actively building her list.

She’s seeking fantasy, science fiction, thrillers, romance (contemporary, SF/F romance, romantic comedy), mysteries (traditional, cozy, amateur sleuth), and YA.

(Previously, another Seymour Agency assistant, Lesley Sabga, was attending the workshop to take pitches on behalf of the whole agency. Lynnette is taking her place.)

She will also be taking pitches on behalf of all acquiring agents at The Seymour Agency. Here’s what they’re looking for:

Lizzie Poteet — looking for all romance from inspirational to erotic

Jennifer Wills — all children’s literature, including picture books

Tina Wainscott — self-help, nonfiction, prescriptive, spiritual

Julie Gwinn — all romance, mysteries, thrillers, inspirational

Nicole Resciniti — romance, YA, MG, SF/F, thrillers, mysteries, cozies, history, cookbooks, women’s fiction

Lesley Sabga — adult/YA: SF/F, suspense/thriller and romance

Prior to joining The Seymour Agency, Lynnette spent seventeen years freelance editing. She worked with new writers, advanced writers, as well as New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors. Lynnette earned a bachelor of education degree from the University of Manitoba, where she specialized in English and French. She excelled in Advanced Creative Writing in university and studied writing for children and teens through the Institute of Children’s Literature. She was a Pitch Wars mentor in 2015 and 2016. Both her mentees acquired an agent. Lynnette has since closed her editing business and is excited to bring her passion for the written word to agenting as she builds her client list.

Although Lynnette was born and raised Manitoba, Canada, she now lives in Minnesota with her husband, twin girls, and many pets. Her personal interests include reading, writing, exercising at the gym (okay, that’s a love/hate relationship), working on an assortment of crafts, all things having to do with animals (if she could own a farm, zoo, and animal shelter, she would), and enjoying time with family and friends.

She loves dark and suspenseful, mysterious twists, unique worlds, light and funny, a good love story, and lots of voice.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Erik Hane of Red Sofa Literary

Screen Shot 2016-10-16 at 2.18.12 PM.pngErik Hane is a literary agent with Red Sofa Literary.

Erik is a writing major from Knox College, and attended the Denver Publishing Institute after graduation. His first publishing job came soon after, as an editorial assistant and then assistant editor at Oxford University Press. He then moved to The Overlook Press as an acquiring editor, working on primarily upmarket nonfiction (history, biography, pop science), but was lucky enough to work on some novels as well.

He is seeking: For fiction, he only seeks literary fiction. For nonfiction, he seeks popular science, sports writing, popular culture/modern life, essays, and history. In nonfiction, he loves seeing complex subjects written about in an engaging way for the non-expert, or energetic, incisive looks at topics not usually treated that way (looking at you, sports writing).

He wants to see literary novels that also place importance on story; no use writing beautifully if nothing’s going on.

Two 2019 Writing Conferences for Wisconsin Writers

Writing Day Workshops organizes many one-day writers conferences around the country. In 2018, there are two nearby conferences that Wisconsin writers can travel to:

Feb. 17, 2018: The Minnesota Writing Workshop

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 11.19.57 AM.pngThe 2018 Minnesota Writing Workshop will be held on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, at the Intercontinental St. Paul Riverfront in St. Paul, MN. Our last event had more than 200 attendees. The conference has sessions, panels, agent & editor pitching, query critiques, and manuscript critiques. Previous MN events in 2014 and 2017 went great, and we are excited about the 2018 workshop. All 2018 information, including registration instructions, is on the website here:

Attending agents and editors to pitch: Eric Smith (P.S. Literary), Michelle Grajkowski (3 Seas Literary), editor Lauren Jablonski (St. Martin’s Press), Mary Cummings (Betsy Amster Literary), editor Mari Kesselring (Flux and Jolly Fish Press), Cynthia Ruchti (Books & Such Literary), Laura Zats (Red Sofa Literary), Jennie Goloboy (Donald Maass Literary), Erik Hane (Red Sofa Literary), Lynnette Novak (The Seymour Agency), editor Yana Makuwa (Graywolf Press), editor Raela Schoenherr (Bethany House Publishers).

June 23, 2018: The Writing Workshop of Chicago

Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 11.24.26 AM.pngThe 2018 Writing Workshop of Chicago will be held on Saturday, June 23, 2018, at the historic Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago, IL. Our last conference had more than 300 attendees. The event has sessions, panels, agent & editor pitching, query critiques, and manuscript critiques. Previous Chicago events in 2015, 2016, and 2017 went great, and we are excited about the 2018 workshop. All 2018 information, including registration instructions, is on the website here:

Attending agents and editors to pitch: Cynthia Ruchti (Books and Such), Michelle Grajkowski (3 Seas Literary), editor Anna Michels (Sourcebooks), Moe Ferrara (BookEnds Literary), Kelly Van Sant (D4EO Literary), Tracy Brennan (Trace Literary Agency), Gemma Cooper (The Bent Agency), Dawn Frederick (Red Sofa Literary), editor Grace Menary-Winefield (Sourcebooks and Sourcebooks Landmark), Alexandra Weiss (Jennifer De Chiara Literary), Marcy Posner (Folio Literary), Loretta Caravette (LR Children’s Literary), editor Emily Clark Victorson (Allium Press), Tina P. Schwartz (The Purcell Agency), Lesley Sabga (The Seymour Agency), Kortney Price (Corvisiero Agency). This list will likely grow over time.


Screen Shot 2018-01-10 at 11.24.36 AM.pngFor a full list of all upcoming WDW one-day workshops, click here and see all forthcoming 2018 event locations.

To read some success stories of writers who have found agents at our WDW events nationwide, click here to enjoy their stories of good news.

Thank you for considering an event. Email us with any questions:


Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Mary Cummings of Betsy Amster Literary

Screen Shot 2016-10-13 at 9.10.51 AM.pngMary Cummings is a literary agent at Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises.

Mary represents fiction, literary nonfiction, and poetry for children and teens, from picture books to middle grade and young adult novels, including contemporary and historical, humor, mystery, fantasy, and multicultural. She is particularly seeking middle grade novels as well as picture books with strong story arcs, a spunky central character, and warmth, humor, or quirky charm. In literary nonfiction, her areas of interest include lyrically written science, arts, nature, mindfulness, and social awareness issues.

Houses she’s sold books to include, among others: Little, Brown; Knopf; Abrams; F,S,G; Henry Holt; Holiday House; Imprint; and Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster.

Learn more about her: and