Welcome to Day 4 of meeting the #DVpit agents!
Ayesha of Ayesha Pande Literary is a veteran of the publishing industry with over twenty years of experience under her belt. Before starting her own boutique agency based in Harlem, she worked for Harper Collins and Crown Publishers. Ayesha is actively seeking all types of YA, but especially science fiction and fantasy, as well as women’s fiction, multicultural fiction, and any character-driven stories led by a diverse cast of characters. She is especially passionate about boosting new voices and ensuring they thrive.
“I will always encourage and support stories written by and featuring minorities and people of color; in my mind, the lack of these and other voices results in a much less vibrant, intelligent, and worldly publishing industry. If stories are written to move their readers, inclusivity is the key to making sure no reader feels forgotten.”
Gemma Cooper has been a literary agent with the Bent Agency since 2012. She represents authors who write for children, from picture books to young adult, fiction and non-fiction.
“I would love more diverse authors and author/illustrators across my list, but particularly on the younger end—bilingual picture books, a diverse IVY AND BEAN or MG epic adventure. For YA, I want something like the Estelle song “1980”—a fantastic voice telling a story with a strong sense of place. I’m also open to historical novels from a perspective we don’t usually hear from. Ultimately, I want to read authentic voices and be swept away on a journey with that voice.”
Thao Le is an agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. Thao represents Young Adult, Middle Grade, Picture Books illustrated by the author, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Romance.
“I’m most excited to find more contemporary YA featuring diverse characters of all ethnicities, sexual orientation, able bodied or not. I am also looking for more romance in both YA and Adult featuring interracial couples. And I love seeing sci-fi/fantasy that is inspired by non-Western cultures and mythologies. I’m particularly interested in representing more diverse creators.”
Heather Flaherty grew up in Massachusetts, and worked as a playwright in NYC. She then became a Literary Scout, consulting with foreign publishers and Hollywood to find the next big book. As an agent, she’s thrilled to grow authors for that same success. Heather represents Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction and non-fiction, as well as select Adult fiction and non-fiction.
“I’m always on the lookout for diverse stories, diverse characters, and diverse authors, where diversity has a range from POC experiences to disability to gender equality to LGBTQA stories to… you get the idea.
But, specifically, I’d love a story about a teen navigating their asexuality in high school. I’d also love some stories inspired by historic females pushing the boundaries of their expected roles, like female pirates Grace O’Malley, Sayyida al Hurra, and Chang Shih. Or female samurai warriors like Tomoe Gozen and Nakano Takeko. But also about females in our time, pushing through male-dominated subjects and sports in school and life. Also, I’d love stories, both contemporary and fantastical, about Native peoples and from Native voices, incorporating both present and/or past experience, history, culture, beliefs, and non-beliefs. Would also love contemporary Latinx stories focusing on experience, culture, and perspective within their community.
Remember though, these are simple examples, not a criteria—my utmost desire is to be moved by your story… whatever that story might be!”
Stefanie Von Borstel is a literary agent and founder of Full Circle Literary, originally from San Antonio where she grew up in a proud Texan Mexican family. With more than 20 years of publishing experience, she has a long track record of successfully launching new voices such as clients Monica Brown, Diana López, Rene Colato Lainez, Carmen Tafolla among many others.
“I’d love to see fiction submissions with diverse characters taking center stage, especially Latino or mixed-race characters. As the mom of a son with a foreign-born parent, I am actively looking for picture books, middle grade and teen books with a global perspective that share heritage and culture with heart and humor. I also welcome nonfiction or narrative nonfiction that both informs and inspires!”
Laura Zats is an Associate Literary Agent with Red Sofa Literary. A former editor, Laura represents Middle Grade, YA, romance, erotica, and adult science fiction and fantasy.
“I am looking for all manner of diversity, including religion, ability, and socio-economic class. Please note that I am not accepting books (especially YA) whose plot is centered only around being marginalized (in other words, no issues-disguised-as-people). I have a particular interest in feminist and intersectional works.”
ign: center;”>That’s it for day 4! Tune in tomorrow at noon EST for the final six blurbs!