Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Michelle Richter of Fuse Literary

Michelle Richter is a Senior Literary Agent with Fuse Literary.

Michelle joined Fuse Literary in 2014 from St. Martin’s Press, where she worked on a variety of fiction and nonfiction including MELISSA EXPLAINS IT ALL by Melissa Joan Hart. She has a Master’s degree in Publishing from Pace University, where she is an adjunct lecturer. Michelle’s clients have won or been finalists for such awards as the Edgar, Mary Higgins Clark, Strand Critics, Anthony, Agatha, Lefty, ITW Thriller, Macavity, Barry, Derringer, IPPY, and International Book Award. She is a member of Sisters in Crime.

Michelle is seeking:

-suspense
-mystery
-psychological thrillers
-domestic suspense
-women’s fiction
-book club fiction
-YA mystery/thriller
-select contemporary YA

She’s especially eager to find suspense and psychological thrillers with complex lead characters. BIPOC, LGBTQ, and disabled voices in fiction always welcome. Michelle loves unreliable narrators, stories of family secrets, friendships, and sibling relationships. Her favorite writers include Colson Whitehead, Celeste Ng, Ruth Ware, Laura Lippman, Megan Miranda, Lori Rader-Day, Jennifer Hillier, and Tana French. She’d love to find the next BATH HAUS, SUCH A FUN AGE, WHEN NO ONE IS WATCHING, THE LADY UPSTAIRS, LONG BRIGHT RIVER, THE DUTCH HOUSE, EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, WINTER COUNTS, BLACKTOP WASTELAND, or BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Lori Steel of Raven Quill Literary Agency

Lori Steel is a literary agent with Raven Quill Literary Agency.

Lori became an agent after working with young readers’ literature for more than a decade. Her experience runs the gamut from school librarian to freelance editor to intern/assistant with two kidlit agencies. She holds bachelor’s degrees in history and education, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She represents fiction for all young readers from picture books to young adult and is actively building her list.

For MG and select YA, Lori seeks all genres except horror and hard sci-fi. She is interested in representing contemporary fiction told with transparency and heart and meticulously researched historical fiction that flips conventional interpretations and extends the conversation. For fantasy, Lori finds it hard to resist folklore-inspired tales and earthy world building. In all genres, she has a soft spot for story settings that seep off the page, verse novels, and multiple POVs. She has a strong interest in graphic novels across genres and audiences.

For Picture Books, Lori is eager to find both writers and writer-illustrators who craft stories with spare text and rich art, creators who play with structure, utilize collusion to engage participation, and don’t underestimate young readers. She is searching for whimsical, lyrical (narrative – not rhyming), surprising, and/or laugh out loud humorous fiction, along with select nonfiction projects, that young readers will beg to read over and over again.

For all projects, Lori seeks stories with authentic, unforgettable voices that reflect the diverse world we inhabit, instill the possibility of hope and change, and illuminate the shared human experience.

Tips For Pitching Your Book at the 2021 TWW

If you are coming to the (online) 2021 Tennessee Writing Workshop, you may be thinking about pitching our agent-in-attendance or editor-in-attendance. An in-person pitch is an excellent way to get an agent excited about both you and your work. Here are some tips (from one of a previous year’s instructors, Chuck Sambuchino) that will help you pitch your work effectively at the event during a 10-minute consultation. Chuck advises that you should:

  • Try to keep your pitch to 90 seconds. Keeping your pitch concise and short is beneficial because 1) it shows you are in command of the story and what your book is about; and 2) it allows plenty of time for back-and-forth discussion between you and the agent. Note: If you’re writing nonfiction, and therefore have to speak plenty about yourself and your platform, then your pitch can certainly run longer.
  • Practice before you get to the event. Say your pitch out loud, and even try it out on fellow writers. Feedback from peers will help you figure out if your pitch is confusing, or missing critical elements. Remember to focus on what makes your story unique. Mystery novels, for example, all follow a similar formula — so the elements that make yours unique and interesting will need to shine during the pitch to make your book stand out.
  • Do not give away the ending. If you pick up a DVD for Die Hard, does it say “John McClane wins at the end”? No. Because if it did, you wouldn’t buy the movie. Pitches are designed to leave the ending unanswered, much like the back of any DVD box you read.
  • Have some questions ready. 10 minutes is plenty of time to pitch and discuss your book, so there is a good chance you will be done pitching early. At that point, you are free to ask the agent questions about writing, publishing or craft. The meeting is both a pitch session and a consultation, so feel free to ask whatever you like as long as it pertains to writing.
  • Remember to hit the big beats of a pitch. Everyone’s pitch will be different, but the main elements to hit are 1) introducing the main character(s) and telling us about them, 2) saying what goes wrong that sets the story into motion, 3) explaining how the main character sets off to make things right and solve the problem, 4) explaining the stakes — i.e., what happens if the main character fails, and 5) ending with an unclear wrap-up.