Heather Flaherty is an agent at The Bent Agency. She represents authors who write children’s, middle grade, and young adult fiction and non-fiction, as well as select new adult fiction, and pop-culture or humorous non-fiction.
She is looking for YA fiction across-the-board, though her heart does sway towards issue-related YA with humor and heart – not depressing, or mopey. She also loves loves loves hard, punchy, contemporary YA that’s got no hesitations when it comes to crazy. She also is always up for seeing contemporary stories with Sci-Fi or Fantasy elements, as well as a clever respin of an old or classic tale. And then, lastly, really good horror and ghost stories… not gory-for-gory’s sake or overly disgusting, but cringing, dark, bloody twisted, and even lovely. That said, the one thing she loves above all else in a YA novel, regardless of sub-genre, is a strong and specific character voice. A real person, not another “everygirl.”
As for the Middle-Grade she is looking for, a stark, honest, and even dark; either contemporary or period, as long as it’s accessible. Coming-of-age stories, dealing-with-difficulty stories, witness stories (adult issues seen through the child’s p.o.v kinda thing), anything that makes you want to hold the narrator’s hand… for your own comfort, as well as their’s. It is okay for these stories to have a slight magical or fantasy elements as well – as long as they’re subtle.
In New Adult, she likes to see story… not just romance and/or erotica. For me, it should pretty much be a great YA novel for an older audience.
On the non-fiction side, she is looking for strong teen memoirs about overcoming crushing situations.
Heather grew up in Massachusetts and started working in New York City as a playwright during college. This pushed her towards English as a focus and wound up beginning her publishing career in editorial, specifically at Random House in the UK where she became a YA and children’s literary scout. This lead to her coming back to the states and NYC, consulting with foreign publishers and Hollywood regarding the next big book. Heather says, “Now as an agent, I’m thrilled to turn my focus on growing authors for that same success.”
How to submit: Please do not simultaneously query our agents; submit your work to only one of us. If she passes, feel free to contact another.
Email Heather and tell her briefly who you are, about your book, and why you’re the one to write it. Include the title of your project in the subject line of your email. Then paste the first ten pages of your book in the body of your email (not as an attachment, please).
If you’re submitting a picture book, please include the complete text; for illustrations, please also include a link to your website if available, or two or three PDFs or JPEGs of your work. For graphic novels, please paste the first ten pages of your script in the body of your email, as well as the first five pages of your dummy. The dummy doesn’t need to be entirely finished, but if it’s not, please include up to three samples of your finished work, or a link to your online portfolio.
Please do not send an exclusive query. Queries are meant to be shared with multiple agencies. The Bent Agency ONLY accepts email queries. If you send your query by postal mail, it will be recycled and not returned to you.
It is our goal to respond to every query. If you don’t receive a response within a month, please resend your query and indicate that you’re sending it again.
If the agent is interested in your work, she will respond with instructions for sending the rest of your material. If they request material from you, and you have another agency offering you representation, please check back with us before accepting representation elsewhere.
Here is Heather email: flahertyqueries [at] thebentagency.com.