Posted by: Kathy Temean | November 11, 2016

Free Fall Friday – Agent Interview Part One

Tanusri PrasannaTanusri Prasanna

Tanusri had a somewhat unorthodox transition into publishing. A lawyer by training, she has a PhD in legal philosophy & human rights from Oxford University, and a Master’s degree from Harvard Law School. Along the way she worked in the legal department of the World Bank in Washington and as a teaching fellow at Columbia Law School. An avid fan of children’s literature, Tanusri joined a book club devoted to kidlit in 2012, which sowed the seeds of her decision to become a literary agent specializing in children’s books. To this end, before joining HSG, she gained valuable experience interning at Knopf Young Readers and Foundry Literary+ Media.

She is interested in all sorts of kidlit, ranging from picture books and middle-grade to YA (including YA/Adult crossovers). Tanusri is drawn to storytellers who deftly inveigle readers into their intricately-crafted plots with great voice and a touch of humor, and to writers with a vivid sense of the absurd. And while her primary interest is kidlit, she is also open to selective domestic suspense (Tana French and Sophie Hannah are two of her favorite authors in the genre) and voice-driven narrative non-fiction on social justice issues.

You can follow her on twitter at @TanusriPrasanna.

Here’s Part One of my Interview with Tanusri: 

Are there any genres that are of less interesting to you?

Tanusri: I focus primarily on children’s books ( Picture books, Middle Grade and YA) and I’m open to anything in those categories! In adult books, I am open to selective domestic suspense and fantasy, but I’m not looking for New Adult fiction, romance, thrillers, historical fiction or most forms of non-fiction.

Do you have any story or theme that you wished someone would submit?

Tanusri: I am eager to see diverse voices and protagonists across themes and ages in kidlit.  Specific themes: In YA: fairy-tale-like contemporary romance with a twist, fantasy set in a world reminiscent of South East Asia, gripping psychological suspense. In middle-grade: fun, fast-paced school stories, family relationship stories featuring interesting neighborhoods.

What do you like to see in a submission?

Tanusri: I like authors who take the time to research an agent properly, follow the submission guidelines and avoid praising their own work. The submission must speak for itself, show rather than tell. I also like it when an author mentions relevant comp titles (but they must be spot on!), it signals knowledge of the market and the genre.

How important is the query letter?

Tanusri: Extremely important, crucial even, given the number of queries we receive! Your query must stand out in some way. Queries that catch my eye right away usually have three things working in their favor: (i) They state the category and word-length clearly (i.e. contemporary MG, 50,000 words); (ii) the project description starts with a line that is so intriguing I have to keep reading and (iii) the character/conflict description in the query is reflected in the sample pages.

Any tips on how an author can get you to ask to see more?

Tanusri: A “hooky” and intriguing opening!  If I can connect with your voice from the get go, I will definitely request more.

How far do you normally read before you reject a submission?

Tanusri: At the query stage I read the entire query and sample and if there is anything I like about it I request a partial (usually 50 pages).  I typically read the entire partial before judging whether I want to read on. Debut novels can tend to take some time to build and I like giving every manuscript that I request a fair chance.

Would you lose interest in a submission if the writer missed correcting a few misspelled words?

Tanusri: As long as mistakes really are few and far between, I’ll read it. It can be frustrating and distracting to have several typos. A polished manuscript signals professionalism and it’s more likely to make me want to work with the author.

Check back next Friday to read the Part Two of Interview with Tanusri.


In the subject line, please write “November critique” and paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it’s a picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top on both the email and the Word document (Make sure you include your name with the title of your book, when you save the first page).

Your First Page Word document should be formatted using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines – only one page. Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com.

PLEASE FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES: Your submission will be passed over if you do not follow the directions for both the pasted email and the attached Word doc. This is where most people mess up.

DEADLINE: November 24th

RESULTS: December 2nd

Please only submit one first page a month, but do try again if your first page wasn’t one of the pages randomly picked. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,


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