Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 20, 2017

Free Fall Friday: Interview with Christa Heschke – Part Two


I am happy to announce that CHRISTA HESCHKE at McINTOSH & OTIS is our Featured Agent for January:

Christa Heschke graduated from Binghamton University with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology. She started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children’s Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively acquiring for all age groups in children’s.

For YA, she is especially interested in contemporary, thriller/mystery, and horror. She looks for a compelling voice and a strong hook that will set a YA novel apart in the flooded market. She is open to all types of middle grade and especially enjoys adventure, mystery, and magical realism. For both YA and MG, she is interested in unique settings and cultural influences, interesting structure, complicated romances, diverse characters, sister or friendship-centric stories, and stories that feature artists of any kind. In picture books she is drawn to cute, funny stories (as opposed to sweet and quiet) that will grab kids as well as the occasional nonfiction biography on a subject whose story has yet to be told.

Christa is not looking for any Adult fiction or non-fiction, paranormal or dystopian at this time.


Do you give editorial feedback to your clients?

Yes! I am a very editorial agent and it’s one of my favorite parts of the job.   Do you have an editorial style? I’m really hands on and happy to get involved as soon as the author would like me too. That could be the brainstorming stage or it could be after a first draft. Depends on what the author is comfortable with. Some of my clients like more guidance here than others. Typically, I’m providing big picture feedback—character development/motivation, world building, pacing, etc. etc. I will occasionally do some line edits though to show how to fix a problem, especially when it might be places that are overly verbose, need to be trimmed or are confusing.

How many clients do you have or want to build up to?

I have around 20, and I also have some backlist clients and Estates that I manage. There isn’t really an exact number I’m building towards, but if I start feeling overwhelmed or that I wouldn’t be able to give each client the proper attention they deserve, I’d stop taking on new clients.

What is your typical response time to email/phone calls with your clients?

With emails, I always try to respond that day. If not, then within a couple days. For phone, generally the week they request it or the following week if I’m out of the office or already have a lot of meetings.

How do you like to communicate (email vs. phone)? And how often do you communicate during the submission process?

That’s up to the client. I’m open to either. Phone tends to work better for more in depth calls on revisions and things like that. During submission, as soon as I have responses from editors I am immediately passing them along to the author. I also generally inform them when I’m doing check ins. So I’m in touch fairly frequently.

What happens if you don’t sell this book? 

The first book for a client doesn’t always sell. It’s a tough industry and a lot of factors go into a book selling. After I’ve submitted fairly widely, I’d have a discussion with the Author if it doesn’t seem to be catching on. We’d discuss next steps, that could be going back and revising some more or working on/submitting the next project.

How many editors do you go to before giving up?

This varies a bit and really depends on the project, but typically upwards of 20. There are exceptions though. Some authors only want to submit to the big 5, and don’t want to try smaller presses. If this is the case, the number would be smaller.

How long is your average client relationship?

Forever hopefully 🙂 At M&O, we look to work with our authors throughout their entire careers from book to book. We really work on every aspect of their career to help build it up. We’ve had Estates that we’ve worked with for decades.

Do you handle your own foreign/film rights contracts or does your firm have someone else who handles those contracts?

Yep. I handle it all! We do have a film agent and foreign subagents though that we work with, but I’m involved every step of the way including on the contracts.

Are you open to authors who write multiple genres? 

Yes, definitely! I’d likely want to break you out in one genre first, but once you’ve done a couple books or so in a genre and have a nice platform you can definitely expand into different genres.

Are you interested in being invited to writer’s conferences?

Yes, I very much enjoy writer’s conferences!


In the subject line, please write “January 2017 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: January 20th

RESULTS: January 27th

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,



  1. Loved reading Christa’s answers and really looking forward to reading the first pages and her replies!


  2. Wondering if Christa was only accepting submissions on the day this WRITING AND ILLUSTRATING blog post appeared (1/20/17) since the deadline was listed as 1/20/17!

    Christa, my PB falls into the category of “nonfiction biography whose story has yet to be told”.


    • Christa is the featured agent for January, which means she is critiquing four first pages. They will be up on the 27th. Christa will accept a query from you any time.


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