Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 10, 2017

Free Fall Friday: Deborah Warren Interview Part One

Please Note: Deborah is closed to submissions, but will be open to anyone following this blog. Just make sure you mention this in your email. Thanks!


Deborah Warren founded East West Literary Agency in 2000. After 17 years at Harcourt, she has a strong background in sales and marketing. She is a strategist, incorporating long-term goals to help E/W clients not only grow their career, but to flourish within that career. With over 35 years’ of experience in the publishing industry, and over 16 years at the helm of the Agency, Deborah not only represents authors and illustrators of picture books including Jim Averbeck (One Word for Sophia), Anna Dewdney (of the Llama Llama franchise), Kimberly and James Dean (of the Pete the Cat franchise), Gianna Marino (Night Animals) and Antoinette Portis (Best Frints in the Whole Universe), she represents authors and illustrators—both debut and established–in the board book, concept, novelty, multicultural, non-fiction, middle-grade and young adult markets.

Deborah’s looking to fall in love with character-driven stories with heart, enhanced by a hook, told in a unique, fresh or distinctive way. Her sweet spots: short, quirky picture books and smartly layered, memorable and insightful MG and YA fiction. And she LOVES finding debut talent – in fact, it’s a bit of a specialty for the Agency.

As an example, we’re thrilled to have helped launch and grow (among others) the careers of authors Kwame Alexander, whose debut MG, The Crossover (HMM) was awarded the 2015 Newbery Medal and the 2015 Coretta Scott King Honor; Dave Butler, whose debut MG, The Kidnap Plot (the first in a trilogy), has recently been released by Knopf/RH; NYT-bestselling Alethea Kontis and her debut YA Fantasy novels launched by the YALSA nominated and Gelette Burgess Award winner Enchanted; and author/illustrator Sarah Aspinall, whose debut picture book, Penguins Love Colors, has recently been released from Blue Sky Press/Scholastic, with a companion volume, Penguins Love Their ABC’s, to come.

She’s particularly drawn to author/illustrators and appreciates a wide range of illustration styles. Deborah also connects with the look and feel and concept of classic “Star Trek” and “Twilight Zone” episodes … so she’s up to see anything in that genre. OH; and re-imaginings of fairy tales, too, like Beauty and the Beast and The Princess Bride. And anything that offers diverse points of view.


Are there any genres that are less interesting to you?

If you’ve studied our web site, you know that our clients run the gamut from picture books to YA, non-fiction and fiction. East/West Literary Agency, Inc. is, purposely, a boutique agency, to facilitate hands-on, personalized service and attention to our authors and their books.  And as a boutique agency, we are as proud of our debut authors and illustrators as we are of our NYT best-sellers and award winners.

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

What we’re seeking is quality: A story–whether non-fiction or fiction–that will touch hearts (including ours); open a reader’s eyes to a fresh perspective; be that book you can’t put down.  

What do you like to see in a submission?

From our web site: *The most productive query will include a marketing “handle” or description of your book in sound bites that are clear, compact and commercial along with a “jacket flap” summary.  Sell us, don’t just tell us!  Include your credentials, any publishing history, and how you were referred to us; if you are querying several other agencies simultaneously, we ask that you mention this in your query letter.

*If you are a novelist, you may include the first three (3) chapters of the work; please do not submit the entire work unless specifically requested.

*If you are a picture book writer, you may include two (2) manuscripts; please do not submit any additional manuscripts unless specifically requested.

*If you are an illustrator, please include information regarding website portfolio links, if applicable; otherwise, attach a limited sampling of pieces; please do not send original artwork under any circumstance; we do not take responsibility for damage or loss of any original artwork that may be sent to us.

*If additional work is requested following the query letter, we prefer exclusive consideration of the requested work for one (1) month.

That being said, if your submission is full of mistakes, that tells me you do not respect the process or your work enough to “put you best foot forward.”

How important is the query letter?

To be honest, sometimes we read the manuscript before the query letter. If the manuscript hooks me, then I want to know more about the author.

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

If you are a writer it’s all about your word choice, voice, story arc, characters, cadence, even if the story does not rhyme. If I connect with the writing, I may ask to see something else, even if the original submission is not for East/West. If you have submitted a dummy, and your illustrations intrigue me but I’m not hooked by the text, I may, indeed, take a further look at your portfolio.




In the subject line, please write “February 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: February 16th

RESULTS: March 3rd.

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!

Check back next Friday for Part Two of Deborah’s Interview.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I love hearing more about you, Deborah, and am looking forward to next week’s installment 🙂

    And Kathy, thanks for opening this wonderful opportunity for us 😀 oxox


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