Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 22, 2017

September Featured Agent – Thao Le – Inteview Part Three

THAO LE has agreed to be September Featured agent and critique four first pages submitted. She is a literary agent at the Dijkstra Agency where she also handles the agency’s financials and select contracts.

She is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego with a double major in Econ-Management Science and Chinese Studies. While interning at the agency during college, she realized where her true love lies — books — and joined the agency full-time in the spring of 2011.

Thao is looking for: Young Adult, Middle Grade, Picture Books by author/illustrators, Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, and is selectively open to Romance.

In the Adult and YA Sci-fi/Fantasy realms, she enjoys stories rooted in mythology, fairytales, and legends with atmospheric settings and strong world building. Particularly stories that are inclusive and multicultural. She’s also a fan of magic realism.

In contemporary YA, she’s seeking witty, heartfelt writing with an authentic teen voice. Especially stories about family and friendships. Think Stephanie Perkins, Jenny Han, or Sarah Dessen.

In Middle Grade, she’s looking for fantastic adventures and clever protagonists the likes of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, and Soman Chainani’s School of Good and Evil.

In the picture book arena, she is only currently taking on author/illustrators, however she’s a fan of Jon Klassen, Kate Beaton, Cale Atkinson, and Liz Climo and would like to add projects in the same vein to her list.

In Romance, she’s drawn to heroes/heroines who turn stereotypes and tropes on their heads (such as heroines in typically male roles and sensitive heroes who aren’t necessarily alpha, but just as swoonworthy). She enjoys historical romance the likes of Julia Quinn, Courtney Milan, and Eloisa James, speculative romance similar to Gail Carrier’s Parasol Protectorate series, and contemporary romance that is as addictive as Sonali Dev’s Bollywood series.

In general, she loves beautiful literary writing with a commercial hook. She is most excited to add more writers of diversity (including, but not limited to, all ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental and physical health, and socioeconomic status) to her client list.
Check out her tumblr for more publishing related posts:

Submissions should be emailed to

Please check for full submission guidelines and policies.

Fiction: Please send a query letter, a 1-page synopsis, a brief bio (including a description of your publishing history), and the first 10-15 pages of your manuscript. Please send all items in the body of the email, not as an attachment.
Author/Illustrators with dummy: Please send a query letter, a brief bio (including a description of your publishing history), full manuscript text pasted below your query letter, full dummy (in pdf format as an attachment) that includes 1-2 color samples, and link to online portfolio.

Please note that Thao does NOT represent: non-fiction, adult literary fiction, adult general fiction, mystery/thriller/suspense, memoirs, poetry, religious/spiritual books, screenplays, or short stories.


17. What is your typical response time to email/phone calls with your clients?
Usually within 1-3 days, depending on the urgency of issue. I want my authors to feel like they can rely on me when there’s a fire and we can appropriately address any issues that come up. Sometimes though I need more time to look into something before I can get back to them, but I usually let them know that I receive their email and I am on it.

18. How do you like to communicate (email vs. phone)? And how often do you communicate during the submission process?
Email more than phone, but usually an initial email to lay out the issues and follow up to schedule a phone call to talk them out if necessary. Prior to going on sale, I usually have a quick chat with my client about what their preference is. Some like seeing responses immediately as they come in, others want only positive news, etc… we talk it out to make sure it works. And of course I talk with them during the sale process too in case preference for communication changes. In general, I think communication is key to the success of the agent/author relationship.

19. What happens if you don’t sell this book?
We’ll discuss if there are any helpful feedback from editors, if a revision should be considered. If for some reason we realize the current project just isn’t marketable at this time, then we would discuss the author’s other projects that may be more marketable and work on getting that ready for sale.

20. How many editors do you go to before giving up?
It’s on a case by case basis. I go by the feedback I’m getting from editors and my conversations with the author. In the end, depending on the project and the author, we will discuss how far to pursue a project before we should shelve it and move on.

21. How long is your average client relationship?
I’ve been in the publishing industry since 2011, but only started agenting at the end of 2012/early 2013, so my average client relationship is a bit short (2-3 years). I do aim to represent an author’s career, not a single book when I approach them about representation so hopefully that statistic will long grow as I continue to agent!

21. Do you handle your own foreign/film rights contracts or does your firm have someone else who handles those contracts?
The Dijkstra Agency has our own (super awesome) in-house subrights manager and she handles foreign, film, audio, and other subrights for us.

22. Are you open to authors who write multiple genres?
Yes, so long as the genres are genres I represent. Often I will ask the writer on “the call” about what else they are writing to get a better idea about what they foresee for their career and to see if we are a fit. I consider their career trajectory and what they want to accomplish and how I fit into that and can help them rather than just if I like the one book they queried me with. Of course the book that hooks me is a big consideration because it is representative of their writing, but I do want to look at the whole picture to make sure I’m a good fit for them and them for me. It should be mutually beneficial.

23. Are you interested in being invited to writer’s conferences?
Yes and I often attend a few a year.


In the subject line, please write “SEPTEMBER 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: August 21st.
RESULTS: September 29th.

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. Kathy, the opportunities you offer hear are always WONderful 😀 And the interviews are SO informative. Thank you! And thank you, Thao


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