Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 20, 2018

Agent of the Month: Cari Lamba – Interview Part Two

Prior to officially joining the team of agents, Cari Lamba interned for The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency for eight years. It wasn’t long into her internship before she knew she wanted to join the publishing world and help writers bring their books to life. Cari graduated from Franklin and Marshall College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. She also studied literature at The Advanced Studies in England Program. She has experience as a bookseller and in publicity and content writing for online publications. Cari has been published in Writer’s Digest Magazine and has taught webinars for Writer’s Digest as well.

What Cari is looking for:

She is interested in middle grade fiction with wacky plots (Roald Dahl is a favorite of mine) and characters that drive the story. She would also like contemporary stories that are both humorous and heartfelt. While she is not interested in stories with high fantasy, she would welcome elements of the fantastic and otherworldly. She wants novels that will resonate with children without being didactic.

Both fiction and non-fiction picture books are welcome. She is looking for unique ideas with fun and quirky elements as well as sweet, endearing picture books. In non-fiction I’m especially looking for strong female role-models.

I’m looking for commercial fiction with original plots and clever characters. While I’m not interested in romance novels, elements of romance are welcome. She also has a particular interest in mystery/detective fiction, and novels with culinary ties. 

She NOT interested in science fiction, horror, high fantasy, Christian fiction, political novels, or books with extremely violent elements.


Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make? 

Many writers don’t follow the submission guidelines for query letters. While a query letter can be similar from agent to agent, each asks for different things. In my guidelines I say to paste the opening 20 pages of your work at the bottom of your query letter. Authors often times don’t do this, which can hurt them. If I’m on the fence about a query letter, the writing is something that can make me want to read more.

Do you have a place where writers can visit to stay up-to-date on what you would like to see? Blog?

My Twitter page is the best place for writers to visit to stay up-to-date on what I’m looking for and what interests I have. Feel free to check out @carilamba on Twitter!

Do you give editorial feedback to your clients? 

Yes I do. I work with my clients to make sure their work is the best it can be before submitting it to editors. We go back and forth with edits. It’s important to me that the author is happy with whatever changes are made in their work.

Have you ever represented a children’s book illustrator?

I have not yet represented an illustrator. I am currently focusing on writers, but I have considered a few authors that both write and illustrate their works.

Do you see any new trends in the industry?

I think that having diversity in works is a current trend that I’m super excited about. Being biracial I have always thought that representation matters so it’s been really great for me to get works that show minority groups.

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

I always respond within a few days to clients and make it a priority to be reachable for them.

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

While I usually communicate through email, I am available through phone for clients. I ask that clients email me first to set up a time for a phone call. This is so I can make sure I have time set aside for them. I like to keep my authors updated throughout the submission process and will send them updates unless they tell me they want otherwise.

What happens if you don’t sell a book? Would you drop the writer if he or she wanted to self-publish that one book?

I would not drop an author just because they wanted to self publish a book. I hope to be in a career-long relationship with my authors and I would look forward to the next piece we can work together on.

How many editors do you go to before giving up?

I will always submit to as many editors as I can that would be a good fit before giving up. Publishing is hard because it’s a subjective business. But I believe in all my clients and their talents so I will always work as hard as I can to get them published.

What do you think of digital books?

I think digital books can be great! While I think I’ll always prefer to hold a real book, the digital market opens up a whole new platform for authors.

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

Our firm is lucky enough to have someone who handles our film rights and someone else who handles our foreign rights. Both are extremely knowledgeable about their respective fields and they are great resources for us to have.

Any words of wisdom on how a writer can improve their writing, secure an agent, and get published?

Agents are looking for really excellent writing as well as a unique plot and voice. I think the most important thing for writers to do is have groups of readers that can help them improve their writing. Having a community that can give you constructive feedback will really help your writing.  I also think it’s important to have a fresh, new hook in your work that will make it memorable and sellable and that will help you on your way of getting an agent and getting published.

Would you like to attend writer’s retreats, workshops, and conferences?

I would love to! I am always looking for more events to attend. It’s a wonderful way to meet talented authors and I always have a lot of fun!

Thank you so much for having me as a guest on your blog! It’s been so great! Make sure to follow me @carilamba on Twitter and check out my submission guidelines at



In the subject line, please write “April 2018 FIRST PAGE 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).

REMEMBER: ATTACH THE WORD DOCUMENT AND NOT GET ELIMINATED!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: April 19th.
RESULTS: April 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,


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