Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 24, 2018

Agent of the Month – Andrea Morrison

Andrea Morrison is August’s Agent of the Month and will be critiquing four first pages. Andrea started at Writer’s House in their California office in 2009 as an intern to Steve Malk and first learned under Brianne Johnson, and then went on to assist Rebecca Sherman and Geri Thoma. She’s had the opportunity to work closely with a variety of bestselling and award-winning authors and illustrators, in genres ranging from picture books to middle grade and YA to adult literary fiction and nonfiction. She is actively building her own list of clients.

Andrea studied Literature & Writing at University of California, San Diego and earned my MFA in Fiction from Columbia University—not only does she understand the revision process from an agent’s point of view, but she also understands it from a writer’s perspective. She truly loves editorial work, and is hands-on when it comes to helping authors revise and build projects.

Below you’ll find detailed information about the types of projects Andrea’s looking for:


I’m excited about literary and upmarket commercial fiction that blends gorgeous sentence-level writing with stories featuring younger protagonists, eg. Janet Fitch’s WHITE OLEANDER—one of my favorite books ever, Celeste Ng’s EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, and Elissa Schappell’s BLUEPRINTS FOR BUILDING BETTER GIRLS. I’m a total sucker for vivid descriptions of California, and appreciate true-to-life fiction, but am also intrigued by fiction with magical elements or books that take place in worlds slightly different than our own. For example, I fell in love with Leslie Parry’s CHURCH OF MARVELS. I’m game for beautifully constructed short story collections, literary thrillers and mysteries, novels told in stories, illustrated adult books, books that take place in a variety of locales. Recent favorites: THE GIRLS FROM CORONA DEL MAR by Rufi Thorpe and GOLD FAME CITRUS by Claire Vaye Watkins. On my reading list right now: THE STAR SIDE OF BIRD HILL by Naomi Jackson and MR. SPLITFOOT by Samantha Hunt.


I’m especially selective when it comes to nonfiction, but I’m interested in narrative work—memoirs, essay collections, etc. I’m a fan of Leslie Jamison, Meghan Daum and Alex Mar. I’m curious about stories that take place close to home and in other countries, that explore little known ways of life as well as work that illuminates experiences we all have. In this category, I gravitate toward work that makes me laugh or cry or both, all in a few pages. I’m drawn toward work that’s elegant, toward work that’s provocative. I also love nonfiction that helps me understand, that makes me want to highlight sentences and write quotes in my notebook. I’m a fan of work that defies genre lines. One title I read recently and loved: Nadja Spiegelman’s I’M SUPPOSED TO PROTECT YOU FROM ALL THIS. Next on my nonfiction list: Molly Crabapple’s DRAWING BLOOD.


I have a soft spot for literary YA. I like both true-to-life books and novels that include magical elements (I love low fantasy and magical realism, but I’m not the right match for high fantasy novels). I’m interested in stories about love, friendship, family dynamics, and mixtures of all of the above. Mysteries are great here, too. I do really like edgy Young Adult work, stories involving artwork, books that take place in a variety of locations, and novels that explore rarely discussed topics. A few YA titles I love: WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart, BONE GAP by Laura Ruby, BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver, I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson. Next on my reading list: INFANDOUS by Elana K. Arnold.


I love Middle Grade novels about friendships, and those that reveal intricacies of family relationships. I also love adventure stories, and when magical elements reveal truths about our world. I’m definitely a fan of the quirky, whimsical, and laugh-out-loud funny in this category. Voice is extra important. Illustrated middle grade works and graphic novels are great, and as in all categories, books that challenge traditional forms. For example, FLORA AND ULYSSES by Kate DiCamillo and K.G. Campbell is one of my favorites. Other favorites: WILDWOOD CHRONICLES by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis, WONDER by R.J. Palacio, TIMMY FAILURE by Stephan Pastis and THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET by Brian Selznick. On my reading list: LOST IN THE SUN by Lisa Graff, ECHO by Pam Muñoz Ryan, and WATCH THE SKY by Kirsten Hubbard.


I’m looking for quirky and humorous picture books filled with heart, and stories that help kids learn more about environments they know well, and other ways of life they’re less familiar with. I’m passionate about working with writers and illustrators who have stories they can’t help but tell, and who are excited about sharing tales that children will remember in their teens, in their thirties, in their sixties…stories they’ll want to pass on to their own children and grandchildren. I remember reading MARTHA SPEAKS and A BARGAIN FOR FRANCES countless times as a kid, and I’m looking for books that will also be read multiple times, with characters who are what Martha and Frances were to me. I’m extra selective when it comes to picture book text: I’m a fan of sparse text in general, and I’m most likely not the best match for rhyming text. I’m particularly excited about working with illustrators and author/illustrators—some illustrators whose work I admire: Dana Wulfekotte, Scott Campbell, Diana Sudyka, Matt Phelan, and Birgitta Sif…just to name a few! (The list could really be SO, so long.)

Part THREE of My Interview with Andrea Morrison August Featured Agent 

Do you give editorial feedback to your clients?

I do – I really enjoy doing editorial work. Each client wants different levels of feedback, but I’m excited to participate and share my opinion during all parts of the writing and project development process.

Would you like to represent a children’s book illustrator?

Yes, I represent many children’s illustrators.

Do you see any new trends building in the industry?

I think it’s best not to write to trends – you never know when they’ll change. My advice would be to write what you want to write – the trends have to start somewhere.

How often do you communicate during the submission process?

All throughout the process. We discuss the editors who will be receiving a submission, when a project goes out to editors, responses as editors get back to us, and what’s happening when there’s interest.

What happens if you don’t sell a book?

We come up with another round, and keep trying. I try to go to as many editors as I can. Or sometimes the client and I will re-group, and think about editor responses – particularly if we’re getting similar feedback from multiple editors. Then we might think about revising and submitting after revisions.

Sometimes a book doesn’t sell – then we talk about next steps, and other potential ideas.

How many editors do you go to before giving up?

It’s completely dependent on the situation, but I definitely like to cover all of the bases that I can.

Does your firm have someone who handles foreign-rights contracts?

Yes, we do have a Subrights Department, and we focus on both adult and children’s books.

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

It’s so great to have a critique group, or that wonderful reader or two who really understands your writing and what you’re trying to do. Share your work. Get other opinions. Do your research as you start to look for an agent – look for someone who can ideally be your partner throughout your career. Look at Publishers Marketplace, at Acknowledgment sections of books that feel in line with your own. Look at the spines of books you own and love, at titles that seem like they’re in the same vein as yours.

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


Thank you Andrea for answering our interview questions. It was a great way to get to know you.


Talk tomorrow,



  1. Great post. Thank you Kathy and Andrea!


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