Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 11, 2019



Last March Marlo started  at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency as an editorial intern after having completed a previous internship with The Bent Agency. In November, she moved up to Associate Agent and has agreed to be January’s featured Agent of the Month. See Submission Guidelines at the bottom of this post. Submit a first page and get in the running for a critique. 

Marlo Berliner
Associate Agent

Marlo Berliner is an award-winning young adult author, freelance editor, and bookseller. She joined The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in March 2018 as an editorial intern after having completed a previous internship with The Bent Agency. Now, she is actively building her list as an associate agent. She is a member of SCBWI, RWA, NJ-RWA, and YA-RWA. Prior to her career in the publishing world, Marlo was an accounting manager for a Fortune 500 company. She holds B.S. degrees in Economics and Industrial Management from Carnegie Mellon University.

What Marlo is looking for:

Marlo believes the best stories have both compelling characters and tight, emotionally involving plot-lines. If your writing can translate emotion to the page and give her a visceral reaction of humor, fear, joy, sadness, intrigue, or romance, then she will keep turning pages.

Middle Grade and Young Adult: I am interested in all genres of MG and YA fiction, with particular emphasis on adventure, psychological thriller, suspense, mystery, paranormal, urban fantasy, horror, speculative, and romance. I enjoy magic, magical realism, unusual settings, pirates, dark elements, gothic tone, secrets or secretive characters, treasure hunts, and unreliable narrators. Also, if you can take a story or intellectual property (in TV or books) that is popular with the adult crowd and give me it’s MG or YA version, then I will give it a look because I believe these types of stories may have strong potential for the market. Stories told by #ownvoices, and stories with diverse characters of all kinds, including neuro-diverse and LGBTQIA+ are all welcomed. I am also open to coming-of-age stories set in college that walk the line between upper YA and NA. While I do like contemporary tales, I may not be the best fit for ‘issue’ books where the central conflict revolves primarily around rape/rape-culture, drugs, or illness. I will also consider some select non-fiction projects in MG and YA, particularly if they involve pop-culture or current events.

Adult: I am interested in all genres of Romance, except inspirational, historical and erotic. I am also open to women’s fiction, mystery, thriller, and suspense.

Some favorite titles on my reading shelf include One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus, Caraval by Stephanie Garber, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab, and Nevermoor, The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend.

For more, follow me on Twitter @MarloBerliner.

How to submit:

Please submit your query and first 20 pages of your finished and polished manuscript via my Query Manager: http://QueryMe.Online/marloberliner

You will receive an automatic response from Query Manager which lets you know your submission is in my inbox, and you can track your query’s progress. I’ll respond within 6 weeks, but only to projects that interest me.​

PLEASE NOTE: Marlo only accepts Query Manager submissions; any queries sent by email or regular mail will not be considered.​

For non-query related matters only, please email me at


What influenced you to become an agent?

I’ve been involved in publishing now for over twelve years, as a publishing conference chair, an author, a freelance editor, and finally a children’s lead bookseller for Barnes & Noble. As a freelance editor, I’ve always enjoyed helping other writers develop their stories. After a while, I realized I was able to recognize which stories in my inbox had more potential than others. So when I saw an opportunity to intern at The Bent Agency I jumped at it. I learned a great deal from that first internship with Molly Ker Hawn, and then even more from my second internship with Colleen Oefelein at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. I will always be grateful for what I learned from both of those amazing agents. Being an agent is a great fit for me because I’ve had a nearly 360 degree view of publishing – as author, agent, editor and bookseller.

Do you have a number of clients you plan to represent?

I won’t limit the number of clients I take on, but I do have a general number in my mind that I believe I will be able to successfully handle. For me, the most important thing is doing the best job for my clients that I can. That will mean balancing the workload of the clients I already represent versus taking on new talent.

What are your favorite genres?

My favorite genres are paranormal, urban fantasy, magical realism, horror, light science fiction, mystery, thriller, and suspense.

Any story or themes you would like to receive?

A well-rounded MG or YA story about a group of kids who find themselves entangled in a mystery they must solve, either with or without an element of paranormal, sci-fi, or magical realism. The kind of story where the friendships become as big or bigger than the mystery itself. As a bookseller, I was approached countless times by kids of all ages looking for ‘just a really good mystery.’

What would you do if you had a client who wrote a picture book? Would they have to look for another agent for those books?

No, they wouldn’t. In fact, very shortly I plan to open up to picture book submissions from author-illustrators. I just didn’t want my query inbox to be inundated at the outset.

Do you think it’s okay for an author to write picture books, middle grade novels, and YA novels? Or do you feel it is better to focus on one age group and genre?

I absolutely think it’s fine to write whatever moves you, or whatever is going to grow your skills as a writer. Along the way you might discover that the younger YA you think you’re writing is better suited as a MG with younger characters, or conversely, that the themes you’re writing about in MG would resonate better for a YA audience. I do think it’s absolutely essential however, to read widely in the genre and age group you’re trying to write for, and also to know what the trends and expectations are for those as well.

How important is the query letter? 

A well-written query letter is definitely a plus, because it shows me you’ve done your homework, but ultimately it is your pages and your concept which must sell me.

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

You only have twenty pages to get me to ask for more. So in those first twenty, show me a well-thought-out original concept, with memorable characters, a great voice, and solid, polished writing. Draw me into your story, your world, and your character’s dilemma immediately. Make those first twenty pages so great I simply have to ask for more. And if I do, then send me a full manuscript that has all of the above through to the very last page.

How far do you normally read before you reject a submission?

I usually read the entire first twenty pages of a query, unless there are just so many flaws in the sample that I am simply forced to stop reading. The same goes for full submissions. I will keep reading for as long as there is a reason to. In most cases, I do give manuscripts a full read just to be sure I am not being too hasty. But if I’m starting to skim, that’s usually a bad sign.

Any pet peeves?

Querying more than one agent at our agency at the same time. If you receive a pass from one of our agents, you are free at that point to submit to another. All I ask is that you wait for that first pass. Nothing is more annoying than when a writer submits to two or more of us within a few minutes or days. (And believe me, we know.) Please give one agent at a time, ample time to consider your work.



In the subject line, please write “JANUARY FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE”  Example: 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: January 25th.

RESULTS: February 1st.


Talk tomorrow,



  1. Great post. Very informative. Thanks!


  2. Thank you for having me on the blog, Kathy!


  3. Great interview. I love that 360 degree perspective!


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