Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 15, 2019

AGENT OF THE MONTH – Dawn Frederick

Dawn Frederick, owner of Red Sofa Literary is February’s Agent of the Month.

Submission Guideline for a chance to get a first page Critiqued by Dawn is at the bottom of this post.

Red Sofa Literary

Dawn Michelle Frederick is the owner/literary agent of Red Sofa Literary, established in 2008. She brings a broad knowledge of the book business to the table, bringing multiple years of experience as a bookseller in independent, chain, and specialty stores; sales, marketing, and book development experience; previously a literary agent at Sebastian Literary Agency. She has a B.S. in Human Ecology, and a M.S. in Information Sciences. Dawn co-founded the MN Publishing Tweet Up, is the current President of the Twin Cities Advisory Council for MPR, and a teaching artist at Loft Literary. You can find her on Twitter at @redsofaliterary.

· Biography-Historical, media-related, political—ABSOLUTELY NO PERSONAL MEMOIRS
· Creative Nonfiction — It needs to be smart, with noticeable platform, and commercial. I enjoy a wide range of topics.
· History – Books that will engage the commerical reader.  ex:I listen to a LOT of MPR and NPR (all the shows, most of the podcasts)
· Humor – I love a good laugh (I represent the CHOOSE YOUR OWN MISERY series)
· Pop Culture – Especially Americana, and anything quirky
· Social Issues/Current Affairs—Women’s Studies, GLTB Studies, Social Sciences, and more.
· Sports — Less mainstream, more extreme sport, ex: Roller Derby, not so much into traditional sports
· Women’s Narratives – women’s nonfiction, diverse stories please!
· Young Adult – Fiction, Nonfiction
· Middle Grade – Fiction, Nonfiction


A some craft books that pop culture themed – think Joss Whedon, OITNB, Boardwalk Empire.  Odd, offbeat, fun.

A CYOA (choose-your-own adventure) Graphic Novel (4 yrs in a row of asking for this)

More extreme sports YA novels for both genders.

More GLBT novels, with diversity, but also a little more light-hearted too.

More geek, all the time, for YA and MG novels and nonfiction

I generally want books that I can emotionally connect with, that go back to the teenage Dawn who was equally eclectic then, and books that have dark, contemporary themes for both fiction and nonfiction.  Nothing didactic, overly sappy, or overly boring.  No memoirs, no vampires, no mermaids, no wolves, you name it. But give me a good robot book, or gamer story and I’ll be turning the pages. And last but not least, a roller derby middle grade novel would made my derby heart really happy.

Submission Guidelines

We highly encourage everyone to send an email and/or query letter initially, before attempting to send a full book proposal or sample chapters. If there is an interest, we will directly contact the author. Once these materials are received, there is usually response time of 4-6 weeks, sometimes sooner.

If querying via email, please only put the contents of your query IN the email. We will not open attachments unless they have been requested in advance.

Dawn’s email:

We highly encourage everyone to email a query initially, before attempting to send a full book proposal or sample chapters. If there is an interest, we will directly contact the author. Once these materials are received, there is usually response time of 2-3 months if it’s the Fall/Spring/Winter, this will depend with our individual conference schedules and commitments to our current authors.

Materials to have ready, should we request your book:
1. The full ms (should we request a partial or the full ms)
2. A full book proposal with Author Bio, Competition, Market (WHO will read the book), Promotion (HOW readers will learn about the book), Chapter Summaries (for non-fiction), and a Synopsis/Overview.
3. Sample chapters (if nonfiction)
4. Sample artwork (if a graphic novel)


What made you decide to open your own agency?

I was working with Laurie Harper at Sebastian Literary Agency, and she encouraged me to consider starting my own agency – as she was going to be focusing more on author consulting at some point. I had already started to establish my own niche, and it was a good time, if any to take the leap. We’ve now been open for 11 yrs J

What are your favorite genres?

I read across many categories. Generally you’ll find me reading lots of #kidlit, literary fiction, lots of nonfiction, and generally searching for books to read (for pleasure) help me remember why I became an agent. A life of reading helped me get here.

How do you handle a YA/MG author that you are interested that also writes PB books? Would you be willing to represent them or would you pass because of this? Could they have a separate agent for the other books?

As their agent, I would want to at least have a chance to see all of their #kidlit ideas.  I don’t talk about this much, but my focus in the early days of grad school was to become a professor of children’s literature. I’d hope I get first dibs on considering their ideas before they went to anyone else, as I’m looking to work any author I represent long-term.

If a manuscript has a prologue, should that be included in the sample pages?

Avoid prologues, just cut to the chase….

How important is the query letter? 

Very. I will decide if I want a book within the first few sentences. Answering queries takes time and the best ideas that come to the surface will generally have a well-written query letter. I can’t see every idea that crosses my desk, so that pitch needs to be the best it can be.

What would you like to see in the query letter? Should writers try to keep it short?

Keep those queries concise, try avoid being overly wordy. 250-300 words should more than suffice. Help me get an idea of what your book is about in 2-3 sentences, along with a bio, books of similar nature, why your book will have a readership, and a clear reason why you believe I’m specifically a good fit for your book

Should the word count for your manuscript be included in the query letter?

Yes, and it needs to meet industry standard word counts for the book you’re pitching.

Do you like comps mentioned in the query letter?

Yeppers, if you don’t have an in-depth knowledge of the category for your book, it will stand out in the query letter. When I see that an author has done this homework, the query letter is usually stronger.

You mention that you would like to receive chose your own adventure graphic novel.

I still do. I still have yet to see it.  J

Can you give us an example of a CYOA book in the market that you like?

I will of course tell you that Choose Your Own Misery is my favorite, it’s a smart series for the big kids (adults) written by Jilly Gagnon and Mike MacDonald. Three books in this series, all of them are hysterical.  A graphic novel version would be entirely different.

Do you have to be an illustrator to write a CYOA? Are they geared to middle grade readers?

CYOA generally not in the form of a graphic novel, hence why I’ve not see anything just yet.  It would be for adults (vs. kids).

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

Write a good query, play nice in #kidlit – both in person and on social media (i.e. treat others with respect, be a person who advocates for other writers in a positive and proactive way). Write the best book you can, while also ensuring that you are actively engaging with readers across multiple platforms. I’m looking at the author, as well as how they are engaging w/ readers and fellow writers.

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

2-3 sentences. It takes hours to read submissions, so taking the time to write a strong query letter will go farther than rushing the process.

Any pet peeves?

Not at the moment. J

Thanks Dawn!



In the subject line, please write “FEBRUARY 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: February 22nd.

RESULTS: March 1st.


Talk tomorrow,


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