Posted by: Kathy Temean | February 22, 2019

February Agents of the Month – Dawn Frederick – Part Two Interview

I am happy to announce that 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)


  1. Do you let people know if you are not interested?


If the person ignores my categories, it’s an automatic pass. Rejections happen, but they are never personal. If it’s a mass email query, no response.


  1. How long does it usually take to respond to requested material? And query letters?


I can’t speak for all agents out there, but it’s now taking 2-3 months for me to respond to queries, and averaging 2-4 months if I request to see materials. I’m now requesting less, as I do have a full roster of awesome authors, so thankfully it’s more manageable now that I’m not taking submissions as often during the calendar year. (I will always take pitches at conferences)


  1. Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?


Besides the general grammatical errors that are to be expected, generally some authors will try to rush the process and/or send out the book before it’s ready for agent/editor eyes.  A good idea can’t be rushed, and taking the time to fine-tune one’s idea is a good idea.

  1. Do you give editorial feedback to your clients? 


Off course, that is what one’s agent is supposed to do.

  1. If you receive something you think is good, but not for you, would you ask another agent working for you to take a look?


Depends on the idea, generally I am going to try to avoid sending books to other agents, as I don’t want to accidentally send them something they don’t want necessarily. Of course, I’ll encourage the person to query other agents, but if someone at my agency seems to be a good fit, we’ll have a conversation internally about the idea.


  1. How many editors do you go to before giving up on a manuscript?


Not a set #, varies with the type of book and how editors are responding. If they are wanting a revise/resubmit, it means there’s a good idea but it’s not ready yet.  I personally will never just take something to a small # of editors and then state it’s done.

  1. What happens if you don’t sell a book?


We discuss why the book didn’t sell. A conversation will be had regarding the potential revisions, or perhaps we’ll shelve the book and take out a newer/fresher idea.

  1. What do you think of digital books?


They are just another format, and some people prefer ebooks over print. It’s no big deal to me either way, it’s more about the fact that people actually read the books 😉

  1. Have you noticed any new trends building in the industry?


There are always trends, don’t write to a trend. 😉  Write the best book you can write.

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


I believe you’ve more than covered it with these questions. J I would say not to rush the process, enjoy every step, don’t feel like this is high-speed race. Publishing takes time.


  1. Would you like to be invited to other writer’s retreats, workshops, and conferences?


Always!  I honestly love teaching and speaking at conferences, getting to meet the writers face-to-face. We all spend lots of screen time sans actual interactions nowadays, it’s all about the genuine conversations as far as I’m concerned.


Talk tomorrow,


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