Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 8, 2019

Agent of the Month – Susan Hawk – Upstart Crow


Susan Hawk has worked in children’s books for over twenty-five years. She comes to Upstart Crow from the Bent Agency, and her clients include Alison Oliver, illustrator of the bestselling Baby Lit board books and the forthcoming picture book Moon; Ruth Spiro, author of the Baby Loves Science board book series; Marcie Colleen, author of the Super Happy Party Bears chapter book series and the forthcoming picture books Love, Triangle and Penguinaut!; Lisa Tyre, whose debut middle-grade novel, Last in a Long Line of Rebels, was a BEA Buzz Book title; Sarah Lariviere, whose middle-grade novel The Bad Kid is an 2017 Edgar Award Nominee; and Rachael Allen, author of the YA novels 17 First KissesThe Revenge Playbook and the forthcoming A Taxonomy of Love.

Before agenting, Susan worked in the Children’s Marketing departments of Penguin Books for Young Readers, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers and North-South Books, where she managed campaigns for many books and authors including Eric Carle, Mary E Pearson, Richard Peck and Joan Bauer. She’s also been a children’s librarian and bookseller, and spent some time in Dutton Editorial, acquiring select picture book and YA projects for that list.

Middle-grade and YA: I’m looking for something that makes me laugh out loud, I’m a sucker for bittersweet, and I can’t resist a character that comes to understand how perfectly imperfect the world is. I want a book to stay with me long after I finish reading, and I’m looking for powerful, original writing. I’m open to mystery, scifi, humor, boy books, historical, contemporary (really any genre). My favorite projects live at the intersection of literary and commercial.

In non-fiction: I’m looking for books that relate to kid’s daily lives and their concerns with the world.

In picture books: I’m looking particularly for author-illustrators, succinct but expressive texts, and characters as indelible as my childhood favorites Ferdinand, Madeline, George and Martha.

Here’s more!

  • MG or YA with magical realism.
  • MG or YA where main character is first generation American.
  • I’d love a YA set in 1980s Moscow, against backdrop of Perestroika and Glasnost.
  • I’d love, LOVE to find a YA contemporary with female MC, who’s passionate about science, math, engineering, ie STEM.
  • For instance, I would very much like a lush, atmospheric, historical YA novel, with edge-of-your-seat tension.
  • Also really love conceptual picture books.
  • Also hungry for new PB writers and writer/illustrators. Want smart, funny, character driven stories.
  • Books that take a secondary figure from a classic/popular novel and tell their story.
  • Layered stories that are equally funny and heartbreaking.
  • MG or YA fantasy based on American folklore.
  • Always been a sucker for an epistolary novel, MG or YA.
  • I love books that wrap a story within a story, for MG or YA.
  • Literary, smart, intense YA that is about more than romance.
  • I’d love a MG caper novel, esp if it has a historical element. Maybe a la Ocean’s Eleven?
  • Always open to MG mystery/detective novels, again esp with a historical element. Fast-paced please!
  • Again for MG, send me contemporary with a magical/fantastical element that feels fresh. Always with a lot of heart.
  • I’m fascinated by selkies! Send me MG or YA about that.
  • Am always interested in books with LGBT protagonist or characters, in YA and MG.
  • Edgy, dark MG that pushes the boundaries of “upper MG.”
  • YA about the families we’re born with and the families we find.
  • YA about food, a character that’s into cooking.
  • A sharp, irresistible, crush-worthy but unreliable narrator in YA.
  • YA stories set in small communities with their own, peculiar culture. Think boarding school, or perhaps a cult.
  • Also, I really love musical theater. If you’ve got a story for kids that’s set in that world, send it to me!
  • Epic, sweeping YA fantasy with richly detailed world & killer characters. Esp that doesn’t pull from West European history/folklore.
  • YA or MG that uses an inventive storytelling device, plays with the structure of a novel.
  • Books that take a secondary figure from a classic/popular novel and tell their story.
  • Man, do I love a funny book! Works best, IMO, when it feels as though the humor is the expression of a very particular character’s POV.
  • Also love witty, smart humor that cuts to the bone.
  • I’d love MG or YA historical fiction that’s set in the 20th C.
  • A story that makes use of found documents: diaries, lettters, etc in YA or MG.

Most of all: beautiful, transporting, delicious writing. Literary projects, with a lot of heart. Characters so alive they jump off the page.

UPSTART CROW Submission Guidelines

Submissions should be emailed to

  • Submit a QUERY and TWENTY PAGES of your manuscript.
  • Please put your query and sample in the body of the email. We will not open emailed attachments.
  • Author/illustrators: NB—Please include a link to your online portfolio and/or to your downloadable dummy. (Thank you!)

If your submission is received by our system, an automated response will be emailed to you.  Website


In the subject line, please write “MARCH 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: March 22nd.

RESULTS: March 29th.


Talk tomorrow,



  1. Ooh La La!


  2. Great news! Thanks for sharing and the opportunity for critique. 🙂


  3. Thanks for the Opportunity. Can someone please explain what NB means? “Author/illustrators: NB—Please include a link to your online portfolio and/or to your downloadable dummy.”


  4. Question re my WIP. I’m new to this opportunity so I hope you’ll bear with me. For first page critiques: what should I do about my story structure having a related quotation page and short description of time/place page before the story begins? Do I send 23 lines of first chapter but mention in my email about the missing intros? Would that be okay?


    • June,

      You send in ther first page (23 lines), but please include you name and title and the genre at the top of the page.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: