Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 16, 2019

August Agent of the Month – Danielle Burby – Interview Part Two

I am delighted to introduce August’s Agent of the Month, Danielle Burby, agent at Nelson Literary Agency. Danielle is attending the Fall Avalon Retreat in September 2020. Here is a chance for you to submit a first page for the chance to win a first page critique with her. Summer submissions are always low, so this is the time to submit a first page and get lucky.

Agent Danielle Burby at Nelson Literary Agency

Based in New York City, Danielle became an agent at Nelson Literary Agency (NLA) in January 2017. Previously, she was an agent at a NYC-based firm where she managed foreign rights in addition to building her client roster. She also interned at several top agencies and publishers before graduating from Hamilton College with a dual degree in creative writing and women’s studies.

Danielle represents all genres of YA and MG along with picture books and select passion projects in women’s fiction. She particularly enjoys complex female characters, quirky adventures, narratives that ask readers to think deeply, girls with swords, and seaside novels. Danielle also looks for a strong narrative voice and characters she wants to spend time with. For more information about her wishlist, check out NLA’s Submission Guidelines page.

Daneille says, “I’m the kind of nerd who always has the book I’m reading in my bag plus a backup book plus my Kindle just in case. Growing up, I was completely obsessed with Harry Potter (Fun fact: I would fluff my hair so I could look like Hermione). I also ravenously devoured anything Tamora Pierce, Sarah Dessen (The Truth About Forever and Just Listen are her best novels and I will fight you about it), Robin McKinley, Gareth Nix, Diana Wynne Jones, Judy Blume, Jane Austen…you get the picture. I have a Virginia Woolf quote tattooed on my shoulder blade. Authors have always been my biggest stars. In fact, one of my most exciting high school moments was when Newsday hired me to review the Ella Enchanted movie and then gave me a choice between interviewing Anne Hathaway and Gail Carson Levine–I chose Gail Carson Levine. My job gives me the excuse to professionally fangirl on a daily basis.

“I double majored in creative writing and women’s studies at Hamilton College (both “impractical majors” that have been incredibly practical for me) and figured out that creative writing classes do a really great job of honing your editing and critiquing skills. After internships at several top literary agencies and publishers, I spent four years at New York agency and began building a client list before moving to NLA in January 2017. Now, I work out of my NYC apartment where my office cat likes to remind me that she is boss.”

Danielle is seeking:

  • Middle grade and young adult (all genres)
  • Select passion projects in women’s fiction
  • A strong voice, nuanced writing, plots with unexpected twists, high concept
  • Complex female characters, quirky adventures, complicated family dynamics, romantic plotlines that are an element of the narrative but don’t dominate it, seaside novels, girls with swords, stories that take place in the aftermath of disaster (whether personal such as the death of a loved one or bigger picture such as a revolution), magical realism, YA psychological thrillers, sister stories
  • Social justice themes, own voices authors, a special interest in LGBTQ+ stories
  • Recent reads I have loved include (in no particular order) The Thing About Jellyfish, It’s Not Like It’s a Secret, We Are Okay, Landline, The Sun Is Also a Star, Uprooted, Salt to the Sea, We Were Liars, A Spool of Blue Thread, When Dimple Met Rishi, Six of Crows, anything Liane Moriarty, anything Kristin Cashore, anything Sarah Dessen

She gravitates toward stories with a high concept and strong voice. She particularly enjoy complex female characters, quirky/humorous adventures, narratives that explore social justice issues, stories with a sense of wonder, complicated family dynamics, girls with swords, seaside narratives, and #ownvoices narratives. She finds it hard to resist gorgeous writing and is a sucker for romantic plotlines that are an element of the narrative, but don’t dominate it. Mainly, she’s looking to represent novels that keep her spellbound, no matter the genre.

You can find details about her recent sales on Publishers Marketplace.



I hear writers talk about low middle grade, high middle grade, and teen. Is that acceptable or should they just say middle grade and leave it up to you to decide?

I think it is acceptable to describe your middle grade with those distinctions if you’d like to, but I tend to disregard those descriptors in my assessment. It isn’t how I would pitch a book to an editor so it isn’t very relevant to my read.

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

It comes down to a compelling query letter and strong writing!

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

It depends. When I’m reading queries, I only read a couple of sentences of the manuscript pages. If those first sentences are strong enough, I keep reading. If they aren’t, I move on to the next. When I’m reading requested materials, I read until the book loses my interest. If I don’t feel compelled to read the whole novel, I’m not likely to feel passionate enough to advocate for the project.

Do you let people know if you are not interested?

I always respond to every query and requested manuscript because I think that is the professional and respectful thing to do.

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

I try to respond to queries within three weeks, though often it is closer to a month. Requested material can take a bit longer because it requires more time and because I have to prioritize my clients and their material. But I try to respond to requested material within two months.

Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?

I think it is pretty common for less experienced writers to query before a manuscript is actually ready for an agent. That can be really tough on my end because I see a lot of projects with massive potential that I would love to be able to help with, but that just isn’t in my job description and it isn’t my role as an agent. I wish I had the energy or the hours in the day to encourage those writers and give them feedback, but it just isn’t possible. That’s where critique groups, trusted readers, and conferences are more appropriate. My advice here would be—make sure your manuscript is at the most professional and polished level you can get it to before you start to query.



In the subject line, please write “AUGUST 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: August 23rd.

RESULTS: August 30th.


Talk tomorrow,



  1. Great interview! Thanks so much. 🙂


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