Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 13, 2019

September Agent of the Month – Hanna Mann – Interview Part One




At Writers House Hannah’s had the privilege of working closely with a variety of extraordinarily talented bestselling and award-winning authors and illustrators of works ranging from very young picture books to middle grade and young adult. She is a junior agent seeking clients who work in primarily those genres, but looking to make exceptions in lifestyle/cooking/health.

Young Adult:

She especially loves realistic and witty YA (that includes drama, romance, comedy, thrillers, mystery—or hybrids of these!), but she’s open to elements of magic. Hanna is almost 100% voice-oriented and love (flawed!) characters and relationship driven plots: true-to-life fiction with larger-than-life personalities. A big, sexy concept never hurts, though!

Setting is secondary to characters and relationships for her, but she loves when it’s almost a character in itself. Seamlessly incorporated cultural bytes (music, food, art, language, books, and specific family traditions) are always good. She also loves innovative modernizations and re-tellings of Shakespearean and other stories, or even movies.

Middle Grade:

Hanna looks for funny and dramatic (or both!) MG novels about friendships (including those with animals), outcasts, and the complexity of individual families. Brave or whimsical adventure stories starring unlikely characters and underdogs are great. She still looks for honest, funny, and unique voices here, and that MG trifecta of heart, smarts, and humor.

Picture Books:
While she is presently focusing on acquiring older formats, in general, she looks for artful, human, and/or hilarious picture books and artwork driven by expressive characters. She seeks illustration with something fresh going on (or that pays homage to a classic with its own modern layering). Hanna additionally is a fan of tender/gentle picture books. Voice remains a top priority across the board; that includes in artwork. Be yourself!

Years experience: 6

GENRES & SPECIALTIES: Fantasy/science fiction, Juvenile fiction, Mind/body/spirit, Health, Travel, Lifestyle, Cookbooks, Children’s books.



What made you decide to become an agent?

I actually only discovered agenting when I was applying for editorial jobs. When I realized there was a job in which you can be editorial but ultimately get to advocate on behalf of artists, and mine the world for amazing and different talents, it seemed too good to be true.

How did you get the job with the Writers House?

They say Seneca said “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” In that sense, I was lucky. I was looking for a job in publishing, and there was an assistant opening at Writers House. I put a lot of thought and energy into my application, and I didn’t initially get the job. But I didn’t stop thinking about it and bothering people, and it ended up panning out.

What are your thoughts about prologues? Any tips on how to best use them?

I don’t categorically love them, but there’s a time and a place. I’m okay with a prologue that establishes a sensibility or plants a seed independently of the chapters, but I don’t love when a writer uses one as an excuse to “cut to the chase.” Voice matters first and foremost to me, and if characters are thrown into worrisome situations before I have a sense of that, I’m not going to worry. Make us worry!

What would you like to see from a writer sending you a query letter?

Authenticity, brevity, respect, intrigue.

How important is the query letter?

For me, very. But I think lots of agents jump straight to the pages.

Should the writer try to be funny in their query to you or is it alright to be more business like? Do you prefer short?

I love a hint of humor/personality, perhaps because it can be an early indication that a writer is capable of voice—even if it’s their own. That said, if the ‘teaser’ summary of a drier query is intriguing or well-written, or the author has an interesting background/qualification, I’m hardly going to dismiss requesting it on grounds of an otherwise boring letter. It’s typically not a bad experience to work with someone who errs on the side of professional. As with most industries, there can be risks and rewards at both extremes.

Do writers need to mention some comps in their query letter?

They help A LOT.

Would you have an example of a query letter that got your attention that you could share?

Dear Ms. Mann,

I’m seeking representation for my YA historical fantasy, EVENTIDE, complete at 86,000 words. Because of your interest in acquiring Children’s books, I thought it might be a good fit for your list. My novel will appeal to fans of A CURSE DARK AS GOLD and readers of Jane Nickerson and Libba Bray.

Verity Pruitt is used to being in charge. Her little sister, Lilah, says she’s bossy, but Verity has to be; she’s been caring for them both since their father’s harrowing descent into madness tore their family apart. When their father is committed to an asylum, Verity is forced to abandon her dreams of college as she and Lilah are shipped to rural Wheeler, Arkansas on an orphan train. 

             When they arrive in Wheeler, Lilah is taken in by Maeve Donovan, the town’s beloved schoolteacher–while Verity is sent to work as a farmhand. Harvesting cotton and mucking horse stalls weren’t exactly on Verity’s agenda for the summer of 1907. But as she warms up to a salty farm-boy with a penchant for poetry and uncovers her parents’ scandalous past, she realizes there’s more to this little town than first impressions would suggest. Sinister secrets lie within its limits–secrets that someone will go to violent lengths to protect.

            As Verity uncovers shocking truths, she begins to understand that Lilah’s life may be in danger. Finding herself in a tangled world of folk magic and love potions, dandelion root tea and enchanted wells in the woods, Verity must risk everything to protect Lilah and right wrongs going back a generation.

But the more she uncovers the knife-twisting betrayals and aching sorrows of the past, the more she and Lilah, as well as their new friends and neighbors, are put in harm’s way. Verity must find a way to save her sister without jeopardizing everyone she now holds dear.

              I’m a lifelong resident of a town of 280 people, having grown up on a commercial cattle and chicken farm. (Despite this, I remain extremely leery of barnyard fowl.)  Professionally, I am a former newspaper columnist and feature writer. I hold a B.A. in Theology from Ouachita Baptist University. I’ve attended DFWCon and the Arkansas Writers’ Conference.

               I’ve included a synopsis of EVENTIDE below. Thank you for your time and consideration.


             Sarah Goodman


Have you ever read something that is not for you, but you feel another agent at your agency might like and pass it on?

Definitely. And successfully. I’ve also had colleagues share projects with me that I’ve ultimately taken on. We very much work that way at Writers House.



In the subject line, please write “SEPTEMBER 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: September 20th.

RESULTS: September 27th.

Talk tomorrow,


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