Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 18, 2020

September Agent of the Month Kelly Peterson Interview: Part Two

I am happy to announce that Kelly Peterson at Rees Literary Agency is our Agent of the Month for September. Scroll to bottom to learn how to submit a first page for a chance to win a critique with Kelly. Please note: September is a short month, so the deadline to submit is September 17th.

Kelly Peterson is a West Chester University graduate with a B.S.Ed in English and Literature. She worked as a Junior Literary Agent for two years before moving to Rees Literary Agency, continuing to champion her authors and the manuscripts she loves. Kelly seeks manuscripts in various genres within Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult age ranges. In Middle Grade, she loves fantasy, sci-fi, and contemporary that touches on tough issues for young readers. Her Young Adult preferences vary from contemporary to high fantasy, sci-fi (not the space kind) to paranormal (all the ghost stories, please!), and historical all the way back to rom-coms. Kelly is proud to continue to represent Adult manuscripts in romance, fantasy, and sci-fi. She is very interested in representing authors with marginalized own voices stories, witty and unique characters, pirates, witches, and dark fantasies.

Kelly is excited to be expanding her client list and finding new authors who have a strong story to tell. She only accepts queries through Query Manager at and requires a query, synopsis, and the first five pages of your work to submit. Follow her Twitter or her blog for more information on writing, the industry, and MSWL updates.

What I’m looking for:

Kelly is looking for voice driven fiction in the MG, YA, and Adult age ranges. She loves stories with strong world building, characters that are quirky and witty, and writers that have a natural understanding for relatable dialogue and pacing. Kelly is always seeking to promote #OwnVoices stories and authors who have a strong story to tell, including POC,  LGBTQIA+, and neurodiversity.

MG: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Contemporary, leaning towards heartwarming stories and adventures that showcase the tough issues that need to be read by young readers.

YA: Fantasy (all sub genres of fantasy accepted), Steampunk, Sci-Fi (futuristic, not space!), Paranormal (Ghosts, please!), Historical, Contemporary (all the rom-coms!), and any combination of the above with strong, female main characters.

Adult: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Contemporary Romance (Cowboys, anyone? Sexy and somewhat geeky entrepreneur? Sports? Yes?), Historical Romance, or any combination of the above.

Fiction: Action/Adventure, Children’s, Fantasy, Historical, Humor, LGBTQ, Middle Grade, Military, New Adult, Romance, Science Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Young Adult
Favorite sub-genres: #ownvoices, Adult, Contemporary Fantasy, Contemporary Romance, Contemporary YA, Diversity, High Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, LGBTQIA, MG, MG adventure, Paranormal, Steampunk, YA, YA Science Fiction

Not The Best Fit For:

Non-Fiction, Mystery/Crime, Children’s Picture Books, Emotional Turmoil (i.e. stories that revolve around depression, anxiety, rape, etc.), as I prefer my books to help me escape. Characters that have some of these traits but it doesn’t overwhelm the story are okay.


Any pet peeves?

Opening the manuscript with the weather. Get that morning sun peeking through the windows out of here. I see that every morning, and I don’t need to see it in your manuscript. Throw me at your character and in the middle of some action!

Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?

Always, but one of the most common ones I continuously see is when writers don’t follow guidelines or are just plain rude to people in the industry. We all work hard for very little pay, and with COVID and emotions running high, we can all understand the frustration. Taking that frustration out on agents and editors isn’t the way to go about being a professional in the publishing industry, though. I, too, along with many co-workers and friends wish we could change the industry to make it easier for everyone, but screaming and sending rude emails to us won’t do anyone any good. Please just treat everyone with respect!

 What are your feelings about prologues?

Hate. Them. They aren’t needed! Maybe a few short sentences or poems, but most of the time…I just skip the prologue and go right to the beginning! What can you say in a prologue that can’t be said in your manuscript?!

Do you have a place where you keep writers up-to-date on what you would like to see? Blog?

My website has plenty of information on my MSWLs, and you can always find my Manuscript Wishlist page, as well! My website is: . If you go to the “submissions” page and scroll down, you’ll see a large gathering of all of my MSWL tweets with what I’d like to see in my inbox!

Do you give editorial feedback to your clients?

Yes, I try to go through two rounds of editing with each manuscript. I’m not a re-reader, so my editing is rather intense in both rounds. I leave a lot of comments, do a lot of talking with my clients, and I try to fix and edit as much as I can in as little reads as possible. It can make life difficult for certain types of writers, but it’s been working really well for me and my current clients at the moment. I will normally do a heavy content edit, and then the second round will be double checking the content edit applications and doing a heavy line edit. After that, it will be double checking any and all changes and hoping I don’t need to read it a third time (not because I don’t love your story, but it will take me 20x longer to read it when I’m not a re-reader).

Have you ever represented a children’s book illustrator? Are you only interested in representing writer/illustrators?

I have not, though I’ve always been open to learning that side of the industry too! Maybe one day. =)

What is your typical response time to email/phone calls with your clients?

My clients actually have a very open, professional relationship with me. We don’t just communicate through email and phone, and most of the time, my clients are messaging me through Facebook or Twitter or Instagram to check on things and get updates. We even have a Twitter group DM so that we all can talk and I can post updates to everyone when needed. It also allows for a more open environment for my clients to become friends and betas and problem solvers for themselves. I adore my clients, and they know that I don’t have an off switch (seriously), so my response times are usually pretty quick. Even late at night or early in the morning. Who needs sleep?!

How do you like to communicate (email vs. phone)? And how often do you communicate during the submission process?

I prefer to communicate through texts or DMs in all honesty. I KNOW, I know, I’m such a millennial. When it comes down to it, I like using both email and phone though. Email is for everything you want to confirm and have in writing. It’s all the dates and times and assurances you can look back on and remind yourself that you did this. Phone calls are better for quick decisions, exciting news, or tough editing and submission conversations that need to be had with a sense of humanity and emotion. Phone is great with editors when you can’t meet them in person, too, though emailing with editors makes everyone a bit less nervous, I think! With the submission process, I do, however, have a separate Google Sheet for each of my clients with updates on submissions, dates, people, responses, etc., so that my clients can see what’s happening in real time, at any time they want.

What happens if you don’t sell a book? Would you drop the writer if he or she wanted to self-publish a book you could not place?

Definitely not. I signed them because I love their work and I like them as a person! I usually have a conversation about shelving the book or going to smaller presses to see if we get any luck. Most of the time, authors choose to shelve their books with the assurance that when the time is right again, we will come back to it!

How many editors would you go to before giving up on a manuscript?

As many as humanly possible in the span of publishers that myself and the author are alright with. This can sometimes be only 15-20 editors, or as high as 30-40 editors depending on the age range, genre, and marketability of the book, as well as the author’s leniency with small presses and where they want to be published. It’s different for every client! Every person is different, and every book is different, so how could we ever treat them all the same and have a uniform answer in numbers for this? =)

Would you ever send a manuscript to another agent at Andrea Brown if it was good, but not your style?

Absolutely! We share a lot of things at Rees Literary Agency, and we plan to share more! We swap manuscripts a lot if we’re not feeling it, and luckily for all of us right now, we’re all in the mood for very separate genres and age ranges!

 What do you think of digital and audio books? Are they part of every sale these days?

They are definitely a part of every book deal. It’s an agent’s job to negotiate a lot of those rights for you! Audio books and e-books still seem to be doing really well, though most people in this industry will still tell you that they can’t hold a flame to having a real book in your hands. I’m not an audio book person myself, but I know a lot of people are really loving them during their long drives! It’s also become much more convenient to download a book on your Kindle than to find space for it on our already overflowing bookshelves. There is definitely a thriving market in audio and e-book sales, and even though COVID has put a damper over the industry as a whole, I am sure they market will come back with a vengeance!

Do you see any new trends building in the industry?

None of us are fortune tellers, but most of what I’ve been talking to editors about recently are Rom-Coms and Thrillers, surprisingly! Opposite sides of the spectrum! Many people just want more light hearted escapes from reality with a solid Rom-Com, and since Fantasy doesn’t seem to be selling as well according to publishing house marketing teams, Thrillers seem to be making a comeback both on the screen and in book form. I’ve had a lot of editors asking for Thrillers or darker books set in a more contemporary setting. I do, however, truly wish that Fantasy comes back once COVID is over. I’m an escapist reader at heart, which to me means that I love becoming immersed in completely separate worlds than my own when I can see my world crumbling around me. Oddly enough, I have seen an uptick in some Vampire paranormal novels, but please don’t send them to me. Again, send them to Rebecca Podos! I’m your local werewolf girl, not your vampire girl.

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

Wow, this is a loaded question! The best I can offer in a short answer is research, read, practice, and be kind. You need to research your craft for your genre and age range. So much of that research involves a lot of time on Google and down publishing industry rabbit holes on the internet, but it also involves just reading recent releases in your genre and age range. Find similarities and differences in your writing and theirs, and find comp titles. Be an active member of the community and find your people because trust me, you will need them! You need the support in this industry because it’s so lonely! Remember that writing is not a individual activity! It takes a very large team to get every book you’ve ever read on those shelves. So just be kind to everyone and don’t burn your bridges either. You’ve got this!

Would you like to attend other conferences, workshops writer’s retreats?

I love attending conference. I’m a talkative and social person by nature (can you tell?). However, COVID has made me stationary for the time being. I have recently gotten into online conferences though, and am always happy to participate in those until we can get this pandemic under control! My favorite part of conferences, workshops, and writer’s retreats is teaching though. Once in a while I really miss teaching, so should you need someone to teach or workshop or lecture on any aspects of the industry and writing as a craft, I’m your person! =)




In the subject line, please write “SEPTEMBER 2020 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).

PLEASE name the Word document file by putting 2020 September  – Your Name – Title of first page. Thank you.

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 17th. – noon EST

RESULTS: September 25th.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thanks, Kathy. Very informative.


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