Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 14, 2022

January Agent of the Month Interview Part One

It is my pleasure to announce that Jackie Williams at the


See first Page submission guidelines at bottom of Page.

Jackie Williams joined the agency in July of 2020, after working as a Food & Lifestyle Editorial Fellow for Chronicle Books.

She began her career in government, graduating from Johns Hopkins University in Political Science and Latin American Studies and subsequently working in consumer protection policy at the Federal Trade Commission.

Jackie reads a broad range of commercial and genre fiction, especially stories with psychological suspense, dark, gritty voices, speculative elements, multi-generational plots, and intricate world-building; even better if the stories are set in space. Some of her favorite authors include N.K. Jemisin, Haruki Murakami, Cixin Liu, Greek Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, Blake Crouch, and Daniel José Older.

She also looks for narrative and prescriptive projects in food, drink, lifestyle, health/wellness, pop culture, business, productivity, humor, and memoir. When it comes to the nonfiction space, she’s particularly excited about books and novelty items where food, lifestyle, and community intersect and projects that expand the reader’s empathy and self-awareness. Books like AFRO-VEGAN, THE COOKING GENE, BAD GIRLS THROUGHOUT HISTORY, YOU SUCK AT COOKING, GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER, EDUCATED, and ATOMIC HABITS come to mind.

She’s interested in collaborating closely with writers throughout all stages of their careers and bringing more multicultural representation to the publishing landscape.

Fiction: Action/Adventure, Commercial, Crime, Fantasy, General, Historical, Horror, LGBTQ, Literary, Middle Grade, Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller, Women’s Fiction, Young Adult

Non-Fiction: Cookbooks, Crafts/DIY, Humor, Illustrated, LGBTQ, Memoir, Pop Culture, Psychology, Sports, Travel, True Crime

I love a broad range of commercial and genre fiction, especially stories with psychological suspense, gritty voices, speculative elements, multi-generational plots, and intricate world-building; even better if the stories are set in space. And I’m interested in collaborating closely with writers throughout all stages of their careers and bringing more multicultural representation to the publishing landscape.

If what you’re writing isn’t explicitly listed below, that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in it! If you think I’ll love it, pitch it to me!


I’m interested in all types of science-fiction, fantasy, and horror in MG, YA, and Adult.

Novels that span generations like REMEMBRANCE OF EARTH’S PAST trilogy, Dark, and THE PASSAGE. The weird, strange, and speculative—books like N.K. Jemisin’s THE FIFTH SEASON and Samantha Shannon’s THE BONE SEASON.

I’m a huge fan of magical realism and surrealism. I would love to see projects like THE MEXICAN GOTHIC, THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER, and Haruki Murakami’s work.  Novels with light-hearted magic like THE EMPEROR’s SOUL, THE SHADOWSHAPER CYPHER series, and the WAYWARD CHILDREN series. Geeky books that inspire nostalgia like Stranger Things or READY PLAYER ONE. And, science-fiction and fantasy with thick threads of romance like DARK MATTER and THE NIGHT CIRCUS.

Books with a unique take on sports, dance, and hip-hop like Love & BasketballPose, or The Get Down.

Mysteries, thrillers, and suspense with smart female protagonists and/or unreliable narrators, like the LOU NORTON series, THE WIFE BETWEEN US, THE OTHER SISTER, SHARP OBJECTS, and YOU.

I tend to prefer literary fiction with a commercial appeal like Celeste Ng or literary fiction that includes elements of other genres a la Tana French.


When it comes to food and drink, I’m particularly interested in projects involving southern food and culture, single-subject books, and project where food and community intertwine (AFRO-VEGAN, LET’S MAKE RAMEN!, THE COOKING GENE, SON OF A SOUTHERN CHEF, and WE ARE LA COCINA are great examples).

In the lifestyle and wellness space, I would love to work with authors that explain big ideas and large concepts like happiness, productivity, business, or creativity in ways that are accessible, fun, and humorous (think THE LAZY GENIUS WAY, ATOMIC HABITS, AM I OVERTHINKING THIS?, and GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER). And whether it’s meditation, breathwork, astrology, or Wicca, I would love books or novelty items that explore physical and mental resilience through a BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+ lens.

As far as memoirs, I look for culture-related stories that expand the readers’ empathy and self-awareness like EDUCATED, MAYBE YOU SHOULD TALK TO SOMEONE, and WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR.



When did you decide you wanted to become an agent?

I’ve always loved writing and reading, but it wasn’t until after my first publishing internship with Chronicle Books that I knew I wanted to become an agent.

 How did you get the job with The Knight Agency?

 Networking! I reached out to literary agents for informational interviews, and thankfully, my now colleague, Kristy Hunter, responded to my email. We had a lovely exchange on publishing and what it was like to be an agent, and she let me know about an opening with the agency. After I submitted my resume, I met with TKA founder, Deidre Knight. I immediately loved how she described their team dynamic and the authors they represented and accepted an offer a couple of weeks after.

Do you work from home, or do you go into the Georgia office?

I work from home – The Knight Agency was a remote literary agency, even before the pandemic.

Do you have a limit on number of clients you will represent?

I don’t have a limit per se, but I think one of the advantages of being a newbie agent is that you can dedicate more attention and time to your clients. So, it’s a balance you must strike between finding new talent and still having your time as an asset/advantage when you’re pitching authors to sign with your agency.

Any story or themes you wish someone would submit?

Not particularly, I’m always looking for fresh worldbuilding and magic systems, but would love to see more non-fiction in my inbox.

Which do you lean more towards: Literary or Commercial?


What would you do if one of your MG/YA clients writes a picture book? Would the author have to find another agent for those books?

Unfortunately, the author would have to find another agent for PBs. I’m expecting a baby girl in six weeks (!!), so I hope to get more into PBs, but right now, I don’t know enough about them, and the author would be better served with another agent for this genre.

How important is the query letter?

A query letter is super important. It lets me know how well you know your story, how you’re thinking about positioning the story, so we’re aligned when we take it out on submission, and it’s the first piece of writing I read from you. On some level, it should give me a glimpse into the tone and feeling I’ll get when reading your book.

Do you have any tips on how to find comps to use in a submission query letter?

Bookstores and Google are your best friends here, researching and reading books in a similar category as yours and identifying books that don’t just have similar plot structures but also tone and theme.

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

Have your excitement about your manuscript come through in the query letter, and a really solid first five pages.

Will you let people know if you are not interested in their submission?


After you request more, how long do you think it will take to respond?

 I try to send responses within 12 weeks on a full manuscript request.



In the subject line, please write “JANUARY 2022 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE” Example: Paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you put your name, the title of the piece, and genre: a picture book, chapter book, middle grade, or young adult, Non-fiction, contemporary, historical, Sci-fi, fantasy, 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 2022 January  – 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. Sending it to my hotmail account will probably keep me from seeing it and including you in the running.

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.




Talk tomorrow,


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