Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 10, 2023

March Agent of the Month – Adria Goetz – P.S. Literary

I look for books that delight readers, that help readers escape, that make readers feel seen, that help inspire wonder and imagination, that cultivate empathy and compassion, that comfort readers and make them feel safe, that take the reader on an adventure, that uncover fascinating stories from history’s footnotes, that make people laugh or cry or jump from fright, that ask nitty gritty questions and don’t settle for easy answers, that inspire reflection and conversation, that make people disappointed when they have to close the book and go to bed, and books that add a touch of magic to readers’ lives. 

What I represent, in general:

  1. Picture books
  2. Middle Grade
  3. Graphic Novels (MG/YA/Adult)
  4. Adult Fiction

Visual MSWL—If you’re a visually minded person like me, head over to Pinterest to see my “visual manuscript wishlists.” I have one for kid lit, and one for adult books.

Client Books—If you’d like to see some of the books I’ve represented, head over to my Amazon list. (But if you don’t already know about, check them out too! They are a fantastic online book retailer that supports brick and mortar bookstores.) I also have a Pinterest board of books I’ve worked on.

Submission Guidelines—check out my submission guidelines on my agency’s website. If you are an author/illustrator please include a link to your portfolio.

A note to writers considering querying me: I hope you do. 🙂 I love, love, love receiving submissions. It’s an ongoing honor and delight to me that everyday, people scattered all over the world, send me their stories to read. What a privilege! If you’re on the fence about whether you think your project is the right fit for me, but you think we’d make a good team—my vote is you just go for it. Your submission is never an email clogging up my inbox—it’s a gift that I can’t wait to open. I opt to refer to my slush pile as a “treasure trove” because it doesn’t feel like wading through slush to me. It feels more like sifting through gems. I can’t wait to see what you’ve created!


  1. Picture book author/illustrators—I’m open to receiving submissions from authors, but I’m primarily looking to sign author-illustrator clients at this point. I’m open to many different illustration aesthetics from hand-drawn to digitally rendered to collage to unconventional mediums. I love having a wide range of styles on my list, and the main thing I’m looking for is a unique, distinctive look. Some of my favorite illustrators include Juana Martinez-Neal, Vashti Harrison, the Fan Brothers, David Litchfield, Anne Lambelet, Brian Selznick, Carson Ellis, Frank Morrison, and Emily Winfield Martin.
  2. Humor—I want the next hilarious, commercial-feeling, NYT Bestseller. It’s important to me that kids really love and are delighted by the books I represent, and humor is also a great entry point into reading for kids who are intimidated by books, so I take silly books seriously. 🙂 Some of my favorite humor-driven books are: We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, Dragons Love Tacos, The Bad Seed series, Where Bone?, A Spoonful of Frogs, When Unicorns Poop, The Day the Crayons Quit, Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats, and Rot: the Cutest in the World.
  3. Family Narratives—I love books that reflect families and their everyday experiences. For me, the more specific the story, the better. Examples: Hair Love, Bedtime Bonnet, My Papi Has a Motorcycle, Under My Hijab, Alma, Julian is a Mermaid, Tell Me a Tattoo Story.
  4. Magical books—I love magical stories that feel like the type of book that will stick with a child throughout their life. Anything by The Fan Brothers, David Litchfield, and Emily Winfield Martin. A few of my favorite magical books: The Night GardenerThe Antlered Ship, The Bear and the Piano, The Cloud Spinner, The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore, and Lights on Cotton Rock.
  5. Adventures—I would love to see more adventure stories in my inbox! Examples include The Greatest Adventure, It’s Not a Bed It’s a Time Machine, Ocean Meets Sky, and Stella’s Stellar Hair.
  6. Mermaids—Send me all of your mermaids!! (What kind of mermaid have you not seen before? I love when fantastical stories are pure fun but can also provide representation.)
  7. Karaoke—I’d love a joyful picture book about karaoke, sort of like the karaoke equivalent of Hip-Hop Lollipop.
  8. Traditions—I love picture books about family traditions/cultural traditions, especially when there is food, cooking, baking, or recipes involved. I’d also love to see other family traditions, like holiday traditions (loved Night Tree, Mooncakes), faith traditions, house-cleansing or blessing ceremonies/traditions, etc.
  9. Food—I love picture books about food! Some of my favorites are Amy Wu and the Perfect BaoFry Bread, Tomatoes for NeelaHalal Hot Dogs, and Anni Dreams of Biryani.
  10. Atmospheric—I love a unique atmosphere/strong sense of place in books across the board. Because picture books are fully illustrated, they create the unique opportunity to create a really visually dazzling atmosphere, and I’d love to have more atmospheric picture books on my list. I think Hello Lighthouse is a great example of this.
  11. Spooky—I love spooky stories! (And I loved them as a kid too.) Ghosts, haunted houses, cobwebs. Some of my favorites include How to Make Friends with a Ghost, and The Ugly Doodles and the upcoming book Knight Snacker.
  12. Creativity—I love picture books about art and creativity, like the The Dot, Ish, The Ugly Doodles, The WonderThe Storytellers Rule, and Beautiful Oops.


  1. Magical Realism or Contemporary Fantasy—I love any stories with light touches of magic or fantasy that are still accessible to readers who aren’t “genre readers.” Some of my favorite magical MG tales include Circus Mirandus, and No Ordinary Thing.
  2. Graphic Novels—I am open to taking a look at anything here, especially contemporary realistic, magical realism, fantasy, and historical fiction. I’m reallyeager to work on a historical fiction GN. Some recent faves of mine were PashminaWitch Boy, and Measuring Up. I’d also like to put out into the universe: I would love to find the next Brian Selznick type of creator that doesn’t shy away from hybrid, unconventional formats.
  3. Historical Fiction—I am a history lover and enjoy historical fiction that feels like it’s shining a spotlight on a piece of history that’s been glossed over in textbooks. I want to see a hook/premise that I think will appeal to young readers, and an engaging voice. I’m open to epistolary novels or novels in verse as well. I love Brown Girl DreamingShip of DollsHouse Without Walls, and Indian No More.
  4. Mystery—I’m hungry for a good mystery! I will never forget reading The Dollhouse Murders when I was in fifth grade and having to close the book for a moment because I was so scared. (But I loved it.) I want to work on books that inspire that same level of book-induced fright! Give me an Agatha Christie-esque whodunit.


  1. Graphic Novels—Right now in the Young Adult space, I am narrowly focused on graphic novels. I’m open to a wide range of genres and art styles here. My favorites include PumpkinheadsThe Prince and the DressmakerThe Girl from the SeaIsla to Island, and Batter Royale. Right now I’m specifically looking for something very atmospheric where the setting is a crucial element to the story.


  1. Book Club Fiction—If you dream of Reese Witherspoon ushering you into her book club, then I want to see your work! When I think of book club fiction, I think of stories with wide appeal that are engaging and accessible reads, but still have layers and depth that lend themselves to discussion. I love the feeling of when I finish reading a book and immediately need to talk to someone about it. I’m a sucker for a dual timeline. I love interesting voices/POVs and rhythmic language. The biggest thing I’m looking for is a good hook and a distinctive voice. Some of my favorites include Lessons in Chemistry, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, The Dollhouse, Violeta, Where’d You Go Bernadette, Daisy Jones & The Six, RoomThe Maid.
  2. Thrillers/Mystery—I love page turning thrillers, and want to work with people who want to build their careers around writing them. I’m really looking for a hook here. I love Gillian Flynn, Jessica Knoll, and Lisa Jewell. I would love to see a fresh take on the genre from a POV we haven’t seen featured as prominently. Some of my favorite thrillers include Luckiest Girl Alive, Verity, The Woman in Cabin 10, Final Girls, Sharp Objects, Dark Places, Then She Was Gone, and Hunting Annabelle. I would also love to see something more in the mystery category that has a cheeky tone and engaging voice like The Maid.
  3. Romance/Romantic Comedies—I’d love to work on rom coms that have a high concept commercial hook. I welcome tropes of all stripes, especially enemies to lovers, slow burn/friends to lovers, fake relationships, and so on. I’d love to see some speculative rom coms too, like The Ex Hex or The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches. Some of my recent favorites include Beach Read, The Unhoneymooners, Real Men Knit, Maybe in Another Life, The Rosie Project, Waiting for Tom HanksNot Like the Movies, The Proposal, and After Hours on Milagro Street.
  4. Historical Fiction—I love historical fiction and am especially fascinated by lesser known historical occurrences or anything really “specific” like the focus on the Barbizon Hotel in The Dollhouse, and the focus on the Trinity Test in Come Down Somewhere. I love dual timelines. I look for engaging prose and a good hook. I have a special interest in the eras between the 1890s-1970s, but I’m happy to take a look at anything. I’m probably not the best fit for “ancient” historical fiction, though.
  5. Speculative—I am looking for adult fiction with light touches of magic/speculative elements such as magical realism, grounded fantasy, cozy fantasy, and magic-tinged rom coms. Think “a little bit of magic and a whole lot of heart” like The Inheritance of Orquídea DivinaThe Very Secret Society of Irregular WitchesThe House in the Cerulean Sea, and The Ex Hex.
  6. Graphic Novels—For adult graphic novels, I’m open to taking a look at anything. I’m especially interested in humor, romance, nonfiction, or just contemporary stories in general. I’m open to projects with speculative elements but epic fantasy or space operas likely won’t be the best fit for me. If you’re not sure, feel free to send it to me anyway! I’d also love a really unique format outside the box of the traditional graphic novel format, something like Caroline Preston’s books The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt and The War Bride’s Scrapbook.
  7. Unique Format—I love stories that are told in unique formats, whether that be epistolary, e-epistolary (I loved Where’d You Go Bernadette), transcripts (like Daisy Jones & The Six), a unique POV (think Room), etc. If it’s slightly outside a traditional novel format or voice, send it my way!


  1. Memoirs
  2. Sports stories (I quit tee-ball when I was 4 and faked stomach aches in P.E., so I’m afraid I am not your gal.)
  3. Space operas
  4. Amish Fiction
  5. Angel/Demon narratives
  6. Ancient historical fiction
  7. High/Epic SFF
  8. Military/FBI/espionage thrillers
  9. Dystopian stories



When did you decide you wanted to become an agent?

In college! I originally envisioned myself as an editor because I thought that sounded quite romantic, but when I was in college I got an internship at a local literary agency and it felt like Cinderella putting on her glass slipper—a perfect fit.

How did you end up working with P.S. Literary?

I was formerly at Martin Literary for nearly a decade—first as an intern, then an assistant, then began agenting the fall of 2016. In the spring of 2022 I made the switch to P.S. Literary.

Did you graduate from Columbia Publishing course in NYC after you started working at P.S. Literary?

I graduated from the Columbia Publishing Course before I began agenting. I wanted to have a better understanding of the innerworkings of the industry before I began agenting, and CPC definitely helped with that.

You graduated with a B.A. in English with a creative writing emphasis from the University of Washington in Seattle. Did they help make Literary Agency connections?

They did! I first heard about the Martin Literary internship, and other publishing or publishing-adjacent internships, through the UW English Major email list.

Did you start out at P.S. Literary working as an assistant to a Senior Agent?

I already had the Senior Literary agent title when I applied to P.S. Literary.

Are you able to work from home most days?

Yes! I love working from home. I have a cat curled up on my lap most of the time. J

Do you have a goal to represent a certain number of clients?

I don’t have a magical number in mind, no. I’m really happy with the list I’ve built and am becoming increasingly selective when it comes to signing new clients. At this point I’m only signing a couple new clients per year. I’m picky!

Any story or themes you wish someone would submit?

I would simply die of happiness to receive the perfect cozy mermaid novel.

Which do you lean more towards: Literary or Commercial?

I think I lean more commercial. I do like projects that live at the intersection of literary and commercial though.

What do you like to see in a submission?

Beautiful, fluid writing, an interesting plot, and a savvy and concise query letter.

How important is the query letter?

For me, it’s crucial. I make most of my passes at the query letter stage. If the concept/premise of the book that you’re describing in your query doesn’t entice me then I don’t jump to the pages. I have to love the concept of the project itself.

Would you have a sample of a good query letter or a link to one you saw on the Internet that would help writers?

My rather brilliant colleague Eric Smith keeps a great list of strong query letters on his website, and breaks down why they’re so good too. It’s a really helpful resource for writers looking for guidance on writing query letters. Here’s an example query from his website for a YA thriller I love called KEEP THIS TO YOURSELF by Tom Ryan—

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

When I’m having a tough time finding perfect comps for client books, I take multiple approaches. I’ll comb through my Goodreads and Pinterest boards to see if I’m forgetting about something I’ve already read that would be a good comp. I’ll search a couple similar books on Amazon and see what they list under the “People who viewed this also viewed” section. I’ll also ask around if I get truly stuck! I’ll ask clients, colleagues, and agent friends to see if anything comes to mind. For writers, I think asking writer friends, booksellers and librarians if anything comes to mind could give you some titles to use for your query, or they can give you more jumping off points for further digging.

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

It might sound trite, but all you need is beautiful writing and an intriguing concept!

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

I try to respond within six weeks, but sometimes I need a bit more time. I do try to keep people in the loop though.




In the subject line, please write “MARCH 2023 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 2023 MARCH FIRST PAGE  – 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.


DEADLINE March 24th. – noon EST

RESULTS: March 31st 


Talk tomorrow,



  1. Great interview. I found Adria’s tips on how to find comps, which I struggle with, especially helpful. Natalie @ Literary Rambles


  2. Wonderful interview full of great information. Thanks!


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 )

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: