Pitch / Critique Sessions
Present your work one-on-one to literary agents, editors, and publishing consultants.
AGENT PITCH SESSIONS
Pitching your manuscript to an agent on Kauai can be both more casual and more productive than in a more formal setting. Agents accustomed to the high pressure New York publishing scene find this event a chance to unwind, relax, and open up to the unexpected. Like all of us, agents have their preferences and their quirks. Every agent loves some books that others don’t get. The Kauai conference can be your opportunity to find the agent who is the right match for your premise and voice. We invite you to look through our agents’ websites, decide who seems the best fit for you, and sign up for one or more private sessions.
Pitch sessions are available for an additional $50.
The supportive and insightful feedback from these top literary agents will help you make your manuscript one that agents will want to read and publishers will want to publish.
Submit part of your manuscript to literary agents in advance and they’ll have a one-on-one feedback session with you at the conference. Instructions will be provided with your registration.
Up to 20 pages, double spaced. $95
The Kauai Writers Conference provides the rare opportunity to meet one-on-one with prominent editors and publishers, including representatives of major publishing houses and leading exponents of alternative publishing. You will have the opportunity to submit excerpts from your work in advance and receive personal guidance on your best path to publication from the most knowledgeable and well-connected people in the publishing world.
Up to 20 pages, double spaced. $95
Learn more about the agents …
… and publishing experts.
Kevin Larimer is the editor in chief of Poets & Writers, where he edits Poets & Writers Magazine; oversees editorial content on the organization’s website, pw.org; and directs the events series Poets & Writers Live.
He has given presentations and appeared on a number of panels on publishing at events such as the Library of Congress National Book Festival, the Sozopol Fiction Seminars, the Anguilla Lit Fest, the Slice Literary Writer’s Conference, the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference, Poets Forum, the Bronx Book Fair, and the Writer’s Hotel.
His poems have appeared in Poetry International, Fence, Pleiades, Verse, and a dozen other literary magazines. He has written book reviews for American Letters & Commentary, American Book Review, Chelsea, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He holds a degree in journalism and received his MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was the poetry editor of the Iowa Review. He is currently writing The Poets & Writers Guide to the Writing Life (Simon & Schuster, 2020) with his wife, Mary Gannon, executive director of the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses.
Reserve an individual session with Kevin to discuss you manuscript.
Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in business strategy for authors and publishers. She’s the editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential industry newsletter for authors, and has previously worked for F+W Media and the Virginia Quarterly Review. In 2019, Jane was awarded Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World.
Jane’s newest book is The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press); Publishers Weekly said that it is “destined to become a staple reference book for writers and those interested in publishing careers.” Also, in collaboration with The Authors Guild, she wrote The Authors Guild Guide to Self-Publishing.
In addition to being a columnist with Publishers Weekly and a professor with The Great Courses, Jane maintains an award-winning blog for writers at JaneFriedman.com; her expertise has been featured by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, PBS, CBS, the National Press Club and many other outlets.
Jane has delivered keynotes and workshops on the digital era of authorship at worldwide industry events, including the Writer’s Digest annual conference, Stockholm Writers Festival, San Miguel Writers Conference, The Muse & The Marketplace, Frankfurt Book Fair, BookExpo America, and Digital Book World. She’s also served on grant panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund, and has held positions as a professor of writing, media, and publishing at the University of Cincinnati and University of Virginia.
Reserve an individual session with Jane to discuss you manuscript.
Learn more about Jane at
Stephanie Stokes Oliver heads SSO Media, an international consulting firm that specializes in book, magazine, and digital publishing. She serves as a literary scout for Simon & Schuster’s Atria Book Group, and as author curator for the Anguilla Lit Fest.
In 2004, Stephanie served as editor-in-chief of Essence.com. She was asked to assist in the merger of Essence Communications with Time Inc. in the capacity of deputy editor, returning to the magazine for the second time. Stephanie originally joined Essence as senior editor of the lifestyle section. During her 16 years at Essence, when the magazine reached the milestone circulation of 1 million, she rose from West Coast Editor to the second-in-command position of editor of the magazine.
In 1998, she formed SSO Media, Inc., a publishing and digital content consulting firm in the New York area, contributing as guest beauty editor to O, The Oprah Magazine, as consulting editor to start-up Lifetime magazine, writing for SpaFinder, and producing the website for the New York Women in Communications. In 2000, she became the founding editor-in-chief of NiaOnline, a popular digital magazine for Black women where she served for two years and wrote a monthly blog for six years.
Currently, Stephanie works “location independent,” living between Anguilla, where she moved from the New York City area in 2007, and Seattle, her high-tech hometown. At the Anguilla Community College, she teaches a course on Publishing 101. She also serves as author curator for the annual Anguilla Lit Fest, held each May for readers, writers, thinkers, and vacationers.
She is the author of Black Ink: Literary Legends on the Peril, Power, and Pleasure of Reading and Writing, Song for My Father: Memoir of an All-American Family, and Seven Soulful Secrets for Finding Your Purpose and Minding Your Mission.
Reserve an individual session with Stephanie to discuss you manuscript.
Learn more about Stephanie at
Michelle Tessler has worked in the publishing industry for over twenty years. Before forming her boutique agency in 2004, Michelle worked at the William Morris Agency and the prestigious literary agency Carlisle & Company (now Inkwell Management). She also spent seven years working in content and business development in the Internet industry, beginning in 1994 when she was hired by best-selling author James Gleick to help launch The Pipeline. In light of the digital opportunities that are transforming publishing, Michelle’s experience in the Internet world is of great benefit to her authors, both as they navigate ebook opportunities, and as they look for creative and effective ways to market their books to niche communities that can be targeted online.
She represents a select number of best-selling and emerging authors in both fiction and non-fiction. Clients include accomplished journalists, scientists, academics, experts in their field, as well as novelists and debut authors with unique voices and stories to tell. She values fresh, original writing that has a compelling point of view. She represents, among many others, Paul Collins, Frans de Waal, Mira Jacob, Amy Stewart and Amanda Eyre Ward.
Learn more at www.tessleragency.com
Schedule a Pitch Session with Michelle.
Schedule a Manuscript Critique with Michelle.
Andy Ross opened his literary agency in 2008. Prior to that, he was the owner of the legendary Cody’s Books in Berkeley for 30 years. During that time, he sold more than 10 million books and hosted over 5000 events for some of the world’s greatest authors. In 1989, Cody’s was fire bombed in retaliation for the store featuring Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses. This made them the first victim of Islamic terrorism in The United States, which goes to show that bookselling can be a dangerous business. They never stopped selling the book.
Andy’s agency represents books in a wide range of non-fiction genres including: narrative non-fiction, science, journalism, history, popular culture, and current events . They also represent literary, commercial, historical, crime, upmarket women’s fiction, and YA fiction. For non-fiction he looks for writing with a strong voice, robust story arc, and books that tell a big story about culture and society by authors with the authority to write about their subject. In fiction, he likes stories about real people in the real world. No vampires and trolls, thank you very much. He doesn’t represent poetry, science fiction, paranormal, and romance.
Authors Andy represents include: Daniel Ellsberg, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Anjanette Delgado, Elisa Kleven, Tawni Waters, Randall Platt, Mary Jo McConahay, Gerald Nachman, Michael Parenti, Paul Krassner, Milton Viorst, and Michele Anna Jordan.
Andy also works as a freelance editor.
Schedule a Pitch Session with Andy.
Schedule a Manuscript Critique with Andy.
Dana Newman is an LA-based independent literary agent representing authors of practical and narrative non-fiction in the areas of memoir, biography, business, popular culture, current affairs, lifestyle and wellness (health, mind/body/spirit and sports/fitness), and on the fiction side she focuses on literary fiction and women’s upmarket fiction. She’s always on the lookout for compelling voices, ideas and stories, and is a passionate believer in the power of books to connect and transform us.
Dana is also an attorney, focusing on publishing law and contracts. She’s a member of the California State Bar and the Association of Authors’ Representatives, and holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley, and a J.D. from the University of San Francisco. Before founding her literary agency she worked as in-house counsel in the entertainment industry.
More information about her agency is available at dananewman.com.
Schedule a Pitch Session with Dana.
Schedule a Manuscript Critique with Dana.
Prior to founding the Leshne Agency in 2011, Lisa Leshne was a literary agent for three years at LJK Literary.
The Leshne Agency is a full-service literary and talent management agency, representing a select and growing number of bestselling writers, artists, and entertainers interested in building their brands, audience platforms, and developing long-term relationships via all forms of traditional and social media. They take a deeply personal approach by working closely with their clients to develop their best ideas for maximum impact and reach across print, digital and other formats, providing hands-on guidance and networking for lasting success.
Lisa Leshne is most interested in narrative and prescriptive non-fiction, especially on social justice, sports, health, wellness, business, political and parenting topics. She loves memoirs that transport the reader into another person’s head and give a voyeuristic view of someone else’s extraordinary experiences. Lisa also enjoys literary and commercial fiction and some young adult and middle-grade books that take the reader on a journey and are just plain fun to read.
Lisa manages a select number of her literary and entertainment clients, overseeing business matters, speaking engagements, and advising them over the course of their careers.
Schedule a Pitch Session with Lisa.
Schedule a Manuscript Critique with Lisa.
Jeff Kleinman is a literary agent, intellectual property attorney, and founding partner of Folio Literary Management, LLC, a New York literary agency which works with all of the major U.S. publishers (and, through subagents, with most international publishers).
As an agent, Jeff feels privileged to have the chance to learn a great variety of new subjects, meet an extraordinary range of people, and feel, at the end of the day, that he’s helped to build something – a wonderful book, perhaps, or an author’s career. Books of his clients include the bestsellers The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein), The Snow Child (a Pulitzer finalist; Eowyn Ivey), Widow of the South (Robert Hicks), and Mockingbird (Charles Shields), among many others.
Learn more about Jeff at www.foliolit.com
Jeff will be teaching the Master Class – The Art and Business of Getting Published: Traditional, Indie, and Everything in Between along with Regina Brooks.
Schedule a Pitch Session with Jeff.
Schedule a Manuscript Critique with Jeff.
Susan Golomb is a senior agent at Writers House, representing writers of fiction and non-fiction, for both adult and juvenile books as well as illustrators. She works with literary and commercial fiction, women’s fiction, science fiction/fantasy, narrative non-fiction, history, memoirs, biographies, psychology, science, parenting, cookbooks, how-to, self-help, business, finance, young adult and juvenile fiction/non-fiction and picture books. In addition to referrals, she still takes on new clients from among the twenty to thirty unsolicited submissions that she receives daily.
Golomb graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and worked as a theatrical production coordinator and story editor before starting her literary agency in 1988. Her clients include Marisha Pessl (Special Topics in Calamity Physics – Viking, 2006), Tom Rachman (The Imperfectionists – Dial Press, 2010), Gwyn Hyman Rubio, author of Icy Sparks (Viking, 1998), and she discovered Jonathan Franzen’s first novel, The Twenty-Seventh City (FSG, 1988). She also represents Yvon Chouinard, Harry Dent, Joshua Max Feldman, Glen David Gold, Rachel Kushner, Krys Lee, and William T. Vollmann, among many others.
Schedule a Pitch Session with Susan.
Schedule a Manuscript Critique with Susan.
Vicky Bijur started her agency in 1988 after working at Oxford University Press and with the Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. She represents fiction and non-fiction.
Books she represents have appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List, in the New York Times Notable Books of the Year, Los Angeles Times Best Fiction of the Year, Washington Post Book World Rave Reviews of the Year, and been nominated for the L.A. Times Book Award as well as the National Book Critics Circle Award. Three of her mystery writers have won Edgar awards.
Vicky has served as president of the AAR (Association of Authors’ Representatives), the only organization of literary and dramatic agents in North America. She has been a member of the AAR Royalties Committee since 1993 and is currently Chair of its Ethics Committee.
Vicky has been profiled in Poets & Writers and in Literary Agents: A Writer’s Introduction by John Baker (Macmillan). She has been quoted on the subject of agenting in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly. She can be heard on Writers on Writing here, here, and here.
Vicky is currently accepting submissions of literary fiction and commercial women’s fiction. She is not the right agent for science fiction, fantasy, romance, or self-help.
Schedule a Pitch Session with Vicky.
Schedule a Manuscript Critique with Vicky.
Susanna Einstein has worked as a literary agent since 2005, and launched Einstein Literary Management in 2015. She has worked in publishing since 1995, first in the publicity and editorial departments at what was then called Warner Books (now Grand Central Publishing) and then as a literary scout at Maria B. Campbell Associates. A native New Yorker, she graduated with distinction from Northwestern University. She lives in NJ with her husband and two children.
Susanna Einstein is a member of the board of directors of the Association of Authors’ Representatives and a member of the Women’s Media Group. She has a particular fondness for crime fiction, upmarket commercial women’s fiction, MG and YA fiction, and narrative non-fiction. She likes a good story well told.
Schedule a Pitch Session with Susanna.
Schedule a Manuscript Critique with Susanna.
Regina Brooks is the founder and president of Serendipity Literary Agency LLC in New York, New York. Her agency is the largest African American owned agency in the country and has represented and established a diverse base of award-winning clients in adult and young adult fiction, nonfiction, and children’s literature. Her authors have appeared in USA TODAY, NY TIMES, and the Washington Post, as well as on Oprah, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, MSBNC, TV ONE, BET, and a host of others. In 2015, Publishers Weekly nominated Regina Brooks as a PW Star Watch Finalist, and she was honored with a Stevie Award in Business. Writer’s Digest magazine named Serendipity Literary Agency as one of the top 25 literary agencies. Formerly, she held senior editorial positions at John Wiley and Sons (where she was not only the youngest but also the first African-American editor in their college division) and McGraw-Hill.
Prior to her publishing career, she worked as an aerospace engineer and made history as the first African American woman to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering from The Ohio State University. She is a graduate of The School of the Arts High School in Rochester, NY.
She is the author of Essence Magazine’s quick pick children’s book, NEVER FINISHED NEVER DONE (Scholastic), WRITING GREAT BOOKS FOR YOUNG ADULTS 2e (Sourcebooks), and YOU SHOULD REALLY WRITE A BOOK: HOW TO WRITE, SELL AND MARKET YOUR MEMOIR (St. Martin’s Press), and a well received blogger for the Huffington Post. Brooks is also on the faculty of the Harvard University publishing program the Whidbey Island Writers MFA, Western Connecticut MFA low residency programs, Writer’s Digest University and teaches annually at more than twenty worldwide conferences. She has been highlighted in several national and international magazines and periodicals, including Publishers Weekly, Forbes, Media Bistro, Writers and Poets, Essence Magazine, Ebony, Jet, Women on Writing, Writer’s Digest Magazine, The Writer, The Network Journal, and Rolling Out.
She was named Woman of the Year by The National Association of Professional Women, A New York Urban League Rising Star Award winner, and a finalist for the StevieTM Award for Women Entrepreneurs. Regina Brooks is featured in books such as The Guide to Literary Agents and the NAACP nominated Down to Business: The First 10 Steps for Women Entrepreneurs, How to Build a Platform, and Bill Duke’s Dark Girls. She is also listed in International Who’s Who under the categories of Professional Management, Technology, Entrepreneurs, and Engineering.
In November 2010, Brooks partnered with Marie Brown, of Marie Brown and Associates, and Marva Allen of Hue Man Bookstore to launch a new publishing imprint with Johnny Temple’s Akashic Books called Open Lens.
Further, Possibiliteas is the brainchild of literary agent and tea enthusiast, Regina Brooks, who believed that tea—the world’s oldest performance-enhancing beverage—could have a beneficial effect on her clients—writers, artists, and other creative professionals who were looking for fuel for their creative fire.
She is a pilot and cofounder of Brooklyn Aviation as well as a member of the Association of Author Representatives and New York Women in Film and Television.
Ms. Brooks is the founder and co-Executive Director of Y.B. Literary Foundation, Inc. (www.ybliterary.org), a not-for-profit organization designed to kindle a passion for literature within high school students and an appreciation for the possibilities and opportunities that reading can provide.
Learn more at www.serendipitylit.com
Regina will be teaching the Master Class – The Art and Business of Getting Published: Traditional, Indie, and Everything in Between along with Jeff Kleinman.
Schedule a Pitch Session with Regina.
Schedule a Manuscript Critique with Regina.
Alia Hanna Habib is a literary agent at the Gernert Company. Alia began her publishing career as a book publicist at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. She represents narrative nonfiction, memoir and literary fiction.
Her list includes the New York Times’ 1619 Project’s forthcoming book series; MacArthur Fellow and journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones; Doree Shafrir, author of Startup: A Novel; journalist and PBS NewsHour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor; Chasten Buttigieg’s New York Times bestseller I Have Something to Tell You; Josh Levin’s The Queen, winner of the National Book Critics’ Circle Award in Biography; literary critic Lauren Oyler’s forthcoming debut novel Fake Accounts; award-winning and bestselling poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib and Clint Smith, poet, scholar, author of the poetry collection Counting Descent and forthcoming nonfiction debut How the Word is Passed.
Her authors have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the LA Times Book Prize and have been nominated for the Edgar Awards, PEN Awards and the National Book Award.
Schedule a Pitch Session with Alia.
Schedule a Manuscript Critique with Alia.
The Lynn Johnston Literary Agency represents books called “firebreathing” and “righteous” by the New York Times, “exuberant” by O: The Oprah Magazine and “a godsend” by Publishers Weekly.
Lynn’s authors are purposeful, sincere and sometimes controversial and ever determined. Among their many accolades are the Pulitzer Prize, George Polk Award, Peabody Award, GLAAD Media Award, Global Teaching Prize (finalist) and National Headliner Award.
Lynn’s list includes New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestsellers, winner of the International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook Award, PEN finalist, and numerous “best of year” citations.
Lynn is a highly respected solo agent based in New York representing mostly nonfiction.
Asked to describe her approach to agenting, Lynn wrote: “I care,” I said off the top of my head. After thinking about it some more and searching for a better answer, I decided that’s really it. My entire unique selling proposition is I care about my authors, the important work they do, how it gets translated into book form, what happens to the book before and after publication and ultimately, the effect it has in the world.
Schedule a Pitch Session with Lynn.
Schedule a Manuscript Critique with Lynn.
Lisa Sharkey, SVP and Director of Creative Development at Harper Collins Publishers, was recently described by one of her authors, number one bestseller Congressman Jamie Raskin as a “clairvoyant publishing wizard”. Following more than two decades producing, writing and developing Emmy award-winning network and syndicated television news, Lisa made the switch into books because of her love for literature, storytelling, and going deep.
Sharkey is a champion of powerful, poignant, and persuasive storytelling. More than 75 of the books she has published have become New York Times bestsellers, selling millions of copies in multiple languages across the globe over the past 15 years. Her authors have accomplished extraordinary things and changed the world by telling their stories. Sharkey publishes books in the categories of politics, journalism, true crime, music, sports, medicine, self-help, cooking, mindfulness, science, religion, military life, and inspirational memoir. Sharkey is a mother of three, a yoga teacher, and a mentor of military veterans who are transitioning into civilian life.
She lives in one of New York’s first ever eco houses that she designed along with her architect husband who co-authored their book Dreaming Green.
Jay Mandel is interested in representing authors of autobiography and memoir, commercial fiction, journalism and investigative reporting, literary fiction, narrative nonfiction, and nonfiction. His clients Include Sloane Crosley, Mohsin Hamid, Terry Hayes, and Mary Roach.
“I like to know how writers see their work in the context of the marketplace. Which books are reminiscent of their own, why the success of certain titles or authors may bode well for them. I’m otherwise all about the facts. I don’t like elaborate attempts to be charming. I want to know what’s on offer. We can both preserve our charm for a later date.”
Schedule a Pitch Session with Jay.
Schedule a Manuscript Critique with Jay.
Erin Malone has been a literary agent at WME since 2006. Prior to books she worked in film/TV. She represents fiction as well as narrative (personal and investigative) and platform-driven nonfiction, and occasional lifestyle titles—primarily in the areas of psychology, science, culture, and food. More than any specific genre, she’s drawn to good stories and distinct points of view.
Among the clients she represents are New York Times bestselling authors, major book club selections, Thurber Prize finalists, Hugo and Edgar Award nominees, Fulbright Scholars, Goodreads Choice Award winners (and combinations thereof). She is looking to work with writers who make us think, as well as those who provide a great escape. She ascribes ardently to Carrie Fisher’s adage that “if life weren’t funny it would just be true, and that’s unacceptable.” Originally from the Midwest, she worked in WME’s NYC office before moving to LA, where she lives with her husband, an author and film producer, and their two kids.
Schedule a Pitch Session with Erin.
Schedule a Manuscript Critique with Erin.
She Writes Press was founded by Kamy Wicoff and Brooke Warner in 2012 as a response to the barriers to traditional publishing getting higher and higher for authors. Kamy’s online community, She Writes, had been founded on the principle of connecting and serving women writers everywhere, offering a community for established and aspiring writers. Brooke had been the Executive Editor at Seal Press for eight years, and was witnessing firsthand the contracting publishing environment, where she personally was having to reject beautifully written books on a regular basis because the submitting author didn’t have a strong enough author platform.
Kamy and Brooke envisioned a company where authors would be invited to publish based on the merit of their writing alone. They wanted to found a press for women writers that would be a platform—that could launch their writing careers, and where they could legitimately compete with their traditional counterparts.
In 2013, She Writes Press secured traditional distribution through Ingram Publisher Services and established itself as a real player in the hybrid publishing world. This relationship secured the right for SWP authors to submit their books for review through traditional channels, creating a more level playing field. SWP authors have been featured in O! magazine, People, and USA Today, and have been reviewed in all of the trade magazines: Publishers Weekly; Kirkus; Booklist; Library Journal; and featured on Shelf Awareness.