Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Eric Smith of P.S. Literary

Eric Smith is a literary agent at P.S. Literary Agency, with a love for young adult books, literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction.

He’s worked on award-winning and New York Times bestselling titles, and began his publishing career at Quirk Books. A frequent blogger, his ramblings about books and the publishing industry regularly appear on Book Riot, Paste Magazine, and Publishing Crawl. He also occasionally writes books when he finds the time, like his latest, Don’t Read the Comments (Inkyard Press).

Eric is eagerly acquiring fiction and nonfiction projects. He’s actively seeking out new, diverse voices in young adult (particularly sci-fi and fantasy), middle grade, and literary and commercial fiction (again, loves sci-fi and fantasy, but also thrillers and mysteries). In terms of non-fiction, he’s interested in cookbooks, pop culture, humor, middle grade, essay collections, and blog-to-book ideas.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Amy Giuffrida of The Belcastro Literary Agency

Amy Giuffrida is a literary agent with The Belcastro Literary Agency.

“I am especially seeking stories written by diverse creators—BIPOC, LGBTQ+, neurodiverse, and disabled creators are encouraged to query me. Send me your stories of joy, where your characters and their worlds can be celebrated by the reader.”

In nonfiction, she seeks:

– “If you have a strong platform and love what you do, feel free to pitch me a concept.”
– Narrative non-fiction
– Business/Social Media/Tech/Cooking books for teens

In upper middle grade, she seeks:

– Fantasy
– Horror
– Contemporary
– Historical (focusing on BIPOC stories and historically marginalized voices/characters)
– Novels-in-Verse

In young adult, she seeks:

– Fantasy
– Horror
– Science fiction
– Contemporary
– Contemporary Romance
– Mystery/Thriller
– Historical (focusing on BIPOC stories and historically marginalized voices/characters)
– Novels-In-Verse

In adult fiction, she seeks:

– Women’s Fiction
– Book Club/Commercial Fiction
– Non-Political Thriller
– Horror
– Contemporary Romance/Rom-Com

What she is NOT Looking For

Pandemic stories
Science fiction set in space
Talking animals
Military or Medical-based stories
Novellas, short story collections, screenplays
Previously published work
Chapter/picture books
Time travel/Portals
Stories that include: religious themes, suicide, rape, physical/mental abuse, or abductions



Get to Know an Editor in Attendance: Allison Cohen of Running Press Kids

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 7.18.06 PM.pngAllison Cohen is an editor with Running Press Kids.

Allison got her start in publishing at Random House before moving over to The Gersh Agency for several years. She is now an editor with RPK. She is currently seeking:

  • Picture books (fiction and nonfiction, with a focus on conservation/environmentalism, mysticism, mindfulness, and social justice)
  • Middle grade nonfiction (anthologies, light/humorous history, STEAM-themed books, books for enthusiasts/hobbyists, etc.)Middle grade and YA fiction (contemporary stories only—no fantasy or sci-fi—and anything with an interactive component; lighthearted [not too edgy])
  • Middle grade and YA fiction (contemporary stories only—no fantasy or sci-fi—and anything with an interactive component; lighthearted [not too edgy])

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Michelle Jackson of Olswanger Literary

Originally from Jamaica West Indies, Michelle Jackson is a Literary Associate with Olswanger Literary.

An educator for over 20 years, Michelle is also a published author, writing professionally as Michelle Lindo-Rice for Mira and Harlequin Special Edition and Zoey Marie Jackson for Harlequin Love Inspired. She has earned educational degrees from New York University, SUNY at StonyBrook, Teachers College Columbia University and Argosy University.

“I look forward to bringing adult fiction and select non-fiction of new authors work out there, especially BIPOC and underrepresented authors. I am also a content editor and love developing and working with new authors to help them hone their craft. I am looking for stories with strong character arcs and hooks. Intriguing plot lines that keep me up at night until I get to the last page. Romances that make my heart swoon, thrillers that keep me guessing and heartwarming, uplifting tales. Stories about sister friends, mother-daughter relationships. Stories with themes of friendship, forgiveness, love and second chances. I have a soft spot for fellow educators who are writers and for stories featuring educators. I also am looking for those who want to write category romances – I also love Amish romances!”

Fiction: Commercial, Historical, Humor, New Adult, Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Thriller, Women’s Fiction.

​Sub-genres: Contemporary Romance, Multicultural, Psychological Thrillers, Romantic Comedy, Romantic Suspense.

Nonfiction: Biography, True Crime, Self-Help, Relationships, Cookbooks, Narrative, Spirituality, select Memoirs

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Maria Alcantara of Arthouse Literary Agency

Maria Alcantara is a literary agent with Arthouse Literary Agency.

Maria graduated Cum Laude from Rutgers University with a Degree in English and Digital Studies. Getting her start as an editorial intern and a #RevPit First Reader, Maria has curated a particular taste for the kinds of books she aims to help bring to the masses. When she’s not working as a software engineer, you might find her cuddled up with her orange tabby and a good thriller.

Maria is looking for New Adult upmarket fiction, either character-driven or plot-driven. She loves to cozy up with a good mystery full of complicated characters and page-turning plot twists. If these novels are contemporary with Millennial leads then that’s even better. Examples of this genre currently on her bookshelf include: YOU by Caroline Kepnes, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh.

She is seeking:

Maria is also looking for women’s contemporary or commercial romance and horror with inclusive voices of Latinos and the LGBTQ community. Maria loves reading stories of marginalized voices in modern-day settings that are relatable and swoonworthy. Some favorites in this genre include: Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman.

Maria’s guilty pleasures include dark romances and corporate workplace drama! Her background also includes fashion retail and coffeehouse environments, so books set in these places usually pique her interest. She also loves reading whirlwind escapist stories à la Emily in Paris.

What She Doesn’t Want: Westerns, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Historical, Children’s books.

Get to Know an Editor in Attendance: Sean deLone of Simon & Schuster

Sean deLone is an associate editor with Atria Books, part of Simon & Schuster

Sean holds a B.A. in economics with high honors from Guilford College and is a graduate of the Columbia Publishing Course. In his time at Atria he has supported the publications of New York Times bestselling authors including Fredrik Backman, Isabel Allende, Thomas Keneally, and Janet Evanovich, among others. His authors include Jill Gutowitz (Girls Can Kiss Now, 2022), Marc Lamont Hill and Todd Brewster (Seen and Unseen, 2022), John Galligan (Bad Day Breaking, August, 2022), Nick Fuller Googins (The Great Transition, 2023), and Scott Howard-Cooper (Kingdom on Fire, 2024). He’s also worked on the bestselling novels This Tender Land and Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger and Exposure by Robert Bilott, which is the true story behind the film Dark Waters starring Marc Ruffalo.

He is seeking:

Fiction Areas of Interest:

  • Literary Fiction
  • Upmarket Fiction
  • Mystery
  • Psychological Suspense,

Nonfiction Areas of Interest:

  • Narrative Nonfiction
  • Pop Culture
  • Sports
  • Film/TV
  • Music
  • Sociology/Current Events
  • History
  • Business/Economics
  • Politics/Current Affairs
  • True Crime
  • Humor.

Authors Include: Jill Gutowitz, John Galligan, Marc Lamont Hill, Todd Brewster, Nick Fuller Googins, Scott Howard-Cooper.

Tips For Pitching Your Book at the 2023 PWW

If you are attending the online 2023 Philadelphia Writing Workshop, you may be thinking about pitching our agents and editors. An in-person (or one-on-one virtual) pitch is an excellent way to get an agent excited about both you and your work. Here are some tips (from one of previous year’s instructors, Chuck Sambuchino) that will help you pitch your work effectively at the event during a 10-minute consultation. Chuck advises that you should:

  • Try to keep your pitch to 90 seconds. Keeping your pitch concise and short is beneficial because 1) it shows you are in command of the story and what your book is about; and 2) it allows plenty of time for back-and-forth discussion between you and the agent. Note: If you’re writing nonfiction, and therefore have to speak plenty about yourself and your platform, then your pitch can certainly run longer.
  • Practice before you get to the event. Say your pitch out loud, and even try it out on fellow writers. Feedback from peers will help you figure out if your pitch is confusing, or missing critical elements. Remember to focus on what makes your story unique. Mystery novels, for example, all follow a similar formula — so the elements that make yours unique and interesting will need to shine during the pitch to make your book stand out.
  • Do not give away the ending. If you pick up a DVD for Die Hard, does it say “John McClane wins at the end”? No. Because if it did, you wouldn’t buy the movie. Pitches are designed to leave the ending unanswered, much like the back of any DVD box you read.
  • Have some questions ready. 10 minutes is plenty of time to pitch and discuss your book, so there is a good chance you will be done pitching early. At that point, you are free to ask the agent questions about writing, publishing or craft. The meeting is both a pitch session and a consultation, so feel free to ask whatever you like as long as it pertains to writing.
  • Remember to hit the big beats of a pitch. Everyone’s pitch will be different, but the main elements to hit are 1) introducing the main character(s) and telling us about them, 2) saying what goes wrong that sets the story into motion, 3) explaining how the main character sets off to make things right and solve the problem, 4) explaining the stakes — i.e., what happens if the main character fails, and 5) ending with an unclear wrap-up.