Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Jolene Haley of Donald Maass Literary Agency

Jolene Haley is a literary agent with Donald Maass Literary Agency.

Jolene Haley has been in the publishing industry since 2012 on both the publisher and agency sides in editorial, marketing, publicity, contracts, and agent positions. She has worked for literary agencies such as Marsal Lyon Literary Agency and The Bent Agency. Her well-rounded experience and extensive background in PR and marketing provides a unique perspective and a solid foundation to support authors as they build their careers.

To get a better idea of my reading tastes, here are some of my favorite books: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw, Caraval by Stephanie Garber, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara, Yes Please by Amy Poehler, The Watcher in the Shadows by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Haunted by Danielle Vega, Point Horror series, and anything from Laura Griffin, Simone Elkeles, or RL Stine.

If you comp your book to any of these shows, I would love to see your work: Forensic Files, Good Girls, Outer Banks, Pretty Little Liars, Destination Unknown, Dead to Me, Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark, Riverdale, Scream, Twisted, Star-Crossed, Supernatural, and Friday Night Lights.

Middle Grade wishlist: (ages 9-13)

I am particularly drawn to adventure, contemporary, horror, magical realism, and mystery novels. I love character driven stories with humor and authentic voices.

I’d love to see:
• Contemporary featuring stories of family, first love, and overcoming obstacles.
• Chilling tales of horror a la R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps, including creepy dolls, ghosts, and books set at camp.
• Stories involving a diverse group of friends coming together to solve a mystery or a crime, like The Goonies or Stranger Things.
• Magical tales, especially ones set at boarding schools.
• A diverse and modern-day Babysitter’s Club series or Sweet Valley Twins series.

Young Adult wishlist (ages 14-19):

I am interested in a wide variety of YA genres: adventure, contemporary, horror, magical realism, mystery, romance, and thriller. I love strong, unique voices and am always looking for diverse, inclusive reads. I have a soft spot for misunderstood characters and love interests.

I’d love to see:
• Feel-good coming of age stories like Stand by Me or Now and Then.
• Dark stories and tales of terror! Send your books involving ghosts, witches, tarot, haunted houses, cemeteries, or things that go bump in the night.
• A novel that reads like a true crime podcast.
• Myths and legends from your part of the world.
• Mysteries that involve friends banding together. If your novel can be likened to a more diverse Clue, Nancy Drew, or the Hardy Boys, send it in.
• Stories featuring your local girl gang (girls supporting girls).
• Romance in every subgenre, in every heat level. From slow burn romances to enemies-to-lovers to feel-good romances, I love them all.
• Stories involving heists of any kind.
• Adventures involving pirates, mermaids, or the ocean in any capacity.
• If your book’s aesthetic is in the dark academia realm, I’d love to see it.
• I’m forever wishing for a book that brings the same kind of autumn magic that Ray Bradbury conjured in his writing.
• Magic and witches, witches and magic, magic and witches, witches and magic. Oh, and curses too.

Adult fiction wishlist:

I am interested in the following genres: adventure, chick lit, commercial women’s fiction, mystery, romance, true crime, and select horror. I am drawn to unreliable narrators, dark and gritty tales, and stories with lots of twists and turns.

I’d love to see:
• Cozy mysteries with a lovable detective. Bonus points if it reminds me of Murder, She Wrote.
• Any and all mysteries and true crime novels.
• Romantic suspense featuring a strong lead and a hot, irresistible love interest, working together to solve a crime.
• Feel-good romance that can make a reader laugh and swoon simultaneously, especially small town romantic comedies.
• A ghost hunter rom-com or a tarot reader / psychic rom-com.
• Any and all ghost stories or stories about hauntings.

Nonfiction wishlist:

I seek well-researched and focused books on:
• Mind/body/spirit
• True crime
• Spiritualism, witchcraft, and/or magic.


• Chapter/Picture books
• Military/Political thrillers
• Pandemic stories
• High Fantasy
• Science Fiction
• Screenplays
• Novellas/Short Story Collections
• Any books where animals get hurt.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Noelle Falcis Math of Transatlantic Literary Agency

Noelle Falcis Math is a literary agent with Transatlantic Literary Agency.

Noelle is looking for projects that uplift essential voices from the margins and teaches us how to be better human. She is eager to work with and prioritize authors of marginalized identities, and is particularly drawn to stories from Southeast Asian, Pacific Island and Oceanic, and Indigenous perspectives. This said, she welcomes all stories with compelling writing that explores the mythic and the mundane, the sacred and profane, and the strange and fabulous beside the everyday. She likes to see characters evolve and change, teaching us further about ourselves, our own arcs, and the resilience of the human condition.

For fiction, she’s looking for literary, upmarket, and (especially) speculative fiction, including magical realism, fantasy, science fiction, and any genre bending and blending forms and risk-taking experimentation. She is particularly drawn to coming-of-age stories, multi-generational family sagas, migrant narratives, and unique ways of addressing systemic inequalities and the effects of colonization. She’s keen on reimagining folklore and mythology, sibling relationships, immigrant mothers and daughters, and, of course, some heart throbbing romance. She would love to see a novel-in-flash, some ancestral ghosts, and grounded historical fiction from the perspective of the margins. Ongoing favorites include: Vi Khi Nao, Marlon James, Han Kang, Bhanu Kapil, Anne Carson, Hiromi Kawakami, Samantha Hunt, Solomon Rivers, Carmen Maria Machado, Sayaka Murata, and Mona Awad.

For nonfiction, she’s looking for projects that explore the intersections of the personal, the political, and the cultural. She is specifically looking for narratives from the margins or from emerging artists and academics that know their niche deeply, with a heightened desire for Southeast Asian, Oceanic and Pacific Islander, and Indigenous voices. She would love to see strong essay collections, graphic memoirs, and narrative or prescriptive nonfiction exploring (or connecting) culture, decolonization, climate change, and revitalization efforts. Ongoing favorites include: Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Adrienne Maree Brown, Cathy Park Hong, Alexander Chee, Mohsin Hamid, Claudia Rankine, Anthony Christian Ocampo, Jia Tolentino, and Carmen Maria Machado.

Noelle Falcis Math has garnered a breadth of experience as a writer and editor before transitioning into agenting. She holds a BA and MFA in English and Creative Writing, and has received fellowships or residencies from VONA (Voices of Our Nations), Tinhouse, The Seventh Wave, and Lemontree House. At VONA, she realized the lack of knowledge accessible to marginalized writers, which fueled her interest in publishing. In 2021, she completed the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Publishing Workshop and Transatlantic Agency’s BIPOC mentorship program.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Susan Finesman of Fine Literary

Susan Finesman is a literary agent and founder of Fine Literary.

She is seeking: mainstream/book club fiction, mystery, romance, historical fiction, and young adult. In nonfiction she seeks biography, business/finance, history, mind/body/spirit, travel, lifestyle, cookbooks, memoir, and sports.

“I continue to be interested in all kinds of books but tend to be compelled by work that features characters that I cannot shake. I challenge authors to make me laugh or cry and you will have certainly won me over by doing both. I love the twists and turns of a great page-turner, can be seduced by a truly honest memoir and am delighted when transported by historical fiction. Regarding nonfiction: cookbooks and lifestyle are a particular area of interest but I can be compelled to consider almost any subject that is honest and thoughtful.”

Fine Literary Management is a boutique literary agency.

Susan  began scouting books, plays and narrative nonfiction for Tri-Star Pictures in 1986. Five years later, she moved on to SAVOY Pictures followed by a long and award winning stint at HOME BOX OFFICE where highlights included an Emmy for Ernest Gaines’ A LESSON BEFORE DYING.

Scouting books for film is like sitting in the most fabulous catbird seat, not prisoner to any particular genre and not prey to any shelf space at the bookstore. Learning how to find new stories and adapt them for the screen gave me a slightly different perspective on how to sell books to publishers. In 2010, I decided to build a seat of my own, introducing great writers first to publishers and then, not as an afterthought but as part of a coordinated plan, pursue film, television and internet opportunities.

“We work with co-agents in every territory and join forces with Hollywood agencies to broker film and television rights. At this time, we are not representing children’s picture books or work composed for the stage or screen.”

Some recent sales: The Balaboosta Way by Einat Admony (Artisan Books); Deeply Superficial by Michael Menzies (Magnus Books); Pretty Amy by LIsa Burstein (Entangled Publishing).

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Nephele Tempest of The Knight Agency

Nephele Tempest is a literary agent at The Knight Agency.

Nephele joined The Knight Agency in January, 2005, opening the Los Angeles-area office. As an agent, she loves to help her clients hone their skills and build their careers. Nephele initially worked on the editorial side of the publishing business before leaving to try other industries, including sales and finance. She spent a number of years at several major New York investment firms, first as a financial advisor and later a marketing and communications writer. This broad experience provided her with insight into multiple aspects of the publishing industry.

Nephele continues to actively build her client list and looks for fiction with both strong, well-developed characters and a story that pulls her in and won’t let go. She primarily represents women’s contemporary or historical fiction; contemporary, paranormal, and historical single-title romance; and adult fantasy and science fiction. More generally, Nephele always looks for work with diverse cultural influences, #ownvoices projects, and stories that inspire and/or make her think.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Dana Newman of Dana Newman Literary

Dana Newman is a literary agent with Dana Newman Literary. She is also an attorney

We are interested in practical nonfiction (business, health and wellness, mind/body/spirit, psychology, parenting, technology) by authors with smart, unique perspectives and established platforms who are committed to actively marketing and promoting their books.

We love compelling, inspiring narrative nonfiction in the areas of memoir, biography, history, pop culture, current affairs/women’s interest, social trends, and sports/fitness. A favorite genre is literary nonfiction: true stories, well told, that read like a novel you can’t put down.

On the fiction side we consider a select amount of literary fiction, upmarket fiction, and suspense/thriller. We look for character-driven stories written in a distinctive voice that are emotionally truthful.

Dana Newman Literary was founded by Dana Newman in 2010. Prior to becoming a literary agent, she worked for 14 years as General Counsel for Moviola and its affiliates, Paskal Lighting and Magnasync Corporation. With years of experience working in the entertainment and communications technology industries during the digital revolution in film editing and audio recording, Dana enthusiastically embraces new technologies and ideas about how books are created, distributed and experienced.

Dana combines her professional insight, educational background (B.A. in Comparative Literature from U.C. Berkeley, J.D. from University of San Francisco), and a lifelong love of reading to her role as a literary agent. She regularly attends writers’ conferences and speaks frequently on legal issues for authors (including publishing contracts, collaboration agreements, and copyright). Dana Newman Literary works with Judy Klein of Kleinworks Agency on handling clients’ foreign rights sales.

Attorney at Law: In addition to her work as a literary agent, Dana is also Of Counsel at Raines Feldman LLP, where she focuses on business and legal advising, negotiating and drafting contracts, intellectual property (copyrights and trademarks), licensing and publishing law. She has extensive experience with publishing and literary agency agreements, and also does pre-publication legal review of manuscripts. Her specialty is helping creative entrepreneurs and authors achieve their goals, and she’s represented a wide variety of clients in entertainment, media and business. She wrote “Copyright Grants: as Powerful as Kryptonite?” published in the Los Angeles Daily Journal, and co-authored the chapter on Technology and Intellectual Property Rights in the book Emerging Companies Guide: A Resource for Professionals and Entrepreneurs, Second Edition (American Bar Association 2011).

Dana is a member of the California State Bar, the Association of American Literary Agents, and the Santa Monica Library Board.