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.
Audrey Crooks is an Associate Agent at Trident Media Group.
She joined the agency in 2020 as an assistant to Don Fehr and Ellen Levine. Previously, Audrey was an intern at the Frances Goldin Literary Agency, a bookseller, and from 2017-2018 she lived in Jordan, working for a nonprofit serving Gazan women refugees. Audrey’s academic background is in poetry and Middle Eastern Studies.
While continuing to work closely with Ellen Levine, Audrey is open to submissions and excited to collaborate with authors as an Associate Agent. She is seeking literary fiction, speculative fiction, story collections, international works, and upmarket and genre fiction with a literary bent. She is drawn to smart, character-driven stories with a sense of humor and style. She welcomes the surreal and is excited by fiction that explores gender, language, identity, built and natural environments, and/or systems of power in creative and compelling ways.
For nonfiction submissions, Audrey is looking for memoir, narrative nonfiction, cultural criticism, and human-centered journalistic deep-dives, with particular interests in food and dining, fashion, nightlife, dance, the cultures of the contemporary Middle East, and the American South.
If you are coming to the 2023 Writing Conference of Los Angeles (May 13, 2023), you may be thinking about pitching our agent-in-attendance or editor-in-attendance. An in-person pitch is an excellent way to get an agent excited about both you and your work. Here are some tips (from a previous instructor) 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.