Agent Spotlight: Erin Casey Interview and Query Critique Giveaway
Today I’m thrilled to have agent Erin Casey here. She is an associate literary agent at the .
Hi Erin! Thanks so much for joining us.
1. Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.
After two internships at another agency, my manager there heard that Marietta Zacker at Nancy Gallt Literary Agency was looking to hire an assistant. She put me in touch with Marietta, and the fit was wonderful! So I joined Gallt & Zacker (then Nancy Gallt Literary Agency) as an intern in 2015 and never left! I’ve been learning and moving forward since then, most recently getting promoted to associate agent in May of 2019. Since then I’ve been focused on building my list while assisting the office with international and audio rights.
About the Agency:
2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.
Established in 2000 by Nancy Gallt, and later joined by Marietta B. Zacker, we aim to bring to life stories and artwork that help young readers throughout the world become life-long book enthusiasts and to inspire and entertain readers of all ages. We represent authors and illustrators who share and, through their work, exemplify that vision. We are a small agency of 5 agents and one international rights director and we are committed to finding and advocating for authors who want to make the world a better, more thoughtful, more interesting place one book at a time.
What She’s Looking For:
3. What age groups do you represent—picture books, MG, and/or YA? What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres?
I represent all ages in kid lit, so PB through YA, and I am open to all genres. I am particularly drawn to the “genre” genres, like fantasy, speculative, fabulism, and magical realism but I often prefer stories that are grounded in our world. I do not have a devoted picture book author on my list yet, so I would love to find someone who is doing something special in that space. I find myself particularly picky about picture books, and I really want them to have something to say about the world, without being didactic. I am also open to nonfiction in all these age categories and prefer stories that center on the story of a moment or movement or object/invention.
4. Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?
I’ve been an athlete all my life and would love to see more sports books that have a unique angle, particularly by non-white, non-cisgendered authors. I’d love more stories featuring less “mainstream” sports (I’m still waiting for my ultimate frisbee book!). I’ve also been hoping for a womxn-in-the-outdoors story for some time, about hiking or camping or survival. I also love learning about monsters and myths, so I’d welcome fantasy, speculative, or even horror from authors of non-white backgrounds writing about non-western mythologies.
What She Isn’t Looking For:
5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?
As a white, able-bodied, cis-gendered woman, I have always had access to stories that reflect my identity and experience. The world needs more books that reflect a greater range of experiences, identities, and cultures, so please no books founded on heterosexual white kid high school drama.
6. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?
Thanks to great mentorship, I often ask myself, “Why does the world need this book?” while I’m reviewing submissions. Sometimes the answer is as simple as “Because it’s so fun to read!” but I always want to have an answer for that question for all the books I represent. I want to know why this book should get picked up off the shelf instead of the one next to it. Why is it special? Why should a child read it? What does the world look like with this book in it? I want the books I represent to bring joy and understanding and truth and entertainment! But I also want them to “do no harm” (well, except maybe tearing the reader’s heart into a million pieces because it’s so good!).
7. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?
Yes I would call myself an editorial agent. I was a creative writing major in college and I decided to pursue a career in publishing because I realized I enjoyed helping make other people’s stories better more than writing my own. I always make margin comments while reading a new client manuscript and then I’ll often read the manuscript again once I have the whole picture in mind so I can see how each scene fits. I will often send a summary email with “Big Thoughts” along with the annotated manuscript so my client can keep larger ideas/changes in mind while they review my notes. I only write edit letters when I really need to organize my thoughts or explain myself in a more linear fashion – otherwise it just feels like double work! I try to keep in mind that I cannot acquire the book (more good mentorship!), so while I may have subjective opinions that I can talk to the author about, I want to make suggestions that objectively make the book better (at least to 90% of people!) and will give it a better chance of being acquired by an editor. I will go through as many rounds of revision as it takes for the author and I to both feel confident that the story is the best we can make it objectively, while always keeping in mind that this is the author’s story and their vision is most important.
Query Methods and Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)
8. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter?
Please follow our submission guidelines at and submit to my query specific email. Note that I am currently closed to queries but will be reopening in October.
9. Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?
I will always read the sample as long as the querier did their best to follow our submissions guidelines! That being said, I find it slightly off-putting when the query is written from the perspective of the main character.
10. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?
On our website, we say that if you haven’t heard back from us in 4 weeks you can feel free to query another agent at the agency or elsewhere. I will say that, since Covid-19, I have not caught back up to this 4 week timeline! That is why I am currently closed and hopefully I will be able to respond in that timeframe when I reopen in October. Regarding requested pages, I am currently responding to partials within 4 weeks and fulls within 4-6 weeks.
Self-Published and Small Press Authors:
11. Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?
Yes! I will say I have no experience with self-publishing, so I will not be able to help you self-publish your book. However, if you want to traditionally publish, I will do my best to help you achieve your goal no matter the size of the publisher and no matter your publishing history. My advice would be to be upfront with your publishing history (it’s helpful, not harmful) and if you are querying a previously self-published book, know that the route toward traditionally publishing the title may be difficult but it is possible, depending on how many copies you’ve sold. In general, having a self-published past should not negatively impact your ability to traditionally publish in the future!
12. With all the changes in publishing—self-publishing, hybrid authors, more small publishers—do you see the role of agents changing at all? Why?
I see agents doing more to protect their clients and advocate for them when Publishers are required to put their company first (negotiating morality and confidentiality clauses, advocating for virtual event protections, etc.). I also see agents finding more and more ways to connect with potential clients, through Instagram or Tiktok for example. Agents are becoming more versatile and innovative, but their role as advocates for their clients is the same as always.
13. Who are some of the authors you represent?
– check out THE BRIGHT FAMILY on Epic!
– author of THE MIDNIGHT WAR OF MATEO MARTINEZ, OWL’S OUTSTANDING DONUTS, and THEY JUST KNOW: ANIMAL INSTINCTS.
(co-represented with Nancy Gallt) – author of MARKED, WATER SHAPER, and ALIA WAKING.
And others whose work I hope you’ll be seeing soon!!
Interviews and Guest Posts:
14. Please share the links to any interviews and guest posts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.
For picture book writers/illustrators:
Links and Contact Info:
15. Please share how writers should contact you to submit a query and your links on the Web.
Our submissions guidelines:
My Twitter handle:
16. Is there any other advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors that we haven’t covered?
Do your research! Particularly if you are a writer/illustrator from a marginalized background. There is an amazing push for work from diverse creators right now, but please make sure that the agents you are querying are good people who want to help you and your work and will protect and support you. There are people looking to take advantage of unsuspecting writers, and those who may not be making the effort to understand BIPOC, disabled, or queer clients in a way that will make them good representatives for your work. So look them up on every platform you can, ask friends, and ask the agent questions if you do have a phone call. As hard as I know it is to hear when you’re trying to achieve your dream, a bad agent is worse than no agent.
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Erin.
Erin is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment through October 3rd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest. Please be sure I have your email address. [/b]If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at
Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.