Interview With 3 #LiteraryAgents: Andrea Somberg, Mike Neff, and Emily Keyes

Interview with three literary agents: Michael Neff of AEI Entertainment Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger Inc and Emily keyes of Foreword Literary

Image: iClipart

I’ve recently returned from the PNWA Summer Writers’ Conference, and while I was there, I got some good dirt on literary agents! I attended an agents’ forum in which author Bob Dugoni asked a panel of 23 literary agents what genres they’re accepting, what they like or don’t like to hear in a pitch (and, I assume, query letters), and more. Now, as part of my conference-notes-posts on this blog, I’m going to share what I learned about each agent, in groups of three (because there’s just too much to divulge all at once).

So here are the notes I took based on Dugoni’s interview with literary agents Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger Inc., Mike Neff of AEI Entertainment, and Emily Keyes of Foreword Literary:

Andrea Somberg – She reps adult fiction, nonfiction, sci-fi, romance, thrillers, mystery, nonfiction, memoir, YA, and middle grade. When you tell her about your book, she wants to know about the characters, the conflict, and where it fits in the marketplace.

Mike Neff – He’s looking for a high-concept genre story, where the story premise is unique. AEI Entertainment is looking for books, films, and potential TV series. Recently he signed a client who got an HBO series started while she was still working on the novel. He does represent fantasy, MG, YA, sci-fi, mystery, thrillers, historicals, and up-market fiction. Some agents seem to think a title isn’t important, but to Neff, titles are incredibly important. If you have written a series, he wants you to tell him about it.

Emily Keyes – She’s looking for YA/MG and commercial fiction as well as pop culture nonfiction stories. In a pitch (or query letter), she wants YA/MG that’s voice-driven and stands out in the marketplace.

My Personal Take on Each Agent:

Andrea Somberg had a friendly demeanor at the conference, but I’ve never pitched to her before. When interviewed by Dugoni, she seemed to know a lot about the publishing business. That’s always a plus!

Mike Neff has a lot of connections in high-up places, as you can see from my interview notes. If you want your book to become a media sensation, he’d be a good agent for you, I think.

I’ve pitched to Emily Keyes at previous conferences (before I got my literary agent), and she was very polite and thoughtful. Some agents can be a little brusque at conferences because they’re inundated with so many people who want to touch their literary greatness! However Keyes has been nothing but friendly and approachable in my encounters with her. If you’ve written anything YA/MG or pop culture nonfiction, I highly recommend that you contact her. She’d be a great agent to have in terms of general personality and likability.


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