I’m very excited about this post.

New series alert! I’ve been hoping to feature literary agent interviews on my blog for quite some time and I finally have my first post to share: an interview with Molly Ker Hawn of The Bent Agency! Like anything I do though, Gifs are involved, so below you’ll find out more about Molly’s career as an agent, what she’s looking for now and a few choice Gifs to describe her job. Enjoy!


1. I know it’s different for almost every agent I’ve ever spoken to so, how did you get into agenting?

I worked for years in various roles in children’s publishing, and then I took a few years off and had children, moved from New York to London, and thought about what I wanted to do next. Jenny Bent and I are old friends, and she approached me about joining the Bent Agency. I had no experience as an agent, but I had plenty of publishing experience, and the idea of trying something new was really appealing after being away from the industry for a few years. I joined the agency in 2012.


2. What are the top three things you look for in a query/any tips for querying authors?

Well, thoughtfully-chosen comp titles are always really useful. Obviously “for fans of THE HUNGER GAMES and HARRY POTTER” isn’t helpful at all, but if the comp titles are books that were original/unusual themselves, or books that I’ve said I particularly enjoyed, I’ll always be intrigued. I always appreciate when authors use the query letter to tell me more about their book than about themselves — I see a lot of queries are more life story than pitch. And if there’s a specific reason an author is querying me, I like to know — whether it’s because they enjoyed a book by one of my clients, or they feel they have something in common with me, or they remember something useful/amusing/embarrassing that I said on Twitter.

3. What are some things that will make you stop reading requested material?

Just one thing will make me stop reading: feeling bored.

4. What do you look for in a story? What really grabs your attention?

I look at writing even more than I look at story. I love language; I love feeling like a writer has chosen every word carefully. Craft is important to me as plot. That said, I like stories that make me forget that I’m evaluating them. Anything that draws me in to the point where I’m just enjoying the ride is special. 

5. Anything in particular you’re looking for right now?

I’d love to find a witty MG adventure or fantasy that will appeal to both American and overseas publishers. And for a long time, I’ve been interested in writing from the South Asian diaspora — I’d love to find a YA project that feels like Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy or Daniyal Mueenuddin’s In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

6. Do you have any trend predictions for what’s next in the kidlit world?

I think there’s a real openness right now to perspectives that feel fresh and different to publishers, and a desire to think about the readers who don’t often see themselves in MG and YA fiction. Books that would have been considered ’too niche’ a few years ago are getting a lot more visibility. My hope is that that’s not a trend, but a shift in the way we think about publishing. It’s long past time.

7. Describe your ideal client.

Talented, patient, resilient, responsive.

8. Anything exciting coming up for your clients?

Too many things to mention! I’ve been sitting on a bunch of deal announcements for various reasons (did you know some publishers won’t let a deal be announced until the contract is signed? And I’ve sold a few on proposal that I’ll announce when we have full drafts to share with foreign publishers). I sold one at auction to an editor who described it as ‘the meta-YA project of my dreams’; another is from one of my clients who already has a wide audience for their YA fantasy. My client Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock is shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal in the UK and the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (I’ve been practicing pronouncing that) in Germany, which is hugely exciting. Kendra Fortmeyer’s debut HOLE IN THE MIDDLE comes out in the UK this summer, and I think it will establish her as a really powerful new voice in YA. And much more. I could kvell all day about my clients!

9. What’s your favorite/least favorite part of being an agent?

The day I forced myself to admit that I will never, ever catch up on my reading was a tough one. There will always be more submissions to read. For someone like me, who basically gets high on completing tasks, this is a grim fact.

On the other hand, there’s nothing like the thrill of finding gold in my submissions. I remember reading an incredible manuscript on a flight from London to New York once — with no wifi on the flight, and none of those seat-back phones you used to find on airplanes — and asking the stranger sitting next to me to read a page of it, because I had to share my excitement with someone. I wish I’d got her address so I can send her an ARC when it comes in.

10.   Describe being an agent in three GIFS.






To query Molly, please review The Bent Agency’s submissions guidelines
Then email

Molly Ker Hawn represents authors who write for the young adult and middle grade market.

Benjamin-My Seventh-Grade Life in TightsHi guys! Today is the start of a brand new series on Rad/Dom – the #Amquerying series! For those of you who don’t know, querying is the process of procuring a literary agent and it can be equal parts soul crushing and fantastic. I am smack in the middle of my querying journey and thought it would be great to share stories from already agent-ed authors with you all. My first guest is the very awesome, funny and talented Brooks Benjamin whose new book MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS, comes out April 12th! You can pre-order his book here and read below to find out how he got his agent, how he dealt with querying and more!

RAD/DOM:  How did you prepare for querying? Did you use query tracker or any similar tools?

Brooks Benjamin: I was a complete noob when it came to querying. I actually had to Google what a query letter was and was already typing up some to print out when I found a few other writers on Twitter who pointed me toward Query Tracker. I used it a little, but more than anything I just searched agents’ websites and tried to find some that seemed like a good fit. Plus that gave me a way to personalize the query letter a bit more.

RAD/DOM: Was the book you got your agent for the first book you wrote/queried?

Brooks Benjamin:  It was the second, actually. My first book is a MG fantasy that I’m still very excited to get in front of some editors soon!

RAD/DOM: What was the process like for you? Can you share stats? If not, can you tell us a timeline of how long it took for you to get your agent?

 Brooks Benjamin: My journey with TIGHTS wasn’t very typical, I don’t think. After I got into Pitch Wars (Marieke Nijkamp was my mentor and you should all go buy her book, THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS immediately because it’s phenomenal), I held off on querying because I wanted to see how it did in the contest. It got a few nibbles, but nothing major. So Marieke told me to go ahead and begin querying–this was in January–and by February I had my first offer. A couple more trickled in and I ended up signing with the Genius German Uwe Stender of TriadaUS Literary Agency.


RAD/DOM: How did you feel during the process of querying? Anxious, stressed, cool?


Brooks Benjamin: So anxious. But it was that excited kind of anxious where the waiting sort of presses in on you from all sides like a hug. 


RAD/DOM: How did you cope with the emotions involved with querying? Did you keep busy doing anything else?


Brooks Benjamin: I wrote. A lot.


RAD/DOM: Anything unexpected about the querying process for you?


Brooks Benjamin: I was surprised how many agents actually responded. I figured most wouldn’t, but nearly every single one of them sent something back.


RAD/DOM: If you could give querying authors one piece of advice what would it be?


Brooks Benjamin: Don’t stress. I know that’s hard not to do when you’re waiting, but I remember when I began querying, I was convinced that an agent was going to scrutinize my query so much that if it wasn’t 100% perfect, it’d end up in the trash. But agents want your query to be the next one they fall in love with. They want your story to pull them in. They want you to be the next author they decide to sign. So don’t stress. Just write the best story you can write, send out those queries, and wait until it lands in front of the right agent.


RAD/DOM: Did other writers comes into play in terms of helping to manage stress/share good or bad news/revise your query or opening pages?


Brooks Benjamin: Oh goodness yes. I have some incredible critique partners and critique groups who are such brilliant writers. I literally couldn’t have done this without them.


RAD/DOM: When did you get the call? Can you describe that day or moment for us?


Brooks Benjamin: I was at home in the middle of writing when I got the email from Uwe. I’ll never forget it. He said, “I just finished the read. I LOVE the book!  I laughed and I cried and I will call you tomorrow to talk and convince you to sign with me!” And when we did talk, I knew right away that he was the agent I had to sign with. His enthusiasm for TIGHTS was too hard to ignore!


RAD/DOM: Describe the querying process in 3 gifs.


Brooks Benjamin:
Ready to send
. wiggle butt


Waiting impatiently for someone to love your idea


Trying to stay busy.
stay busy


Bonus gif four: Finding an error in your query as soon as you hit send.
freak out


RAD/DOM: Tell us a little about your upcoming book


Brooks Benjamin: MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS is all about a twelve-year-old boy named Dillon. He’s the only one on his dance crew with no real technique. Kassie (the crew leader) only has one rule she dances by: dance studios are for sell-outs. But when a chance to compete at the biggest dance academy in the state falls in Dillon’s lap, he has to decide what’s more important: sticking to his crew’s rules or finally getting a chance to freestyle his way into solo greatness.

RAD/DOM: Anything else you’d like to share??

Brooks Benjamin: I’d love to give a shout out to my critique groups (the MGBetareaders and Middle Grade Minded) as well as my fellow debut authors (The Sweet Sixteens and the Class of 2K16)! Y’all are the best!


About Brooks:

BB author picture

In sixth grade, Brooks Benjamin formed a New Kids on the Block tribute dance crew called the New Kidz. He wasn’t that good at dancing back then. But now he’s got a new crew—his wife and their dog. They live in Tennessee, where he teaches reading and writing and occasionally busts out a few dance moves. He’s still not that good at it. His first novel, MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS will be released by Delacorte/Random House (April 12, 2016).

Benjamin-My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights