Query.Sign.Submit. with Suzie Townsend

Suzie Townsend Literary Agent

Suzie represents Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult. See query guidelines here.

You’ll receive an auto-response when you send your query and she responds to all queries within two weeks.


To connect with and learn more about Suzie . . .

New Leaf Literary

literary agent and author Now for Suzie’s insight on querying, signing with an agent, and going on submission!


Do you always read a query all the way through? If not, what would make you stop reading?

Nope. I read the first few lines and get the gist of the concept. If it grabs me, I read a little more. If I’m still interested, I skip down to the pages and start them. Usually within the first couple paragraphs of the pages, I know if I want to read more. If I do, I request.

How do you tackle your inbox? Do you go in order or jump around?

For my queries I sit down when I have a block of time (usually at the end of the week) and I power through them. I start with the first email and go all the way through to the end.

Do you ever offer a Revise & Resubmit? When would you do so?

Yes. If I think the writing has a lot of potential but something in the manuscript needs work, I’ll give some notes and encourage the author to revise and resubmit. If the characters and the voice are really compelling but the plot and/or worldbuilding needs work, I’ll offer notes. It’s all about how much I love what’s there and how confident I am that the manuscript can be fixed.

Most Revise & Resubmits don’t turn into offers, though. Too many authors turn them around too quickly or go for a quick fix in the notes rather than trying to apply them through the manuscript. Some don’t ever resubmit too.


Once a writer has signed with you, what’s the next step?

Usually the first step is edits. Before I sign a client, I let them know what my editorial vision for the project is—so they know what they’re getting into. Depending on the project, revisions can take a week or two or it can take several months. Once the manuscript is ready, we go on submission.

How do you put together a list of editors to send to?

A lot of times when I’m reading a manuscript, editors who might be the right fit for it come to mind. By the time I sign the author, I usually have a long list of possible editors in my head. I narrow it down by checking up their recent acquisitions or meeting up with them for drinks or lunch while the author is revising.

Should a writer share previous contact with editors with you? For example, from conferences or workshops.

Yes, definitely. Those editors might not be the right fit for any given reason, but it’s always important information for me to know.


Can a client make suggestions or share a wish list when it comes to editors/imprints to submit to?

Sure, they can, but it’s really important for my authors to trust me. If they don’t, we’re not the right fit.

If an author knows an editor well, has worked with someone in the past, loves the books and feel of a specific imprint, or perhaps met someone through a workshop, then yes, it’s good to have a discussion. But there’s a chance that the editor or imprint isn’t the right fit for the project.

Do you forward editor feedback to writers?

Yes, in most cases. A couple times I’ve had authors decide they’d rather not see the specific passes and in those cases I hold onto them and tell the author when we’re ready for the next step—either an offer or more revisions.

At what point might you suggest making more revisions?

If we get a number of passes with similar feedback or if the first round of revisions closes out, then I reread the manuscript and suggest revisions—or talk to the writer about their next project. There’s a chance that it might be the concept instead of the writing. If that’s the case we focus on something new.

What kind of feedback or response do you hope for after sending a manuscript to an editor? A book deal, of course, but what kind of feedback is a good sign?

What do you suggest a writer does while out on submission?

Write more. I usually suggest to work on a new project rather than a sequel.

Is it okay for a client to check in if there hasn’t been any news in a while?

Yes. I love hearing from my clients. I hope I keep them pretty updated. I try—I even send a lot of “I don’t have any new news, but I’m just saying hi” emails. My suggestion to authors would be to do the same. Check in and say hi. Update your agent on what you’re doing. The truth is, if there hasn’t been any news from your agent it’s because they don’t have any for you. That doesn’t mean they haven’t thought about you though. If it’s me, I’ll enjoy the conversation and probably throw in an update too.

Thanks so much, Suzie!

Want more?

See other Query. Sign. Submit. interviews
Read inspiring stories of writers getting agents
Find out about agent-judged contests

Posted July, 2013 – Always check for current info and guidelines.


  1. It's so interesting to get these insights into the process. Thank you so much!

  2. Great insight! Thanks for the detailed post and interview! :)


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