Query.Sign.Submit. with Hannah Bowman

Hannah Bowman_literary agent

Hannah specializes in commercial fiction, especially science fiction and fantasy, women's fiction, cozy mysteries, romance and young adult. Hannah is also interested in nonfiction, particularly in the areas of mathematics, science and religion (especially history and sociology of Christianity). She responds to all queries.

To connect with and learn more about Hannah . . .

Liza Dawson Associates Literary Agency
Tumblr Blog

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


What WOWs you in a query?

Fantastic writing. A query is another form of storytelling, and if you tell a fabulous story in 250 words, I’ll be hooked.

Is it okay for a writer to nudge concerning queries or partial/full requests?

It’s fine to nudge after a reasonable amount of time (like 30 days, or longer for a full). Just be polite, and don’t be surprised if your nudge doesn’t get an immediate response – often I’m waiting to respond until I’ve read the project I’ve just been reminded about.

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

I offer an R&R if I absolutely love something in the writing and see real potential in it, but there are issues with the story that are so big that they would require a substantial rewrite. I’m happy to do smaller edits with clients – and edit all of my clients’ books – but if the rewrite will really make it a different book, I’ll ask for an R&R if I just can’t bear to let it slip away.

What does it take for you to offer representation?

I have to simply love a project and want to tell everyone about how great it is.

What would you love to find in the slush pile?

Good adult science fiction, always. I’m also on the lookout for adult historical fantasy and YA high fantasy.


How editorial are you?

I’m a very editorial agent (our whole agency is very hands-on, in fact). I will almost always do at least one round of revisions with clients before sending a project on submission, and sometimes many more. If I can see potential in a project, I’m willing to work with a writer for as long as it takes to create the strongest book that I can sell.

How do you get to know editors and what they’re looking for?

I meet frequently with editors when I’m in New York to learn more about their lists and what they’re looking for. I also meet editors at conferences and other genre-specific events. I’m also active on Twitter, which I’ve found to be a surprisingly helpful way to connect with editors, especially in conjunction with face-to-face meetings. When I’m putting together a list to submit a new project to, I’m looking at my own contacts as well as suggestions from editors my colleagues know (so my clients have the whole breadth of knowledge of our agency behind them) as well as editors who I think will be a good fit based on previous books they edited.

At what point would a client share new story ideas with you?

I’m always happy to discuss new ideas with my clients! In general, I like to see pitches of new projects when clients begin working on them, so I always have a sense of what’s in the works. It’s useful to know what direction the author wants to go and what projects they’d love to write as early in the process as possible, so we can be strategic in planning what will be the best next book for their career.

Do you want to see sample chapters as a client writes or do you prefer to wait until the manuscript is finished? Or is it up to the client?

I almost always ask to see the first 100 pages or so of new projects (on books under contract as well as new unsold projects). I think it’s useful for the author to get feedback at that point, when the story is already coming together but before all the plot is set in stone. It also makes it possible for the author to have readers at different points: I’ll read every 100 pages as the book is being written, their editor will only read it once it’s complete, etc., so we have multiple perspectives to make it the best possible book.


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

Yes, although I may disagree with the suggestions and share why. But I’m always happy to discuss it.

Do you forward editor feedback to writers?

I generally forward editor feedback that has helpful comments. I always let writers know when editors respond to me.

At what point might you suggest making more revisions?

I’ll suggest further revisions if an editor makes editorial comments that I think are right for the manuscript and will make it a stronger book.

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

Write a new book! The most important thing while on submission is to distract yourself and keep writing. The submission process is out of your hands and is about the market, not the quality of your work. The best thing you can do is work on a new project.

How much contact do you have with a client when he/she is out on submission? Do you send weekly updates or update as responses come in?

I update as responses come in.

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

It is always okay for my clients to contact me if they have any questions at all, about anything.

Thank you, Hannah!

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

Posted December 2013 – Always check for current info and guidelines.


  1. Great interview! I blog and tweet with a couple of your clients and I know they love you. I'm not sure if you're checking back for questions, but are you interested in NA fantasy as well as YA, and how do you feel about light steampunk?

  2. Anyone who gets to be Hannah's client is a lucky writer :)

  3. Great interview. I met Hannah at a conference and she seemed very knowledgable. She seems like a great agent.

  4. Very helpful and insightful questions & answers. Thank you for sharing this -- agent interviews are like gold and it's so generous of you both to share your time!


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