Literary Agents Seeking Disability Diversity

The following is a list of literary agents who have recently expressed interest in representing disabled authors and / or work about disability, including mental illness.

This list is largely a compilation of tweets on the hashtag #MSWL, corresponding to the wonderful Manuscript Wish List site.

#Disability is an evergreen wish for many agents, meaning there’s a clear gap in queries that they’re hoping to fill.

#OwnVoices = your firsthand experience directly informs your creative work ie. you identify as having the disability you’re writing about.

#WNDV = We Need Diverse Voices — inclusive of disability, mental illness, neurodiversity etc.

NB: If the agent who catches your eye is currently closed to queries, you may find someone else at the same agency with similar interests. Also, agents move. If you can’t find a particular person at the agency I listed, Google their name and see if they turn up somewhere else — and please let me know so I can update the listing.

* Inclusion here does not equal endorsement. Please do your own research before querying.

All links are current as of August 2020. If you know an agent who should be added to / deleted from this list, please let me know.

Thank you!

— Nicole Melanson

 

 

Alekseii, Keir (Azantian Literary Agency)

As a neurodivergent, queer woman of color, Keir is invested in discovering engaging work with similar representation, and is passionate about creating space for voices not often recognized.

 

Ash Literary

Hi #PitchDis! We are founded by a disabled agent so will definitely be dipping in. Looking for MG and YA including graphic novels.”

 

Crandall, Becca (Carolyn Jenks Agency)

“Happy 14 years of being a type 1 diabetic to me!!! With my agency’s recent relaunch, I guess it’s a good time to note I’d love to see some manuscripts with type 1 diabetic protagonists – or chronic illness, disability, neurodiversity rep in general. #mswl”

 

Cusick, John (Folio Literary Management)

“I get a lot of great queries from marginalized voices (thank you, keep them coming!!), and one gap I’ve noticed is characters with disabilities. Define that however you choose, but I want to see more of this kind of representation in kidlit, and on my list specifically. #MSWL”

 

Dallow, Jess (Brower Literary Management)

“And, of course, I am always looking for stories featuring disability, mental illness, LGBTQ, POC, #ownvoices, different cultures, different religions…INCLUSIVE. #MSWL”

 

Davis, Naomi (BookEnds Literary Agency)

“Picture books (fiction or NF) that show neurodiversity, disability, LGBTQ+ family structures, diaspora or immigrant experiences Adult NF: I’m interested in cookbooks that teach me something new about the world”

“I walk with a cane some days. I would love to see PBs (author/illustrator or author) that center and celebrate mobility aids, accessibility accommodations, different paces of life, and disability-related supports. Stories that celebrate the uniqueness of life with disability.”

 

Fabien, Samantha S. (Samantha S. Fabien)

“I’m really looking for Black witches/psychics in contemporary fantasy (adult, YA, or MG), plus size MCs, YA and adult thrillers/suspense, and please keep sending these #ownvoices LGBTQIA+ and disability rep books.”

And I am eager to support commercial and high stakes stories featuring BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, disability, and neurodiversity representation.”

 

Fisk, Sarah (The Tobias Agency)

I have a personal interest in stories featuring queer characters as well as characters with disability, neurodiversity, chronic illness, or mental health challenges.”

 

Forney, Emily (BookEnds Literary Agency)

Update on my #mswl for early 2021 For MG (open to almost everything here): Disability rep in genre fiction…”

 

Gilbert, Tara (Jennifer D. Chiara Literary Agency)

“I’d love to see books in MG, YA, Adult with WITCHES. POC voices, LGBTQIA+, Neuro diversity, disabilities, magical realism/realistic with fantastical elements All a plus! #MSWL”

 

Hellegers, Allison (Stimola Literary Studio)

Disability representation/stories are crucial and a big priority on my #mswl”

 

Johnson, Kaitlin (Belcastro Agency)

“I LOVE Fantasy (Urban, Contemporary, Epic, the whole wazoo). Give me lush worlds, fabulous magic systems, diverse and deep cultures. I’d love to see these also grappling with environmental issues or disability/mental health #MSWL”

 

Marshea, Beth (Ladderbird Literary Agency)

“Just thinking about how few manuscripts I get from folks with disabilities. Friends, if you’re writing, I’m here for you. Send over your best! #mswl”

 

Lakosil, Natalie (Irene Goodman Literary Agency)

“I’m prioritizing projects by and about BIPOC and underrepresented voices. Within that, particularly interested in projects with intersectionality, trans and disability rep, and ANYTHING by Native, First Nations and Indigenous authors.”

 

Lewis, Bibi (Ethan Ellenberg Agency)

“In all ages and genres I am seriously hoping to see more books starring mc’s with disabilities. #ownvoices especially encouraged. I want to see stories that show the full range of life and experiences–joy, accomplishments, ambition, sadness, friendship, love. #MSWL”

 

Lionetti, Kim (BookEnds Literary Agency)

I remain eager to bring more disability and neurodiverse #ownvoices representation to romance, women’s fiction and YA contemporaries. #MSWL”

 

Price, Kortney (Raven Quill Literary Agency)

“And on to YA! I’d love a sweet contemporary romance that’s “artsy” or “geeky,” MAJOR bonus points if you have #disability rep in your story #mswl”

 

Reino, Jessica (Metamorphosis Literary Agency)

“When @MetamorphLitAg opens back up for queries in the new year-very high on my #mswl are holiday romances featuring LGBTQ, POC, characters with disability, chronic illness/invisible illness. #amquerying #writingcommunity can’t wait to see your work!”

 

Sharp, Tori (Jennifer Di Chiara Literary Agency)

This [casual disability rep as referenced in another tweet] is very high on my #mswl, and I’ll add that I’d love to see more characters in children’s literature who have ‘invisible’ disabilities.”

 

Silver, Lydia (Darley Anderson Children’s Book Agency)

Above all, I’m prioritising books from writers who identify as under-represented in publishing, whether that’s because of their race, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, socio-economic background or any other reason. Publishing needs these stories!”

 

Turnmire, Shauna (ArtHouse Lit)

Across the board, she’s looking for an inclusive cast of characters, across gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, and mental health spectrums.

 

Watters, Carly S. (P.S. Literary Agency)

“Something exploring ability/disability#OWNVOICES non-fiction or fiction but my taste skews more commercial, not literary.”

 

Webber, Carlisle (Fuse Literary Agency)

“24/7/365 I welcome #ownvoices. I welcome all and would especially love stories by&about people of color, with disabilities (esp invisible), who have mental illness, who are LGBTQ, or who are economically disadvantaged #MSWL #wndb”

 

Wekstein, Samantha (Thompson Literary Agency)

“#MSWL Fat positive, disability positive, body positive in general books!”

 

Weiss, Alexandra (Azantian Literary Agency)

“I would love to see more own voices disability rep in MG and YA, especially for the Deaf and HoH community,”

 

White, Caitlin (Emerald City Literary Agency)

ALWAYS looking to partner with and support writers of color, writers who live with disabilities (me too!), neurodiverse writers, and otherwise underserved and underrepresented authors in #YA and #MG.”

 

Zampetti, Leslie (Dunham Literary, Inc.)

Diabetes truly is an invisible disease. Though I’d love MG or YA with Type 1 or Type 2… #MSWL

16 thoughts on “Literary Agents Seeking Disability Diversity

  1. Hi
    I have been writing a book on wellness , self advocacy as LGBTGQ man who is a speech disorder and an professional health care worker and a patient advocated liaison who has POTS and Diabetes type 1. Challenge as is to find the agent in covid times.
    Advice

    Like

    • Hi Robby, agents handle queries online, so COVID shouldn’t impact that. The only thing I’d caution is that agents are being extra careful which projects they take on and really looking for 1) work with commercial value and 2) authors who can self-promote. But you should finish your book before you look for agents anyway. Good luck! 🙂

      Like

  2. HI, I spent 2 hours writing to one of the recommended agents who ‘listen’ to minorities. I explained how my mental health issues have ipacted me and nformed my writing. Her office was ‘open to submissions’.
    I got a short reply. ‘Not open to submissins’.
    When it comes to mental helath issues… same old same old.

    I am going back to applying to agents who do not profess understing of diability, I find the equal treatement better than the hypocrocy.

    Nice to know she is keen on the gendre promouns thng though!

    “I’m sorry, I am not currently open to queries.
    Warmly,
    Beth Marshea (She/her) https://time.com/4327915/gender-neutral-pronouns/
    Agent
    Ladderbird Literary Agency”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi R., most agents read in cycles. Some have also slowed due to the pandemic. When I click on Beth’s query link, it says she’s not accepting queries at this time, so I would think it’s less to do with your subject matter and more that you queried outside her submission window.

      Like

  3. Thanks for spelling this out for us. So it looks like these kinds of agents are only interested in 1) Disability that is trendy and profitable (for whom is the question though). 2) Disabled authors who, in addition to writing and being available for appearances, are also willing to bear the brunt of the marketing and promoting (regardless of how their disability impacts them). Read this way, one wonders how the call for “diversity” is truly representative. I am left wondering if there are any agents (or publishers) who are truly invested in equitable representation of diversity and elevating diverse voices. Would love to see that list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Janine, I’m not sure what you mean by trendy in this instance. Agents do need to be confident they can sell whatever they represent, though. ‘Twas ever thus but perhaps even more so now in such tough market conditions. The pressure to self-promote is definitely a challenge, particularly for disabled authors, but the shift to online events seems to be helping with accessibility a little bit at least. Sadly, I think most authors across the board need to be prepared to do their own marketing now. It’s almost as much of a job as the writing itself these days.

      Like

      • I’d add that in some situations, it can be helpful to skip agent-hunting altogether and just submit directly to small presses who may be less looking for huge commercial success and more amenable to promoting passion projects in creative ways.

        Like

  4. I’m 56, totally blind and chronically ill, including mental illness. Although I’ve self-published, I’m looking into finding a literary agent. I just wonder if I’m too old or chronically ill to even get started. What is a “passion project”?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Thea. A passion project is something someone pursues because the work speaks to their heart. These projects aren’t always mainstream and commercial; they’re things someone gets behind because they believe the work belongs in the world. As for your age and your illness, neither should preclude you from finding an agent. Make your work as good as you can, put together a solid pitch with a clear idea of where your writing sits in the market and how you can help promote it, then keep going until you make a connection. Good luck!

      Like

Leave a Reply to Janine Deaux Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s