Interview with Agent Hannah Mann

 

hm headshot croppedHannah Mann is a junior agent at Writers House. She is open to submissions and is seeking clients in children’s lit through YA. In picture books, Hannah is drawn to ‘artful, human, and/or humorous picture books that are driven by expressive characters.’ She prefers art ‘with something fresh going on (or that pays homage to a classic with its own modern layering).’ For more details on Hannah’s preferences, please visit her Publishers Marketplace profile

Thank you, Hannah!

You interned at Writers House in NYC before moving to intern with Steven Malk in San Diego (I sort of feel like I need to whisper his name, like ‘He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,’ but in a good way). How did you get that all started? Are your NYC friends jealous of your San Diego winters?

That’s very funny, but I agree—Steven Malk is a total legend, and I’m grateful everyday that I’ve gotten to learn from the best. It’s a long story, but I applied for the job with him before interning, and ended up landing it after interning. I needed a little publishing experience, and I’m so glad I got to be in the New York office for a little while—I really feel like it’s informed my sense of pride in the Writers House ethos and reputation, and it’s great to have faces and real connection with the people I’m emailing all day!

Did you always know you wanted to work in publishing or with books in some capacity? When did you figure that out? What job would you snatch up if publishing jobs weren’t an option?

I think, like a lot of people, it probably started with wanting to be a writer. The publishing industry can be mysterious before actually being in it, so I think a lot of people’s first thought is, “okay, I love books, so I’ll write them!” The truth is that so much goes into every single book, and there are also so many books! Once I started to realize that, I thought I might want to be an editor, but when I discovered agency, and its intersection of creativity with business, I knew it was what I wanted to do. I love being behind the scenes and advocating for creators. If I weren’t in publishing, I think I’d want to be in medicine—not that I could do it! I’m just fascinated by biology and love people.

You mention in your bio that as a kid, you fell in love with Drummer Hoff, The Runaway Bunny, Miss Nelson Is Missing!, and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs. Do you have any recent favorites that reflect what you’d love to see in your slush pile?

That’s a great question. I really like different kinds of picture books (from funny/bizarre to borderline sappy), but to name names, I suppose some of my favorites of the last few years would be When’s My Birthday, The Wonderful Things You Will Be, The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse, They All Saw A Cat, The Bad Mood and the Stick, and Real Cowboys.

 Are you still interested in retellings of classics?

Yes—I’d love to see a modern YA inspired by Shakespeare’s Henry VIII. I think Henry’s narration of the ruin he causes—as he is causing it and, in essence, making the audience party to it—is one of the most compelling narrative devices in all of literature. It feels a bit timely, as well.

If you had an all-expense paid vacation to anywhere in the world, where would you go? Dogs, cats, or chia pets? Favorite ice cream flavor? What about hobbies? Any sports or teams you’re particularly fond of?

Japan. Dogs. McConnell’s Salted Cream & Cookies. Swimming in the ocean. Love the Pittsburgh Penguins.

You majored in Narrative Studies at USC and you say in your bio that you are pretty hands-on editorial wise from the brainstorming phase all the way to final drafts. What do you need to see in a manuscript, even if it needs a little work, to want to take it on?

Amazing, authentic, fresh-feeling voice. Someone I lament not to know in real life.

Do you have an agenting goal? If so, do you mind sharing it? 

I have many! Most of all, I want to be dependable and valuable for my clients, and deliver in a way that cultivates their success. That sounds very general, so I suppose at this moment, it’s very important to me to represent voices that have been largely silent in publishing, entertainment, and media in general.

What qualities does an ideal client possess? 

Communication, patience, trust, and good old-fashioned hard work!

A magician grants you three free concert tickets to any musician or band alive or dead, which three would you choose? 

Impossible! Maybe Talking Heads, Daft Punk, Nina Simone.

You are currently open for submissions, yes? Where can interested parties send their work? What information do you want to see in each query? Do you prefer manuscripts in the body of the email or as attachments? And what are your submission guidelines for each area you’re looking to represent?

I accept email queries at hmann@writershouse.com. I love a note that gets right to the heart of the story concept and reveals a bit about the author’s or artist’s personality and background. Picture book manuscripts (hopefully less that 1,000 words) can be pasted in the body of the email. For early readers, middle grade, and YA, I prefer to request the manuscript based on the letter alone, but 5-page samples pasted in are not a deal breaker.

Thank you, Hannah, for your time! For Writers House submission guidelines, please visit: http://www.writershouse.com/submissions/

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8 thoughts on “Interview with Agent Hannah Mann

  1. Thank you for the agent interviews, Johnell. I like that this agent is interested in the quieter picture books, and only wish publishers published more of them.

    Liked by 1 person

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