TKA Agents Share What They're Most Proud of in Their Time with the Agency and #TKA20 Recap
The Knight Agency Newsletter: Write. Read. Repeat.

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Top Announcements

» THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY by Genevieve Cogman was recommended by Good Morning America.

» TKA's first ever pitch fest, #TKA20, resulted in over 300 pitch likes, fourteen full manuscript requests, and one offer of representation so far.

» Kirkus Reviews’ Science Fiction & Fantasy Books You’ll Want to Read in July includes Christina Henry’s RED QUEEN and Levi Black’s RED RIGHT HAND.

» THE FIFTH SEASON by N.K. Jemisin is a World Fantasy Award finalist.


In this Issue


» The Informer

» Agents of the Roundtable

» Sales Roundup

» Agency News

» Author Interview

» Author Tip of the Month

» New Releases

The Informer

A Special 20th Anniversary Message
by Deidre Knight

July 12 marked two major milestones: the 20th anniversary of TKA and my own 50th birthday. Quite the month for celebration and positive recollections. This newsletter shares some of our big achievements even as we move into the future, excitedly embracing market shifts and new clients and evolving opportunities to come in the next two decades. So I thought I’d stop and take a moment to share how TKA was birthed those twenty years ago.

One night in 1994, my husband Jud and I had dinner with a couple he knew professionally. The wife was a literary agent, and listening to her share about her work, I started thinking: I could do that. I loved art and literature, yet was likewise a freakishly good salesperson (I always say that agents are a blend of introvert and extrovert.) Literary agent looked like just the right profession for someone with my particular combination of skills, so in the summer of 1996 I took the plunge.

I’d like to say that my natural aptitude as a salesperson propelled me to instant six-figure success, but of course that’s not the way it happened. (And besides, what good is a story without any conflict?) On my first trip to New York, I very nearly quit. This happened after my second appointment, when an editor—now long since retired—tried to convince me I just wasn’t suited to run with the big dogs. Fortunately, however, my first meeting was with an extremely nurturing editor who encouraged me to go for it. If it hadn’t been for her, I might have just listened to that naysaying editor and given up; instead, I returned to my hotel room and, after a good cry, started making cold calls to editors and setting more meetings. That’s when TKA was really born.

In spite of some major disadvantages, most notably the fact that I wasn’t in New York and didn’t have any previous publishing experience or contacts, I also had several advantages. First was the fact that I genuinely loved agenting. Another was timing: this was the mid-1990s, and the Internet explosion made it much more feasible for an Atlanta-based agent to attract potential clients, find submissions, and make contacts.

The early days of the Agency also coincided with the release of a movie that meant a great deal to Jud and me, coming as it did at that time in our lives: Jerry Maguire. There’s a lot in that story for anyone, especially somebody in sales, but I think the biggest lesson was that if your heart is really in it, and if you take care of the relationships that really matter while you’re building your business, you’re bound to win. It may—will—take a whole lot of hard work and involve a lot of wrong turns and frustrations, but success is there for you if you approach your work with the right combination of spirit and know-how.

Agents of the Roundtable

Since TKA is celebrating its 20th anniversary, please tell us what you’re proudest of in your time with the agency.

DEIDRE KNIGHT: Staring at the big 20th anniversary is a profound moment for me, so highlighting any single accomplishment as my proudest one is understandably very difficult. I will have to name a few, given that for the past twenty years TKA has been my “baby.”

First and foremost, I’m proud that I simply made the choice to pursue a seemingly impossible dream. I didn’t come from a publishing background; I had worked in entertainment and had no contacts in NYC, nor any readymade clients. But I knew in my heart that agenting was my true calling, so I put out the proverbial shingle and began building our wonderful, powerhouse agency from the ground up.
I’m also proud of the fact that from its inception, our agency has been highly inclusive. We’ve sold many fine multicultural novels (my first sale was an African American romance by Jacquelin Thomas, HIDDEN BLESSINGS), and a number of LGBT fiction and nonfiction projects. Likewise, I have striven from the beginning to make TKA a family, as well as a home to writers from all walks of life, with a variety of experiences and identities. My deepest hope is that we’ve achieved that and helped authors find their best place in the market so that their voices can be heard.

Lastly, I would cite my enormous pride in the book 90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN by Don Piper and Cecil Murphey, which started small and grew to some 8 million copies in print, in the process becoming a major motion picture starring Kate Bosworth and Hayden Christiansen. There’s nothing quite like taking a project from the proposal stage and into theaters across the world!


PAMELA HARTY: Happy 20th Birthday TKA!!! I am thrilled to be a part of such an amazing group. From helping my sister Deidre pick the first TKA logo while pregnant with my first child, to the addition of each and every employee after I came on board in 2000, to BEA and more RWA Nationals than I can count…. Waiting on Wednesdays for the New York Times list to release and ghost-hunting in cemeteries with clients; forming lifelong friendships with authors, colleagues, and editors; countless trips to NYC with scary LaGuardia landings, editor meetings, and very fun times with my sweet little sis; the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat—it’s truly been an awesome ride. It amazes me daily that I get to do this for a living. I am thankful, grateful, and very proud. 

ELAINE SPENCER: There are so many things over the past decade that I’m proud of. TKA was my first job out of college and I’ve grown so much as a professional, as a coworker, as an agent and as an individual. The TKA team stood beside me when I used to say “I’ll never get married nor have children,” and they stood behind me in the church as my husband and I exchanged vows and later welcomed our first child. The team is my family and I’m so proud to get to wake up every day to do what we do together. We’ve weathered many storms in a rapidly evolving business. Coming through the changes together and as committed as ever to representing great authors and selling great works is a massive accomplishment.

Along those lines, looking at my own personal achievements, I think it would be in earning my peers’ respect and trust in such a big-picture regard. Not only am I an agent at TKA, with wonderful clients who I get to lead and champion (ultimately could there be anything more rewarding!), but I also act as our Vice President of Operations. I get the pleasure of working with our entire roster of clients and agents on a daily basis. I started off as Deidre’s assistant, and through hard work, dedication, and passion (and lots of coffee and late nights!) I learned everything there was to know about our company and our team, earning a spot on our executive committee. This has resulted in getting to aide in making decisions that benefit our agency as a whole. It's incredibly rewarding to have the opportunity to problem solve and make a difference in hundreds of authors' lives daily.

LUCIENNE DIVER: What I’m most proud of really are my authors, far and above anything I’ve done, and I’m honored to have a hand in their success. I’m proud of debut authors I’ve sold and helped rise to the fore, most recently Genevieve Cogman (THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY), Amy Christine Parker (GATED), Ramez Naam (NEXUS), Michelle Belanger (her fiction debut anyway: CONSPIRACY OF ANGELS), J. Kathleen Cheney (THE GOLDEN CITY), and others. I’m proud of the authors I’ve loved all along who’ve achieved new heights, like N.K. Jemisin with THE FIFTH SEASON and Christina Henry with ALICE (sequels to both coming this summer). I’m really, really excited over some of the new releases I have, like RED RIGHT HAND by Levi Black and new series just sold this year, including The Honors series by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre (co-agented with Laura Bradford), a unique book (title under construction) by James Alan Gardner, and a debut YA fantasy series by Caitlin Seal. There’s just so much to be proud of every time I make a new sale or one of my clients gets an award nomination or hits a bestseller list…. I love that this job is full of highs. 

NEPHELE TEMPEST: It’s so hard to narrow down more than ten years with The Knight Agency to a single thing, but ultimately I’m proudest of my clients. I love the people I work with, not just because they’re wonderful writers and storytellers, but because they are serious about their craft and show an amazing willingness to help each other and other writers out there who are looking for advice or encouragement. Sometimes it's easy to get bogged down in the competitive aspects of the business, but I’m blessed to work with people who celebrate the broader writing community and understand that they each bring their own special talents to build a stronger and more diverse whole.

MELISSA JEGLINSKI: In my eight years with TKA, I’ve had many proud moments as my clients are quite amazing. However, early on in my career, Deidre passed me fifty pages of a fiction project from a nonfiction client. I was so enchanted by the plot and the prose that she let me take on the client, whom I don’t believe even knew how brilliant her project was. Within days we had multiple offers and a hardcover deal, and the book went on to win numerous awards (including a Newbery Honor) and hit multiple bestseller lists. That was a proud moment as an agent, one that solidified for me the realization that I did know a magical project when I read it. It also taught me that I should take chances, believe that the unexpected can happen, and have faith in myself and my clients. 

KRISTY HUNTER: There is nothing quite like your first sale. When you represent an author, you truly believe in their work, so it’s an amazing feeling when you find that editor who also understands your joint vision. After two years with The Knight Agency, I recently made my first sale (at auction)! The author is hardworking, beyond talented, and extremely kind. I’m over the moon that I was, and continue to be, her cheerleader. 

JANNA BONIKOWSKI: I am incredibly proud to be a part of an agency with a strong commitment to helping their authors with all aspects of their publishing careers. I look forward to the next twenty years!

TRAVIS PENNINGTON: Originally joining TKA as a client was a very proud moment for me, but it's been topped many times over by working with so many talented authors. I was a fan of Gena Showalter, Rachel Caine, and other clients before I began my work in marketing for TKA, so it's been a true joy working with them now on various promotional campaigns while continuing to devour their novels. It's also been thrilling to now have clients of my own and to share in their success!

New Clients On the Block

» M.A. Grant: Website | Twitter | Facebook

» Kate Rothwell (also writes as Summer Devon)Website | Twitter | Facebook

» Bonnie DeeWebsite | Twitter | Facebook

» Christian Klaver: Website | Twitter | Facebook

» Kate Lansing: Website | Twitter | Facebook

» Jezz de Silva: Website | Twitter | Facebook

» Amanda Renee: Website | Twitter | Facebook

» Melonie Johnson: Website | Twitter | Facebook

» Fallon DeMornay: Website | Twitter | Facebook

» Bette Lee Crosby: Website | Twitter | Facebook

» Janet Lee Nye: Website | Twitter | Facebook 

Sales Roundup

» Deidre Knight's GODS OF MIDNIGHT series, featuring immortal Spartan warriors fighting demons in modern-day Savannah, to Steve Feldberg of Audible by Deidre Knight

» Cooper Davis's A GENTLEMAN REVEALED, the first in her Lords of Avenleigh historical m/m fantasy series, featuring four brothers and a widowed father in an Austenian-like world turned on its head, to Kerry Donovan at Intermix, in a nice two-book deal by Deidre Knight

» USA Today best-selling author Cara Lockwood's LOST CAUSES, the first title in her new contemporary romance series, in which one woman's perfect Caribbean life with her son is upended when a handsome ex-marine turned private investigator digs up a dark secret from their past, to Ann Leslie Tuttle at Harlequin Super Romance, in a nice three-book deal by Deidre Knight

» Sharon Wray's debut romantic suspense series, featuring a group of elite soldiers who operate a self-defense school while seeking the truth behind an operation gone wrong, to Deb Werksman at Sourcebooks, in a three-book deal at auction by Deidre Knight

» Ella Quinn's next three books in her regency romance series, THE WORTHINGTONS, to John Scognamiglio at Kensington, in a nice deal by Deidre Knight and Janna Bonikowski

» Shirlee McCoy's BRADSHAW BROTHERS trilogy, focusing on estranged brothers who return home to Benevolence, Washington (setting for her ongoing series) to care for six orphans and discover that the town they ran from is really the only place they can call home, to John Scognamiglio at Kensington, in a nice three-book deal by Melissa Jeglinski

» Shannon Curtis's next three novels, to Ann Leslie Tuttle at Harlequin, in nice deals by Lucienne Diver

» Deborah Blake's THE BOOK OF CAT MAGIC, filled with spells, stories, and practical wisdom geared toward enhancing the spiritual, magical, and emotional bond between felines and their human companions, to Elysia Gallo at Llewellyn, in a good deal by Elaine Spencer

» NYT best-selling author Cecil Murphey's MORE THAN SURVIVING, an inspirational devotional-style book aimed at providing comfort and support for male abuse survivors and the women in their lives, to Dennis Hillman at Kregel, by Elaine Spencer

» Rachel Goodman's untitled novel, in which a rising female chef takes a job at a star quarterback's new restaurant and the real game begins, to Marla Daniels at Pocket Star, in a nice two-book deal by Melissa Jeglinski

» Cat Sebastian's debut male/male historical romance series, launching with THE SOLDER'S SCOUNDREL, which features an officer of the Napoleonic Wars who returns home to find a scoundrel playing fast and loose with the law, to Elle Keck at Avon Impulse (making her Avon’s first m/m author), in a three-book deal by Deidre Knight

 Karen Whiddon's three new paranormal romances, to Patience Smith and Ann Leslie Tuttle at Harlequin Nocturne, in a nice deal by Lucienne Diver

» Jules Bennett's contribution to a Christmas collection with Fern Michaels, featuring characters from her current The Monroes series, to John Scognamiglio at Kensington for publication in 2017, by Elaine Spencer

Deborah Blake's sequel to VEILED MAGIC, featuring a witch-cop as she faces a deadly secret paranormal enemy, to Bethany Blair at Berkley, in a two-book deal by Elaine Spencer


» THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY by Genevieve Cogman was recommended by Good Morning America. It was also listed on June's LibraryReads listBookish’s list of Summer 2016’s Must-Read Science Fiction & Fantasy Books, and Amazon’s Best science fiction and fantasy of 2016 so far.

» Kirkus Reviews’ Science Fiction & Fantasy Books You’ll Want to Read in July includes Christina Henry’s RED QUEEN and Levi Black’s RED RIGHT HAND.

» TKA's first ever pitch fest, #TKA20, resulted in over 300 pitch likes, fourteen full manuscript requests, and one offer of representation so far.

THE FIFTH SEASON by N.K. Jemisin is a World Fantasy Award finalist.

» Nalini Singh's ALLEGIANCE OF HONOR and Gena Showalter's THE DARKEST TORMENT were listed in Amazon's Best Books of the Last 90 Days.

Dona Sarkar was mentioned in several articles about her new role with Microsoft, including pieces in ZDNet, Windows.comThe VergeWindows CentralWinfuture,Winbeta, and Marie Claire

» Mia Siegert's JERKBAIT was listed as one of Scribd's Top Books of July. It was also mentioned in a Publisher's Weekly article about how children’s booksellers are looking to boost sales with a little help from Harry Potter.

» TRIBAL LAW by Shannon Curtis is a finalist in the Romance Writers of Australia Ruby Awards.

» Lucienne Diver did an interview with Agents For Dinner blog.

» Deidre Knight's Gods of Midnight novels are now available on Audible.

»  BROTHERS OF THE WILD NORTH SEA by Harper Fox and SOMEBODY WONDERFUL by Kate Rothwell were listed on Book Riot's 100 Must-Read Historical Romances.

» In an excellent review, InD'Tale Magazine gave five stars to Amy Jarecki's THE FEARLESS HIGHLANDER and raved it "begs to be read, and read again."

Author Interview

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shirley Jump started out in journalism, selling her first article at the age of eleven. After writing two nonfiction books and some three thousand articles, she decided that a career as a romance author suited her better.


TKA: Please tell us a bit about THE FIREFIGHTER'S FAMILY SECRET and what you're working on now.

Shirley: THE FIREFIGHTER’S FAMILY SECRET is the fourth in the Barlow Brothers series, all set in the quaint fictional town of Stone Gap, North Carolina. Colton Barlow is the secret brother who comes to town at the end of THE TYCOON’S PROPOSAL and disrupts the perfect world the Barlow family thought they had. My Stone Gap books have been so well-received by readers that I’m working on a bunch more, using a little B&B as the setting but still giving the Barlows plenty of cameos!

TKA: You started out as a journalist and wrote nonfiction before turning to romance. What prompted you to take that leap?
Shirley: When I worked as a journalist, I sometimes had to cover stories that were really sad (suicides, murders, etc.), and I decided to become a freelancer so that I could choose which stories to write. I wanted to write happy stories, with happy endings. That led naturally to writing romance, which is where I’ve been ever since.

TKA: Your second Fortune Island novel, CAN'T GET OVER YOU, just released a few days ago. Many authors have trouble releasing one novel a year, much less two in a month. What's your secret?

Shirley: I love to write, I really do. Most days, I can’t wait to get to work, to see where my book takes me next. That love for my job helps motivate me a lot. I also try to keep a pretty regular schedule of working out, then working, and keep the rest of my life relatively organized so that it’s easier to have the time to write.

TKA: Please share a little about your publishing journey. What advice would you give to authors who are struggling to get their first novel published?

Shirley: I took the long route to publication. The REALLY long route (you can read my story here). I wrote 10 books in eight years before I finally sold my first book. And it wasn’t all roses and acceptance letters after that, either. I worked really hard to sell that first book, and every one since then. All those hiccups in the road have made me appreciate my journey, and feel blessed that I am able to do this job.

TKA: Finally, what do you find most satisfying about being an author, and what's the most challenging part of it for you?

Shirley: The most satisfying part is interacting with readers. When someone emails me and tells me that my book made their days in a hospital easier or helped them deal with the loss of a loved one, that makes my day. I, too, have written to authors whose books helped me through a difficult time.
As for the most challenging part, that would definitely be balancing the promotional side with the writing side. It’s difficult to find enough time to be present on social media, write the books, and have a life. I try to remember to always put the books first—because the best happy endings always start with a good story!

Visit Shirley's official website, follow her on Twitter, and join her fans on Facebook.

Author Tip of the Month

James Hetley, who also writes as James A. Burton, is a Locus Award nominee and the author of POWERS and other urban fantasy novels.

James's tip:

Writing advice is such a slippery thing. What works for one writer may be useless or worse than useless for another. The only Universal Truth that I know is, to be a writer you have to write. 
One thing that has helped me amidst the muddle, though, is advice gleaned from Anne Lamott's BIRD BY BIRD. That is, give yourself permission to write really shitty first drafts. For me, at least, I don't know what the story is until I've written it. You can fix stuff later—wrong words, false starts, impossible plot points, holes, even the wrong characters. You may end up dumping the opening, finding out that isn't the real opening at all, or whole chapters in the middle that you needed to know but the reader doesn't. It doesn't matter whether the writing is bad or good. A lot of writers can't even tell if something is bad or good until later. Just get it down on paper (or electrons) and worry about making it good later.

To learn more about James, visit his official website.

New Releases

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