Agent Spotlight: Claire Draper of The Bent Agency

Today we’re spotlighting Claire Draper of The Bent Agency.

After studying Queer Diversity in Children’s Literature at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study for her BA, Claire continued her pursuit of great books for young readers by interning at Rare Bird Lit and the Children’s Book Council, and eventually joined InkWell Management.  In early 2019, she moved to the Bent Agency as an agent of graphic novels and a mix of fiction and nonfiction for children of all ages.

Draper is seeking young adult fiction and middle-grade fiction, graphic novels for all ages, body positive or feminist memoirs and collections of feminist essays. She is particularly interested in books with queer protagonists that are not necessarily issue-driven books.

When looking for YA and MG fiction, she loves action and adventure and far-off places with challenges that make the protagonist grow as person for you to love and admire. She also looks for contemporary fiction for young readers where the main character has average, everyday challenges and the reader sees how they overcome them.  A story with heart that causes an outpouring of emotions, especially when a book makes you feel so much I want to throw it across the room in protest (think Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe or We Are Okay) is her cup of tea!  She is especially interested in neurodiverse protagonists.  Please don’t send books with suicide idealization, particularly when it’s a queer protagonist.

When querying graphic novels, Claire likes a diverse cast of characters placed in nearly any genre or location, but would like to see something that hasn’t been done over and over again. Art that is challenging the classic “comic book” style is most welcome.  She is open to queries for all ages, fiction and nonfiction, for graphic novels.  Please don’t send books with gratuitous violence.

Claire also likes body positive and/or feminist memoirs and collections of essays.  She wants this for audiences of all ages and from persons with multiple intersections of identity, particularly memoirs from disabled people, neurodiverse people and/or people with mental illness.  If the narrator has humor and a bone to pick, it will catch her eye.

Claire is very tired of seeing stories where the diversity is all in the background or existing in secondary characters.  Of course, it needs to be in those places, but she is really looking for it in the main character and their story line.

Her best advice for querying: “In the same way you wouldn’t want a form rejection, don’t send a form query.  I can’t say this enough, but doing your research and proofreading are the big ones. But also try to get your work published in magazines or other small publications. Agents want to know that your work has been read and received well by other people. If another publication liked your work, it bodes well for trying to get an editor to love your work as much as they do. Try getting short stories published elsewhere in the process of trying to find an agent would be my last bit of advice.”

How to Submit:

If you’d like to query Claire, send an email with your query letter and sample. Include the title of your project in the subject line of your email. Then paste the first 10 pages of your book in the body of your email (not as an attachment, please). If you’re submitting a picture book, please include the complete text; for illustrations, please also include a link to your website if available, or two or three PDFs or JPEGs of your work. For graphic novels, please paste the first 10 pages of your script in the body of your email, as well as the first five pages of your dummy. The dummy doesn’t need to be entirely finished, but if it’s not, please include up to three samples of your finished work, or a link to your online portfolio.

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