Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Caroline Trussell of Metamorphosis Literary Agency

Caroline Trussell is a literary agent with Metamorphosis Literary Agency.

Caroline has a background in editing, writing, and communications and has worked as an agent assistant, editorial assistant, journalist, and communications consultant. She is passionate about finding writers with unique voices and points of view and is looking for steamy romances, out of this world fantasies, and YA and MG that touch on vital topics that can’t be ignored. She’s also a self-published young adult author, a Columbia Publishing Course graduate, and a mental health advocate.

She is seeking:

  • Romance (especially romantic comedies, enemies to lovers, and fake dating)
  • Fantasy (particularly magical realism and urban fantasy)
  • Middle Grade (with lots of heart and that discusses tough topics in an age appropriate way)
  • In any genre, stories that feature dynamic characters with non-visible disabilities and/or mental illness

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Esty Loveing-Downes of Arthouse Literary

Esty Loveing-Downes is a literary agent with Arthouse Literary.

Esty holds a BFA in creative writing from Ringling College of Art + Design and is currently an MFA candidate in fiction at Queens University of Charlotte. Aside from serving as a daily editor for the Southern Review of Books, she joined the teams at Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency and Tobias Literary Agency before joining the ArtHouse Literary Agency team and becoming an Associate Literary Agent. Esty is looking for romance, upmarket fiction, YA, genre-blending sci-fi, picture books, and select nonfiction and literary fiction.

She is seeking:

In romance and YA, Esty is looking for tropes like enemies-to-lovers, fake dating, and grumpy-sunshine like THE FLATSHARE or BEACH READ, or marriage-of-convenience stories like THE UNHONEYMOONERS. She’d love to see a fresh take on PRIDE & PREJUDICE, EMMA, or ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. If you’ve got contemporary stories with dual POVs and impossible love like THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR, or a classic retellings like THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS that include high stakes, plot tension, and compelling soulmate vibes—send those her way, too.

In upmarket, Esty is looking for titles with women in STEM like LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY, updated classics like Ann Napolitano’s Little Women retelling, HELLO, BEAUTIFUL, and wlw knockouts with queer representation like THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO.

She’s also looking for genre-blending sci-fi or speculative fiction like THE NIGHT CIRCUS, magical realism like Carmen Maria Machado’s HER BODY AND OTHER PARTIES, or nonlinear, poetic work like THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR. She’d also love to see “romantasy” with strong leads like A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES and CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE, fae stories with romance tropes like THE CRUEL PRINCE, character-driven journeys like THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE, or the fairy tale vibes of SPINNING SILVER.

In picture books, send heartwarming titles with a BIPOC focus like EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS and creative, imagination-friendly projects like DRAGONS LOVE TACOS.

In nonfiction, she’s looking for insightful social commentary like that of Ijeoma Oluo, Brené Brown, and Mikki Kendall.

Esty would also like to see literary fiction with artful realism like THE RABBIT HUTCH and TOMORROW AND TOMORROW AND TOMORROW, the heart wrenching yearning of NORMAL PEOPLE, characters challenging society like OUR MISSING HEARTS, or books like THE INCENDIARIES and SEVERANCE that examine marginalized characters, injustice, or religion. Characters examining systems of oppression through twisty plots in books like THE NICKEL BOYS, SALVAGE THE BONES, and INTERIOR CHINATOWN are welcome, and mythological retellings like Madeline Miller’s CIRCE, especially those set outside of Europe.

This is a home for fresh retellings, fairy tales, and artful, rebellious prose. For a better look at the kind of titles Esty gravitates towards, scroll her Pinterest board here.

What She Doesn’t Want: horror, thrillers, erotica, police/legal procedurals, mysteries, anything ageist/ableist/racist/misogynistic, or anything where queer people die in the end.


Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kelly Thomas of Serendipity Literary

Kelly Thomas is a literary agent with Serendipity Literary.

Kelly brings seventeen years of sales and business expertise to the literary world as a champion for writers. Kelly is a Certified Copy Editor who has a Bachelor’s degree in English (Literature) from Pace University. She is an associate member of the Association of American Literary Agents (AALA) and a member of the Editorial Freelance Association. Prior to joining Serendipity, she provided manuscript analysis for the D4EO Literary Agency. She is a panelist for the New York Women in Film & Television’s (NYWIFT) ‘The Business of Adaptations Panel’ program and a trainer for the ‘Next Bestseller Workshops.’ Kelly has participated in Pitch Slams for writing conferences, including ThrillerFest, Crimebake, and The Writer’s Digest Conference. She has sat on ‘Ask the Agent’ panels for the AWP Conference and Writing Barn’s ‘Courage to Create’ program and a ‘First Pages Critique’ panel for the Carnegie Center for Literary and Learning’s Books-in-Progress Conference. Kelly is a published poet with publications in Tales for the Disenchanted (2008) and Penumbra Art & Literature (2015). She has served as an editor for the literary arts magazine Pen & Brush and as a writing coach for the academic consulting company Brattlestreet. Kelly works as a freelance editor and ghostwriter in her free time.

What She’s Looking For:

Kelly considers herself a generalist who is drawn to lyrical writing and strong voices. She is interested in nonfiction (narrative nonfiction, memoirs, true crime, self-help, business, travel writing, photography, medical, STEM, psychology, health and fitness, music, food & drinks, cooking) and adult fiction (psychological thrillers, suspense, comedies).

She enjoys working with musicians, television personalities, athletes, and other pop culture figures to help translate their stories or expertise onto the page. 

She also represents children’s books including picture books, middle grade, and young adult. She enjoys fast-paced, plot-driven fiction with twists, turns, and jaw-dropping moments. She is drawn to stories about leadership, overcoming adversity, and beating the odds. Stories that are told from a unique psychological vantage point are always of interest.

The truth is often stranger than fiction, so Kelly is actively looking for the next great true crime manuscript with a murderous and methodical plot. She loves multi-layered protagonists who struggle between what is right and wrong, and anti-heroes who are villainous but endearing at the same time. Some of her favorite books that perfectly master this include Dearly Departed Dexter, You, American Psycho, Fight Club, Psycho, Interview With the Vampire, Dracula, and My Sister, the Serial Killer.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Sharon Belcastro of The Belcastro Agency

Sharon Belcastro is a literary agent and founder of The Belcastro Agency.

Sharon was born and raised in Northeastern Ohio. It only took her 37 years to get sick of the snow, cracked fingers and chapped lips before she picked up and moved to the much warmer and sunnier Tampa Bay area. Her love of books goes back to early childhood where some of her fondest memories were spent with Gulliver in Lilliput and Ishmael and his voyage on the Pequod. She has had a book in her hand and her nose in a book ever since. Forced to grow up and face the real world, Sharon earned her Engineering degree from Youngstown State University and her master’s in business from Case Western Reserve University. She spent several years in product development, sales and the development and streamlining of key business processes before she returned to her passion for books attended classes in publishing at NYU and applied her experience to the founding of Belcastro Agency.

Sharon is seeking: Nonfiction for adults by writers with a great platform and clear concept. She also represents young adult fiction in the following YA genres: fantasy, science fiction, action, adventure, contemporary, magical realism, mystery, thriller, and horror. In adult fiction, she seeks: horror, thriller/suspense, paranormal and memoir. She is especially looking for immigrant experiences in all markets and genres.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: ​Andie Smith of The Booker Albert Literary Agency

​Andie Smith is a Literary Agent at The Booker Albert Literary Agency.

She is also a writer and editor of multiple genres. Andie has previously served as an writer and editor for several local newspapers and magazines in Central Florida and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration. When she’s not agenting, she’s spending time with her husband and two kitties or hanging out at Disney World.

Andie is currently looking for Young Adult or Adult genres including but not limited to contemporary, romance, thriller, speculative, dystopian, issue-driven, fantasy, eco-fiction, and sci-fi.

​She loves anything that can transport her into a new world and has a habit of getting emotionally attached to strong characters. Her favorite tropes are enemies-to-lovers and fake-to-real relationships. As an autoimmune advocate, Andie would love to see stories with MC’s embracing life through all disabilities, from those that are more obvious to invisible ones.

Andie is not accepting picture books, middle grade, or nonfiction at this time. She is not the best fit for any genres of religion, horror, poetry/prose, or historical fiction. While not a total dealbreaker, Andie tends to shy away from stories with on-the-page cheating, abuse, rape, and reference to self-harm and/or suicide (off-page references are OK).

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Sarah N. Fisk of The Tobias Literary Agency

Sarah N. Fisk is a literary agent with The Tobias Literary Agency.

Sarah is a former mechanical engineer who made the switch to publishing in 2011. They have worked in the publishing industry as an editorial assistant, author’s assistant, publicist, and art director. Sarah is a former Pitch Wars mentor, board member, and Agent Liaison. They host the podcast Queries, Qualms, & Quirks and have a passion for spreadsheets.

They love books that challenge societal norms, especially gender norms. They have a personal interest in stories featuring queer characters or characters with disability, neurodiversity, chronic illness, or mental health challenges. Great or complicated sibling relationships are their kryptonite. They also enjoy intriguing villains, mysteries woven into other genres, characters they can’t get out of their head, and smart heroines.

They are interested in Young Adult fiction of all genres as well as Adult Romance. They especially enjoy anything under the speculative fiction umbrella and high-concept contemporary or historical stories with a strong hook. Hardcore horror is probably not right for them.

Sarah is on the lookout for young adult and middle grade of all genres, adult romance, and adult science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction. No hardcore horror.

Particular areas of interest include atmospheric fantasies, speculative mysteries, books that challenge societal norms, especially gender norms. They also have a special interest in stories featuring queer characters and those with disability, neurodiversity, chronic illness, or mental health challenges. Other areas of interest are small or midwestern town settings, and complicated sibling relationships.

Sarah does not represent hardcore horror, stories that center around who gets to rule an empire, stories that center around sexual assault or have on-the-page rape scenes or any adult genres not listed above.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Amy Nielsen of The Purcell Agency

Amy Nielsen is a literary agent with The Purcell Agency.

Amy’s Manuscript Wish List:

Picture Books:

I’ll be looking for hyperbolic, zany storylines that teach a life lesson (even subtle) or ones with laugh-out-loud moments written simply to entertain. Check out the legendary Robert Munsch and Michael Marchenko for what I’m hoping to see in my inbox.

Middle Grade:

I’ll be looking for fast-paced stories mostly set in a contemporary setting that feature characters that think, act, and talk like real middle graders.

Young Adult:

I’ll gravitate toward contemporary issue-driven plots where teens find themselves in situations they aren’t equipped to handle, but eventually figure it out.

Adult Fiction:

I’ll lean into contemporary women’s fiction where the main characters are shattering glass ceilings despite obstacles, and defying stereotypes.

General Wishes:

As the mother of an autistic child, I’d appreciate any story that features characters across the autism spectrum written authentically and free from stereotypes.

I’d swoon over a Gilmore Girls retelling with a paranormal or speculative element, anything that could comp my favorite song of all time, “Never Surrender” by Cory Hart or a story set in a coastal boating town.

I’m also always game for any fairy-tale retelling or re-imagining, especially if pulled into a contemporary setting.

I would love any age range where a dystopian plot mirrors a current social issue. Think Handmaid’s Tale versus the current political landscape of abortion. Or how the political landscape is impacting marginalized communities such as the LGBTQ+ and BIPOC.

In all age ranges and genres, I’m looking for:

  • Succinct and simplistic writing.
  • Diverse representation from authors to main characters, including but not limited to BIPOC, LGBTQ+, neurodiverse, and persons with disabilities.

I wouldn’t be the best fit for:

  • Epic fantasy (if your story features a dragon or fae—probably not for me),
  • High-concept sci-fi (if most of your story doesn’t take place on Earth—probably not for me)
  • Historical fiction (unless it’s the 80s or 90s then bring it on) I’m fine with dual timelines as long as the majority of the plot is in a contemporary setting.
  • Erotica. I’m fine with some on-page-steam, but not if the plot centers around it.
  • Literary. If your story isn’t genre fiction, it’s probably not for me.


Amy spent nearly twenty years sharing her love of books with young readers on the other side of the writing aisle as a youth librarian. Daily immersion in story took root, and she started penning her 2024 YA debut, Worth It, behind her checkout desk.

She left the library after her youngest son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and began writing full-time. She also began working with other authors helping them to elevate their craft and go on to pursue publication deals. While she will always enjoy pursuing her own writing goals, helping other authors has become a passion. She is honored to now serve as an associate literary agent at The Purcell Agency.

Amy also has a background in television production and creates book trailers for authors to use as a marketing tool. She started Mayflower Media where she works collaboratively with writers to bring the heart of their stories from the page to the screen.

In addition to her debut, Amy is the author of It Takes a Village: How to Build A Support System for Your Exceptional Needs Family, the picture book, Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Teaching Television Production, Beyond the Morning Newscast. She is the co-author of the upcoming title Navigating the Wild World of Publishing: A Workbook for Indie and Self-Published Authors and the co-host of the Author(ish) podcast.

When not writing or reading she and her family can be found boating in Tampa Bay. You can find Amy at