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Agent Spotlight: Clelia Gore

Agent Spotlight: Clelia Gore


Happy Thursday and welcome to Picture Book Spotlight! This week has been an exciting one! We had a fantastic interview and signed book giveaway with Daniel Miyares. Congrats to Justin Colón, CJ Penko, and Dea Brayden! If you haven't seen his post, check it out! He has a lot to say and absolutely stunning artwork to share.

Today, we have Literary Manager and Vice President of Martin Literary Management, Clelia Gore! She has generously offered a one-time query critique for a lucky winner! Details on how to enter this giveaway contest will be at the end of this post.

Finally, on Monday, March 11th we have ANOTHER signed book giveaway with JOSH FUNK! He will be giving away a signed copy of Mission Defrostable, and It's Not Hansel and Gretel. So excited for all we have coming up. Don't want to miss an interview or a giveaway? Subscribe! Without further ado, here's Clelia Gore!

Name three things you can’t do your job without.

My laptop, my cell phone, and the support and advice of my colleagues!

What’s something you absolutely must have in your refrigerator or pantry?

Le Croix! I know, it's so basic. I grew up on Old Vintage Seltzer but since it's not available here, I settle for Le Croix (apricot or grapefruit!)

Name three things that spark joy for you.

Anything related to my baby daughter. Books that inspire. A freshly baked croissant.

What do you most love about working as an agent in the kid lit industry?

I love that I get to help bring books into the world that make a younger generation more open-minded, kinder, more tolerant, more understanding, more educated, more self-accepting. I feel like I'm making a tiny difference in the world--one book at a time.

Your website mentions this year you are focused on developing your list for author-illustrators of picture books. Does that mean you are no longer accepting submissions for illustrator and author only manuscripts?

At this point in time, I prefer to take on author-illustrator clients so I review those submissions more keenly. I'm not against picture book authors who are not illustrators, but that part of my client roster is already very full. I would have to really fall in love with a manuscript and see it's great potential. A really strong platform helps too or something super topical. I have not yet represented any illustrators-only.

You seem very interested in acquiring more nonfiction across the board. Is there a more receptive market for NF picture books?

Yes, this is a very robust time for nonfiction picture books acquisition! Publishers are more interested in acquiring nonfiction than ever before and that definitely extends to picture books. Importantly, I am open to nonfiction picture books appropriate for the commercial trade market and not books made just for the school/library market (i.e. straight informational). There needs to be a strong commercial hook that can make a traditional trade publisher see it's potential.

Talk to us about what makes Martin Literary Management unique as an agency.

We are unique because we are an all female, Seattle-based agency representing just about every genre between the five of us. We are also really strong in selling rights to adaptations like film and TV rights thanks to Sharlene Martin's special expertise. I think we all strive to treat our clients with respect. Our motto is "considerate literary management."

Help some of our querying artists put things in perspective. How many picture book submissions did you receive in 2018 vs how many new PB clients you took on?

I probably receive about 30-40 PB queries a week, so that's about 2000 picture book queries a year (gulp!). I took on 5 new PB clients in 2018--keep in mind that I was on maternity leave for a portion of it, so I probably would normally pick up at least 7 in a normal year.

Do you allow re-submissions? If so, how much time should authors and illustrators allow in between?

I don't mind re-submissions but, as a rule of thumb, if you are not offered representation after 2 queries--I'd move on. I'd wait at least a year or until you are sure the next manuscript is really, really strong.

What are some picture book submissions that you wish you never received again? Any stories, themes, messages that instantly turn you off? I'm not that into bathroom humor. I receive so many picture book submissions (often rhyming) about a author's dog or cat. I'd be happy not to see those anymore. Also, submissions for books that are not genres I represent! You'd be surprised how many adult queries I receive.

When do you know a manuscript or an author, illustrator is ready for...the call?

I get that jittery, love it, need-to-have-it, near-panic-that-I-might-not-have-it feeling!

What are some elements on your agent “No, no list?” Share some of your agent pet peeves.

Mostly queryers who can't take the time to review my submission guidelines (for example: no attachments)...or even spell my name right! I like queries that are professionally written. I think because we are dealing with children's books, some people forget their professionalism. A query is a business document and it's important to treat it like that--even when you're talking about unicorns or magical lands! I was an attorney prior to being an agent, and that's an industry that has a high bar for professionalism at all times--and I brought that with me to my agenting career.

Is there a query format that seems to appeal to you more than others?

Concise, professional, to the point, following my submission instructions! I like queries that open with a one-line pitch of the book and then goes into the paragraph pitch of the book. Knowing how to talk about your work in one line is important and an art form itself! Also, a paragraph pitch is not a synopsis--the former is persuasive, the latter is informative. I also like the queryer to include comparable titles and a short bio.

What are some recent picture books that really grabbed your attention?

Some of my recent favorites have been:

ALMA AND HOW SHE GOT HER NAME by Juana Martinez-Neal



OTIS AND WILL DISCOVER THE DEEP by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Katherine Roy

LET THE CHILDREN MARCH by Monica-Clark Robinson, illustrated by Frank Morrison

If authors and illustrators have multiple projects that they want to share with you, what is a reasonable time-frame to space submissions out?

Don't send multiple projects. Send your strongest work or the one that makes most sense to pitch first to that agent and you can mention the others in the body of the query. If I want to see more, I'll ask for more.

What are some essential questions an author should ask themselves before they hit submit?

Have I submitted this to trusted and well-chosen beta readers? Has it gone through a rigorous revision process? Have I thought about every word of my manuscript--thinking about whether each needs to be there, how each one is working in the manuscript? Have I left room for an illustrator's vision to do some of the storytelling? Do I love this version?

Once a client signs with you, what can they expect in a healthy working relationship?

I think I'm a very respectful, optimistic and professional literary agent who is kind, communicative, transparent and have a strong editorial sensibility.

What do you think of the state of kid lit at this moment in history?

More than any other industry, across all media, I think kid lit has done the best job at stepping up and taking on the responsibility to try and right past wrongs. As a whole, I believe we are wholly committed to bringing more diversity to children's books, providing platforms for historically marginalized voices, introducing protagonists we have not been often heard from, helping all kids see themselves in books, and taking on hard subjects in meaningful, helpful ways. I think all of this work is all going to contribute to making this young generation more open-minded, kind, and savvy. Of course, there is still work to be done, but I'm immensely proud of the strides our industry has accomplished and the bright future ahead. I'm proud to be a part of it!

What is something upcoming you are excited about or would like to promote? Any travel plans or upcoming conferences that you’ll be attending?

It's not a picture book, but the most recent book published by my clients is the first in a middle grade graphic novel series, FABIEN COUSTEAU EXPEDITIONS: GREAT WHITE SHARK. It's a series I'm really proud of. In this series, kid readers (8-12) join intrepid environmentalist and adventurer Fabien Cousteau's crew on daring ecological adventures, all the while learning about the wonders of nature and the technology that helps us understand it and protect it. I like to think of it as Tintin meets The Magic School Bus--but based on real life! It's a really cool, fun and educational series--I would have loved it as a kid.

Please complete the following sentence: "Clelia is an agent who…"

is utterly devoted to bringing meaningful, delicious books to the marketplace!

Thank you so much for your time and honest responses, Clelia!

Clelia has generously offered to giveaway a one-time query critique to a lucky winner! Please keep in mind everything that she is looking for. She will expect you have read this post and know what's on her list!

To enter to win this one-time query critique, do one of two things:

1. Retweet this post with a comment.


2. Share a comment below AND subscribe to Picture Book Spotlight.

The deadline for this contest is Monday, March 11th at 9AM CST

The winner will be contacted on Monday, March 11th and announced on Twitter

About Clelia Gore

Clelia Gore, Vice President and Literary Manager

It was when Clelia first read Charlotte’s Web in the first grade that she got hooked by the magic of books. Her love of children’s books carried through adulthood and she is delighted to dedicate her life to bringing quality books and stories to young (and whimsical adult!) readers.

Clelia is originally from the suburbs of New York City. She has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Boston College. She received her J.D. from American University, Washington College of Law and practiced law as a corporate litigator in New York City.

In 2011, she decided to dedicate her career to books and reentered graduate school at Emerson College, where she received a master’s degree in Publishing and Writing. While she was studying publishing and taking creative writing courses at Emerson, Clelia gained firsthand experience in the publishing industry working in the children’s book division at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and in academic books at Oxford University Press. She also taught academic writing and research courses to freshman students as a graduate student faculty member at Emerson College.

Clelia attends writing and publishing conferences. She also sits on the board of directors for Poetry Northwestmagazine. In 2017, she was named one of Publisher’s Weekly Star Watch honorees.

Clelia acquires picture book, middle grade and young adult books. She is particularly interested in developing her nonfiction clientele. With apologies, Clelia is no longer accepting new adult fiction queries at this time.

To find out more about Clelia, check out her blog at She also tweets tips, news and musings related to writing and publishing at @MadmoiselleClel.

Other interviews with Clelia gore


Brian Gehrlein is an educator and youth services librarian living in Kansas City with his wife, Katherine, and son, Peter. He is represented by Melissa Richeson of Apokedak Literary Agency. He thanks you for reading this post. He thanks you for being an amazing person. He thanks you for keeping his most precious secret to yourself...he is actually a shapeshifter born in 1723 who never ages. Shhhhhhh!!!!!!

October 19, 2021 (34)_edited.jpg
October 19, 2021 (34)_edited.jpg
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