Andrea Somberg loves variety in her reading and in the genres she represents. As a literary agent for Harvey Klinger, INC., her clients include writers of nonfiction, science fiction, romance, picture books, middle grade, and young adult. Andrea's clients have nominated for The Edgar Award, The Governor General’s Award, the Lambda Award, and named best books of the year by NY Public Library and Book of the Month Club.
She is on the look out for nonfiction that look at the world in a new, unusual way, or that give her insight into a topic that she's not familiar with.
Nonfiction Ninjas are excited to have a conversation with the incredible Ms. Somberg.
Why did you become a literary agent?
I’ve always loved to read — it’s my one, true passion in life — but it wasn’t until college that I realized it could become a career (before that I thought I might go into social work). I interned for a literary agency and loved everything about it — advocating for authors, working in a community where everyone loves books, and helping projects find their way out into the world.
What excites you most about working in publishing?
I love the excitement of reading a new proposal or manuscript, of thinking that this could be something I fall completely in love with or that could change my perspective on things. But I really love all aspects of my job — pitching projects, negotiating contracts, forging relationships with others who love books. I also love how the publishing industry is constantly changing — it keeps me on my toes! -- and I'm always on the look out for new opportunities for my clients and their work.
What are you looking for in nonfiction projects?
I love books that shine a light on topics in a fun way or that teach readers something they didn't know, especially if there is an interactive element. I also love books that engage the reader in someone else’s life, that give them a window into what it's like to live in a different place or time, and that helps to expand their world.
Are there specific topics that interest you?
I am very interested in OwnVoices projects and books that help the reader better understand an experience that might not be their own. I am also particularly interested in books that encourage kids to get involved in the world around them, to engage with their community and their environment, and to follow their passions.
What trends are you seeing in the industry?
Years ago it was hard to get books published by underrepresented voices but I’m happy to say that that’s changed. The Own Voices movement continues to gain momentum and we have been seeing this reflected on publishers’ lists.
Who is your ideal client?
Someone who is passionate about books.
Are you more interested in PB, MG, YA, or all three?
I tend to do more MG and YA, however I would love to find more OwnVoices PB.
What do you want to see in a nonfiction proposal?
The competitive books section is very important — I want to know what other books are out there, and how your book is different. Why is there a need for it? I also want to know more about you. Who are you and why are you interested in this topic? What is your background, your credentials? Do you have a promotional platform? (In other words, why are you the best person to be writing this book?). For children’s nonfiction, promotional platform isn’t necessarily as important for adult nonfiction, however it can certainly help. For more narrative-driven books ,such as memoir or biography, .the more sample material you have, the better.
What are some of your favorite kidlit nonfiction books?
There are so many I love! But if I have to name a few: for MG I love Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s Hey, Kiddo and Ben Brooks’ Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different; for YA, Dashka Slater’s The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime that Changed Their Lives and Joanna Spathis’s Wake, Rise, Resist: The Progressive Teen's Guide to Fighting Tyrants and A*holes; and for PB, Jacqueline Woodson’s When You Begin and Ibram X. Kendi’s Antiracist Baby.
What advice can you give to people who want to break into the nonfiction market?
Do your research. If you are interested in a topic, learn what else is out there. Make sure that your book is different, that it fills a hole in the marketplace and that there is a need for it. And then make the best case as to why you are the best person to write it.
And last but not least – are you a dog person or a cat person? And do you have a pet?
Both! Growing up I had several dogs, but when I married I inherited two cats (who have unfortunately passed away). No pets at the moment but I’m sure that will change soon.
Do you think Andrea might be the perfect agent for you? Email your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please send along a query letter and the opening five pages of your manuscript.
We are nonfiction authors who support readers and writers through our writing, author visits, and workshops.
The Nonfiction Ninjas are a group of writers with diverse ideas and a strong belief in The First Amendment. The views expressed in each post are those of the author and may differ from others in the group.