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Mar 16, 2021

Agent Spotlight Series: Katie Salvo

A warm welcome to Katie Salvo, senior literary agent at Metamorphosis Literary Agency.

A traditionally published novelist, certified copy editor, and avid reader with eclectic genre interests, Katie Salvo loves nothing more than to see authors succeed in introducing new ideas and fresh voices to the publishing industry. With a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, Katie has a background in literary criticism, philosophy, political theory, and history. She is particularly interested in representing women’s fiction, suspense, romance, middle grade, young adult, LGBTQ+, narrative nonfiction, and historical biography.

CritiqueMatch: How did you become an agent? If you were not an agent, what career would you have pursued? 
Katie: Before becoming an agent, I was a struggling author, desperately trying to find an agent of my own. It just happens to be my great fortune that Amy Brewer of Metamorphosis Literary Agency signed me on as her client. As she worked with me on edits and took me through every step of the publishing process from submissions to publication, I began to realize why she loved her job so much: she was helping others realize their dreams, and there’s a lot of joy and contentment in that. The next thing I knew, I was interning for Amy, becoming an agent for Metamorphosis a year later. 
Once upon a time, I was on the misguided path to becoming a stodgy old political science professor. Thank goodness for the exciting world of literary agenting!

CM: How many authors do you represent? How has your author list changed over time? 
Katie: I currently have 13 clients and am in the process of building my list. An academic at heart, I started out my career concentrating mostly on academic texts of philosophy, political theory, and literary criticism. Successful author queries in these fields turned out to be hard to come by, so I turned my attention more towards Nonfiction Narrative, Women’s Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. There’s a larger market for these genres and some very talented authors out there just waiting to make their debut.

CM: Once you make an offer of representation, what happens next? 
Katie: By the time I make an offer of representation, I have already read the author’s full manuscript and know where it needs to be improved. It is important to first note that I go over the required edits with the author before signing. If the author is open to them, I’ll offer them a contract. If the author is not open to edits, I won’t offer the contract. Being able to take criticism and willing to edit a work until it’s the strongest manuscript it can be is what separates good authors from best sellers. 

When a manuscript is ready for submission to publishing houses, I make a list of acquisitions editors I believe will be interested in reading the manuscript. I then write a two-paragraph pitch, letting the acquisitions editor know what the manuscript is about and telling them a bit about the author. If the acquisitions editor is interested in reading the work, they will request the full manuscript. It could take months before he/she determines if the work is a good fit for their imprint, then they will contact me with an offer or a rejection. If an offer is received, I go over it with my client to make sure he or she is happy with it. As publishing is a tough, highly competitive industry, the author’s answer is usually yes, yes, yes! At that point, the publisher will assign an in-house editor to work with the author to make any changes they find necessary to get the work on the market. 

CM: What areas of the market do you think are oversaturated more recently? 
Katie: The market is so flooded with YA meet-cutes that it’s hard to get imprints to pick them up now. Memoirs are also hard to get picked up, as they really have to have that “wow factor” that sets them apart from the many political tell-alls out there.

CM: What areas of the market do you think are in high demand right now? 
Katie: Women’s Fiction is always in high demand, with the trend leaning towards under-represented voices. I would love to see more queries coming my way from disenfranchised authors with characters of color. The same is true of YA works. The industry wants to hear the voices of marginalized youth.

CM: What makes a good synopsis? Any online resources you recommend that help authors write a synopsis? 
Katie: A good synopsis will always be short and to the point with the story’s ending included. No teasers or cliffhangers. The agent has countless other summaries to read, so it’s better to get right to the heart of the story. When I was a querying author, I always relied on the advice and examples provided in Writers Digest ( Authors will find some agents’ favorite query letters and synopses using the link above.

CM: Name a book you recently read and can’t stop thinking about. 
Katie: “Wish You Were Here” by Renee Carlino. I won’t give the plot away but recommend having a box of tissues at the ready.

CM: How is your agency addressing the need for diversity and inclusion in publishing?  
Katie: At Metamorphosis we take a lot of pride in our fabulous roster of agents and interns dedicated to elevating #OwnVoices writers who often go unheard. Our collective MSWL posted on our website and shared across social media includes LGBTQ+ authors, authors of color, authors with disabilities, authors with international perspectives, and authors who have stories to share that may reshape our vision of the world. We're a diverse group with our own stories to tell and truly enjoy reading about others.


Wish List

Genres/sub-genres you’re looking for:
  • Women’s fiction, suspense, romance, middles grade, young adult, LGBTQ+
  • Narrative nonfiction and historical biography
What you’re not interested in:
  • Fantasy, science fiction, dystopian, or horror

2 Client Examples


Query Tips

Please provide a couple of tips for querying authors.

  • Always open the query letter with a formal salutation: Dear Ms. Salvo…
  • Use the first line to tell the agent how you found them: “I read your CritiqueMatch Agent Spotlight interview and saw that your manuscript wish list includes women’s fiction.”
  • Include a one-paragraph synopsis, along with manuscript word count. A good opening line for the synopsis will read like: “Complete at 90,00 words, “Your Title” follows three women as they come together to take the perfect revenge on their cheating ex-boyfriend.” You get the picture.
  • Provide a bio (limited to several lines)
  • Close with “Thank you for your time.”
  • Provide social media links.
          • Never open the letter using the agent’s first name.
          • All agents know that authors copy and paste for their queries, but don’t get careless. Double and triple check your query to make sure you haven’t accidentally pasted in the wrong agent’s name or the wrong agency name.
          • Most all agencies use Query Manager or some form of standard submission form. Don’t leave any of the sections blank. It makes the author look lazy. If you show the agent that you’re on top of the process and ready to put the work in, they’ll be more likely to take a look at your work.
          • Don’t query more than one agent from the same agency at a time. 

              Submission Guidelines: