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Apr 29, 2021

Agent Spotlight Series: Kiana Nguyen

A warm welcome to literary agent Kiana Nguyen! After dropping out of University of Albany in 2015, Kiki Nguyen had her first publishing internship with Wunderkind PR. There, she discovered a practical industry for her codependent love of fiction. In 2016, Kiki went on to intern with DMLA where she soon joined the team full-time as an assistant literary agent.
Kiki is now building her client list within young adult and adult fiction with a focus on queer and BIPOC authors.

CritiqueMatch: Share a fun fact about you. 
Kiki: I am a scene kid at heart. Forever. 

CM: How did you become an agent? If you were not an agent, what career would you have pursued? 
Kiki: I got into the industry mostly by chance—I did apply to a few editorial internships in college with very bad cover letters! I got my first publishing internship with Wunderkind PR by luck and being personable and enthusiastic. If I wasn’t an agent, I’d probably be working a few part-time jobs (which I don’t mean or see negatively).

CM: How many authors do you represent? How has your author list changed over time? 
Kiki: I represent 6 authors. Over time, I’ve moved away from second-world fantasy YA to more grounded speculative to completely contemporary worlds. Looking for more Adult projects, particularly horror!

CM: Once you make an offer of representation, what happens next?
Kiki: The call with the author to discuss the project and my vision for it, as well as our basic outlooks on the trajectory of the author’s career and work styles – I think these are the most important things to discuss on a call. Then the author should be informing other agents with the full and giving them around 2 weeks (that’s standard; anything less is not cool imo) to consider their work and also set up calls if interested, so the author can make the most informed decision about moving forward or not with representation.

CM: How hands-on are you in the editing process before you send the manuscript out to publishers? 
Kiki: I am a very hands-on and collaborative partner through the editorial process with clients before submission. I believe that the work is the only barometer of an author’s success, so revision takes as long as it needs to take. You’ll never have as much time to perfect your work as before a contracted deal.

CM: What areas of the market do you think are oversaturated more recently?
Kiki: Save-the-world fantasy.

CM: What areas of the market do you think are in high demand right now?
Kiki: So many Adult editors are hungry for fresh horror right now.

CM: Name a book you recently read and can’t stop thinking about. 
Kiki: One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

CM: Is there something else you would like to share with our members?
Kiki: I believe it’s vital to an author’s overall mental health and career to be reasonable and rational about the uphill climb that a career in publishing is. It involves a lot of rejection, and large advance deals are not and have never been the norm for a majority of writers. Your main focus should be on your work which is the only thing you can control.  


Wish List
Please note: As a queer woman of color, I am specifically interested in queer and BIPOC stories. Across all areas of interest, I crave emotionally immersive, voice-y, character-driven projects that make “small stakes” seem big.

Genres/sub-genres you’re looking for:
  • Dark, twisty narratives across genres that explore human complexity in Adult and YA
  • YA contemporary featuring lower socioeconomic backgrounds; poor kids who get in as much reckless mischief as their rich counterparts!
  • YA featuring happy/hopeful queer romances
  • Adult Domestic suspense, thrillers!
  • Adult Horror: I'm looking for more than domestic white family hauntings, though I’m still open to how intimately horrors affect our relationships and lives circa The Haunting of Hill House. Looking for projects that balances humor as well! Intimate stakes with characters driving the plot in atmospheric worlds.
What you’re not interested in:
  • Non-fiction
  • Crime or military fiction
  • Picture books, chapter books, or MG
  • Poetry, screenplays, or short stories
  • Religious fiction

2 Client Examples
(This list includes affiliate links)
      • Hot Copy by Ruby Barrett, April 13 2021, Carina Press
      • The Ones We Burn by Rebecca Mix, Fall 2022, Simon and Schuster 


        Query Tips

        Please provide a couple of tips for querying authors.

        • Include your name in the body of your email – somewhere, anywhere!
        • Forget to tell me what happens in your book. Themes are less important than plot.


        Submission Guidelines:
        To query, please email with the query letter, and the first ten pages of your novel pasted into the body of the email. NO attachments.