It Takes Two: The Author and the Agent

Venn diagram with the left circle in purple and the right circle in red, on top of a neon green background. Text in the venn diagram reads, in neon green, “It Takes Two”

This event is part of You Are A Writer, a series of free online workshops on the business of writing. Inspired by beloved components of the Emerging Voices Fellowship, the series will provide an introduction to four topics that are foundational to launching a literary career.

The ins and outs of literary representation can be difficult to decipher, particularly for those working outside of traditional pathways like MFA programs or literary fellowships. Join PEN America for a free workshop with leading agents who will share an inside look at the role of the literary agent and the importance of representation in the path to publication. Content will include a guide to composing a compelling query letter and tips on researching and landing an agent that is right for you. This workshop will also address what happens once an author is represented. ASL interpretation is provided by Pro Bono ASL.

This digital event will start at 5pm PT / 7pm CT / 8pm ET.


In order to ensure an optimal experience for our speakers and all participants, please be advised that You Are A Writer: A Career & Craft Workshop Series is limited to 1,000 registrants per workshop. Unfortunately, recordings will not be available following the event. However, please return to for information regarding future workshops and events, or fill out this form to stay connected.

Jin Auh is a literary agent at The Wylie Agency. She serves on the board of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. She was born in Seoul and lives in New York. 

Alia Hanna Habib headshot: Alia sits in front of a white shelf full of books. She is wearing a shirt with horizontal black stripes and dark framed glasses.Alia Hanna Habib (she/her) is a literary agent at The Gernert Company, an agency with a client list as broad as the market, representing writers ranging from John Grisham to Alice McDermott. Habib began her publishing career as a book publicist at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and her years of in-house publicity experience inform her close working relationships with her clients. She represents narrative nonfiction, memoir, and literary fiction.

Her list includes the forthcoming book series from The New York Times’s “The 1619 Project”; MacArthur Fellow and journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones; Doree Shafrir, author of Startup: A Novel; journalist and PBS NewsHour White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor; Josh Levin’s The Queen, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Biography; Chasten Buttigieg, author of the New York Times bestseller I Have Something to Tell You; literary critic Lauren Oyler’s forthcoming debut novel Fake Accounts; Judy Batalion’s forthcoming The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos, optioned by Stephen Spielberg’s DreamWorks Pictures, with rights sold in 16 territories; Clint Smith, poet, scholar, and author of the poetry collection Counting Descent and his forthcoming nonfiction debut How the Word is Passed; poet and essayist Hanif Abdurraqib, author of They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us and the New York Times bestseller Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to A Tribe Called Quest. Her authors have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, among many others, and have been nominated for the PEN America Literary Awards, Edgar Awards, and National Book Award.

Rayhané Sanders headshot: Rayhané stands looking at the camera in natural light, with trees in the background. She wears a dark cardigan over a black blouse.Rayhané Sanders (she/her) worked for Newsweek, Penguin Group USA, and William Morris Endeavor before building her own list at Massie & McQuilkin. She’s looking for literary and upmarket book club fiction, including short story collections, propulsive narrative nonfiction and incisive essay collections, and voice-driven memoir. She is particularly fond of projects that include specific cultural settings and/or cross-cultural themes. Her authors include Lidia Yuknavitch, Te-Ping Chen, Matthew Gavin Frank, Myriam Gurba, and many more.

Meredith Kaffel Simonoff headshot: Meredith is pictured looking directly at the camera with her head tilted to the right in front of a dark red wall. She has brown hair and wears dark framed glasses.Meredith Kaffel Simonoff (she/her) joined DeFiore and Company as an agent in early 2012, after six years with the Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. She represents primarily adult literary fiction, as well as select literary creative nonfiction and a limited list of illustrated works and books for children. She is drawn to writing steeped in a ferocity of language, intellect, purpose, and heart. Among her clients with recent or forthcoming publications are Tola Rotimi Abraham, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Ryka Aoki, Melissa Broder, Dantiel Moniz, Nadia Owusu, Kimberly King Parsons, Brandon Taylor, and Leni Zumas. She is a member of PEN America, the AAR, and The Center for Fiction.

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