#SEACritterspub Agent Interview: Beth Phelan from Gallt and Zacker Literary


MAY, 2018

Welcome to the #SEACritterspub interviews, where we spotlight agents and editors looking for Asian literature and / or Asian authors! This week it’s Beth Phelan from the Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency!

Beth Phelan

Agency: Gallt and Zacker Literary Agency

Beth represents: Young Adult and Middle Grade


What is #SEACritterspub? 

This is an initiative started by Hanna Alkaf, Gail Villanueva, and I (all currently living in Southeast Asia) to help Asian authors (both diaspora and living outside of the US) learn more about querying and finding agents in the US! Aside from showcasing agents actively seeking Asian rep, we also post tips, advice, and occasionally offer query / 1st page critiques!

Before proceeding: please familiarize yourself with what a query is and how it works, general etiquette that authors need to know before finding an agent, and other helpful guidelines. Check out the #SeaCritterspub category on this blog (also located on the right side of this interview!) for more details!

Now, onwards to the interview!

1. Is there any information about yourself that you think people might like to know (literary agent experience, hobbies, etc.)?

I’ve been working in literary agencies since I started in publishing in 2010, after graduating from NYU. Born in Massachusetts, I am a child of immigrants and creator of the Twitter pitch event #DVpit, which showcases work from marginalized authors and illustrators.

2. Are there any specific Asian MS preferences you’re looking for (e.g., contemporary K-drama, Chinese martial arts fantasy, etc.) ?

I focus on fiction mostly but would be open to interesting narrative nonfiction as well. Would love mythology-based fantasy with a large cast, speculative/surreal contemporary, and/or anything with a lot of humor!

3. What other things do you look for in a manuscript?

For YA fiction:

– Fantasy that follows characters and narratives outside of royalty and court settings
– Realistic contemporary with a surreal twist or something just slightly off
– Marginalized voices, especially intersectional
– Emotional, funny contemporary that sensitively explores the intersection of comedy and mental illness
– Funny People for teens
– A once-in-a-lifetime romantic adventure story set against the backdrop of a storm, flood, blackout, natural disaster
– Queer characters of color in happy, joyful stories
– Family/sibling stories
– Anything with an indie-movie feel
– Seldom-explored mythologies and histories
– Cinematic fantasy, either high or low
– Experimental story structures; groundbreaking and innovative narratives that take risks
– Irreverent friendship stories
– Fresh vampire takes
– Rom-coms
– Stories and narratives that take risks
– Ambitious storytelling
– Weird stuff. Blow my mind!

MG fiction:
– Show me a world or topic that has been seldom seen, that feeling of being an ultimate fan of something and needing to turn all your friends on to it
– Literary fantasy or magical realism with a classic feel
– Lush, sophisticated worlds
– Madcap adventures with large, dynamic casts of characters
– High concept fantasy with a strong series hook
– Any genre that features queer characters
– Powerful realistic and speculative that explores tough topics

4. What are your submission guidelines?

From the Gallt and Zacker website:

Email [email protected]. On the subject line, please write your last name and the title of your manuscript Then, in the body of the e-mail, include a query letter with the following:

  • Who you are (please include your website if you have one)
  • What your manuscript is about or a description of your artistry
  • How you came to write that story or draw those illustrations
  • Why you are querying that specific agent
  • A sample of your work keeping the following in mind:
    • If you are a writer, include the first 2000 words (or less, for full picture book texts) pasted in the body of the e-mail (no attachments).
  • PLEASE NOTE: Beth is closed to inquiries UNLESS your MS fits the #SEACritterspub requirements!

5. What are things people should remember when sending you queries? Any advice regarding what catches your attention / what turns you off?

Definitely have a full query letter and it helps to add your title and the category/genre to the subject line as well.


To view the full list of agents currently seeking Asian lit / rep, go to this Google doc!

Are you an agent or an editor who’d like to participate in these interviews? Drop me an email at rin.chupeco[at]gmail[dot]com!