#SEACritterspub Agent Interview: Gabrielle Piraino of the DeFiore and Company


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 Gabrielle Piraino from the DeFiore and Company Agency!

Gabrielle Piraino

Agency: DeFiore and Company Literary

Carrie represents: Adult and YA SF/F, horror, thrillers Picture books, Middle Grade upmarket Chick Lit YA or Graphic Novels Non-fiction: Cookbooks and craft books

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’m an agent with DeFiore and Company, but I’ve worked for both agencies and publishing houses previously. I’m also the Foreign Rights Manager here, so I have a lot of experience and understanding of the international markets—including Asia! On the whole, our agency tries to keep translation rights when we think projects can travel, and I’d love to be able to represent potential clients in both the United States and internationally. Outside of work, I have the world’s cutest Samoyed puppy named Lyra and love being outside! I’m pretty crafty and my office has a love/hate relationship with my weekly baking habit. Oops!

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

I like to keep an open mind in terms of tropes/subgenres, but I definitely find myself attracted to certain things: adult and YA SF/F, Picture Book, Middle Grade, YA or Graphic Novels in either fiction or nonfiction with teaching moments/introducing young readers to new concepts (think ALVIN HO, anything by Grace Lin, BOXER/SAINT), or generally anything that falls somewhere between any of the above. Love seeing #ownvoices when it applies, and always get excited when reviewing author/illustrator projects!

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

I’d like imaginative sci-fi/fantasy with strong world building, blood-curdling horror, whip-smart thrillers, and up-market chick lit that pairs well with sand and a margarita. I’d love to see any of the above for Young Adult readers (virgin daiquiri, though!), and wholeheartedly enjoy spunky, stubborn characters that never do exactly what you’d expect. For Children’s and Middle Grade, I’m looking for books that introduce curious young readers to new concepts—be it historically leaning or learning your manners—with compelling characters and an engaging voice. I’m also interested in author-illustrators working within the comic/graphic novel space and can’t wait to develop the next generation’s favorite villains. An avid personal baker/cook, I would also love to receive queries for cookbook and crafty lifestyle projects.

4. What are your submission guidelines?

If you would like us to consider your work for representation, please send us a query letter that includes the following:

  • A query letter, preferably including word count, genre, author bio, and 250 word summary of the project.
  • For fiction, please include the first 50 pages of your book pasted into the body of the email too
  • No attachments. For illustrators, please include your website or online portfolio.
  • If you wish to submit a hard copy, please enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope.
  • If you wish to send an e-query, please submit to [email protected]. Please include the word “Query” in the subject line.
  • Typical response time is 6-8 weeks, but feel free to follow up at that point.

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

Generally, just patience across the board. Like most agents, I’m inundated with lots of queries every day, so I don’t always get a chance to respond as promptly as I’d like. Strongly prefer a short but engaging query, rather than a meandering 2+ page query, since the goal of the query is to get me reading. If you aren’t a rockstar on social media, no need to include your platform numbers, but feel free to include your handles so I can check you out. If you don’t find yourself getting a lot of responses for your query letter, revise! Perhaps your summary isn’t plot/character focused enough. Enter a query critique contest and get feedback from real agents/editors. Also, PLEASE be sure to research the agents/editors that you’re reaching out to; the fastest way to get a rejection is by querying an agent that doesn’t work in your genre. Most of us have a ton of information available on the internet and MSWL/submission guidelines/bios on our company websites. (If you’re not sure whether I work in a specific genre or would be interested in your book, send me a quick email or tweet me with the elevator pitch/comps; I’ll let you know!)


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!