A native of Ohio, Kristy Hunter graduated from Vanderbilt University and the Columbia Publishing Course before beginning her publishing career in NYC—first as an editorial intern at Bloomsbury Children’s Books and then as a book publicist at Grove/Atlantic and Random House Children’s Books. In 2014, she happily made the switch to the agenting side of the industry and was closely mentored by Deidre Knight, president and founder of the Knight Agency.
As an associate agent, Kristy enjoys bringing a unique perspective to her clients thanks to her diverse publishing background. She currently represents MG, YA, and adult fiction, and is always looking for high-concept projects with unique and captivating voices. When she’s not curled up with a fantastic book or manuscript, she can be found hiking with her dog. For more information on her wish list, check out the Knight Agency’s Submission Guidelines page. You can find details about her recent sales on Publishers Marketplace.
What was your path to agenting?
I attended an event for my cousin’s wedding when I was a sophomore in college—and proceeded to be asked by almost every adult there what I was studying and what I wanted to do with my degree. I was an English Lit and Women & Gender Studies major at the time with absolutely no idea where to go next. One woman mentioned that her daughter was an editor. Hearing what she did day to day blew my mind. I knew then that I had to find a way to work in publishing. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the Columbia Publishing Course and moved to NYC right after college. From there I interned in the editorial department at Bloomsbury Children’s Books before getting my first real gig as a publicity assistant at Grove/Atlantic, and later Random House Children’s Books.
I loved the fast-paced world of publicity and the inherent ingenuity that came with trying to break books out in a challenging market. I was the author’s cheerleader—what could be better? But a part of me still missed the creative aspect of working in editorial. I didn’t just want to cheer for books, I wanted to help shape them into their very best versions. I realized that moving to agenting would allow me to have the best of all worlds, and I was thrilled to start working at the Knight Agency in 2014.
When you’re reading a submission, what makes you fight to rep a writer?
The first thing that grabs me when I’m reading a submission is the voice. That’s what makes me sink into a story and want to stay with it. The characters come to life on the page and I’m able to just read—I’m not contemplating everything that needs tweaking or what isn’t working. I’m just sitting, enjoying the ride. And once I’ve finished, I can’t get the manuscript out of my mind. I’m already thinking about which editors would love it, all the readers that will have to have it, and how gorgeous the cover will look on the shelf—that’s when I know I’m hooked and that the project is one I absolutely have to represent.
What’s your editorial process as an agent?
As an agent, I’m always editorially involved, although the extent varies from project to project and client to client. When I offer on a project, I’m very transparent about the edits I deem necessary, as well as how many rounds of revisions I expect it will take to see them realized. Editing is certainly a collaborative—not to mention subjective—process and I want to make sure our visions are aligned before we move forward. Sometimes it only takes slight revisions. Maybe a round or two. Other times, the revisions are more extensive. But for a project I love, I never shy away from doing the work. Once the project is in the best shape possible, we take it out on submission.
What’s on your manuscript wish list?
Right now, I’m actively building my list and looking for new MG, YA, and adult fiction clients. I’m open to a wide range of projects and concepts. The most important thing is a unique hook and a great voice. Sometimes it’s the manuscript that I least expect that grabs me, so if you think it could be a fit, don’t hesitate to send your project my way! I love to be surprised.
*You can query Kristy for the month of July. See submission guidelines above.