Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Sera Rivers of Martin Literary Management

Sera Rivers is a literary agent with Martin Literary Management.

Sera is currently accepting queries for middle grade and young adult fiction and graphic novels, as well as the occasional picture book.

In 2007, Sera joined SCBWI when her best friend insisted that Sera belonged in the kidlit world. She now attends SCBWI conferences and workshops every year. She’s volunteered for the New England chapter since 2012, co-directing NESCBWI’s 2017 and 2018 annual spring conferences. In 2009, after immersing herself in the kidlit community, she decided to pursue her passion—a career in the children’s book industry. She went back to college, earning her bachelor of arts degree in Creative Writing and Journalism Studies from the University of Massachusetts and her master of fine arts degree in Writing for Children, with a concentration in young adult novels, from Simmons University. Her young adult memoir THE WICKED ONES won the 2016 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award.

Sera worked in educational publishing for seven years and launched Avenue A Books, a children’s graphic novel imprint at Center for Responsive Schools. As Avenue A’s acquiring and managing editor, she worked with new and established children’s book writers and illustrators to create picture books and middle grade novels. She loved helping writers and illustrators hone their craft to produce their best work. Now, as an agent, Sera provides editorial feedback to help clients get their manuscripts submission ready.

Manuscript Wish List:

Sera believes that words have the power to change lives, and she’s looking to represent authors and illustrators who want to make the world a more inclusive, welcoming place for us all. Sera seeks stories that grab her attention from the first page and take her on a wild ride of emotions; stories that move and inspire readers to evaluate their own selves and strive for something more. Her most favorite books make her laugh, cry, and feel so connected to the characters that her heart aches for them when she reads the last page.

In 2021, Sera is excited to sign:

Own Voices: Sera is especially interested in inclusive narratives and #ownvoices representation. She welcomes queries by children’s authors and illustrators who identify as BIPOC, LQBTQIA+ and other underrepresented and marginalized identities and cultures.

Sera is specifically looking for:

Young Adult: Sera loves fast-paced, compelling, and mind-bending stories with unreliable narrators. She enjoys stories that incorporate setting as a character (such as Stolen by Lucy Christopher) and twisting plots with endings that are surprising yet inevitable (such as They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera). She would love to see contemporary stories that tackle tough topics, especially if they incorporate a magical element to them (such as We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson); horror (no demonic possessions or gratuitous gore/sex); ghost stories; psychological thrillers; and speculative fiction.

Some of her favorite YA authors include Elizabeth Acevedo, Shaun David Hutchinson, Walter Dean Myers, Amy Reed, Adam Silvera, Courtney Summers, Renée Watson, and Nancy Werlin.

Middle Grade: Sera is seeking voice-driven contemporary stories that tackle tough topics (such as From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks; Melissa’s Story by Alex Gino).

Some of Sera’s favorite MG authors include Kwame Alexander, Katherine Applegate, Erin Dionne, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Rebecca Stead, and Jacqueline Woodson.

Graphic Novels: Sera would love to represent more graphic stories in all genres of the children’s market, especially stories with a parallel imaginative or magical world to them (such as Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani).

Some of Sera’s favorite graphic novelists include Cece Bell, Jerry Craft, Victoria Jameson, David Small, and Gene Luen Yang.

Picture Books: Sera is only looking for picture books that tackle tough topics (such as Knock Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty and Bryan Collier; The Breaking News by Sarah Reul); horror (such as Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown; Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann).

Some of Sera’s favorite picture book authors and illustrators include Deborah Freedman, Ezra Jack Keats, Jon Klassen, Larissa Marantz, Yuyi Morales, Kadir Nelson, Raul the Third, Dan Santat, Allen Say, and David Weisner.

Sera is not looking for: high fantasy, historical fiction, or adult fiction or nonfiction.

Leave a Reply