To Initiate Contact: You may E-Mail a query to Agency E-Address as below. No more than a paragraph or two. No downloads please. After which, you will receive specific instructions should we specifically request to see your material: Comply with the guidelines when you receive them. For example: If fiction, send approximately first 50 pages and a one-page synopsis. For nonfiction, send a proposal consisting of an overview, chapter outline, author biography, first three sample chapters and survey of the competition. (Note: Material will not be returned without a Self Addressed Stamped Envelop - SASE)

We discourage queries by phone and by fax.

Charlotte Gusay
The Charlotte Gusay Literary Agency


For Your Information: Notes on Submissions

In Pursuit of Excellence: Publishing and Balance
Thoughts on Submitting Work to The Charlotte Gusay Literary Agency

The publishing of books is in great flux these days threatened with extinction from all sides, changing and morphing in all directions. But it will survive thanks to dedicated people (like we are here at the Agency) who love books in all formats. Indeed the book world has always been a beloved culture which also happens to be a business. We here at The Charlotte Gusay Literary Agency are endeavoring to perpetuate and balance both the culture and the business of publishing, and its unique knowledge and professionalism. In short, we are pursuing publishing excellence within the context of the rules of business. We are therefore passing that knowledge and professionalism on to those who are interested. This is a note to you so that you will understand our modus operandi here at The Charlotte Gusay Literary Agency (TCGLA.) Please carefully note the following.

In the ongoing pursuit of excellence, it is our job here at TCGLA to find, represent and sell those writing projects and books of quality and literary merit deserving of publication. It is a filtering process like none other: intricate, extremely important and time consuming. It requires expertise, instinct, knowledge of, experience and contacts in the book/ publishing/film business. And it is also very expensive—this process of screening any given piece of material or book project received for consideration by the Agency —from the moment of the first query through the time we conclude our exchange of business. The process is the same whether the material is a nonfiction book, a novel, a book of poetry, a cookbook, a YA or children’s book, or a screenplay. Any material or writing project must be processed. We treat all queries and all material we receive with utmost respect and care.

The Agency is grateful to receive anywhere from 100 to 200 (or more) queries per week from writers who wish us to review their work. Of those queries, we carefully read and request to review, writers and projects that we feel may be of interest for us to represent and sell to publishers and/or film producers. There are many good reasons to send our instructions for you to submit your work to us. Here are only a few of those reasons:

  • First, foremost and absolutely mandatory: We must be very enthusiastic about your book query, whether it is fiction or nonfiction.
  • Also mandatory: Your query must have hinted to us that your book may be a project we could actually sell.
  • You may have mentioned specific literary credits such as having been published in literary or popular magazines.
  • You may have told us about having been previously published as a trade book author and you listed the name, date and the publisher of your trade book. Legitimate publishers we deal with are welcome notes on any query. Academic credits,are certainly considered. (Don’t forget we are looking for trade books, not academic books.)
  • You may have an outstanding number of readers and you have given us links to your audience following.
  • You may have an MFA in Creative Writing or you may be a journalist with important or impressive credentials that you’ve told us about.
  • We know you or you were referred by someone we know.
  • Or none of the above: We simply fell in love with your query. And any number of other miscellaneous reasons.

If we ask for your project and send you instructions for submitting it to us, we are excited to see it and – please note -- there are no reading fees at all.

Here’s how it goes: When the queries arrive, we read them all carefully. Quite a number of the incoming queries are promptly responded to – with regret. These were not right for the agency for one reason or another. (A few examples of why not: We’re not fond of sci-fi; poetry and short stories are virtually unsellable; the subject of your nonfiction book is not of interest to us; your query was rather unprofessional – i.e., “Hey…do you wanna see my novel?”; or a numerous collection of other issues.) In certain cases, however, if we are wavering about whether to request the work of a writer or not, rather than outright dismissing such writers, we offer the possibility to a prospective client / writer from the incoming query writers to have their work reviewed: By asking any such writer to provide the Agency a nominal processing fee of 35.00. Hence, a small portion of the incoming queries from such writers are offered this opportunity. This is minimal remuneration which has been devised to sustain our Literary Agency/ Publishing Mentoring Program whereby we offer in-house internships and take the time to train people who are interested in learning the culture and business of publishing. (See the following note for further information of the mentoring program: And – most important – this opportunity provides a path for writers who may have been rejected otherwise, to have their work reviewed. We think this is a win-win possibility. Interestingly, in this manner we have indeed found work and writers that we have signed to the Agency. We easily could have missed – and have missed in the past - these projects by making snap judgments and pressing the delete key.

Surely you understand we are not twisting your arm. If you have one of the few queries we’re wavering about and we’ve requested the nominal processing fee, this is a choice you may make. As we say in our Request for Project Submission, if you find any of this unreasonable for any reason, we suggest you forego the opportunity of having your work reviewed by this Agency. It is perfectly understandable if you wish to simply move on. There are many - more than ever - literary agents who will look at your work.

Once again, we thank you very much for thinking of The Charlotte Gusay Literary Agency while at the same time, we wish you the best of luck with your writing and work. We here at the Agency greatly admire you for being a writer, published or not. Hence, The Charlotte Gusay Literary Agency sincerely looks forward to seeing your writing project. We hope this explanation is helpful. You are always welcome to call and ask any questions you wish. Ask for Charlotte and say you wish to discuss the Agency’s submission policy. The office number is 310/559-0831. Hours for phone calls: 11:00 AM-5:00 PM (PST) or by appointment.

Literary Agency/Publishing Mentoring Program

Charlotte Gusay is an independent literary agent. With the exception of a few freelance readers and part-time assistants, she works alone and loves it. However, in an effort to perpetuate knowledge and professionalism in the field of publishing – in particular - the Agency oversees a Literary Agency/Publishing Mentoring Program for people wishing to learn how to be a literary agent in the publishing business. The agency hires and trains - on a regular basis - interns who are genuinely seeking experience as a literary agent in publishing or film.

An internship is a preliminary learning period for which there is an honorarium.  If an interested party wishes to experience a true taste of how the publishing world works and understands the realities of this business – that nothing happens by magic - an intern may wish to explore how to become involved in the workings of The Charlotte Gusay Literary Agency.  In developing and selling books here at the agency - to the publishing trade and books to film - all the skills an intern has accumulated in various work/business/life experiences may be applied to the work carried out by the agency, and the intern will accumulate many more specific to the agenting business, such as proposal writing, line editing, literary critiquing, manuscript evaluation, and screenplay coverage, as well as the intricacies of client relations, book development and packaging, marketing, editor/ publishers relations, producer/film development relations and more. Many of the agency interns have gone on to various positions in the business world in general including the publishing business and the film trade. Agency interns have achieved positions at book publicists, literary agencies and major publishing houses -- such as Little Brown Children’s Books and Oxford University Press, to name two.

Please contact the agency for further information on the Literary Agency/Publishing Mentoring Please put Literary Agency/Publishing Mentoring Program in the subject line. 

Some notes from only a few of the many interns who have worked at the Agency in the Publishing/Mentoring program:

Dear Charlotte, 
Thank you for this incredible opportunity to immerse myself in the fascinating world of literary agents’ craft! It’s been a pleasure working with you and a great honor watching how with the grace of Isadora Duncan and with the rigidity of a brave army general, you handle your business!

In such a short period of time, I learned so much from you, from other interns, from your old and prospective clients, from your colleagues and even your friends. I read pages and pages of high quality (and poor quality) fiction and non-fiction manuscripts and mastered the skills of critical reading and objective analyses of literary works. 
Before I met you, I knew I had the greatest passion for a written word, but thanks to you, I realized my purpose and my place in life. 

Notes to a Future Intern, 
You are starting an amazing journey! In the next four months you will travel to hundreds of countries and cities (forget space, though, we are not so found of Sci-Fi and fantasy) and meet myriads of peculiar, loony, boring, pathetic, hilarious, smart, dumb, charming and intoxicating characters. So buckle up! Here are a few tips on how to make your experience at The Charlotte Gusay Agency smooth and painless. 

  • Read at least one book review per week on The New York Times and Nobel, and other reputable sources. 
  • Make a little Critique Terms Vocabulary (Ex: fact-filled, fast-paced, potential for film crossover, author platform, etc.)
  • Save the templates for Critique, Rejection/Acceptance email, and other documents you will be using constantly, on your desktop.
  • Give many examples from the manuscripts with quotes and page numbers in your critiques, so Charlotte and our talented authors will know that you read their work thoroughly.  
  •  Spend at least 10 minutes every Monday preparing for the weekly editorial meeting. 
  • Be open-minded, creative, objective, positive and enthusiastic and enjoy your journey!

----From Marina Kapralau Romanchuk (March 7, 2017)

Charlotte, I just wanted to say thank you for all your help these past few months and for letting me be a part of TCGLA.  I absolutely loved my time here…you expanded my love of reading, writing and publishing; I didn’t even know that was possible.  I hope you know I am always available whenever you need extra help.  I wish you nothing but the best and all the success you deserve.
—Laura, February 18, 2014. [Laura just accepted a full-time position at the Broad Foundation.]

Charlotte, Words cannot begin to express the amount of gratitude I have for your kindness and willingness to take me under your wing.  I have learned so much and am now a better and more knowledgeable “book’ person because of you.  I hope we stay in touch for many years to come.  I am forever thankful for you. 
—With appreciation, Cherish, December 2013  [Cherish is the Buyer and Manager at an independent bookshop in Manhattan Beach]

Hi Charlotte, …you were the catalyst for me applying [to NYU Publishing Program.] Thank you so much for taking me on as an intern, encouraging me to attend NYU, for the wonderful references you’ve supplied, and for your continued support and friendship after all this time.  It really does mean a lot to me.
—Kelly, May 2013. [Kelly is an assistant acquisitions editor at Alfred Knopf Children’s Books in New York]

Charlotte-  I just wanted to thank you, once again, for taking the time to write me a letter of reference.  My time at the agency taught me the importance of pursuing one’s dreams and …the art of critiquing. 
—Molly, December 2010

Hi Charlotte, …I am graduating this semester, and to date, my internship working for you has been one of the most valuable experiences I had in college.  I wanted to thank you for that experience because I had a lot of fun and learned so much, since you allowed us a great deal of responsibility
—Kimmie, January 2006

Dear Charlotte:  I just wanted to update you as to what I have been doing since I completed the internship at The Charlotte Gusay Literary Agency.  I have had several interviews, most notably, with ICM and McGraw Hill.  I have taken a position as Editorial Assistant at Glencoe, the educational division of McGraw Hill….I just wanted to thank you for all the experience and training I received during my internship…You may want to show this email to your current interns to let them know that the experience they gain while working for you is helpful no matter what career they wish to pursue.  However, it is especially helpful if they want to go into publishing or entertainment. 
—Dania, June 2005

Thanks a lot Charlotte.  …it was a great experience and I’ve found that it’s given me a great new perspective on literature, which I notice every time that I walk into a bookstore.  Thanks again.
—Sean, November 2005

Dear Charlotte---Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your wonderful agency.  You are a fabulous person and mentor.  The wisdom you’ve impressed upon me, through humor and charm, is priceless. So thank you again, Charlotte for this opportunity.  It has been a privilege.

Dear Charlotte, As you know, I will be attending NYU [publishing program] in the fall. But I can’t remember if I told you that I got into all of the schools that I applied to!  I definitely would not have been able to do it without you and your amazing Letter of Recommendation.  I really appreciate your support. 
—Cheryl, April 2011

Dear Charlotte, My big project right now is a Beatles biography.  Little, Brown Adult published a 900-page biography in November and I’m working with the author (Bob Spitz) on a shorter version for young readers. 
—Sangeeta, Little, Brown Children’s Books, January 2006 
[After a stint at Simon & Schuster Children’s Books, as of 2012, Sangeeta opened her own very successful editorial business in New York.]

Literary Agency/Publishing Mentoring Program

Charlotte Recommends: Of Interest to Writers and Authors and Smart People.

WORD CRAFT: The 'Cider House' Writing Rules
By John Irving
(WSJ, May 4, 2012)

Publish and Perish
By Elizabeth Royte
(NYT, October 25, 2005)

Agents & Editors: Amy Einhorn
by Michael Szczerban
(Poets & Writers, March/April 2014)

Slaves of the Internet, Unite!
By Tim Krieder
(NYT, October 26, 2013)