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Meet the Mastermind - Lisa Amstutz of Storm Literary

Note: Lisa Amstutz is our Mastermind for our March Rate Your Story Professional Series. If you are a Member who is interested in participating in March, grab your spot in the dedicated thread in our new Forum and remit your payment now. If you are a Non-Member interested in participating in March, please contact for a status on any open spots. The cost is $145.00 for a month-long program which includes Submission, Peer Critiques, Re-Submission to Lisa, Lisa's Critique, a 10-Minute Zoom Session in Group Zoom for each participant with following Q & A, and a follow-up Submission Opportunity. If you are just interested in learning more about Lisa Amstutz, then read on!

Describe yourself as a child. What did you like / dislike? 

I was a shy and bookish kid. I read voraciously–and still do, when I have time. I also enjoyed playing games. Monopoly with my brothers could last for days! We spent a lot of time playing outdoors too.

What steered you toward becoming a children’s book author? 

I started off writing magazine and newspaper articles for adults, then co-wrote an adult nonfiction book with a friend. After that came out, I thought it would be fun to write a children’s book on a similar topic (I had four young children at the time). In the process I stumbled on SCBWI, went down the kidlit rabbit hole, and never came back out! It was a good fit for my interests and something I could fit in around family life. 

What do you love most about the profession of children’s book author? 

I love connecting with kids and sharing fun and interesting facts about science and nature with them. I also love the process of research and the challenge of narrowing something down to its essence.

What is your favorite book that you wrote and why? 

Applesauce Day is the closest to my heart. It is based on my own family’s tradition of making applesauce every year. It’s fun to hear how many other families share this tradition–or are inspired to start their own!

What made you decide to become an Agent? 

This career path never occurred to me until my agent suggested that I should consider it. Along with writing, I was doing a lot of freelance editing and mentoring, and she pointed out that I was already doing much of what an agent does. Agenting would allow me to do that in a more focused and ongoing way. And, she was right. I did a year of training with Storm Literary to make sure it was a good fit before making it official in 2021.

What do you love most about being an Agent? 

I love working with my clients and helping them find publishing success. Every day, I get to read brilliant new stories, chat about books with clients and editors, and together with my clients, try to make the world a little better and brighter.

What is a recent acquisition or sale that has been published and why did you acquire it?

It’s hard to pick just one, but my client Ginny Neil’s The Glorious Forest That Fire Built came out last year. I loved Ginny’s lyrical writing style, the new take on a nonfiction topic (wildfires), and her beautiful artwork. 

What types of books are you looking to represent - Genre? Age Group?

I currently represent PB and MG fiction and nonfiction as well as adult nonfiction. 

What do you want to read about? What don’t you want to read about? Explain. 

I love books with humor, heart, or a subtle message that sticks with you after you finish the book. I enjoy nonfiction as well. I’m not a good fit for anything too graphic, gory, or dark. 

What aspects of craft do you look for in a prospective manuscript? What is most important to you? 

I look for writing skill on multiple levels–the ability to craft an engaging plot and characters as well as things like lyricism, pacing, voice, etc. With children’s books, I’m also looking at whether the topic and writing are a fit for the target audience.

What is a common issue with the submissions you receive? 

Most of the submissions I receive are good; they just don’t stand out quite enough. I am looking for manuscripts that blow me away, that I’m still thinking about the next day. That’s a hard thing to quantify, and it is different for every agent. 

Please share a Submission or Revision tip with our Members. 

My best advice is just to study the market. Check out the new books at the library or in a bookstore. Where will yours fit on the shelf, and how can you make it stand out? What would make someone decide to buy your book instead of the others? Review your manuscript with those questions in mind.

Bonus: Share a fun fact about YOU! 

I own two giant balls of fluff (Great Pyrenees) named Bailey and Yeti. 

Lisa Amstutz is a literary agent with Storm Literary Agency and the author of more than 150 books for kids. With a background in environmental science, she enjoys sharing her love of nature with kids and adults alike. Lisa lives with her family on a small farm.

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