Metaphors about storytelling and handiwork are woven deep into the fabric of our culture. (See what we did there?) The process of spinning fiber into yarn, which is then woven or knitted into fabric, is centuries old, and a cornerstone of nearly every culture on earth. It’s also a lot of work; many of the first machines of the Industrial Age, including the cotton gin, were designed to streamline the fiber production process.
For something to be handspun, it needs to be just that: spun by hand. Handspun yarn is prized by 21st century knitters, crocheters, and weavers, because small idiosyncrasies in the yarn create wonderful textural and visual interest.
The name Handspun reflects our agency’s philosophy that the best books are richly textured and perhaps a bit unusual, and that readers are drawn to stories that feel hand-crafted.
About the Agency
Handspun is a boutique literary agency located in San Diego, CA. We take a hands-on, editorial approach to our clients’ work and careers.
Courtney Miller-Callihan (she/her/hers) founded Handspun Literary Agency in 2016, after more than ten years with Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. Her eclectic list has a strong emphasis on work from underrepresented voices and includes women’s fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, romance and rom-coms, horror, science fiction & fantasy, YA novels, humor, and nonfiction.
A graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz (B.A., Literature), and Johns Hopkins University (M.A., English), she lives in San Diego with her family.
She is always looking for stories she can’t stop reading.
For adult fiction, Courtney represents a wide range of genres, including historical fiction, women’s fiction, romance and rom-coms (all subgenres except inspirational), mystery novels, and speculative fiction.
Courtney represents non-fiction by referral only (no non-fic queries please).
She is not currently accepting middle-grade, early reader, or picture book submissions.
Ben Miller-Callihan (he/him/his) joined Handspun Literary Agency as an agent in 2019, after working behind the scenes since the agency's founding in tech support and bookkeeping roles, as well as more than a decade teaching high school English. His interests include humor, YA, fantasy and speculative fiction (especially decolonial sff), crossover fiction a la William Gibson and Erin Morgenstern, the macabre (for all ages), off-the-beaten-path folklore, Deaf culture and community, and anything food-related. Writers from marginalized communities are especially welcomed.
A graduate of the University of Kentucky (B.A., English), and New York University (M.A., English Education), he lives in San Diego with his human, canine, and kitchen appliance families.
He is not currently accepting early reader or picture book submissions.
Cheyenne Faircloth (she/her/hers) joined Handspun Literary Agency as an agency assistant in 2021, after graduating with a B.F.A. in Creative Writing, and a certification in Publishing from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Before Handspun, Cheyenne interned as an editorial assistant at Howland Literary, and was a member of the editorial and acquisition teams at Lookout Books, an independent publisher that is home to National Book Award Finalist Edith Pearlman. Cheyenne also independently managed a book blog where she collaborated with both major and indie publishers to promote upcoming titles and participated in various promotional activities centered around supporting debut authors.
Cheyenne is most interested in manuscripts from underrepresented communities, i.e. queer, BIPOC, AAPI, neurodivergent, and disabled voices.
Her interests include YA, Southern Gothic, folkloric elements, gothic romances, fantasy stories with political elements and well-grounded world building, non-western mythology, sports romances in conversation with institutional issues/sexism/gender, and creatures from myth told through a queer allegorical lens.
She is not currently accepting middle grade, picture books, or nonfiction.
Novels that strike our fancy often involve one or more of the following:
- flawed, active protagonists
- complicated villains
- diverse cast of characters
- disability and non-neurotypicality
- LGBTQ+ elements and characters
- feminist sensibilities
- dark sense of humor
- retellings and reimaginings
- gothic flavor
- elements of magical realism
- nerdy pop-culture references
- happy or happy-ish endings
- high angst
- craft beer
- video games
- country house murders
Pop culture properties we love:
- Ted Lasso
- Schitt's Creek
- Stranger Things
- The Good Place
- Hannibal (NBC)
- Parks and Recreation
- Russian Doll
- That Mitchell and Webb Look
- Dead Like Me
- Great British Bake-Off
- Marvel Comic Universe
- Shadow and Bone
- The Expanse
- The Mandalorian
- Peaky Blinders
- Game of Thrones
- Project Runway
- Any Jane Austen adaptation or reboot
Handspun is open to queries starting November 1st through December 1st, 2022. We’re so excited to read all your wonderful projects!
Note: In Query Manager, please submit the first 50 pages/the first 3 chapters of your project (whichever is less), and include a synopsis (preferably 5 pages or less).
And to those waiting on a reply, you will hear from us soon! We thank you immensely for your patience.
Please follow us on Twitter (@HandspunLit) for further updates!