Why Handspun?

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.

Our Agents

Courtney Miller-Callihan head shot

Courtney Miller-Callihan founded Handspun Literary Agency in 2016, after more than ten years with Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. Her eclectic list includes women’s fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, romance, science fiction & fantasy, YA novels, humor, and practical 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 only mainstream fiction (including historical fiction and women’s fiction), romance (all subgenres except inspirational), mystery novels, and speculative fiction.

For nonfiction, Courtney represents work targeting all age groups (children and adults). Though she will consider nonfiction on any topic, work that deals primarily with issues of religion or spirituality is unlikely to be a good fit.

She is not currently accepting new middle-grade, early reader, or picture book submissions.

Ben Miller-Callihan joined Handspun Literary Agency as an associate agent in 2019, after working behind the scenes since the agency's founding in tech support and bookkeeping roles. He spent more than a decade teaching high school English, and has (under Courtney's oversight) begun taking on his own clients at the agency. His interests include humor, YA, speculative fiction (especially decolonial sff), mainstream-ish fiction a la David Mitchell and William Gibson, and anything food-related.

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.

Novels that strike our fancy often involve one or more of the following:

  • flawed, active protagonists
  • diverse cast of characters
  • disability and non-neurotypicality
  • LGBTQ+ elements and characters
  • feminist sensibilities
  • dark sense of humor
  • elements of magical realism
  • nerdy pop-culture references
  • food
  • happy or happy-ish endings
  • craft beer
  • video games
  • sarcasm
  • country house murders

Pop culture properties we love:

  • Ted Lasso
  • Schitt's Creek
  • The Good Place
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Russian Doll
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look
  • Dead Like Me
  • Death Comes to Pemberley
  • Great British Bake-Off
  • Marvel Comic Universe (Ben)
  • Shadow and Bone (Ben)
  • The Expanse (Ben)
  • Project Runway (Courtney)

Submission guidelines:

Queries should be sent to query@handspunlit.com.

For fiction: please send a query letter, short synopsis (ideally 5 pages or less), and the first three chapters or 50 pages of the novel, whichever is more.

For nonfiction: please send a query letter and proposal.

Attachments are best; we prefer Word docs to PDFs.

Usual query response time is 4-8 weeks.

Please note that the agency does NOT represent original screenplays.