Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Ron Eckel of CookeMcDermid

Ron Eckel is a proprietor and literary agent with CookeMcDermid.

Ron is a graduate of Simon Fraser University’s Master of Publishing program and a twenty-five year veteran of Canadian publishing, Ron worked with Penguin Canada, Westwood Creative Artists, and Random House of Canada before joining CookeMcDermid in 2009. He also co-owned Cooke International, an agency specializing in foreign rights management for a diverse group of publishing clients, until the end of 2021.

As an agent Ron is particularly drawn to dark fiction, both commercial and literary, in the areas of horror, science fiction, fantasy , suspense, and psychological thriller. On the nonfiction side, Ron loves pop culture, music, pop science, and story-driven current affairs that start conversations.

Ron’s client list at CookeMcDermid includes bestselling author, RUSH bassist, and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer Geddy Lee, senior culture writer at BuzzFeed and bestselling author Scaachi Koul, CBC Radio columnist, writer, broadcaster and producer Jesse Wente, and horror writers Eric McCormack and David Nickel. On his bedside table you will find equal amounts of fiction and non-fiction, but always, always at least one biography (authorized or not) of the Ramones.

Ron is a former president and current member of PACLA (the Professional Association of Canadian Literary Agents) and you can find him on Twitter @roneckel and on Instagram at @eckelron.

Ron is currently seeking

  • Story-driven narrative non-fiction in the areas of pop culture, music, sports, pop science, and current affairs
  • Commercial and upmarket horror, SF, suspense and psychological thrillers that terrify
  • Strong, unique voices that have a compelling, engaging story to tell

Ron is currently NOT Seeking

  • Children’s, Middle grade, or YA fiction and non-fiction
  • Poetry
  • Cookery
  • Graphic novels

Get to Know an Editor in Attendance: Claire Caldwell of Annick Press

Claire Caldwell is a Toronto-based editor and writer with over ten years’ experience in the publishing industry.

She is the Senior Editor at Annick Press, where she acquires books for young people, including the award-winning picture books Salma the Syrian Chef (written by Danny Ramadan, illustrated by Anna Bron) and Abuelita and Me (written by Leonarda Carranza, illustrated by Rafael Mayani). Claire is also the author of two poetry collections, Invasive Species (Wolsak and Wynn, 2014) and Gold Rush (Invisible Publishing, 2020).

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Tasneem Motala of The Rights Factory

Tasneem Motala is a literary agent with The Rights Factory.

She is seeking: fantasy, graphic novels, middle grade, new adult, science fiction, young adult contemporary YA, cyberpunk, fairytale retellings, low fantasy, magical realism, robots/A.I., steampunk, urban fantasy.

Sometimes she doesn’t know what she’s looking for until it’s in her inbox, but some things are timeless, like retellings of well-known myths and classics, teenage romances, and mysteries with fascinating protagonists, just to name a few.

In the realm of Middle Grade and YA, Tasneem is currently seeking stories (regardless whether fantasy, sci-fi, or contemporary) that are raw, emotional, heartfelt, and authentic. She’s especially drawn to stories with a focus on found families and friendships with morally grey leads and coming-of-age themes. Some of her favourite tropes include enemies to lovers, unreliable narrators, and ragtag team-ups.

Tasneem is currently looking for character-driven MG and YA fiction and graphic novels, with or without a touch of magic, written by BIPOC authors.

If there’s literally anything to do as a kid growing up in rural Niagara, it’s read, and Tasneem did so much of it that she turned it into her career with a degree in English and Classical Civilizations and a post-grad in Publishing. Her experience includes writing beauty articles for Elevate Magazine, promoting Sonia Faruqi’s book, The Oyster Thief, to the book-blogging sphere as a marketing manager, and building her very own #ownvoices literary zine, KROS Magazine, from scratch.

Get to Know an Editor in Attendance: Amanda Ferreira of Random House Canada

Amanda Ferreira is an editor with Random House Canada, with a love of fantasy, romance, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ stories.

She primarily edits adult commercial fiction, and is drawn to books with an early hook and YA crossover appeal. She acquires in every genre (except horror) — including fantasy, romance, historical fiction, science fiction, historical fiction, mystery, and thriller. In particular, she loves retellings of ancient myths and history, accessible speculative fiction with happy endings, romance with a fresh twist on popular tropes, and diverse characters that feel true to the communities they’re a part of.

Recent releases by her clients include Morgan Is My Name by Sophie Keetch and Follow the Sun by Liz Locke. Recent acquisitions include Crown of Starlight by Cait Corrain, A Sweet Sting of Salt by Rose Sutherland, and The Sins on Their Bones by Laura R. Samotin.

Before joining Random House Canada, she was an editor for Wattpad, where she worked with authors writing in every genre under the sun from litRPGs to werewolf romance to works in translation. She also edited young adult fiction, primarily romance, and her titles include The Opposite of Falling Apart by Micah Good, Entwined by A.J. Rosen, Given by Nandi Taylor, and The Locker Exchange by Ann Rae, published by Wattpad Books.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kat Kerr of Donald Maass Literary

Kat Kerr is a literary agent with Donald Maass Literary Agency.

Kat joined Donald Maass Literary Agency in 2019. She graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelors in English in 2009 and is drawn to literary and commercial voices within the adult and YA markets, as well as adult nonfiction. Kat feels strongly about supporting programs like We Need Diverse Books and is passionate about creating space in this industry for those from historically marginalized communities. She is actively seeking to grow her client list and is particularly hungry for magical realism, literary leaning speculative and science fiction, women’s fiction, YA works with a lot of heart, and narrative nonfiction with something to say.

Submission Interests:

Literary and Upmarket Fiction:

Kat is drawn to strong, character-driven works with rich, literary prose. She loves books that make her think and have a strong emotional pull.

Women’s Fiction
Multicultural Lit
Magical Realism
Family Sagas

Favorite Books: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, Big Fish by Daniel Wallace, About a Boy by Nick Hornby, Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, The Leavers by Lisa Ko, Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi, More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera, Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen, anything by Amy Tan

Commercial Fiction:

For the commercial market, Kat is looking for high concept, voice-driven works with a close POV and well-developed, distinct characters.

Select Science Fiction and Fantasy
Women’s Fiction and Rom-Coms
YA (all genres)

Favorite Books: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab, The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire, Crazy Rich Asians trilogy by Kevin Kwan, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow, Wild Women and the Blues by Denny S. Bryce, I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee


Narrative nonfiction and journalistic non-fiction tackling current affairs and social justice issues, particularly covering topics of racism, immigration, LGBTQIA+ rights, gender equality, and poverty
Select biographies and memoirs

Do NOT pitch:

– Plots/themes centering around unresolved trauma
– Previously published or self-published works
– MG, Chapter books, picture books
– Novellas, short stories, or poetry collections
– Military/war stories
– Westerns

Get to Know an Editor in Attendance: Alethea Spiridon of Entangled Publishing

Alethea Spiridon is an editor with Entangled Publishing.

Alethea was an editor for Harlequin Books in Toronto for almost seven years, working with writers such as Bobby Hutchinson, Roberta Gellis, Lori Foster, Cathy Yardley, Lori Wilde, Jill Shalvis, Anne Stuart, and Pamela Morsi to name a few. She worked on anthologies, continuities, special projects, and some series.

She focuses on romance — both print and digital. She enjoys a fresh, fun, flirty voice, and anything that can make her laugh and see the lighter side of life. That being said, she’s also drawn to contemporary alpha male stories and lush historical romances.

Jane Porter, Sherryl Woods, Rachel Gibson, Carole Matthews, Julie James, Sheila O’Flanagan, and Sarah Mayberry are some authors she enjoys reading. Before joining Entangled, Alethea was a freelance editor and writer, and has edited everything from historical to paranormal romance, non-fiction titles, plays, and even some poetry.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Lindsay Leggett of The Rights Factory

Lindsay Leggett is a literary agent with The Rights Factory.

Lindsay grew up in the frozen wilds of Northern Ontario, and turned a love of reading and writing into a passion for editing. After working for a variety of authors and publishers, she found a home at The Rights Factory.

Lindsay is focused on graphic novels, romance, and young adult & middle grade with bite. She enjoys horror, thriller, magical realism, fantasy, science fiction, LGBTQIA+, #ownvoices, and graphic stories.


Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Eric Smith of P.S. Literary

Eric Smith is a literary agent at P.S. Literary Agency, with a love for young adult books, literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction.

He’s worked on award-winning and New York Times bestselling titles, and began his publishing career at Quirk Books. A frequent blogger, his ramblings about books and the publishing industry regularly appear on Book Riot, Paste Magazine, and Publishing Crawl. He also occasionally writes books when he finds the time, like his latest, Don’t Read the Comments (Inkyard Press).

Eric is eagerly acquiring fiction and nonfiction projects. He’s actively seeking out new, diverse voices in young adult (particularly sci-fi and fantasy), middle grade, and literary and commercial fiction (again, loves sci-fi and fantasy, but also thrillers and mysteries). In terms of non-fiction, he’s interested in cookbooks, pop culture, humor, middle grade, essay collections, and blog-to-book ideas.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Stephanie Winter of P.S. Literary

Stephanie Winter is a literary agent with P.S. Literary.

Stephanie holds a B.A. from the University of Toronto in English Literature and an M.A. in English: Issues in Modern Culture from University College London. She is looking for diverse, inclusive voices in a variety of spaces. Stephanie particularly appreciates strong characters who bend stereotypes, genders, and more.

Stephanie is primarily acquiring across three pillars: adult fiction, nonfiction, and graphic novels. She’s actively seeking titles with diverse and inclusive representation that offer smart, culturally aware, and enriching narratives. In fiction, she particularly enjoys commercial and upmarket projects (rom-coms, thriller/suspense, etc.) that offer millennial and/or queer-affirming perspectives. In nonfiction, she’s on the hunt for pop culture, cultural criticism, millennial business and finance, narrative nonfiction, how-to, and lifestyle projects.

Overall, she’s looking for stories that will engage with and change the way we view the world around us.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Marilyn Biderman of Transatlantic Agency

Marilyn Biderman is a literary agent with Transatlantic Agency.

Areas of Interest: Literary fiction; sweet-spot fiction, that is, accessible but literary in intent (often found at book clubs); literary crime fiction; and women’s commercial and historical fiction. I love memoir with an utterly unique story and brilliant writing; narrative non-fiction on compelling and newsworthy topics that anticipate trends; expert non-fiction of wide appeal from authors with established social media platforms; and biographies of fascinating lives. I don’t handle children’s books, except for young adult novels with cross-over appeal (very selectively, and only by referral); or poetry, screenplays, science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy for adult readers.

Before joining the Transatlantic Agency, Marilyn worked at her own literary agency and consultancy practice for seven years, where she helped launch the careers of début and prize-winning authors. She had previously worked at McClelland & Stewart for twelve years, most recently as Vice President, Director, Rights and Contracts. At M&S, she handled the international rights for many renowned authors, including Leonard Cohen, Alistair MacLeod, and Madeleine Thien.

Marilyn is a member of the Law Society of Ontario, a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School, and also holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto in English Literature. She has guest-lectured at the publishing programs at Humber College, Ryerson University, Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, and taught a course in the publishing program at Centennial College. She has also mentored many publishers under the auspices of the Association of Canadian Publishers and the Canada Council, and has acted as a juror in literary competitions. She has authored several papers on copyright law; served on the inaugural executive of the Professional Association of Canadian Literary Agents; and was a member for many years of the organizing committee for the International Visitors Program of the Toronto International Festival of Authors. She also, for many years, served as a member of the Professional Advisory Council for Sheridan College’s Creative Writing & Publishing Program, and as a board member, most recently as chair, of Canada’s dance magazine, The Dance Current. Marilyn is especially proud of her work with the St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog program.