Kayla Cichello, Agent at Upstart Crow Literary

Kayla Cichello is an agent at Upstart Crow Literary open to picture books through young adult and select adult manuscripts. A former Conference Coordinator for the Summer and Winter Conferences for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, she most recently logged several years as assistant to Senior Agent Jennifer Rofé at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She is searching for those voices that make her laugh and keep the page turning. Some of her clients include author Ana Ot, author of the upcoming THE HEART NEVER FORGETS (Atheneum/S&S, 2024) and a follow up title in 2025 and author/illustrator Kirbi Fagan’s upcoming debut picture book with Millbrook/Lerner.

Kayla is seeking everything from heartfelt or humorous picture books (she has a soft spot for animal protagonists) to dynamic, unpredictable YA (she loves a good murder mystery or a clever rom-com). She’s also open to select adult work. Kayla’s taste lies squarely in that sweet spot between commercial and literary, and she is looking for captivating voices and rich worldbuilding—whether it’s a seaside town in Maine or a fantastical other world. Kayla welcomes dark humor, suspense, magical realism, awkwardly adorable romance, and everything in-between. She is not seeking sci-fi, horror, or high fantasy.

Some favorite titles that provide a sense of her tastes:

Picture book: Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon; Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown; I Don’t Want to be a Frog by Dev Petty; Bad Dog by Mike Boldt

Middle grade: Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina; Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi; Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed; The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Young adult: The Sea is Salt and So Am I by Cassandra Hartt; Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson; Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé; Jay’s Gay Agenda by Jason June

For adult, I’m looking for upmarket fiction along the lines of Seven Days in June or anything by Liane Moriarty. I love a good mystery hook thrown in. I’m also interested in contemporary romance like Business or Pleasure by Rachel Lynn Solomon or the Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang.

Meet with Kayla

Meet face-to-face, from home. Choose Zoom, Google Meet, or phone, and speak for the appointed time about your query, first page, and/or first ten pages (for longer meetings). Does not include written notes, but is a chance to have an honest discussion about your work, and to ask follow-up questions. International meetings welcomed.