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Meet the Agents: Shannon Hassan

Louise Ahern

This year, at the Write on the Red Cedar conference, we tried something new. Instead of flying one or two agents in for our attendees to pitch to, we compiled a list of awesome agents that were willing to take a look at queries from our attendees. Over the next few months, we'll be posting interviews with some of these agents. This month, we're talking to Shannon Hassan!

Shannon Hassan is an agent at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. She brings a depth of business and editorial experience to her role as agent, having worked in publishing and law for more than a decade.  She represents authors of literary and commercial fiction, young adult and middle grade fiction, and select nonfiction. 

Before becoming an agent, she was the Acquisitions Editor at Fulcrum Publishing, and prior to that, a corporate attorney at Arnold & Porter in New York. She received her JD from Harvard and her BA from George Washington University.

Follow Shannon on Twitter: @ShannonHassan.


How and why did you become an agent?

Like many, I’ve had a life-long passion for books. I started my career as a corporate/licensing attorney, and then decided to follow my heart into publishing, where I became an acquisitions editor, and then an agent. I really love my job!

What's the best query you've ever received and what made it stand out?

This brings up a good point because I’ve received queries for some truly amazing-sounding stories only to find that the manuscript does not live up to the pitch. Yes, it is important to give time and attention to writing a solid query, but the manuscript really needs to be in great shape first. 

As to an example of a great query:

Dusti Bowling sure got my attention—her query was for a middle-grade novel about a spunky girl without arms and a boy with Tourette syndrome solving a mystery in a dying Western theme park… Intrigued? I was too!

In the query, Dusti did a nice job getting to the hook, knowing her target audience, and allowing her voice (and sense of humor) to shine through.

And now the book, INSIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE LIFE OF A CACTUS will be released this fall! 

Can you tell us about something that's recently sold for one of your clients?

I’m excited about Jennie Liu’s debut GIRLS ON THE LINE, in which a teen pregnancy puts two orphan girls in contemporary China on a collision course with factory bosses, family planning regulators, and a bride trafficker. It is gripping, authentic, and a conversation-starter. I’m happy that it found a great home with Lerner.

Are you also a writer or do you just love books?

I am just focusing on my authors’ work right now, which I really enjoy!

I would like to write someday, but my life is full right now with agenting, raising teenage twins (!), and the lure of the Colorado outdoors.

What are dying to see in your inbox?

I’d like to see more untold stories of amazing women who made their mark.

To see what I’m looking for generally, here’s my manuscript wish-list:

Thanks very much for the interview!

Thanks to you, too, Shannon!


Do you think you have what Shannon is looking for? Check her links for more details on what she reps and how to submit to her!