Poets & Writers Feature

Take a look at an article about 389 Literary in the July/August 2021 issue of Poets & Writers. Find it at the link below, and a big thank you to Jessica Kashiwabara for featuring us!


Thank You, 389 Literary Participants!

We have officially finished with feedback and just want to thank everyone who participated in our project. We learned so much in the past months and were able to respond to almost 300 writers from around the globe. We wish everyone great success on their writing paths and hope these amazing works find a home.

Feedback is Coming | Update | January 11, 2021

Hello writers! Great news: for those not moving forward, manuscript/query feedback is now being sent on a rolling basis through March of this year. Please keep an eye on your email and thank you for your patience!

Update | December 12, 2020

It’s official! As of today (12/12/2020), all writers moving forward have been notified via email. Please remember to check your spam folders. If you did not hear from us, please accept a “pass” from our project, and see the below update for more information on how/when you will receive manuscript/query feedback.

Congratulations to all the writers who are moving forward, and thank you to everyone who supported our project!

Update | December 6, 2020

Hello, writers! 

Just a quick update for everyone: our in-class acquisitions meeting has started and we are in the process of choosing which manuscripts will move forward for an “above the slush pile” read from agents/editors. Those moving forward will be notified via email on December 12, 2020. 

Note: we cannot promise that our agents/editors will agree to represent said manuscripts, only that they will offer an “above the slush pile” read. Ultimately, the decision will be up to them.

Because of the fantastic turn-out, we’ll be extending the class into the spring semester so that ALL writers will receive manuscript/query feedback on a rolling basis from mid-January through mid-March. More updates coming early 2021! 

Thank you to everyone who participated and supported our project! 


389 Literary Team

About Us

WE ARE NOW CLOSED TO SUBMISSIONS. Thank you for your interest in our project!

389 Literary is a class project for junior and senior English/Creative Writing majors at the University of Arizona. After spending the first part of the fall semester partnering on a picture book project with Make Way For Books, a local non-profit focused on early literacy, we will spend the second half of the semester functioning as a pop up editorial literary agency for children’s picture books.

Writers have the opportunity to receive feedback on their manuscript and query letter as well as the possibility of having their manuscripts read by top literary agents! Students aspiring to work in publishing will gain valuable hands on, guided experience in critiquing/editing manuscripts and query letters, and networking with industry professionals. And we will be over the moon if we help agents gain a new client or two!

We hope you will participate in this exciting project!


Submissions accepted through October 31, 2020.

Editing groups will work with faculty on edit suggestions and feedback, keeping notes on all submissions read through November. In December, the course will culminate with an acquisitions meeting. All groups will present their top choices to move forward to our generous agents/editors, as well as proposing whom it will be sent to based on wishlist items, etc. Note: we cannot promise that our agents/editors will agree to represent said manuscripts, only that they will offer an “above the slush pile” read. Ultimately, the decision will be up to them.

We will respond to as many manuscripts and queries as we are able.

You will be notified by December 12, 2020, if your submission will be moving forward to an agent or editor.

Submission Guidelines


Calling all children’s book writers! We are now accepting submissions (picture book manuscripts only, please) to receive potential editorial feedback from our student editors and possibly to be submitted for an “above the slush pile” read from established agents and editors in children’s publishing. 


389 Literary is currently accepting manuscripts for children’s picture books only. The deadline for submissions is OCTOBER 31, 2020. Please submit the following: 

  • A query letter (which will also receive feedback from student editors); this may be addressed to the agent/editor you feel is the best match for your work. 
  • Writers: 600 words or less is recommended for fiction mss, 1200 words or less for non-fiction (back matter should not be included in this word count). 
  • Writer-Illustrators: above word counts apply, please also include a dummy and link to your portfolio. 
  • No illustration only. 
  • One manuscript only, please. We will not accept multiple submissions from the same person.
  • We happily accept submissions from previously published, though currently unagented, authors.

Submission Format​

Please send all submissions by emailing us directly at 389literary@gmail.com. Please include the following:

  • Subject line should specify that the submission is a “Fiction Submission” or “Non-Fiction Submission.” 
  • In the body of the email please include: your name and a brief biography (should be in 3rd person, about 80-100 words). 
  • Please include your query and manuscript submission as a SINGLE attachment (NOT copied and pasted into the body of the email).*
  • Fiction and non-fiction files must be .doc or .docx and any illustrations must be a .pdf

*Updated 9/10/20: We previously required writers to exclude their name from both their manuscript and query for the purpose of anonymity. We have since removed this in order to allow writers to personalize their query (e.g. include the titles of their past published works, etc.) and will instead have the staff edit queries for anonymity, if necessary. If you have already submitted your query without your name, there is no need to resubmit as this will in no way affect how your submission is reviewed. For more information on confidentiality, see our FAQs section below.

Submission Review Process​

Our deadline is OCTOBER 31, 2020. After that date, we will be closed to submissions. 

Once we have received your submission via email, we will review your ms/query and respond to as many as we are able. 

NOTE: We cannot guarantee that every submitted ms/query will receive feedback. If your work is chosen to receive feedback from our student editors, this also does NOT guarantee that your work will be reviewed by an agent/editor. 

You will receive a notification via email by DECEMBER 12, 2020 if your ms/query is moving forward to an agent/editor for an “above the slush pile” read. If you do not hear from us by then, please accept a “pass” from our project. 

Because we are accepting children’s picture book manuscripts, we ask that all submissions exclude explicit content dealing with violence, gore, substance abuse, etc. We do not accept erotica or works with graphic sexual scenes.

We do not charge reading fees as this is a student-run educational project. 

Agents and Editors

We are honored and excited that the following agents and editors have agreed to take part in our 389 Literary Project by offering an “above the slush pile” read. We hope to continue adding over the next few weeks.

Miranda Paul

Erin Murphy Literary Agency

Miranda Paul holds a B.A. in English from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and has worked with students (and campers) in every grade from Pre-K through college. A co-founding member of the nonprofit organization We Need Diverse Books, Miranda currently serves as its Mentorship chairperson. Miranda occasionally makes faculty appearances at SCBWI conferences, The Writing Barn, and Highlights Foundation (Nuts and Bolts of STEM writing) and has presented at the Library of Congress Young Readers Center. In her other lives, Miranda has worked as a freelance writer and journalist, and is the award-winning author of more than a dozen picture books including One Plastic Bag, Water is Water, 10 Little Ninjas, I Am Farmer, Nine Months, and Little Libraries, Big Heroes. She has her sights on prolific writers and writer-illustrators who are able to craft geeky-yet-wildly-entertaining manuscripts that bring science to lay audiences, make her laugh out loud, or have a strong social justice bent; and novels, memoirs, or nonfiction that are philosophically and emotionally gripping. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, author Baptiste Paul, two children, four rescue cats, and a fluctuating number of gill-bearing aquatic animals.

Jennifer March Soloway

Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc.

Jennifer represents authors and illustrators of picture book, middle grade, and YA stories, and is actively building her list. Although she specializes in children’s literature, she also represents adult fiction, both literary and commercial, particularly crime and psychological suspense projects. For picture books, she is drawn to a wide range of stories from silly to sweet, but she always appreciates a strong dose of humor and some kind of surprise at the end. When it comes to middle grade, she likes all kinds of genres, including adventures, mysteries, spooky-but-not-too-scary ghost stories, humor, realistic contemporary, and fantasy. That’s her wish list, but the truth is an author might have something she has never considered before, and it might be absolutely perfect for her. She is open to any good story that is well written with a strong, authentic voice. Surprise her!

Prior to joining ABLA, Jennifer worked in marketing and public relations in a variety of industries, including financial services, health care, and toys. She has an MFA in English and Creative Writing from Mills College and was a fellow at the San Francisco Writer’s Grotto in 2012. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, their two sons, and an English bulldog. Jennifer regularly presents at writing conferences all over the country, including the San Francisco Writers Conference, the Atlanta Writers Conference, and regional SCBWI conferences. For her latest conference schedule, craft tips and more, follow Jennifer on Twitter (@marchsoloway).

Melissa Richeson

Storm Literary Agency

Like most people in publishing, Melissa grew up surrounded by stacks of library books and buried in notebooks full of stories and doodles. Taking a cue from Peter Pan, she’s never outgrown her love for children’s stories—and she never will! Melissa has been working as a writer for years, with publishing credits in The Washington Post, Florida Today, Space Coast Parent, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and many more. She had a children’s fiction serial run in WDW Magazine for over a year, and she is a current features writer at the same publication. In addition, previous backgrounds in both marketing and teaching give her a unique edge as an agent. When not reading or working, Melissa can be found swimming, paddle boarding, jogging, or biking. Her two favorite spots on earth are her own backyard, where dolphins and manatees come to play, and Walt Disney World, where magic never gets old. She lives in Florida with her husband and four school-aged sons (who are also growing up surrounded by stacks of library books and notebooks). 

As a general wishlist, Melissa is drawn to witty wording and whimsical design for picture books, humor and quick pacing for chapter books, charming mysteries or magic in middle grade, and fresh, character-driven stories in young adult. More specifically for picture books, Melissa loves smart puns, memorable rhythms, atypical rhymes, and (most of all!) relatable themes. Win her heart by showing the “heart” of the story!

Mary Cummings

Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises

Among Mary’s sales are board and picture books, chapter books and novels by such authors as George Shannon, Elizabeth Verdick, Joy Keller, Ariel Bernstein, Loretta Ellsworth, Hannah Voskuil, Karen Briner, John Elkins, Angela Dalton, Dawn Young and others to such houses as Abrams; Knopf; Random House; Imprint; FSG; Henry Holt; Feiwel & Friends; Walker; Viking; Philomel; Wiseman S & S; HarperCollins; L,B and others. Prior to joining BALE, she was education director at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, overseeing educational offerings for both adults and children. For five years she selected judges for the McKnight Award in Children’s Literature from among the nation’s top children’s book editors, and curated an annual festival of children’s literature. 

Her tastes are broad, but she particularly likes warmth. Also good are humor, adventure and quirky charm. Kindness is important to her. She likes adorable and cute, but also sad and satisfying. Gorgeous, lyrical, wonderous really get her attention. Stories about relationships, and picture books with beginning/middle/end structure and an engaging character suited to a series are high on her wishlist.

Cheryl Klein

Lee & Low Books

Cheryl Klein is the editorial director at Lee & Low Books, where she edits picture books and middle-grade and YA titles. Some of the books she’s edited include UNDER MY HIJAB by Hena Khan, illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel; WHEN AIDAN BECAME A BROTHER by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita, winner of the Stonewall Award; and THE MAGNOLIA SWORD: A BALLAD OF MULAN, by Sherry Thomas. Cheryl is also the author of THE MAGIC WORDS: WRITING GREAT BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG ADULTS and three picture books. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son. Visit her on the web at cherylklein.com and @chavelaque.

Wish list:  Picture books by and about BIPOC and other marginalized groups, particularly nonfiction with both a  distinctive style and strong curricular connections, and contemporary stories with big hearts and ideas. I love books on subjects nobody else has ever done before in children’s books, stories that can expand empathy and understanding, and ideas that will change a young reader’s world. I am also interested in middle-grade and YA novels and nonfiction, but acquiring them very selectively at this time.   

Wendi Gu

Sanford J. Greenburger Associates

Wendi is lucky to work with fiction and nonfiction children’s books across the spectrum, from board books all the way up to young adult. She enjoys lyricism at the line level, sophisticated rhythm, as well as whimsical, absurdist humor. She does not shy away from heavy, darker subjects related to mental health, trauma, and displacement, with a special focus on family stories, and nonfiction books that unearth unexpected corners of history and science. For middle grade and young adult novels, she enjoys voice-driven stories with thoughtful, contemplative, often-flawed characters. She is looking for authors who value intersectionality. Wendi also works with illustrators, especially with author/illustrators, with beautiful color palettes and texture who also have a sense of page turn and nuanced character expression.  

Wendi’s clients range from New York Times bestsellers, Pushcart Prize recipients, to various reader’s choice and humor award winners. She grew up in the Chicago suburbs and spent many of her summers with her grandparents in China. With academics as parents, she has always had a nerdy interest in the humanities. She is a graduate of Northwestern University.

Larissa Melo Pienkowski

Jill Grinberg Literary Management

Larissa Melo Pienkowski grew up outside of Boston and attended Simmons University, where she earned her degree in Social Work and Sociology, performed poetry competitively and recreationally, and edited a number of literary magazines. Larissa later went on to receive her MA in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College, where she worked with the likes of Beacon Press and Barefoot Books, before becoming the assistant publisher of a small indie press. She joined Jill Grinberg Literary Management in 2020 and is now working to build her list. The daughter of Brazilian and Polish immigrants, Larissa speaks Portuguese and Spanish and travels to experience as much of the world as possible—always with a good book in hand.

As a member of #LatinxinPub who’s hungry to advocate for authors from underrepresented communities, Larissa is passionate about championing diverse #OwnVoices stories and experiences across all genres. She is especially drawn to books with emotional depth, unforgettable characters whose voices leap off the page, lyrical writing, and topics that often go silenced or unexplored. She is also open to funny, whimsical picture books in which children can see a reflection of themselves and picture books featuring characters of color and diverse cultures.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I submit more than one manuscript?

No, one manuscript per person only, please.

Will my work be treated with confidentiality?

389 Literary is an upper-division college class of around 30 students (juniors and seniors) taught by University of Arizona English faculty and assisted by two English department interns/UA Honors students. Students and staff will be held to the University of Arizona Code of Academic Integrity and handle all submissions with professionalism and confidentiality. In addition, the entire process will be closely monitored by UA faculty. Students will be working in small cohorts throughout the semester and will be allotted a certain number of manuscripts per group on a rolling basis. NOTE: Students will only be privy to the manuscripts distributed to their individual group for editing. In short, every submission will NOT be available to every student. The submissions inbox will be managed by UA faculty and two English department interns/UA Honors students, before distributing select manuscripts to student groups.

If I submit my manuscript, does that mean it will definitely receive feedback and be read by an agent/editor?

No, we cannot guarantee that every submitted manuscript/query will receive feedback. Only a select number of submissions will be reviewed by our student editors. Though, we will review as many as we are able. The same applies to the “above the slush pile” read from agents/editors, as only a select number of manuscripts will be passed on for their review. If your work is chosen to receive feedback from our student editors, this also does NOT guarantee that your work will be reviewed by an agent/editor.

If my manuscript is moved forward for an “above the slush pile” read, does this mean that my work will definitely receive representation from one of your agents/editors?

No, if your manuscript is chosen to be passed on to our generous agents/editors, we can only promise an “above the slush pile” read. The decision to represent said work will be left solely to the agents and editors.

If my manuscript moves forward for an “above the slush pile” read, will it be read by the agent/editor I originally specified in my query letter? What if my query letter is not addressed to anyone in particular?

As part of the course curriculum, as well as the goal of our project, the student editors will match the manuscripts moving forward to the agent(s)/editor they feel would best represent them. If you did specify an agent/editor in your query, that will definitely be taken into consideration as the class makes their decisions, but may ultimately change based on wishlist items, what other manuscripts are sent forward, and which new agents/editors generously agree to participate along the way. If your query is not addressed to anyone in particular, the student editors will match it accordingly.

If I submit my manuscript to 389 Literary, should I hold off on submitting it to other writing competitions and agents?

No, not at all. Please continue to submit your work to other competitions and agents. And just to clarify, our project is not a competition per se, as we can only promise that, at the discretion of our student editors, a select number of manuscripts will be passed onto our generous agents and editors for an “above the slush pile” read, not that they will agree to represent them. That decision will be, ultimately, left up to them.

Is 389 Literary a writing competition or contest?

No, 389 Literary is a student-run publishing project. We are not a contest per se as there are not necessarily “winners” or “rules” for entering. We can only promise that, at the discretion of our student editors, a select number of manuscripts will be passed onto our generous agents and editors for an “above the slush pile” read, not that they will agree to represent them. That decision will be, ultimately, left up to them.

My manuscript word count exceeds that recommended in the submission guidelines. Does this mean I will be disqualified for breaking the rules?

No, you cannot be disqualified as our project is not a contest per se, since we can only guarantee that our generous agents/editors will give an “above the slush pile” read to selected manuscripts, not that they will represent them. Ultimately, that decision will be up to them. As such, our submission guidelines help standardize our submission process based on general industry preferences, but shouldn’t necessarily be taken as “rules.” 

If I am an already published but currently un-agented author, may I submit?

Yes, please do!

I accidentally sent the wrong manuscript. May I re-submit the correct version?

Yes, and when you do so, please note in your email that this manuscript is the correct version.

I’ve already queried a different agent belonging to one of the agencies involved in this project; though the manuscript is different from the one I want to submit to 389 Literary. How should I address this?

In your query, you can specify which agent/editor you feel best matches your work, based on personal research and wishlist specifications. However, it is probably best not to submit to the agent involved in our project, unless you’ve already heard back from the one you previously queried.

Can I submit only illustrations?

Unfortunately, no. Because most of our students are specifically English majors, we are not poised to critique submissions that are only illustrations. However, author-illustrators are welcome to submit their work.

Are you only accepting submissions from the United States?

No, we accept submissions from all over the world.

Are you also accepting middle grade and young adult manuscripts?

No, we are only accepting picture book submissions.

Should I wait until the deadline (October 31) to submit for a better chance of being seen?

No, please submit your manuscript as soon as you are able! The staff is reviewing submissions on a rolling basis, so the sooner the better!

Are you charging a reading fee?

No, we are a completely free educational project.

Can I email you to check on the status of my submission?

After submitting your manuscript/query, please refrain from emailing us to check in on the status of your submission. You will receive a notification from us via email by DECEMBER 12, 2020 if your manuscript/query is moving forward to an agent/editor for an “above the slush pile” read. If you do not hear from us by then, please accept a “pass” from our project.

I’m an agent or editor interested in getting involved with this project. Who should I contact?

We would love to chat with you! Please email us at 389literary@gmail.com

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started