How I Got My Agent: Index Cards, Meals, and #MSWL by Hannah Deurloo

My whole life I’ve kept index cards full of thoughts, ideas, and recipes. One of those ideas became my first book. Like many authors, it’s still sitting on my hard drive; it’s not the one that got me an agent.

One of those other cards had a far different thought on it. Something I had little knowledge on how to execute, a children’s cookbook. I had a bazillion questions:

  • What are the legal ramifications of teaching kids to cook?
  • How do I format a recipe?
  • Is it a viable idea?
  • Is this a good teaching method?
  • Who even represents kids cookbooks?

That last question was the most difficult to answer. I couldn’t find any agent looking specifically for a kids cookbook. So the idea moved from the index card into my hard drive and there it sat for five years. In the meantime, I kept adding to my pile of recipes, using more index cards for each new concoction.

I discovered the #MSWL feed in 2016 when I heard at a writing conference that all the cool writers hung out on Twitter (so true!). I checked the feed constantly like a chef whisking up sauce.

In March of 2019, a full three years of watching the #MSWL feed, I saw it! The post I’d been waiting for–but it wasn’t for any of the books I had written. It was for my kids cookbook idea.

I googled how to write a proposal package for nonfiction submissions and decided to go for it. I’d already heard “no” many times (200 rejections, folks). But I had to take the chance. So, during my kids’ nap time, I cooked up my proposal package, hit send, and waited.

But not for long. By the next day, and after a few ambiguous tweets, I found out Aften loved my cookbook idea.

I signed with Aften soon after. Aften Brook Szymanski is an agent at Golden Wheat Literary and without  #MSWL  I would have never found Aften. If you’re still waiting and querying don’t stop checking back with the #MSWL feed because you never know what might pop up. So here’s to index cards, meals, and Manuscript Wishlist! Thank you so much for connecting us.

Hannah Deurloo lives in West Michigan where she enjoys nature adventures and cooking with her kids.  You can find Hannah on Twitter being kind and creative @HSDeurloo. You can also follow her at for more writing shenanigans and insights.

Aften Brook Szymanski is an author and literary agent for GoldenWheat Literary. She’s on the lookout for amazingly crafted PB, MG, and YA stories. Particularly those with interesting and unusual narrators, such as Time, a Family Heirloom, the Sky, Winter, and other unexpected perspectives.

She’s obsessed with LEGOs, cozy reading nooks, and over-the-knee socks. A graduate of the College of Southern Idaho with an Associate of Arts degree, Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Science degree, and the University of Utah with a Master of Education degree. Learning is more fun than testing, sometimes we have to endure both.

Aften has Marfan syndrome and facial recognition disorder (unrelated conditions). She is likely to say hi to someone she doesn’t know and totally miss noticing her best friend crossing paths at the grocery store. It can be awkward either way.

She lives in a very cold Wyoming valley with her husband, three kids, and one unhappy cat, where they are being cryogenically preserved for all time—thanks to how cold it is.