About

At SteelWorks Literary, we forge enduring partnerships with emerging and established authors, illustrators, and graphic novelists, joined together in the pursuit of crafting exceptional stories.

Founded by Lori Steel in 2024 and based in the Washington DC area, we are a full-service, boutique literary agency representing authors, illustrators, and graphic novelists with an emphasis on children’s and young adult literature, and select titles for the crossover and adult markets. From nurturing talent to navigating the complexities of the industry, SteelWorks provides creative mentorship and career management, guiding clients through each step of the publishing process, with an eye to making the best deals possible for their career goals.

Community is key at SteelWorks Literary, where our clients and partners work in tandem to champion stories that entertain, spark curiosity, empower readers, and deepen the conversation. 

In addition to consistent and transparent communication, the SWL team cultivates partnerships by making regular trips to New York City to meet with publishing colleagues, attend conferences, and participate in book-related events. And with many years of working with children, books, and the industry as a whole in a variety of roles, SteelWorks’ extensive understanding of craft, the literary canon, and publishing landscapes bring a unique perspective to each project and its potential in the marketplace.

Finally, we combine purpose with perspective. While upholding high standards, we endeavor to strike a balance with the inherent joy the creative process brings, from inception to publication.

Meet the Team

Lori Steel, Founder & Agent

Lori began her career in young people’s literature first as an educator and school librarian, later as a freelance editor and writing instructor. She has degrees in history, education, and an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA), where she also received certification in the Picture Book, and was honored with the Alumni Gift Award. After graduating in 2012, Lori coordinated the VCFA Summer Residency Abroad (Bath, UK) for four years, initiated the kidlit writing class program at her local indie, Politics & Prose, and entered publishing as an Agency Assistant at Greenhouse Literary. She interned at two other kidlit-focused agencies before taking on her own clients first at Raven Quill Literary, then at Red Fox Literary. She founded SteelWorks Literary in 2024 with her talented list of authors, illustrators, and graphic novelists. Lori is a longtime member of ALA and SCBWI, and is a member of AALA where she serves on the Illustration Committee.

Her clients include both debut and award-winning authors, and she continues to seek diverse perspectives, literary approaches, and unique story experiences for her list. Lyrical language, compelling voices, evocative settings, and evergreen stories told with heart are areas of particular interest in any genre/audience.

Originally from the Washington DC area, Lori has also called Appalachia and England home. When not at her desk, you can often find her plotting her next travel adventure, testing out a new recipe, or pottering in her Washington DC garden with her English husband and Secret Agent pup sidekick, Juice (see bio below).

Lori Steel, Founder & Agent

Lori began her career in young people’s literature first as an educator and school librarian, later as a freelance editor and writing instructor. She has degrees in history, education, and an MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA), where she also received certification in the Picture Book, and was honored with the Alumni Gift Award. After graduating in 2012, Lori coordinated the VCFA Summer Residency Abroad (Bath, UK) for four years, initiated the kidlit writing class program at her local indie, Politics & Prose, and entered publishing as an Agency Assistant at Greenhouse Literary. She interned at two other kidlit-focused agencies before taking on her own clients first at Raven Quill Literary, then at Red Fox Literary. She founded SteelWorks Literary in 2024 with her talented list of authors, illustrators, and graphic novelists. Lori is a longtime member of ALA and SCBWI, and is a member of AALA where she serves on the Illustration Committee.

Her clients include both debut and award-winning authors, and she continues to seek diverse perspectives, literary approaches, and unique story experiences for her list. Lyrical language, compelling voices, evocative settings, and evergreen stories told with heart are areas of particular interest in any genre/audience.

Originally from the Washington DC area, Lori has also called Appalachia and England home. When not at her desk, you can often find her plotting her next travel adventure, testing out a new recipe, or pottering in her Washington DC garden with her English husband and Secret Agent pup sidekick, Juice (see bio below).

Charlotte Johnson

Agency Assistant

Charlotte is a voracious reader with a particular affection for fantasy. She graduated with a Bachelors in Great Texts from Baylor University, subsequently receiving a Masters in Childrens and Young Adult Literature at UNC Charlotte. She started her career at Red Fox Literary, first as an intern, then as an Administrative Assistant, before joining SteelWorks Literary. When not reading, Charlotte can be found snuggling with her dog Libby, baking, practicing her Dutch, or watching tennis.

Sarah Henson

Contracts Manager

Sarah F. Henson began practicing law in 2008. Over her career, she has been in-house counsel for a national corporation, an Associate at a litigation firm, and a publishing attorney for the State Bar of Texas. In 2016, Sarah combined her passion for books with her extensive contract drafting and negotiation experience and founded Anchor & Quill Consulting, LLC, focusing on contract consultation across the publishing industry.

Rights People

Rights People is a full service rights agency with agents in North America, Europe and the UK. Their clients include book packagers, publishers and literary agents in the UK, US, and Australia. They regularly attend book fairs in London, Bologna, New York, Beijing and Frankfurt, and make several sales trips each year to territories around the world. Rights People sell directly to publishers in most territories, and our sales approach is a personal one, providing a comprehensive foreign rights partnership to SteelWorks Literary and its clients.

Juice

Secret Agent

Secret Agent Juice manages the back office, ensuring that meals, walks, and playtime strike a balance with the busy day-to-day tasks of running a literary agency. His experience as a sounding board for creative ideas and sniffing out inauthentic characters make him a crucial team member. When not secret agenting, you can often find him angling for a ball chase, guarding against garden rabbits, or chewing his stuffie.