For the third consecutive year, SCBWI Metro NY and The New School’s Writing for Children MFA program co-hosted an agents panel held at The New School. Linda Camacho of Prospect Agency, LLC, Susan Hawk of The Bent Agency and Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger Inc. were the featured agents. Adria Quiñones, a 2015 winner of SCBWI’s Emerging Voices Award, was the moderator.
The panel discussion began with what each agent is looking for. Linda Camacho said she doesn’t want to rule out any category but picture book representation is limited. Andrea Somberg also expressed a preference for MG and YA and emphasized that “diversity is a key word.” Susan Hawk is very open, joking that “you never know when you’ll read that amazing sports book.” She represents all categories of books for children and is “drawn to writing that is emotional.”
Jennifer Baker, panel organizer for We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) and 2013 winner of the SCBWI On-the-Verge Emerging Voices Award, led a panel discussion on craft and world-building. She asked whether outlining played a role in establishing the rules of the world and fantastical elements. Do you outline or not?
Heidi Heilig, author of The Girl from Everywhere, said she outlined a little, then wrote, then outlined again, going back and forth. She shared that her musical theater background provided training in setting rules that it’s okay to have singing in a scene. She had to have rules for her novel to put restrictions on characters’ powers, otherwise all powerful characters would be boring. “It’s good to know where the boundaries are and to play with them.”
As an agent who is also a writer, John Cusick (@JohnMCusick) of Folio Jr. knows what it’s like to juggle the demands of a day job and an artistic pursuit alongside a personal life. At our March Professional Series lecture, Cusick told the intertwined story of how his becoming an agent led to him become a published author (of the YA novels Girl Parts and Cherry Money Baby), and what he’s learned in trying to manage his own life. (more…)
Agent Joanna Volpe, our January Professional Series speaker, likens a writer’s career to a long journey requiring a team to provide support along the way, just the way the fellowship of the Ring supported Frodo’s journey to Mordor in Tolkien’s books. She and the other members of her agency, New Leaf Literary & Media, are that team for their author and illustrator clients.
Heather Flaherty of the Bent Agency, Alexandra Penfold of Upstart Crow Literary, and Alec Shane from Writers House were the featured agents at this year’s Agents Panel, co-hosted with the New School’s MFA writing program and held in November at the New School. The event was introduced by Caron Levis from the New School’s creative writing program and moderated by Gina Carey, a steering committee member of Metro-NY SCBWI, and Co-Regional Advisor Bridget Casey. Questions came from both the audience and the moderators. Here are some highlights:
Is an agent necessary?
All three agents: Yes! It’s a tough business and the complex contracts are usually familiar only to those in the industry. Agents also have unique relationships with publishers and editors. Agents protect writers’ rights so that writers may concentrate on writing.
Jaida Temperly, Literary Agent at New Leaf Literary and Media agency, New York City, explained query letter tips at the October 3, 2015 NY-Metro SCBWI meeting, part of the Westchester On the Road Series:
We all love a good picture book. But how does it get to be good? The first Professional Series presentation of the 2015-2016 season featured two thirds of the staff of Paula Wiseman Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Division): Editor Sylvie Frank and Editorial Assistant Sarah Jane Abbott offered us a window into what happens after a publisher acquires a picture book.
Frank brought two books, Tammi Sauer and Liz Starin’s Roar! (to be published on October 6th), and Curtis Manley and Kate Berube’s The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read, to illustrate the editorial process. Over the course of six revisions, from the first manuscript edits to first sketches to the page breakdown to the final version, attendees saw how an editor and art director help the writer and illustrator refine their ideas. (more…)