What Writers Need to Know to Survive with Quressa Robinson

by Brooke McIntyre

Literary agent Quressa Robinson emphasized grit and endurance as top skills needed by writers throughout their careers, as she gave the Professional Series lecture for January. Robinson came to agenting after five years as an editor at Macmillan, where she acquired adult fiction titles. Now at Nelson Literary Agency, she represents authors of young adult and adult fiction. Working with writers as both editor and agent has taught Robinson that “publishing is 99 percent rejection.”


Agents’ Panel 2017

The November 2017 Agents Panel, an annual event sponsored jointly by SCBWI-Metro NY and The New School’s creative writing department, featured three literary agents responding to questions about the author-agent relationship.

Panelists Molly O’Neill of Root Literary, Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency, and Brooks Sherman of Janklow & Nesbit discussed how writers can, as Sherman put it, “negotiate their transformation from artist into small-business owner.” The panel was moderated by SCBWI-Metro NY volunteer Adria Quinones.

Be the Hero of Your Writing Process with Kendra Levin

by Leah Heilman Schanke

Kendra Levin, Executive Editor at Viking Children’s Books, author of The Hero Is You, and the September speaker in the SCBWI-Metro NY Professional lecture series, shared how writers can use the hero’s journey model to create a “holistic, healthy, creative writing process.” Many writers struggle with process and experience dark moments where they wonder, “Why am I writing this?” Levin said. “Writers need to find ways to work organically and be their best selves.”

SCBWI Metro NY and The New School Agents Panel 2016

By Leah Heilman Schanke

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.”


We Need Diverse Books: Diverse Sci-Fi/Fantasy Authors Panel with WNDB

By Leah Heilman Schanke

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.”


How To Be a Writer Without Losing Your MIND

Literary agent and YA author John Cusick of Folio Jr.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.

There and Back Again: An Agent’s Tale

By Adria Quiñones

201601_JVolpeAgent 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.