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.
Alexandra Penfold, Associate Editor from Simon and Schuster and Alisha Niehaus, Editor from Dial Books for Young Readers spoke to and answered questions from a full audience at the October SCBWI Metro New York Professionals Series. They had handouts with lists of what they are looking for when a book project is submitted.
Both editors shared books they’ve worked on and loved… their own favorite examples of book creators “getting it right”. Going down her list, Alisha Niehaus talked about Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman (illustrated by Caroline Binch; Dial, 1991). She said it is a “moving story with universal themes and emotions we can relate to” and that the “vibrant expressions on the character’s faces” helped to generate sales of over a million books and subsequent sequels. (more…)