Posted tagged ‘Writers House’

Tidbits from the SCBWI-Iowa Conference

April 24, 2012

This past weekend I attended the SCBWI-Iowa Conference. As always, Iowa did an amazing job preparing and organizing a conference that sent attendees home with a wealth of information.

Below are a few tidbits I’d like to share.

Brett Wright, assistant editor at Bloomsbury Children’s Books USA, mentioned that paranormal and dystopian manuscripts have pretty much saturated the market, and the market for picture books is still tricky. Manuscripts need to be unique and have a good hook, and that hook should come near the beginning of the book.

Brett is on the lookout for middle-grade boy books, but the book needs to stand out from other boy books. He noted the ideal middle-grade word count is between 30-40,000 words.

Marilyn Brighman, editor at Marshall Cavendish/Amazon Children’s Publishing, said writers should take risks and write what they want to write. Don’t follow trends. Marilyn likes edgy contemporary fiction. She is looking for solid middle-grade books and would like to find a new chapter book manuscript with series potential. Manuscripts should have a unique voice and a fresh writing style.

Kari Pearson, editorial assistant at Abrams books for Young Readers, addressed the aspects of publishing. Quality of work is paramount. Editors get excited about innovative ideas. Some things a writer should think about before submitting to a publishing house are marketability, books that are similar to yours and how well they sold, and to make sure your book fits the publisher’s list. Kari is interested in picture books from ages 0-5 years, and wants to read something interesting about you in your cover letter.

Kristy “Ty” King, a literary agent from Writers House, gave an excellent talk on how an agent can help you navigate publishing. An agent wears many different hats. He/she should involve you in all steps of publication. An agent acts as your business manager, legal counsel, editor, and is your support. In a nutshell, your agent is your career counselor.

Ty represents children’s books, young adult authors, and illustrators across all age ranges. When querying, a one-page professional letter is best. It should pique interest in your project, and when describing your manuscript, it should read like flap copy. You should also include information about yourself and your background and note that your manuscript is available upon request.

Ty also spoke on “Becoming Literate in the Children’s Book World.” Books she recommended are:  Minders of Make-Believe by Leonard S. Marcus, Dear Genius:  The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom by Ursula Nordstrom, and Writing with Pictures by Uri Schulevitz.

There were two breakout sessions from which to choose:  “Plotting the Novel” presented by Jan Blazanin and “From Research to a Fiction Picture Book” by Wendy Henrichs. I chose to go to Jan Blazanin’s presentation. She is the author of A & L Do Summer and Fairest of Them All. Jan’s presentation was overflowing with excellent information — way too much to include here.

SCBWI-Iowa is a great group. You immediately feel at home when you’re with them. Thank you Iowa for a wonderful weekend!

An Interview with Tracey Adams

October 4, 2011

Tracey Adams is an agent who knows how to kick it up a notch. In 2004 along with her husband, Josh, she co-founded Adams Literary, a boutique agency representing authors and artists in all genres of children’s literature.

I had the opportunity to meet Tracey several years ago at a SCBWI conference in New England. She has an upbeat personality, is enthusiastic about meeting new talent, and definitely knows her business. Tracey’s background experience includes working with literary agencies McIntosh & Otis and Writers House and working in the marketing and editorial departments of Greenwillow Books and Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Here’s your opportunity to meet Tracey Adams and the agency.

Can you tell me what makes Adams Literary stand out among other literary agencies?

We are exclusively children’s books, so we are experts in the market for young readers. We feel that our experience, history, and the talented authors we represent stands on its own. 

What do you see as your strengths as an agent?

I will only represent and author whose work I love and believe in. If I am passionate about a project, I will not give up on it. My stubbornness serves me well as an agent!

How do you go about meeting editors and establishing a good rapport with them?

I’ve known a lot of editors for many years and they have become friends. They introduce me to editors who work with them and new relationships are formed. We make regular visits to New York, where we were for thirteen years before moving south. I’ve also made great friendships with editors at SCBWI conferences, where of course we all spend a good amount of time together. 

Many writers are on a quest to find an agent. If you could have the perfect client, what characteristics would that client have?

Other than amazing writing? A sense of humor, a willingness to trust me, great communication skills, patience and fortitude! 

What are some of your personal dos and do nots for those writers trying to get an agent?

I do an entire talk on this. Don’t address incorrectly (Dear Sir is the worst!), be sure you’re approaching an agent who represents your genre, be open with communication, and don’t accept an offer from a publisher before contacting the agent you want!

Can you explain how your author/agent relationship works?

This is another long talk. We represent you and your work, so communication is key. We find the best home for your work and handle the contract for you. We retain certain subsidiary rights on your behalf. Agents take an industry standard commission on any monies that come in for the client. Our hope is always to work together for the entirety of your career. We’ve worked with many of our clients for well over a decade. 

Is there a certain genre you’d like to see more of and why?

We love classic, timeless, coming-of-age middle grade (because what could be better than a book that will make a difference in young readers’ lives for years to come?) and of course YA is a great market right now. In YA, we see thrillers/suspense as a new trend.

How has publishing changed in the past few years – especially with the economic downturn? Does this make your job more difficult?

It makes us even more selective, because publishers need to be more selective. 

What are the best and worst parts of being an agent?

Best – finding a great home for a great manuscript, and sharing good and life-changing news with a client – then watching as that book is welcomed into the world and finds its fans.

Worst – Having to tell a client hard news.

What’s your best piece of advice for writers?

Read everything you can in your genre! Write! And join SCBWI! (Oh – and get an agent. 😉 A good one.)

Is there something that you’d like to share that not many people know about you?

I’m a second-degree recommended black belt in taekwondo and our entire family practices the art, so I’d love to see more books featuring martial arts (and specifically girls in martial arts!) I grew up by the water and love anything nautical and exotic. And I’m always happy to see diversity of all kinds in characters. 

Thank you, Tracey Adams!

If you think you have the “write stuff” and want to kick it up a notch with Tracey, make sure to check out the submission policy at Adams Literary.


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