For the past 5 months, I’ve been trying to keep two major parts of my life separate. One side as the director and an instructor here at Children’s Book Academy (formerly the Picture Book Academy). And the other as the founding agent of Hummingbird Literary. Recently, I realized it was becoming ridiculous and making me feel schizophrenic, so I’m getting integrated beginning with this first Mondays monthly series of posts on the Agony and Ecstasy of Agenting.
Agenting is hard work. Ridiculously hard. Most people have no idea what happens once they manage to sign with an agent. In the coming months, I’ll be talking about this and why you may or may not want an agent, how to work with an agent, what agents look for in submissions and how to increase your chances for representation, not necessarily in that order.
Right now I’m reading a client’s young adult manuscript that I’m in love with. It’s a real page-turner with believable characters, a building plot, a wee love story, universal themes, and an historical background. It needs some work but not too much; mostly in avoiding repetition and taking a bit long to hook into the drama of the story. While different age levels have different language and age-appropriate conceptual development needs, as well as different word counts, all good stories need a strong introductory hook. Helping to ensure this, is part of the magic and ecstasy of being an agent and a teacher. And then, of course, there’s the magic of making a sale to bring these meaningful and beautiful words into book form and then into children’s hands. The ups and downs of accomplishing what feels like a Herculean task to fruition is part of the agony while helping others is truly a joy.
As an agent, because of the small size of the agency, we can only accept submissions on certain dates, but when submissions come in, there are certain things we look for that show that the writer or illustrator is professional and knows what they are doing. As the director and an instructor at the Academy, part of my job is preparing writers and illustrators to create marketable children’s books. As an agent I’m on the receiving end of submissions. On January 24th at 6PM Pacific Standard time, I’ll be doing a free webinar on writing cover letters and pitches that agents and editors want to read based on what I've learned from both teaching and agenting. Here’s the link to register http://www.childrensbookacademy.com/free-cover-letters-and-pitches-webinar.html I plan on also leaving time for critiquing as many 30 word pitches I can to help make the submission as appealing as possible. I hope you’ll join me. Next month, I plan on writing about what an agent actually does.
Mondays with Mandy or Mira consists of Mandy Yates and Mira Reisberg. Mira is the founder of the Children's Book Academy and was so impressed with Mandy when she was a student in one of the interactive courses, that she invited Mandy to share the blog. Mandy has as an MFA in creative writing from Spalding University and has been published multiple times in Highlights Magazine. We hope you enjoy and find our offerings helpful.
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