Thursday, April 30, 2009

A QUICK NOTE ABOUT QUERIES

  1. PLEASE WRITE 'QUERY' IN THE SUBJECT LINE
    Why? Because I use mac "smart mailboxes" and if you don't write QUERY in the subject line your query will be marooned in my general biz inbox.

  2. INTRODUCE YOURSELF
    Maybe it is just me, but I find it a bit rude when someone writes:

    'Here is my manuscript. Want it?'

    OK, only a few people actually put it that way but I do get a lot of:

    Dear Jill,
    --synopsis--
    I hope you want to read the full manuscript.
    Thanks.

    Yes, I sell books but I represent authors.
Added Feb 1, 2010: I no longer send form declines. If you do not receive an email response to your query + 10 pages within a month, I am sorry but I am not the right agent for your work.

UPCOMING CONFERENCES

I will be on two agent panels and critiquing manuscripts at the New Jersey SCBWI Annual Conference in Princeton on June 5th & 6th. Kathy Temean, the area’s Regional Advisor, has put together an outstanding program. Check out this lineup:

Richard Peck - Newbery Award Winning Author
EB Lewis - Coretta Scott King Award, Caldecott Honor Winning Illustrator/Author
Lauri Hornik - VP and Publisher, Dial
Margery Cuyler - Publisher, Marshall Cavendish
Steve Meltzer - Associate Publisher/ Executive Managing Editor, Dial, Dutton, & Celebra
Michelle Poploff - VP Editorial Director, Random House
Regina Griffin - Exec. Ed., Egmont USA
Carolyn Yoder - Editor, Calkins Creek Books - Senior Editor, History, HIGHLIGHTS
Nancy Conescu - Editor, Little Brown
Catherine Onder - Editor, HarperCollins
Emily Lawrence - Associate Editor, Simon&Schuster - Aladdin Books
Michele Burke - Associate Editor, Knopf
Lisa Yoskowitz - Ed. Asst., Dutton Children's Books
Eve Adler - Associate Editor, Henry Holt
Tamra Tuller - Editor, Philomel
Kristin Daly - Editor, Balzer & Bray
Emily Van Beek - Agent, Pippin Properties
Scott Treimel - Agent, Scott Treimel Literary Agency
Jill Corcoran - Associate Agent, Herman Agency
Rachel Orr - Agent, Prospect Agency
Jenni Ferrari-Adler - Agent, Brick House Literary Agents
Marietta Zacker - Agent, Nancy Galt Literary Agency
Scott Piehl - Design Director, Disney Group BFYR
Tim Gillner - Art Director, Boyds Mill Press
TS Ferguson- Assistant Editor, Little Brown

I will also be attending the SCBWI National Conference in LA August 7th-10th. The faulty for Nationals is too long to list here. Check out the SCBWI website for all the juicy details.

I look forward to meeting many of you at one or both of these conferences.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

WHAT ARE YOU READING?

Dutton author Tina Nichols Coury--“Hanging Off Jefferson’s Nose, Growing Up On Mount Rushmore”--created a fab video at the recent SCBWI LA Writer's Day. I'll bet you'll recognize lots of wonderful kidlit folk, including me and my client Charlie Cohen.



Check out Tina's blog, Tales from the Rushmore Kid, for lots of great

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

CRITIQUE GROUPS

KIDSCRIBBLERS
R to L: Stephanie Hemphill, Claudia Harrington, Me, Kitty Donohoe, Paula Yoo, Joyce Lee Wong. Photo by Joan Bransfield Graham.


There comes a time in most writers' lives when they decide to seek out a critique group. Years ago when I was writing my YA novel-in-poems, I decided to seek out the best novel-in-poems novelist I knew in Los Angeles. I called Julie Williams (ESCAPING TORNADO SEASON), who called Stephanie Hemphill (THINGS LEFT UNSAID & YOUR OWN, SYLVIA) and Claudia Harrington. Claudia called Kitty Donohoe who introduced us to Paula Yoo (GOOD ENOUGH) and Joyce Lee Wong (SEEING EMILY) at the SCBWI Nationals in LA. Paula created our Google Group which brought us into the 21st century and declared us KIDSCRIBBLERS. We are now cemented together though writing, friendship and love, and all of our work is stronger because we have each other.

Over time, Julie moved to Minnesota, I stopped writing YA to focus on PBs plus started agenting, and novels-in-poems are only a portion of what we, as a group, write. However, Kidscribblers endures because it is the 'right' group for each of us.

Finding the right critique group is not often easy. I hope the posts below help you decide if a critique group is for you and how to find the one that will improve your writing.
  1. Collyn Justus on Critique Groups and Critiquing
  2. Margot Finke on Starting Your Own Critique Group
  3. Agent Chip MacGregor on Critique Groups
  4. Darcy Pattison on Different Critique Groups Meet Different Needs
  5. Angela Ackerman on Is It Time to Leave Your Critique Group

Thursday, April 16, 2009

ME ON AGENTING

Award-winning author Terry Pierce has a fantastic compilation of Mini-Views---quick, to the point, interviews---on her blog at Terry Pierce: Children's Author.

Editors she's interviewed include Lisa Graff (FSG), Ruta Rimas (HarperCollins), Meredith Mundy Wasinger (Sterling), Harold Underdown, Kristin Daly (HarperCollins), Stacy Cantor (Walker), Kendra Levin (Viking), and Donna German (Sylvan Dell) plus publicist Sara Dobie (Sylvan Dell).

Agents she's interviewed include me (see below) and Erin Murphy.

Writers she's interviewed include Bruce Coville, Ann Whitford Paul, Alexis O'Neill, Jay Asher, Bruce Hale, Anastasia Suen, Roxanne Young, Mary Hershey, Dan Hanna, Caroline Hatton, and Robin LaFevers plus uber librarian Sandra Yoon.

And stay tuned, Terry has a lot more interviews in the queue:)

Terry Pierce's MINI-VIEWS:
Pint-sized interviews that leave you smiling.


JILL CORCORAN is an Associate Agent at the Herman Agency representing MG and YA authors, as well as being a children's book author. Lee Bennett Hopkins will be including her poem PIRATES in his upcoming Holiday House MG collection, I AM THE BOOK.

Jill has a terrific blog, Jill Corcoran Books. I’ve known Jill for years—she’s funny, smart, hard-working and persistent! I was so happy for her when she told me of her recent move into her new role as a children’s literary agent.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am an Associate Agent at Herman Agency representing Chapter Book, Middle Grade and Young Adult authors.

I have a BA in English from Stanford University and an MBA in Finance and Marketing from The University of Chicago. I've marketed everything from cereal to sneakers at Leo Burnett Advertising, Mattel, LA Gear and my own company, Launch! New Product Marketing.

I am also a children's book writer and poet. Lee Bennett Hopkins will be including my poem PIRATES in his upcoming Holiday House middle grade collection, I AM THE BOOK. My poem will be one of only l4 in this fully illustrated picture/poetry book.

I've won an SCBWI Los Angeles Writer's Day Poetry Award for my humorous picture book collection, SINK YOUR TEETH INTO POETRY and an SCBWI Work-in-Progress Letter of Merit for my YA novel, TWIN SISTER: I AM NOT YOU. Plus, an article about me and my writing workshops has been syndicated in parenting magazines nationwide by Kathy Sena (http://www.kathysena.com/).

Could you please summarize your specific taste in books and which kinds of stories usually catch your attention (or would be an automatic "No, thanks")?

I am a huge fan of humor. If you can make me laugh or crack a smile, you are my kind of writer. Even in a serious literary book, there is room for humor.

Some of my favorite books are Frindle, Stargirl, Speak, Stuck in Neutral, How I Live Now, Millicent Min, Good Enough, Seeing Emily, Things Left Unsaid, Flipped and Because of Winn Dixie.

I would also love to find funny boy books that are mixed prose and graphic novel a la Wimpy Kid, Bruce Hale's Prince of Underwhere, and even full graphic novels like Bone. BTW, Ronnie Ann Herman is also looking for Graphic Novels and I will be passing on illustrator-driven GN to her attention.

What catches my attention is great writing. As I said in my blog post HOW I READ SUBMISSIONS, a great idea can only get a book so far. It is the execution, the writing that brings a plot, a cast of characters, the soul of a book alive. A quick side note here--When I go into classrooms to teach, I'll give 30 students one prompt, but I get 30 different versions of a story. That is how it is with manuscript submissions. I get a fair share of similar plots outlined in query letters, but the executions of those plots are what determines if I ask for a full or not.

I want a book that I can't put down. That I have to read in one sitting because I have to know what happens next. I want to close your book and keep living with your characters in my head.

An automatic "No Thanks"... forced dialog, flabby prose, mixed metaphors, expected plot turns and endings, etc.

What will your role be at the Herman Agency? (How will you work together, will you both read all genres, how would you handle authors who write across multiple genres, etc.--anything you feel readers should know)
Ronnie Ann Herman started Herman Agency in 1999 and represents many of the leading illustrators and author/illustrators in today's children's book market. As a former Art Director at Random House and Associate Publisher at Penguin Books' Grosset & Dunlap, Ronnie art directed thousands of children's books during her more than 20 year publishing career. Ronnie is also the author of 8 picture books with 1,000,000 books in print.

Most of Ronnie's clients are PB author/illustrators or illustrators. Ronnie has sold CB, MG, YA and adult over the years but her heart is in picture books and that is why she brought me in to expand the company.

For a single author who writes YA and PB, for instance, I will rep the author's YA and Ronnie will rep his/her PB. When an author signs with me they are signing with the Herman Agency and they will benefit from both Ronnie and my expertise, dedication and effort.

For my clients, Ronnie and I will work together to create a submission lists. While Ronnie is very familiar with different houses' and different editors' preferences, I also have editors contacting me, telling me their preferences so that I can direct the right books to their attention. Ronnie will handle all contract negotiations until I know contracts inside and out.

What's your favorite children's joke?
I never remember punch lines so I am a bad joke-teller. But I'm a huge fan of riddle poems. Here is one that I wrote a few years ago:

I love to eat green moldy cheese,
Chewed up meat and smashed down peas,
Clippings from your puppy’s nails,
Squashed-shelled squished-up garden snails,
Gooey tissues, chicken fat,
Droppings from your fur-ball cat.
Lumpy milk, month-old trout,
Fill me up…
Throw me out!

What am I?

(answer: a garbage can)

Hilarious poem, Jill- and thanks for the interview!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

EDITORIAL ASS: WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER SUBMIT UNAGENTED TO PUBLISHING COMPANIES

Editorial Ass: why you should never submit unagented to publishing companies

Anyone miss Editorial Ass' 9/2/2008 post?
Yes, click and read.
No, click and reread.

Editorial Ass is an author's advocate, for sure. Yes, some people get wonderful book deals without agents and yes, EA is an agent in the adult book world and things work a wee bit differently in the children's book arena. But, I still agree with her advice. OK, enough from me.....go click on over.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

BORDERS REFOCUSES ON CHILDREN'S BOOKS

Here is some sweet music for children's writer's ears:
Executives said Borders will continue to focus on improving its cash flow and profitability while trying to reassert itself as the bookseller for "serious readers." It also will beef up some underdeveloped product categories such as cooking and children's books and move away from unprofitable categories like music, Chief Executive Ron Marshall told The Associated Press Tuesday.

Now don't start whistling Dixie too quickly, Borders is still in financial trouble and both Borders' executives and Wall Street analysts predict a 2009 sales drop. However, Borders now has a plan and Wall Street has stopped humming a dirge.

As AP reports, Deutsche Bank wrote in an analyst note that the company's recent financial improvements, including a deal to extend its $42.5 million senior secured-term loan by a year, has given Borders some "breathing room" for the fiscal year. But Deutsche Bank said the company needs to focus its efforts primarily on a recovery plan to boost sales.

And Borders is doing just that....
"All in all, we are doing whatever is necessary to get back on firm financial footing," Marshall said Wednesday in a conference call with investors. "That said, we understand you can't save our way to prosperity. We must sell our way to success."

So KEEP WRITING! KEEP CREATING! KEEP DREAMING! and GOOD LUCK, BORDERS. We are all rooting for you!

Click here to read the full article at SALON.COM

Modified to add: For more positive signs in the children's bookselling arena, check out Elaine Magliaro's April 2nd post at Wild Rose Reader: Boston Globe Article: Independent Bookstores Holding Up vs. Big Rivals.

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