Friday, August 19, 2016

A Few of My Favorite Things...

I wanted to share some wonderful articles and words of wisdom I've come across recently.

First, contributing to #weneeddiversebooks and #ownvoices, these two articles:

From an editor perspective:

"If you’re a white editor reading this, pause for a second and think about how an African American or Native American might feel getting that pass letter. Consider the fact that your very whiteness might prevent you from understanding the lives diverse characters and peoples lead, and the daily erasure they face" - Kate Sullivan, Senior Editor, Delacorte Press

From a writer perspective:

"To help diversify YA, we white authors can support Indigenous authors and Authors of Color by reading their books, recommending their books, blurbing their books, and recommending them to our agents. When we're invited to conferences, or festivals, or to be in anthologies, make sure they're not majority white. We need to make more space for People of Colour and Indigenous people in our very white publishing industry."

(yes, I realize, both white perspectives; please share any other wonderful articles....I want to include them...)

Next, some words of wisdom from SCBWI LA. I wasn't able to attend all sessions, but from what I did....

  • "Diversity is not a trendIt is real life, and diversity needs to be the norm." -Justin Chanda, Vice President & Publisher, Simon & Schuster BFYR

  • "You will hear all sorts of rules about what you can't do [when you write]. What they mean is, you can't do anything badly. You can do whatever you want if you do it well." Melissa Manlove, editor, Chronicle Books

  • "Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint." Stacey Barney, Senior Editor, Putnam

  • Don't wait for the perfect idea to strike: "Writers have to come up with a lot of bad ideas to hit a few good ones. It's not the lightning bolt that hits someone sitting in a sunny field. It's the lightning that strikes someone who has been cranking a generator." Melissa Manlove, editor, Chronicle Books

  • What makes a good picture book? It "has to evoke that same feeling/connection as when you first read it - every time....the perfect picture book text is a writer lobbing the ball up so an illustrator can carry it." - Susan Rich, editor-at-large, Little Brown

Friday, April 1, 2016

Format Changes; Story Lust Remains

I was watching TMNT (2014) with my husband tonight*. And at the end, he said: you know what’s sad? Our son is going to see this and think, man, the older versions SUCK!

And I said: so?

A reader of romance today vs. a reader of Jane Austen of yesterday will not necessarily like it the same; and yet that doesn’t discount either of the books. It doesn’t discount them in the same way that Homeric tales passed around a fire are no less valid than TMNT (2014).

People fear change in publishing; when I tell people what I do, they say…oh. And…what will you do when books go away?

Books won’t go away. The format may change. But stories will always remain. That is publishing. That is the world I’m in.

And if my son connects to it in a different way than I did, I don’t care. Because he’s connecting. And that is what matters.

That is why as an agent, I embrace change and challenge. 

*on our first date, I picked Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to watch. I still think that was the moment that sealed the deal for us. :)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Breaking Down 2015

After reviewing all the stats, I have to say: I kicked 2015's ass. I had a baby; I negotiated a deal while having that baby. I kept turnaround times, contracts, correspondence, sales and pitches moving, all with a brand new baby in tow...because challenge: I THRIVE ON THEE! :)

Here's how my agent life stacked up in numbers for 2015:

Queries (unsolicited) rec’d:

Request rates (based on above):

Partial: .2%
Partial Request genres:

  • MG funny contemp
  • historical romance with mystery
  • YA contemp
  • YA historical magical realism
  • contemp romance

Full: .6%
Full Request genres:

  • adult multi-cultural
  • Chapter Book boy funny 
  • PB author/illustrator
  • PB text only (2)
  • MG speculative
  • MG magical realism/multi-cultural
  • MG funny contemp
  • YA adventure
  • YA historical
  • YA historical magical realism
  • YA magical realism
  • Gritty YA contemp
  • YA fantasy

Offers: .2%
Signed Genres:

  • MG magical realism/multi-cultural
  • YA magical realism
  • Chapter book boy funny

R&R’s requested: 2 (.1%)
Offers from R&Rs: 1

This means, roughly, that I requested a partial on 2 out of every 1000, a full 6 out of every 1000, and offered on 2 out of every 1000 queries I received.

This year, I was 40% likely to request the full from a partial
I was 29% likely to make an offer on a full request

In sum: I was more likely to request a full, though I was not as active with signing and requesting as last year (down from 70% likely to request full from partial, and 59% likely to make an offer on a full).

Avg. response time:
Partial: 7 weeks
Full: 8 weeks

After tracking my turnaround times for several years now, this has been pretty consistent. I always wish I could be faster, but, considering this year I felt like a literal black hole as I adjusted to everything baby, it's an accomplishment to have kept things the same.

Months with most queries: June-July, Sept-Oct (last year March, June-July)

Months with most requests: July, Oct (last year Feb, April-May)

Most active period of offering and signing: Aug-Nov (last year Jan-Feb & June)

With being closed to submissions until May 1, everything shifted down!

My agent resolution last year was to keep up the momentum; I was pretty on par for deals, and managed overall growth while being shut down for four months, which is a 100% success!!  I pulled in to focus on my fabulous clients, and this year...

My agent resolution: GROW, SELL, GROW!!