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Conference Report #1: Editors and Agents

Cheryl's Musings: Conference Report #1: Editors and Agents

Cheryl's Musings

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road


Conference Report #1: Editors and Agents

First, the disclaimer: I'm beginning to realize that my opinions of children's book editors and agents might not be as useful as they first appear. I haven't yet met a children's editor or agent who I didn't like. Maybe it's the field. Every one I've met has been generous, kind, fun, and absolutely human. I hear this isn't the case in all of publishing, but it's my experience in the world of children's publishing.

I'll spend the next week compiling thoughts and information about the various industry professionals I met at the 2007 RMC-SCBWI conference, but here's the quick summary:

  • Andrea Brown, literary agent, Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc. This is one of the most knowledgeable industry professionals I've ever met. She's tough, straightforward, all business, and knows her stuff. She plugged the Big Sur conference, a writing workshop for children's writers run by her agency. It sounds wonderful--a weekend in which authors work with an editor, an agent, and an author in their genre. And lest you think my source is biased, I've heard only the best of reports from past attendees as well. For more factual sorts of info, see her bio on her website, My take? She's not the agent for me, since she doesn't rep fantasy, but I left with renewed determination 1) to attend Big Sur next year, and 2) to query her agency.

  • Meredith Mundy Wasinger, editor at Sterling Publishing. She's incredibly easy to talk to and incredibly sympathetic to authors. She's one of those people who puts you at ease after two minutes of conversation. What makes her willing to work with an author? Character, voice, and a personal passion for the work. If a story has a great character and a great voice, she's willing to hang in there. My take? Well, since she publishes only picture books, I don't think I'll be submitting to her. Bummer. I'd love to work with this classy lady! Maybe I'll have to take another stab at picture book writing. After I finish my five other projects....

  • Martha Mihalick, recently promoted editor at Greenwillow Books. I didn't get to spend as much one-on-one time with Martha, but she gave great feedback in the "First Pages" sessions. Maybe "First Pages" should be renamed "Test-the-Editor," since they require the reading editor to process and comment on stories so quickly and with so little information. She also provided manuscript critiques to a fortunate few, and reports state that she did a fine job of discerning what worked and didn't work in manuscripts. What makes her willing to work with an author? A moment in the work that speaks to her, a cool plot, a moment when a character says something that surprises her with its truth. She also prefers authors who are great to work with during revisions :). My take? She's a delight as a person, sharp as an editor, and likes fantasy, so I'm currently researching Greenwillow's list. They seem to publish fantasy that's a little "higher" in style than my own magical realism story, The Last Violin, but I'll probably still send her the first ten pages or so.

  • Theresa Howell, editor of Rising Moon and Luna Rising--which were recently acquired by another publishing house. In the short term, that means that they aren't accepting any manuscripts; in the longer term, though, they expect to need a lot of manuscripts once things are straightened out. Theresa publishes picture books with everyday themes, such as Liz Rusch's A Day with No Crayons (which comes out in November, if all goes well.) I spent the least time with Theresa, but hear she gave great critiques.

More on these four tomorrow!

:) Cheryl

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