Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 23, 2016

Free Fall Friday: Kelly Delaney – Interview Part Three


Kelly Delaney is an Associate Editor at Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, where she acquires and edits picture books and middle grade and young adult novels. She has a master’s degree in Publishing: Digital and Print Media from NYU and has been at Random House Children’s Books for six years. In that time she has been fortunate enough to work with many esteemed authors including R.J. Palacio, Markus Zusak, Anita Lobel, Eileen Spinelli, Kevin Hawkes, and Norton Juster, among many others. She is always on the lookout for quirky humor, bright characters, and writers that don’t underestimate their readers. You can follow her on Twitter at @kellyunderwater.

Kelly Delaney Interview – Part Three

Are you open to working with new agents?

Yes, of course. The process goes more quickly with agents I know better and who know my taste, but the quality of the manuscript is always the most important thing.

Are you allowed to work directly with the author who is represented by an agent?

Yes. During the submission process and contract negotiation, I’ll just be communicating with the agent, but when we actually get to work on the book itself most of my communication is with both the author and the agent, or with just the author (depending on the subject). 

When you want to offer a contract to an author, do you need committee approval?

When I fall in love with a manuscript, I first share it with my direct boss, and if she agrees that it’s something we should pursue for Knopf’s list, we share it with our publisher and associate publisher (in the case of an auction, though, I’ll share it with everyone at once to save time). In addition to the manuscript, I’ll share my editorial suggestions, selling points, comparative titles, and any other information that help make a case for the book. 

Are you open to working with debut authors?

Absolutely! Most of the submissions I receive from agents are for debut authors, and most of my initial contracts with authors are for their debut. 

Do you like to work on additional books with authors you’ve published?Do you feel authors should stick to the same genre once they have a successful book?

I can’t remember ever signing up an author that I thought would only be with Knopf for one book. I’m very interested in signing someone up who I will be able to work with on many books for years to come.

There are no rules about what genres to write in. In a lot of ways, the second book is even harder than the first (especially if the first is a big success!). Sometimes it’s easier to deal with this by sticking with that you know you’re good at, other times it’s better to think outside the box and try something new. Sometimes writing for a new age group can be challenging since readers might be more familiar with you as a writer for a different one, but the beauty of children’s books is that your audience is always changing anyway. There’s always room for reinvention. 

Are you interested in writer’s conference invitations?

Yes, I really enjoy attending conferences and meeting writers. The children’s book community is such a warm one, and it’s always fun to be surrounded by people who are passionate about the same things I am!


Don’t miss working with Kelly during the 5 week, time-flexible e-course, she is co-teaching with Mira Reisberg at the Children’s Book Academy, click here for the information about this course that features tons of individual attention, bonuses, and submission opportunities with agents and editors. This course has a proven track record of now published and award winning students, plus a money back guarantee. The first live training start January 9th!

Check back next Friday for what Kelly has to say about the first pages she critiqued.

Talk tomorrow,


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