Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 11, 2019

October Agent of the Month – Charlotte Wenger – Interview – Part 1

AGENT CHARLOTTE WENGER AT PROSPECT AGENCY IS

OCTOBER’S AGENT OF THE MONTH!

Born and raised in Pennsylvania and Virginia, Charlotte grew up with a bookish, editorial mind but was first drawn to publishing work in college. She then worked for a publishing services company in Philadelphia until shipping up to Boston to earn her MA in Children’s Literature from Simmons. Prior to joining Prospect Agency, she was an associate editor for just over two years with Page Street Kids, where she acquired and edited more than twenty picture books and grew relationships with authors, illustrators, agents, and other editors.

As an agent, she loves working with debut talent and building relationships with the authors and illustrators she represents and the industry professionals she works with. She has mentored Simmons MFA students and also serves on the national advisory board of the Mazza Museum, the world’s largest collection of original children’s book art, in Findlay, Ohio.

She is interested in working with authors and illustrators of children’s books—board books through YA, but especially picture books—as well as adult nonfiction, particularly biographies and memoirs. She brings the same mindset to agenting that she did as an editor, valuing the developmental and relational work that goes into creating successful stories and fostering long-lasting collaborations.

Charlotte’s open to representing writers and illustrators of children’s books—board books through graphic novels and YA, but especially picture books—as well as adult nonfiction, particularly biographies and memoirs.

Picture books:

Biographies
Sports narratives
Global stories
Performing arts
Social awareness and justice
Informational fiction

She is looking for authors and author-illustrators with strong writing skills and distinct art styles. In narrative picture books (fiction and nonfiction), she looks for well-developed characters with distinct voices; a strong plot with an earned resolution; and a clever, unexpected, yet satisfying ending. She is always open to stories that break formula and just work – that have that special something that you can’t quite put your finger on – either in the art or the words. She likes both prose and poetry, but she is typically not a fan of rhyme unless it feels authentic to the tone of the story.

Middle-Grade:

Sibling and family stories, especially those with nontraditional or underrepresented family structures
Magical realism and contemporary fantasy
Historical fiction

Young Adult:

Contemporary with strong female characters, complex relationships
Fantasy
Mystery
Novels in verse

She is always on the lookout for what hasn’t been done yet – stories that haven’t been told and voices that haven’t been heard.

She’s NOT the best fit for:

Horror
Military/war nonfiction
Saccharine

Submission Guidelines:

Please use the submission form on the Prospect Agency website: https://www.prospectagency.com/submit.html. All fields required unless indicated otherwise.

What to Submit:

For picture books, we request a query letter and the full manuscript or dummy. Illustrators should provide a link to their URL. For middle-grade, young adult, and adult nonfiction memoir and biography texts, we request a query letter, three chapters and a brief synopsis.

Your query letter should include your name, the date, contact information and a brief description of the work. Include only relevant personal information: previous publications, writing education, etc. For previously published authors, please also give a brief overview of your career thus far and your goals for the future.

Because we request more than just a query letter, we spend a lot of time with every submission. We consider character development, plot, voice, and most importantly, the writing. Please make sure the work you submit is edited, proofread, and at a mature stage of development. We do not accept re-submissions, edited or otherwise.

Electronic Submission Guidelines:

We accept Word (.docx, .doc), PDF (.pdf), HTML (.html, .htm), and Text (.rtf, .txt) formats.

Important: submit all material in a single document. Be sure to include a synopsis and query letter with your email and contact information at the beginning of the manuscript body (3 chapters or first 30 pages). If you are submitting a picture book, please include the entire picture book.

Please submit no more than one (1) manuscript at any given time. Submitting multiple manuscripts to this agency will invalidate your submission. This includes submitting to more than one agent.

They welcome new manuscripts; however, unless requested, we do not accept revisions. Do not resubmit declined manuscripts (to any agent), revised or otherwise.

****

HERE IS PART ONE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH CHARLOTTE:

What made you decide to switch from editor to literary agent?

I first considered the possibility of agenting when I learned more about it in grad school during Anita Silvey’s publishing class, but my enthusiasm for editorial work was stronger than my interest in agenting at the time. I did intern with a literary agent for my first year out of grad school, and while most of my work was geared toward my editorial interests, I gained some wonderful experience that year. In addition to the opportunity to still do editorial work as an agent, the relational aspect of agenting drew me in. I love that I get to meet a wide array of people who love books as much as me as well as build long-term relationships with clients and editors.

How did you find the job as agent with Prospect Agency?

When I was an editor, I had the pleasure of meeting Prospect agent Rachel Orr in 2018 at Whispering Pines Writers’ Retreat, where we were both on faculty. Then as I was considering transitioning from editor to agent, I talked with several agents I had met who had also made the change, and Rachel was one of them. I was able to get together with her during a quick visit I made to NYC. What I thought would be an informal info chat over coffee turned into a wonderful 3+ hour conversation and Rachel inviting me to join Prospect.

Do you work out of your house, or go into Prospect offices in North Jersey?

Although Prospect is based in NJ/NY, I work remotely from home in Somerville, Massachusetts. One aspect of making the change to agenting that appealed to me was that I wouldn’t have to relocate; my preference was to stay in the Boston area, where I’ve lived for a little more than five years now. Boston is a great city for children’s book publishing, and I can still get down to NYC easily when I’m able.

It looks like you are open to all types of books. Is there anything you would love to see come across your desk? 

My Manuscript Wish List is probably the best place to find this information, and I aim to update it every few months.

Do you have a limit on how many clients you will represent?

No, I don’t have a number limit, but I do only have so much time in a day… Being new to agenting, I am actively growing my client list, but I want to be able to give my clients the time and attention they deserve from me. The number and rate of new clients I take on will depend on whether or not I feel I have the time to support them and their work. 

Would you be open to a picture book that is over 500 words?

Yes, particularly if it’s narrative nonfiction or a picture book biography. For me, it’s more about the pacing of the story than word count. But word count can often be one indicator that there might be areas of the manuscript that could be trimmed and tightened.

What are your feelings about manuscripts with prologues? Should an author avoid at all costs?

As atypical as it might seem, I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other about prologues. I really think it depends on the story. I’d say that, more often than not, prologues don’t end up being necessary, but then sometimes they are. 

What would you like to see in the query letter? Should writers try to keep it short?

I definitely prefer query letters that are no longer than a page. I also appreciate when writers indicate why they picked me to submit to. In other words, why did they think I might be a good fit for their story / them? A strong log line also catches my attention.

Should the word count for your manuscript be included in the query letter?

Yes, please! For novels, a rounded number is fine.

CHECK BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR PART TWO OF MY INTERVIEW WITH CHARLOTTE.

*******

HERE ARE THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR OCTOBER 2019 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “OCTOBER FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE” Example: Paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it’s a picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top on both the email and the Word document (Make sure you include your name with the title of your book, when you save the first page).

PLEASE name the word document file by putting 2019 October – Your Name – Title of first page. Thank you. 

REMEMBER: ATTACH THE WORD DOCUMENT AND NOT GET ELIMINATED! Your First Page Word document should be formatted using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines – only one page.

Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com.

PLEASE FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES: Your submission will be passed over if you do not follow the directions for both the pasted email and the attached Word doc. This is where most people mess up.

DEADLINE: October 24th.

RESULTS: November 1st.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. Yay! We love Char

    Like

  2. Yay! We love Charlotte!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent advice!

    Like

  4. Thanks! Very informative interview.

    Like


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