Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 25, 2019

October Agent of the Month – Charlotte Wenger – Interview Part 3

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 Three Of My Interview With Charlotte:

How long does it usually take to respond to requested material? And query letters?

If I’ve requested material, I try to respond within a couple weeks, although sometimes it ends up taking longer if it’s a novel. (Unless I’ve requested it via a Twitter pitch event; then it might take me a bit longer to get to.) Per our submission guidelines, we ask for the manuscript, dummy, or chapters with the query letter. 

Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?

In picture books: predictability and not leaving space for the illustrations to add to the narrative

In middle-grade: inauthentic kid voice

In young adult: character tropes and a confusing or heavy-handed exposition

Do you give editorial feedback to your clients? 

Most definitely. My editorial experience plays a part in my agenting work. I work with my clients on revising until we both feel a story is ready to go out on sub. I do developmental edits as well as line edits, depending on what shape a story is in and what’s most helpful for each individual client.

How many editors do you submit to before giving up on a manuscript?

For me, one round of submissions for a manuscript typically includes five to ten editors. My hope is to submit to editors who I think would be a good fit for the story and my client. If the first round of editors all pass on the manuscript, my client and I would discuss if, based on the feedback received, we will send it to a second round or revise first. A manuscript will typically go through a few rounds of submissions before my client and I would decide if it would be best to put it on the back burner or move on from it completely.

Now-a-days, when a publisher decides to buy a book for print, do they automatically do an ebook, too?

Not necessarily, especially when it comes to picture books. However, ebook rights are typically still included in most contracts in case a publisher would decide to make a print book an ebook.

It seems to me that readers are listening to more books. Is that something the publisher decides to pursue after the sale of the book?

Who holds the audio subrights is determined in the contract stage of a project, but the timing of if/when creating an audiobook is pursued depends on the project. Yes, audiobooks are more popular than they used to be, but sometimes a publisher will want to wait and see how the print book sells before deciding whether or not to do an audio version.

Have you noticed any new trends building in the industry?

Within both middle-grade and young adult, graphic novels seem to be a continuingly growing trend. I’ve also noticed that topics of social justice/activism, identity, and empowerment are quite popular. And I often hear that editors are looking for picture books that have both “humor and heart.”

Any words of wisdom on how a writer can improve their writing, get an agent, and get published?

Be open to feedback, find opportunities to keep learning, and read, read, read. That means find critique partners or a critique group; take classes, participate in workshops, and attend conferences (in person or online); and read backlists and new titles so you have a sense of what’s been done and what current trends are. Also, subscribe to book-related newsletters, blogs, and podcasts and try to have an online presence.

How should someone contact you if they would like to invite you to a writer’s event, workshop, and/or conference?

There are a few ways! If you have access to Publisher’s Marketplace, my agency email is on there. I can also be reached via my contact form on my website: https://www.charlottewenger.com/contact.html. Or if you DM me on Twitter and introduce yourself (e.g., “I’m the SCBWI regional advisor for…) and your event/workshop/conference, I’d be happy to give you my agency email so that we can be in touch further.

Charlotte, thank you for taking your time and sharing your expertise with us. Your answers will help many people who visit Writing and Illustrating. 

*******

CHECK BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR OCTOBER”S FIRST PAGE RESULTS.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Responses

  1. Great interview! Thank you!

    Like

  2. I always find these interviews so helpful. Thanks, Kathy & Charlotte!

    Like


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