Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 19, 2017

May’s Featured Agent – Jennie Dunham Interview Part Two

Jennie Dunham owner of Dunham Literary Agency has agreed to be May’s Featured Agents and will critique four first pages from the submissions sent in this month. She has been a literary agent in New York, New York since May 1992. In August 2000 she founded Dunham Literary, Inc.

She represents authors of quality fiction and nonfiction books for adults and children and some illustrators of children’s books.

She has been a member of AAR (Association of Authors Representatives) since 1993 and is a member of the SCBWI. She served on the Program Committee and was Program Committee Director for several years. She was also a member of the Electronic Committee.

In 1996 she attended the US/China Joint Women in Business conference in Beijing where she gave a presentation about literary agents in the US. She also attended the NGO Forum at the International Women’s Conference.

She attended international meetings as the AAR representative to create the ISTC (International Standard Text Code) which is being created to ISO (International Standardization Organization) specifications. This business and tracking system will be based on titles not book formats (as is the case with ISBN) and will work in tandem with ISBN.

She started her career at John Brockman Associates and then Mildred Marmur Associates. She was employed by Russell & Volkening for 6 years before she left to found Dunham Literary, Inc.

PART TWO OF INTERVIEW WITH JENNIE DUNHAM:

Any pet peeves?

If someone calls me on the phone to pitch a manuscript, I get turned off.

I also don’t like when someone pretends to know me and doesn’t.

If I don’t know the person who is referring you, then it is not much of a referral.

My name is Jennie, not Jenny. I’ve been saying “IE not Y” all my life.

Do you give editorial feedback to your clients?

Yes, I give a lot of editorial feedback even to the experienced authors of many books. My role is to help the author get the manuscript in shape to sell.

Does an unpublished writer have any chance with landing you as their agent?

Absolutely! One of the great joys of working as an agent is helping a writer’s dream of becoming published come true. Every sale is exciting, but a debut author’s first sale is a special thrill.

Do your other agents discuss submissions they receive with you before offering representation?

Yes. We have a good team feeling in the office. We talk about what is going on with each other and have a collegial atmosphere. If a submission isn’t right for one of us but might be right for someone else, we share the submission.

What is your typical response time to email or call your clients back?

It depends if I need to find out something before responding. If I need to get information from someone else, then it might take me longer. I try to keep my email managed efficiently.

How do you like to communicate (email vs. phone)? And how often do you communicate during the submission process? 

I like phone, email, video chat, and meeting in person. Email is good for setting up phone conversations. I communicate when I have news to share. News can range from sending out submissions to follow ups to responses from editors.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES For FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “April 2017  Critique” and 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). 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: May 25th.

RESULTS: June 2nd.

Please only submit one first page a month, but do try again if your first page wasn’t one of the pages randomly picked. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 18, 2017

Agent Looking for Clients

Since graduating from Wesleyan University with a focus on literature and theory, Blair Wilson has fallen in love with the voices of new and emerging authors. She is actively seeking middle grade and young adult fiction, as well as MG, YA, and adult nonfiction at Park Literary. In nonfiction, Blair is interested in narrative nonfiction, crafting/instructional, true crime, pop culture, lifestyle, sexuality & identity, design, and STEM topics.

A contract master, Blair works alongside our co-agents to negotiate publishing agreements outside of the United States with a focus on Eastern Europe, South Korea and the Baltic states. After a day of executing foreign taxes for authors or assisting with submissions, you might just find this North Carolina native teaching textile arts classes at the American Folk Art Museum and Textile Arts Center in New York City. This creative studied Victorian Literature but has truly fallen in love with the voices of new and emerging authors, making PLM a perfect fit for her. She is actively building her own list of clients in the areas of middle grade and young adult fiction and adult non-fiction with a focus on D.I.Y., lifestyle, pop culture, pets, and books dealing with issues of sexuality, identity and culture.

How to Submit: Send your query and accompanying materials to queries@parkliterary.com. Put “Blair Wilson” as well as the category and genre of your book (Example: “Blair Wilson – YA Fantasy”) in the subject line of the email. All materials must be in the body of the email. For all fiction submissions, include a query letter and the first chapter or approximately the first ten pages of your work. For non-fiction submission, send a query letter, proposal, and one sample chapter or approximately ten pages.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

 

Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 17, 2017

Book Giveaway – In the Red Canoe

Congratulations to author Leslie A Davidson on her new book IN THE RED CANOE. She has agreed to participate in our book giveaways. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back to discover the winner.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Ducks and frogs, swallows and dragonflies, beaver lodges and lily pads―a multitude of wonders enchant the child narrator in this tender, beautifully illustrated picture book. A tribute to those fragile, wild places that still exist, In the Red Canoe celebrates the bond between grandparent and grandchild and invites nature lovers of all ages along for the ride.

BOOKS JOURNEY:

The first draft of In The Red Canoe found its way into my notebook, early in my retirement, as a writing exercise, a rhyming catalogue of all the wonders our family had seen and delighted in, as we paddled our old red canoe.

When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and my husband developed symptoms of a younger onset dementia – we were later to learn it was Lewy-Body Dementia – my writing took on a new urgency, especially this particular piece, with all its emotional attachment to memory, what we were losing, and my dream of leaving a legacy for our grandchildren. I hauled out the manuscript, added to it, revised and polished it, and began submitting it to publishers. At the time of its acceptance by Orca Books, there was one tiny grandchild. There are now three more little ones. Our two daughters and their families live in the same beautiful little mountain town and share the old red canoe. (cont.)

I am a retired Kindergarten teacher and school-librarian. I have bought and read hundreds of picture books but had very little knowledge about the publishing process. Two and a half years after signing the contract, I was sent a photo of Laura Bifano’s cover, my first look at the gorgeous illustrations for the book. I burst into tears. Laura’s Grandpa could easily be my husband and the child in the bow of the canoe, looks very much like our elder daughter when she was small. Serendipity is a wondrous thing.

In the same week that In The Red Canoe was released, CBC Radio announced that Leslie A Davidson had won the Canada Writes Creative Nonfiction Prize for Adaptation, a personal essay about her life with her husband, and their journey with Lewy-Body Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease.
http://www.cbc.ca/books/2016/09/leslie-a-davidson-wins-the-2016-cbc-creative-nonfiction-prize.html

LESLIE’S BIO:

I have always been a writer though sometimes much more in my head than on paper. I firmly believe that time served in the imagination counts.

In retirement, I finally found the time and energy to set down on paper the stories that had been impatiently tapping at the edge of my consciousness throughout the chaotic years of teaching and parenting.

When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, just months before learning that my husband was living with a younger-onset form of dementia, writing became an urgent need. Nothing focuses brain cells more effectively than the fear of losing them.

My writing celebrates the things that matter most to me: family, friendship, and the natural world. It is how I make sense of a life that feels, at times, uncomfortably unpredictable; it is how I express gratitude for the abundant beauty in the world around me and in the hearts of those I love.

My husband and I lived in Grand Forks, BC for 34 years. We recently moved to Revelstoke, BC where three young grandchildren fill our days with joy.

Thank you Leslie for sharing your book and journey with us. Laura did a beautiful job on the illustrations. I will be featuring her in June on Illustrator Saturday.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 16, 2017

ASK CAT

1485896094908

On the third Tuesday Christina or Christy Ewers Tugeau of the Catugeau Artist Agency will answer questions and talk about things illustrators need to know to further their career. It could be a question about an illustration you are working on, too. Please email your questions to me and put ASK CAT in the subject box.

chrisandchristy

Here’s Chris:

Questions are starting to POP now, and we’re thrilled! Keep them coming!

Danette, an author/illustrator, asked about the protocol with showing images from a book dummy on your site portfolio and other social media.  This is actually a very good question and one that needs looking at thoughtfully.  It matters if it is YOUR written and illustrated story that YOU are trying to sell, or one you have illustrated for another, or sold to a publisher. First, if the copy rights are still yours, you CAN show it certainly…. doing so might even help you sell it if a buyer sees it there and is interested.  But you run the risk of someone ‘borrowing’ the idea if you show too much. (doesn’t happen often…very trustworthy industry…but it does happen) Second, if you have illustrated someone else UNSOLD ms you should get their permission before showing a couple of pieces or characters. Remember, showing sequential, same character images is what helps buyers know what you can do with a narrative story, so you want to show that.  Third, if the images are from a SOLD ms with a publisher you MAY NOT show the images (without their permission) until the book is printed! This is very important to know and respect – and legally upheld!

A related question from Lyn is about her transition from traditional to digital, which she feels she has ‘mastered’ but finds she can’t get work with it.  She is wondering why and if she should show both on her site.  Now without knowing how much work she got before, and not seeing either of the styles, it’s hard to know the ‘why’ it’s not selling. I would encourage her to show both styles, separated, on her site.  If one has been selling of course show it.  And then group the new digital work and show that too..maybe two different pages on the same site? or at least separated some how.  Is the style VERY different? this might help the buyers transition to the new look.  I wonder why she feels she must transition at all?  Traditional work is very much still in demand, though not as much for educational work. And many publishers do expect all artists to be able to SEND them work digitally.  So some comfort with this is important.  Lyn also asked about writing herself to have the ms to do samples. If I’m understanding that- sure!  it’s always good for artists to make up a story, or part of a story, to do images for that and show them off.  Not necessary to write a whole manuscript as you probably wouldn’t want to illustrate the whole dummy (two color finishes and rest rather tight sketches is norm).  But if you do write a whole ms and feel it is good and ready to show, DO SHOW IT.  And as I mentioned above, showing two or three from this story finishes is a good way to drum up interest in your story and in your work!  Go for it!

This month we thankfully have input from partner Christy Ewers about the question to define the term “CUTTING EDGE” that I used last month:   “It’s hard to define “cutting edge” in any regards – as we don’t know what it is until IT IS!! But to try to answer the question of “can you please define “cutting edge” in respect to children’s book illustration”, I guess we have to start with the most classic of The Classics: GOODNIGHT MOON. It is one of the most iconic and well-known (and best-selling) picture books of all time! Clement Hurd’s illustrations are still ‘cutting edge’ to this day! The BOLD colors, the great green room, the tomato-colored carpet?! Think about those choices he made! And then to juxtapose that with the grayscale vignettes on several of the pages?! So different. And obviously genius! That was as cutting edge then as it is now. And the most amazing thing is that although the “story” is somewhat (very) old-fashioned now (rotary telephones? mush? mittens and socks on drying racks by the fire?!), children of all ages gravitate to it. My 17-month-old has loved it since he was an infant, and it’s the only bedtime book that grabs his attention every time. And my now 4-year-old still loves to find the mouse in every bedroom spread. Cutting edge!

Think of ANY Dr Seuss book – and those very specifically “Dr Seuss” characters he created. They are all a little odd, a little “off”, even The Cat in the Hat didn’t really look like a cat. But they are so different and were/are still so cutting edge that they broke the mold forever.

One more recent illustrator to be cutting edge (in my opinion) is Oliver Jeffers. He has written and illustrated many many great books but the one I am thinking of as an example is The Day the Crayons Quit (written by Drew Daywalt). The way he illustrated Drew’s hilariously witty text with his simple, yet full-of-expression crayons – almost looking like child’s drawings themselves was genius! And to then integrate the “note” from them on the left side of the spread – perfection. I’d never seen anything quite like it. And that kind of thinking outside the box of crayons (hardy har!) is cutting edge.

The double edged sword about being cutting edge is that once you are, you get imitators – but I suppose that is proof positive that you have innovated! I can’t tell you how many Jon Klassen lookalikes I have encountered!

Perhaps the best way to describe cutting edge in children’s illustration is being innovative and different – and unique! Whether it’s with medium, style, use of perspective, color choices, characters that are uniquely yours…there are several ways to set yourself apart from the crowd. And who knows – maybe you’ll start a new “trend”. But speaking of trends – another way to explain “cutting edge” is to say that it’s not falling into the latest trend, but doing just the opposite; not conforming to what one THINKS people will respond to, given their response to work like it – but creating something that will make people go “WOW!….that is….WOW!!!”. And if one happens to create the next GOODNIGHT MOON, then one be cutting edge in perpetuity! “

Thank you from both of us for your thought provoking and learning potential questions…. we love them! and I’m sure other artists do too.

Thank you Chris and Christy for more great answers.

NOW SIT DOWN AND WRITE UP YOUR QUESTIONS FOR “ASK CAT.”

Hope this illustration by Katy Betz will inspire everyone to send in a question to Chris and Christy. Katy was featured on Illustrator Saturday July 23, 2016. Take a look.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 15, 2017

Book Giveaway: IF I WEREN’T WITH YOU

Congratulations to author Rosie J. Pova. She has a new book IF I WEREN’T WITH YOU and has offered to giveaway a free copy of her book. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment, reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back to discover the winner.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

“Mama, if I weren’t born, what would you do?” Willy starts a conversation with mama Bear while he’s on the move, acting like a natural youngster. In a series of simple and direct questions, the bear cub seeks and receives his mother’s reassurance of love and security as the two take a walk in the forest. Mama Bear uses imagery of the forest to communicate her feelings to her cub.

The Book’s Journey 

I wrote this story in the spring of 2013. Since it was a quiet story, I didn’t query wildly with it because I knew it will be difficult to attract an agent’s attention with that type of story, especially for an unpublished writer. But I did send it out a few times and I remember one agent’s reply–a personalized rejection–where he said the manuscript reminded him of The Runaway Bunny. I was not familiar with that book. As I grew up in Bulgaria, it wasn’t one of my childhood reads, as it probably was for many people. So I had to look it up.

I was surprised to find out it had been published so long ago but it was still in print. I thought, the fact that this agent had compared my book to a classic was both good news and bad news: on one hand, it would be tough to compete with an established book, but on the other hand, clearly there was still a market for similar stories. Plus, mine was different enough not to be confused with that title.

Staying  on the positive side and with a healthy dose of wishful thinking, I mused that maybe my book would get published one day, maybe the world needs another quiet story about mother’s love, and maybe my book will find lots of readers, too . . . Hey, they say dream big, right?

The story went through a few rounds of revisions with my critique group and a couple of  freelance editors. I did get some positive feedback, but not much happened for a long time. But like I said, it wasn’t my first choice to submit to an agent. However, if I saw an opportunity to submit to an editor who I thought was a good match for quiet, lyrical stories, I sent it out.

Fast forward to the summer of 2016 when I discovered a small local publishing house and submitted the story to them, along with another manuscript that she had invited me to send. The publisher replied in two days and this is what she said:

“Rosie,

Thank you so much for sharing these with me! I absolutely adore “If You Weren’t Here”. It reminds me a lot of a book I would have read to my youngest son. I often referred to him as my baby bear.”

She offered me a contract to publish it.

The original title changed and the manuscript went through many many more revisions and tweakings since that time (I did not keep count but when people say they went through a hundred drafts of edits I can now completely relate).

And that’s how the book came to be. Now it’s out in the world and I’m excited to share it with everyone!

ROSIE’S BIO:

Rosie J. Pova is a children’s author, poet, wife, and a mama bear of three. Ever since childhood, Rosie has been fascinated with the power of words. Her passion for writing took her on a long journey of discoveries, learning, and growth through the ups and downs but she is grateful for all experiences.
With her stories, Rosie dreams of inviting many readers into her make-believe worlds, hoping to touch them with her words. Visit her at http://www.rosiejpova.com

Thank you Rosie for sharing your book and journey with us. We wish you the best!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 14, 2017

Happy Mother’s Day

GABRIELLA GRIMARD: Featured on Illustrator Saturday – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/illustrator-saturday-garielle-grimard/

VESPER STAMPER: Featured on Illustrator Saturday – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2011/08/06/illustrator-saturday-vesper-stamper/

ANGELA PADRON: Featured on Illustrator Saturday – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/07/19/illustrator-saturday-angela-padron/

SAROLTA SZULYOVSZKY: Featured on Illustrator Saturday – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/illustrator-saturday-sarolta-szulyovszky/

COLLEEN KOSINSKI: Featured on Illustrator Saturday – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2014/07/26/illustrator-saturday-colleen-kosinski/

MICHAEL EMBERLEY: Featured on Illustrator Saturday – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2017/01/21/illustrator-saturday-michael-emberley/

KATHLEEN KEMLY: Featured on Illustrator Saturday – https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2012/04/07/illustrator-saturday-kathleen-kemly/

Wishing Everyone a wonderful Mother’s Day with your family.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 13, 2017

Illustrator Saturday – Katy Wu

With a BFA in Illustration and Entertainment Arts from Pasadena Art Center College of Design, Katy Wu’s clients include Google, Laika, Pixar, CinderBiter, and Simon & Schuster. She worked on such incredible projects as the feature film Coraline and various shorts (La Luna, Cars Toons) as well as CG, 2D, stop motion, online games, and content for social media platforms. Grace Hopper is her first picture book. Katy lives and freelance in New York City. Follow her online at katycwwu.tumblr.com

Here is Katy discussing her process for a double page spread for GRACE HOPPER: Queen of Computer Code.

Above is the finished sketch.

I scan it into my computer and then work on laying down the basic colors.

Then I open other layers to work on the details like shadows, textures, and text.

Here is the book cover. You still have a few days to leave a comment, tweet, blog, or Facebook about it for a chance to win a copy of the book. Here’s the link: https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/book-giveaway-grace-hopper-queen-of-computer-code/

How long have you been illustrating?

Ever since I was a child!

Why did you choose to attend the ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, CA

When I was in middle school I became online friends with a student there whose work I admired. He told me more about the school and classes. I eventually talked to a counselor there and started taking evening classes.

What did you study there?

I studied Illustration and minored in Entertainment Arts.

Do you think art school influenced your style?

Not really, most of the students were either doing editorial illustration or illustrations more suited for realistic video games.

What type of job did you do right after you graduated?

My first job was as a junior illustrator at Laika for the stop motion animation movie “Coraline.”

What made you move from California to NYC?

I’ve always really liked visiting NYC so I wanted to try living there. When a work opportunity appeared that would allow me to move to NYC, I took it!

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

In college I found I didn’t have much interest designing video games geared towards young men. Illustrating and designing for children was much more interesting to me, whether that was through film, TV, or books for children.

Is GRACE HOPPER: Queen of Computer Code your first picture book?

It is my first published children’s book. I worked on another one before that and it’s coming out this fall.

How did that contract come your way?

Sterling Publishing contacted my agent, Jennifer Mattson about the project. I think some publishers noticed the work I did for Google Doodles, especially the last one about Nellie Bly, so I’ve been doing a lot of children’s books biographies about women in history.

What type of illustrating did you do before doing the book?

I designed characters and environments for animated films at Laika, Pixar, and Cinderbiter. I also worked at Google making Doodles. When I moved to NYC I art directed a commercial and now freelance.

How did you become an art director?

I received the opportunity from an old co-worker from Pixar who was directing a commercial in NYC. Before that I was an assistant art direct at Cinderbiter, a stop motion animation studio.

Do you work on children’s books in the art director position?

I don’t, I’m the illustrator but there’s still a lot of autonomy when it comes to deciding the look of the book.Publishers have their own internal art directors that oversee the project and decide how to format the text and fonts.

Can you tell us what you do with set design for animation?

Set design is creating an environment for the characters in a story. The environment can be their room, a city, or another world all together. A lot of research can go into it to get the time period and ambiance right. It’s one of my favorite things to do, an environment is like a character – every detail can mean something and have a lot to do with the story and mood you want to communicate.

Did you do any book covers while getting started doing freelance illustrating?

I haven’t done any book covers yet.

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own children’s book?

I’d like to do that someday but the right story hasn’t come to me yet!

Would you be open to illustrating a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

I would probably talk to my agent about this.

Have you ever tried to illustrate a wordless picture book?

I’ve illustrated wordless comics before when I was in college, I imagine a wordless picture book wouldn’t be too much different!

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines? 

I haven’t.

Do you have an artist rep.?

I don’t.

What types of things do you do to find illustration work?

I’ll email people that I know at studios, or ask friends who might know someone who might know someone who is looking for an artist.

What is your favorite medium to use? 

I use Photoshop for all of my commercial work, but I really like using gouache for fun.

Has that changed over time?

It hasn’t, it isn’t practical to do commercial work with real medium.

Do you have a studio set up in your home?

I have a computer desk.

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

I try to spend however much time is needed to get it to look the way I want.

Do you take pictures or do any types of research before you start a project?

Yes, I do a lot of research online and will also ask the author if they have any references or research to share with me.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

It really has, it’s the best way to reach a broader audience.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

I use Adobe Photoshop.

Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?

I started drawing with a Wacom tablet when I was in high school. I eventually got a Cintiq when I graduated.

Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

I would like to art direct an animated film or TV show. I’d also like to write and illustrate a comic or my own picture book.

What are you working on now?

I’m doing some freelance work designing some characters for a cartoon.

Do you have any material type tips you can share with us?

I’ve started playing around with Pentel Japan Aquash water and ink brush pens. I really like the water soluble ink brush pens paired with the water ink brush for quick sketching and painting.

Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator? 

Practice often and work smart!  Also help others when you can, it’s a small industry.

Thank you Kate for sharing your talent, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us. To see more of Katy’s work, you can visit her at her website: http://katycwwu.tumblr.com/

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Katy. I am sure she’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 12, 2017

Free Fall Friday – Jennie Dunham Interview Part One

Jennie Dunham owner of Dunham Literary Agency has agreed to be May’s Featured Agents and will critique four first pages from the submissions sent in this month. She has been a literary agent in New York, New York since May 1992. In August 2000 she founded Dunham Literary, Inc.

She represents authors of quality fiction and nonfiction books for adults and children and some illustrators of children’s books.

She has been a member of AAR (Association of Authors Representatives) since 1993 and is a member of the SCBWI. She served on the Program Committee and was Program Committee Director for several years. She was also a member of the Electronic Committee.

In 1996 she attended the US/China Joint Women in Business conference in Beijing where she gave a presentation about literary agents in the US. She also attended the NGO Forum at the International Women’s Conference.

She attended international meetings as the AAR representative to create the ISTC (International Standard Text Code) which is being created to ISO (International Standardization Organization) specifications. This business and tracking system will be based on titles not book formats (as is the case with ISBN) and will work in tandem with ISBN.

She started her career at John Brockman Associates and then Mildred Marmur Associates. She was employed by Russell & Volkening for 6 years before she left to found Dunham Literary, Inc.

Interview with Agent Jennie Dunham

What inspired you to open your own agency?

It was a natural progression for me after working at 3 different agencies. Once I built up my list enough, I decided to have my own agency. I also enjoy helping new agents blossom.

I’ve loved books all my life. I collect first editions and even registered for rare and collectible children’s books when I got married. (Who wants dishes?)

Are there any genres that are less interesting to you?

First let’s talk about what is interesting.

Right now I’d like to see a lot of humor! There is a wide range of styles with humor, and it’s different for every age. The very young like slapstick, and older readers like dry and dark humor. I like them all. Even the most earnest, difficult subject is easier to read about with humor.

I represent all ages of children’s books. I look for literary manuscripts with a fresh premise, memorable characters, an original voice, and a strong narrative arc.

Since I was an anthropology major years ago in college, I’ve always been on the lookout for underrepresented characters and cultures — even before it became popular.

Oh, I should answer the question. I’m not a big fan of westerns.

Do you have any story or theme that you wished someone would submit?

So many!

In general, I like stories with twists and characters who are quirky but endearing. Turn a story on end to tell it. Occasionally I like zany and oddball. Characters who are memorable for being quirky and flawed.

In chapter books and middle grade, I like funny and sweet stories that may have a subversive element but at heart are wholesome.

In young adult, I like gritty, edgy, tough characters and subjects, but also the wonder and potential of teens who angst their way through life in ways that are embarrassing and endearing.

What do you like to see in a submission?

When I’m reading any book, I want to forget about the rest of the world. (Almost.) If the voice is strong, I find that it stays with me after I’ve finished a manuscript.

How important is the query letter?

The query letter is very important. It’s the gateway to reading the full manuscript. I receive a huge amount of submissions, so I request them all. I look for: Wow!

Any tips on how an author can get you to ask to see more?

If I’m intrigued by the premise and author credentials, there’s a good chance I’ll request the manuscript. I’ll keep reading if I’m engaged by the writing, the voice, the characters, and the obstacles at hand.

How far do you normally read before you reject a submission?

I read until I know the answer. Sometimes that’s a few sentences, and sometimes that’s not until the end. My rule of thumb is that if I’m on the fence, the answer is no. I need to love it to go forward.

Would you lose interest in a submission if the writer missed correcting a few misspelled words?

A few misspelled words would seem like minor typos to me if I’m impressed with the writing style and voice. But, I do mean a few. A professional writer should check the manuscript to make sure it’s polished. Usually, another set of eyes is a tremendous help for this. Spellcheck only goes so far.

Do you let people know if you are not interested in what they sent?

My agency responds to all email query letters and to all regular mail queries that enclose the industry standard self-addressed, stamped envelope for the reply. If I request a manuscript, I respond.

How long does it usually take to respond to requested material?

I try to respond in 6-8 weeks, but sometimes it takes me longer to read a manuscript. I’m a slow and careful reader.

Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?

While it’s important to know comparable titles for your book, it’s a mistake to try to write the same as another writer. The world already has that other writer’s voice, so keep working on your own.

Many writers don’t know the appropriate age for the audience of the book, and it’s important to know that information.

Don’t tell me how many bad books are on the market for kids. Books for kids are better than ever.

PLEASE CHECK BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR PART TWO OF JENNIE’S INTERVIEW.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES For FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “April 2017  Critique” and 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). 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: May 25th.

RESULTS: June 2nd.

Please only submit one first page a month, but do try again if your first page wasn’t one of the pages randomly picked. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 11, 2017

Query Letters: Benefit of Publisher’s Catalogues

Query Letters That Worked

by Liza Dawson

Before you get started on the first of fifty drafts of your cover letter, I urge you to look at publishers’ catalogues (which are issued about four months before a book is published and are used by sales reps to pitch their company’s titles to booksellers). Hachette makes those and all their various imprints available online.

I’ve seen a lot of query letters that worked by adopting this method. Generally, each book gets a page in the publisher’s catalogue, and all houses use the same general formula/template: The first sentence is the hook or the handle or the one-minute elevator pitch. The next paragraph highlights the story itself. The third paragraph describes the book’s competition, its comparable books. The fourth paragraph tells you about the author and her credentials. Off to the sides of the main text, you’ll generally see quotes or reviews.

Draft your query letter as if it’s catalogue copy.  Of course the letter will sound clunky and artificial at first, but you’ll be able to smooth it out.

If you’re not getting agent responses to your current query letter, try this approach. I think it will work.

****

Liza established Liza Dawson Associates following a successful 20-year career in book publishing, including posts as executive editor of Putnam Publishing and executive editor at William Morrow. She received her B.A. in history from Duke University and is a graduate of the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures course.

Below is a sample of from Little, Brown & Co’s Catalogue.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 10, 2017

Book Giveaway – Chicken Story Time

Congratulations to author Sandy Asher. She has a new book CHICKEN STORYTIME and has agreed to participate in our book giveaways. All you have to do to get in the running to win a copy is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back to discover the winner.

BOOK’S DESCRIPTION:

A wonderfully silly take on library story time that’s perfect for children, chickens, and everyone in between.

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to story time at the library, of course!  The children like the chicken, the chicken likes the children, and everyone loves story time. So it’s no surprise that more children (and more chickens!) get in on the fun until there are more kids and critters than the librarian knows what to do with. Luckily, she comes up with a creative solution and manages to find little R & R for herself.

Fans of Bats in the Library and Library Lion will fall in love and story time will never be the same!

BOOK’S JOURNEY: THE BUMPY ROAD TO CHICKEN STORY TIME

I was a teenager, babysitting for my nephew David and reading GOODNIGHT, MOON, when I began dreaming about writing picture books.
I tried . . . for years . . . and gathered rejections.
And then, something the late Sue Alexander said at an SCBWI gathering changed my approach. I included it years later in my anthology, WRITING IT RIGHT: How Successful Children’s Authors Revise and Sell Their Stories:
Picture books, she explained, “must work on three levels.
* The very young child appreciates the events of the story…
* The older child appreciates the meaning behind the events…
* The adult appreciates the universality…”

I returned to an oft-rejected manuscript and asked myself, What does this story mean to the younger child, the older child, the adult? I revised with new understanding. (cont.)


PRINCESS BEE AND THE ROYAL GOOD-NIGHT STORY, my first published picture book, came out in 1990. My little nephew David was 34.
I went on trying. I gathered more rejections. When STELLA’S DANCING DAYS came out, David was 45.

I should mention the obvious: My natural story-telling voice is not that of a picture book writer. During this time, I published poetry, plays, articles, short stories, chapter books, and YA novels. But I wanted to write picture books. And I don’t give up easily.

When my third, TOO MANY FROGS!, came out, nephew David had two little boys of his own. Lo and behold, the Penguin Group sales reps named it their Pick of the Lists, ChildCraft published a Big Book version, Scholastic bought book club and book fair rights, it was nominated for state awards, and it became a stage play. (cont.)


End of bumpy road? Nope. TOO MANY FROGS was followed by WHAT A PARTY! and HERE COMES GOSLING. Sales were slower; they went out of print. No more books about Froggie and Rabbit were requested.

In a snit of grief and frustration, I attended another SCBWI event where an editor announced picture books of 1000 words were no longer wanted. Five hundred words were preferred; 250 would be even better. (I have issues with this. I fear children are being denied language at the very age they most need to absorb it. But that’s another story.)

FINE! I grumped. I’ll write the shortest book possible. No frogs and rabbits? How about chickens? But I’m bringing forward an important part of the Froggie and Rabbit books: READING! I’ll set it in a library, with a librarian as the main character. Froggie and Rabbit will love this book, even if they can’t be in it.

I wrote CHICKEN STORY TIME quickly, still in a snit. It was accepted quickly. But it took four years to produce. Much in publishing is way beyond the writer’s control.
CHICKEN STORY TIME is out there and doing well. (So is my nephew, whose older son is starting college.) At this writing, it’s just been nominated for the Kansas Reading Association’s 2018 Bill Martin Jr. Picture Book Award.

End of bumpy road at last? Nah. I still collect rejections. That means I’m still trying. I often tell students, “It’s not those with the most talent who succeed, it’s those with the guts to keep going.”

I’m Exhibit A.

SANDY’S BIO:

Sandy Asher grew up in Philadelphia, PA, and now lives in Lancaster, PA, with husband Harvey, dog Gracie, and cat Friday. After Philly and before Lancaster, she and her family lived in Springfield, MO, where she wrote many of her award-winning books, ran Good Company Theatre for All Ages, and served as Drury University’s writer-in-residence and Missouri Regional Advisor and national board member for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. In Lancaster, Sandy has kept busy organizing and participating in programs for the Library System of Lancaster County, Lancaster Public Library, the Lancaster Literary Guild, the Lancaster Day Care Center, New Choices in Career Development, and other organizations. She currently serves as the first Lancaster County Children’s Laureate, promoting literacy and creativity. As Children’s Laureate, she organized the April, 2016, “Celebrate Libraries!” event at Millersville University’s Ware Center, involving libraries and children county-wide. Sandy enjoys visiting schools and libraries and has taught writing workshops for all ages — K-12, adult, and multigenerational — from Anchorage, Alaska, to St. Petersburg, Florida. As Sandra Fenichel Asher, Sandy has written more than three dozen plays for audiences of all ages, performed throughout the United States and abroad and published by Dramatic Publishing Company. Little known fact: “Fenichel” is pronounced FENN eh shell. Easy when you know how! Visit Sandy at http://sandyasher.com.

Thank you Sandy for sharing your book and it’s journey with us.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories

%d bloggers like this: