Wednesday, July 14, 2010

An Evening with Literary Agents Sally Van Haitsma, Jamie Weiss Chilton and Jill Marr

It may have been a bit steamy in the lobby where we set up the chairs for 80+ mostly writers, but the consensus is that it was an informative night. Our agents in attendance responded off the cuff to first pages and agent queries submitted by attendees, and I think most would agree that even if they weren't talking about your work, there was much to learn by how they did respond to the work in question.

Perhaps some of you who were there who are reading this will talk about what you got out of it?

Photos by Travis Barrett and Barbara

Last four photos by Adele Peters


Aline said...

Thank you for organizing such a magical night. I came away with more than a few choice gems of advice, but what I love most about your events is the camaraderie among writers and book lovers alike. Bravo and keep 'em coming.

Deborah said...

The format of the evening terrific. Even though my work wasn't critiqued, I recognized my strengths and weaknesses by listening to the agents' comments on other submissions. It was obvious that Jamie, Sally and Jill wanted writers to leave with the skills to refine their work and get it read.

Michelle said...

Thanks Barbara for an interesting Agent's Night ... great turn out and event! Wow - it isn't easy capturing an agent's interest. But thanks to you, I have some insight and pages of notes. I really appreciate all of your writer forums and suppor!

Charlie said...

Hi Barbara,

The event was a gem. As you know, I was one of the lucky ones whose query was read – what a great experience to have in-person, live, undiluted, friendly and encouraging advice from three experts.

The Speaker Series and Writers on Writing podcasts compliment and expand on the material in the Inner Game of Writing. A grand combination…

A friend who has just finished a children’s picture book asked for a summary of what was said on that subject. I’m hoping I captured the essence of the suggestions:

Picture books should be about 700 words in length. One writer proposed a 1,000 word book and a second has 1,300 manuscript. The agents felt both were too long.

The initial contact with the agent should be a query letter by email (embedded in the body of the email, not attached).

Illustrations should not accompany the initial submission, unless the writer did the artwork herself, as an author-illustrator.

The book shouldn’t be pitched as the first of a series. “Children’s books have to stand on their own, and your first book has to sell well.”

In general, middle grade books are for the 8-12 year old group, YA is 14 years old and up.

The writer should indicate in the query letter that she has read every published children’s picture book similar to the one being submitted and understands the competitive factors.

Thanks much for a great evening.