#LA12SCBWI – Day 3

A day that started great, including a killer chocolate mousse for lunch dessert, then got a little weird on the way home (an accident that trapped me and hundreds of other motorists for an hour on Highway 99). The conference part of things was fab, though. I took notes at the agent panel and the social networking workshop. Because of our 7 hour drive home (which turned into 8 due to the accident), my son and I left during the awards lunch. But here’s what I did see:

Alongside moderator Lin Oliver (LO), far left, our agent panel included (l to r), Jill Corcoran (JC) from the Herman Agency, Deborah Warren (DW) from East West Literary Agency, Linda Pratt (LP) from Warnick & Pratt, and Josh Adams (JA) from Adams Literary. They all gave out submission information (which can be found on their website), and an overview of what they represent. The intros were followed by a Q&A period where Lin asked the questions. Refer to the agents’ initials to figure out who’s answering.

  • LO – What path would you recommend for unpublished authors?
  • JA – Be passionate, dedicate yourself to your craft, work on your voice, attend conferences, read a lot, know your audience, tell your story
  • LP – Realize your drive to create, then step into the business of publishing, learn how to query, who might be a good match for you, finish the book! If you get stuck on selling one project, move on to the next project
  • JA – Submit when you’re ready. Don’t be in such a hurry. Really do your homework, wait until you’re really ready. It needs to be highly polished. Do have a literary agent. Find a voice in an agent who will be an advocate for you
  • LP – find your own process, trust your voice
  • JC – Advice from when she did product marketing: to sell-through, you need to have a fabulous idea. Some folks don’t even read books. Come up with five concepts that you love and figure out the best one, look at the comp (comparable) books to make sure yours is different so you can say these are the comp books and this is how mine is different
  • LO – Comment on what you consider to be the strengths of the marketplace and where opportunities are for published & unpublished authors
  • JC – Re: dystopian, editors have so many, those books could compete with one another within the same house. But if yours is different, it could be marketed differently. Take your book with an overdone theme and change the setting/trope. (she jokingly said, Add a cyclops!)
  • LO – you can get rejected just because there’s no place for a book in a publisher’s list
  • JA – no call for cyclops books (in response to Jill). They look for timeless stories, want original voices, not derivative. The question isn’t can we sell it, but do we love it. If we love it, we will find a way. PB (picture books) have been a challenge but still there have been a lot coming out. Need character-driven PB. In MG & YA (middle grade and young adult), you need both literary & high concept, something beyond the stock characters.
  • DW – regarding chasing trends, when you sell your novel, you’ll work on it with an editor 6 mos-year, then the publisher needs 14 mos for marketing. Which means the trend will have passed.
  • JA – write the best book you can
  • DW – Be aware of the digital space, creating content for it, publishers are particularly interested in author/illustrators
  • LO – How is what’s expected of a creative person different now than before
  • JA – so many more demands, authors can’t just sit and write, need to be plugged in on social media, promote, go to school visits, esp. for series fiction, some authors are shy, but they have to find a way to promote their books
  • JC – you have to be marketing and writing. Writing comes first. Some authors are writing 2 books a year.
  • LP – Your sales track, Bookscan has only 70-75% of the total sales (some agents felt it was a much smaller percentage), but everybody looks at it, you have to be more pragmatic about that first book
  • JA – Publishing houses aren’t being as patient with a first book. When they speak to an author they love, they want to know what the author is interested in writing next.
  • LP – She has recently been in the position where a client did okay with first two tween books, went to another house for a third (completely different) book
  • JA – It’s sometimes easier to be a debut, tough for an author who has modest sales. You need to have realistic expectations
  • LO – It goes back to being marketers for our book, some mid-list authors being asked to publish a new book under a pseudonym
  • JC – Jill had a problem with the above (publishing under a pseudonym), but the author didn’t have that issue. She just considered it a professional choice.
  • LO – what are common mistakes that you see people doing, pitfalls to be avoided (e.g., writing a book, then sitting back on their laurels)
  • DW – There’s a strategy, an agent can help, placing your second book is just as important as your first book. Illustrators—there’s been a focus on finding any job rather than the one that’s best for your career
  • JC – Illustrators need to make career decisions, even authors will do write-for-hire and not get their own books done
  • JA – you need to be professional, worst thing a client can do is close possibilities by doing things that impact your career
  • JC –  There have been people she didn’t take on as clients, they were not behaving well online, e.g., they were dissing editors. Untag yourself from incriminating photos. Why do we have to say everything we feel online?
  • LO – Is this the highest and best use of your time — we should be earning money
  • JA – historically the advance was living expenses for the year you work. Yes you can expect $ but don’t do it for the money.

I had to leave the agent panel early, so I’m afraid I might have missed some good stuff on money.

After the agent panel, in my morning workshop, Greg Fishbone (Galaxy Games), Jay Asher (13 Reasons Why), and Greg Neri (Yummy, Ghetto Cowboy) shared secrets of social networking in The Class of 2K7. “The Class of” was a concept developed for debut authors to team up for promotional purposes. In the case of 2K7, these were authors whose first book came out in 2007. Others have carried on the concept, each group branding themselves uniquely.

I didn’t always note who said what, but here are some rough notes:

  • Social networking before the book comes out improves pre-sales (Jay)
  • We can’t all be John Green
  • You can’t do every social networking opportunity
  • Branding is important (various messages for the 2k debut authors)
  • Some of the power is not just social networking with the outside world, but with your group such as SCBWI
  • Do group tours
  • After that year experience (with Class of 2K7), how would they grow as individuals
  • Talking about online presence, how do you use your website
  • Greg N’s is a one-stop shop
  • Jay has a blog on Blogger rather than a website, uses tabs to offer additional info
  • Greg Fishbone has multiple sites
  • You need to control the Google search as much as you can so people can get the information about who you are before someone else pigeonholes you
  • When you craft your answer to interviews, craft them carefully
  • In interviews, Jay gives one answer that isn’t really true (e.g., 13 Reasons Why pop-up book)
  • You may need to change your image (from penguins to SF in Greg Fishbone’s case). His Galaxy Games site is space oriented
  • Watch your image, but really be yourself, the Internet is forever
  • Be aware of your online presence, of how people perceive you
  • How you talk about your books online can sound like you’re bragging, or being pushy
  • Publisher wanted Jay to every day do something to promote, but he wasn’t comfortable with what the publisher wanted him to do. So he tweaked it to be more comfortable with the suggestion.
  • Don’t be afraid to try something new
  • Differences between marketing YA and MG: YA you can go directly to the reader, but MG there are usually gatekeepers like teachers and librarians

About karensandler

Lover of chocolate. A couple felines short of full-fledged Cat Lady. Author of the YA Tankborn Trilogy (TANKBORN, AWAKENING, and REBELLION), from Tu Books. Founding team member of We Need Diverse Books. Opinions expressed here are my own.
This entry was posted in Books, Conference Wisdom, The Writing Life, Travel, Writing Craft and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to #LA12SCBWI – Day 3

  1. alicebeesley says:

    Thanks for sharing your notes.

  2. Elodie says:

    So interesting! Thank you soooooo much for sharing, Karen! 😀

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for posting detailed report! It is much better than my note and it’s nice to refresh my memory!!

I do appreciate your comments on what I've written. However, I will no longer approve anonymous comments. Thank you.

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