[Full Post] We are delighted to feature Kathleen Ortiz, literary agent at New Leaf Literary, on our blog today. Kathleen will be sharing her expertise at our Fall Conference in September. She recently shared a little bit about herself with me for our faculty spotlight series.
What brought you to this career path?
Books! Haha. I was a high school English teacher and read some non-curriculum books for fun with the students. One day, I just read the acknowledgments and saw “to my agent X. You made this book possible.” I thought to myself “wait….who makes books possible??? THAT WOULD BE AN AMAZING CAREER!” Fast forward to today, and I clearly know now that it takes a village to make a book possible. Starting with a talented author and/or illustrator. Being on their team to help make the book the best book possible is a dream job.
Can you share with us your background and experience in the literary world? What brought you to children’s literature?
I’ve loved books as long as I can remember. My dad read to me every night, no matter how long the book was that I pulled from the shelf. I did my 6th-grade book report on JURASSIC PARK (my teacher drilled me because he was convinced I didn’t read it. I proved him wrong.). My love for kids’ books never faded. Now, with two toddlers at home, that love for reading is stronger than ever.
Are you actively seeking new clients?
What are you looking for in a manuscript?
I focus on a diverse list of picture books, young adult books, and heavily-illustrated non-fiction titles, especially titles that can make her laugh out loud (bonus points if to the point of tears or snorting!). My passion for travel (visited 17 countries and counting) strongly connects me with a book that exposes the reader to a lifestyle or world outside of their own everyday life.
What are you looking for in a client?
Passion, patience, and perseverance. You need all 3 in this industry 🙂
What advice do you have for new children’s writers and illustrators?
Read read read! It’s really obvious when someone doesn’t read the genre they write, and often times in pitch sessions, I ask for comp titles and it’s obvious they haven’t read recent books. You have to read and stay on top of the industry to write for the audience.
We all have our favorite children’s books, ones that we can read over and over again. What books are your favorites and why?
I could read RAMONA a million times and never tire of it. PERFECT CHEMISTRY remains one of my favorite YA contemporary romances to this day. LJ Smith’s THE FORBIDDEN GAME (I really wish Netflix would pick it up…..). Nancy Werlin’s IMPOSSIBLE.
When you aren’t reading or editing, how do you like to spend your time?
Being a mom 🙂 I have a 3 yr old boy and 2 yr old girl, and they make life so amazing! 🙂
Thank you for spending some time with us, Kathleen. Your passion for children’s literature is inspiring. We can’t wait to meet you in September!
Kathleen’s Bio: Kathleen Ortiz is a Literary Agent who has nearly a decade of experience in the industry, both as an agent and licensing expert. She focuses on a diverse list of picture books, young adult books, and heavily illustrated non-fiction titles, especially titles that can make her laugh out loud (bonus points if to the point of tears or snorting!). Her passion for travel (visited 17 countries and counting) strongly connects her with a book that exposes the reader to a lifestyle or world outside of their own everyday life.
On the non-fiction side, she’s specifically looking for prescriptive (especially geared toward parents, millennials and Generation Z), memoir, pop culture, and illustrated.
For both fiction and non-fiction, Kathleen loves looking beyond the book – while the story is most important, she likes to find other opportunities for her clients to help expand their platform and compliment their books. She’s worked in licensing everything from stationery to calendars to greeting cards and more.
Before New Leaf, Kathleen worked in newspaper journalism, earned her Masters of Publishing, and was a veterinary nurse for almost a decade. While she’s based in the West Coast, her SkyMiles argue that she lives in NYC half the year.