SCBWI

Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2018 Fall Conference Faculty Spotlight–Taylor Martindale Kean

Taylor Martindale Kean, agent at Full Circle Literary, is one of our esteemed agent/editor faculty members at our Fall Conference. Taylor represents a wide array of clients and is actively seeking YA and MG manuscripts. Beth Mills, SCBWI-NT Assistant Regional Advisor, interviewed Taylor for our Faculty Spotlight blog series.  Read on to learn more about Taylor, her journey to becoming an agent, what gets her excited about a manuscript, and more.
What brought you to your career path? Did you always want to be an agent?
 
First of all, thank you so much for having me! I’m looking forward to the conference and excited to be connecting with your chapter!
I was very fortunate to come to agenting early in my career. I knew from childhood that I wanted to work in publishing. When I was in college, my university put on a seminar about publishing, bringing alums out to network and give a panel on the industry. I learned there about the different types of jobs in the industry, and which might be a good fit for my personality. I found my first internship with a literary agency that summer, loved it, and have never looked back!
 
What are you looking for in a client?
 
First and foremost, I’m looking for writing that I want to sink into, that I want to read over and over again. But in an agent-author relationship, I’m looking for communication and trust. I want my clients to know that I am their advocate and resource in the industry. I want to know that we’re working equally to communicate about a project and their career, and that we can trust one another in that process.
 
What gets you excited about a manuscript?
 
I am most excited about a manuscript when I feel immediately caught up in the voice. I love being swept up into the story—when, no matter what the opening is, we have a sense of setting and character that makes me care about a story. I am definitely an escapist reader, so feeling like I’ve immediately stepped into an engaging world is what I’m always looking for.
 
When should authors start querying agents? Are there solid signs that someone is ready?
 
It’s hard to know when to stop revising, or to stop researching agents and just send out queries. That will be personal for everyone. But you should feel as though you’ve done as much as you know how to do. You’ve spent meaningful time revising your novel, made it shine as much as you can. (This includes getting beta reads from people who are not family/friends.) You’ve made a list of potential agents, visited their websites, researched each of their lists and interests. You’ve written a query that shows why your book will be engaging and exciting. Then, you’ve stepped back to sleep on it before hitting send!
 
What advice do you have for new children’s book writers?
 
READ. I am always shocked when I’m talking with aspiring children’s writers and I find out that many do not read in their category. You have to be reading as much as you can to understand where your work fits in the market, as well as to find great mentor texts as you develop and expand your own craft.
 
Are you actively seeking submissions, and if so, what’s on your “wish list”?
 
Yes, I am actively signing manuscripts! I’m looking primarily for middle grade and young adult, across all genres. I’d really love to find more contemporary, magical realism, and historical in both MG and YA.
 
Are there any other words of wisdom you have for our members?
 
Instead of words of wisdom, I have a question that we frequently ask at Full Circle is: What is the book that only you can write? I want to see the story and characters that you have a unique and authentic connection to, the story that is fresh and exciting because only you can tell it. Can’t wait to read it!

 

Taylor’s Bio: Taylor Martindale Kean is an agent with Full Circle Literary, actively acquiring young adult and middle grade fiction. She is particularly interested in finding unique and unforgettable voices, stories that stay with you, and diverse characters and authors. More than anything, Taylor is looking for character-driven stories that bring the world vividly to life and voices with impact, regardless of genre or category. Her clients include Emery Lord, Anna-Marie McLemore, Aisha Saeed, and more.