- What brought you to this career path?
I was never one of those kids who said they were going to be an author when they grew up. I never started writing stories as soon as I could hold a pen, and I was never really that great in my English classes. However, I’ve always told myself stories in my head for as long as I could remember. I always thought everyone did this, and I’m sure plenty do, but it wasn’t until my teenage niece asked me to start reading YA books with her that I really thought about those lingering stories inside my brain.
One day she calls me in full on tears because a book series we had been reading together ended so… let’s just say not nice. In that moment I promised her I’d write her a book. And I did. But while doing so I found this amazing world of publishing and fell in love with it. So in a long story round about way, I finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I’m getting to do it.
- Can you please tell us a little about your background and experience in the literary world?
It all started when I began writing a book for my niece like I mentioned above. During that process, I made it my mission to figure out everything there was to know about publishing, and I did the best I could with talking to people, and attending conferences, and general research online, but there still were so many unanswered questions. There is still almost this hidden part of the literary world that I just needed to know more about. So, I got myself an internship with a literary agency and continued to work and learn and grow. After a few years of doing that, I was lucky enough to be introduced to Rachel Orr who introduced me to Emily Sylvan Kim and the rest is kind of history. Prospect Agency is the perfect fit for me to start out building my own list. I get to work with amazing, supportive agents in an agency with a great reputation. I call it serendipitous because I really feel this is where I was meant to be.
- What are you looking for in a manuscript? A client?
In a manuscript I’m really looking for a story and characters that suck me into their world where I need to find out more. Voice is a really important aspect of this. Can I hear the person like they are a real live person standing next to me? A dynamic setting is also critical. And that doesn’t mean it needs to be some new world full of magical creatures. It’s more about if I can visualize it. Can I see, hear, taste, smell everything the writer can in their head or more importantly the MC does in their story?
As for a client, I’m looking for strong writers who are interested in building a career, not just trying to strike it rich on one book and be done. (I mean if the first book is a hit, amazing. But I’m really in it for the long haul if that doesn’t work out.) I want to build a long-lasting relationship, too.
While there are highs in publishing there are lots of lows, and it’s my goal to be there for my clients during both. So, if a person can’t handle the low moments and only expects all highs, maybe we aren’t the best match. I’m a fiercely loyal person and that overlaps to my clients as well. We aren’t just agent and author, we are family. And family sticks together through good and bad times.
- What advice do you have for new children’s book writers?
Read, read, read. I’m sure they hear this a lot, but it’s really important to know what is on the shelf now. I see lots of writers comparing their work to books published 30+ years ago, and like in any industry things are constantly changing in publishing. It’s really important to know what publishers are looking for, and the best way to do that is to see what they are putting on the shelf.
Another really important thing is to find yourself a critique partner or group. And if publication in your goal make sure it is also the goal of whoever you are working with. That way you will constantly challenge each other to be better and better. If you can find people who write in your same age group that is also helpful. There are vast differences in what makes a good picture book vs what makes a good YA novel. It’s like comparing apples to grapefruit. Sure they are both fruit but they are also very different.
- What are your favorite books—the ones you want to read over and over again?
Yikes. This is like asking a mother who her favorite child is. There are so many books I love:
500 Words or Less
Harry Potter (especially book 3)
The Wishing Heart
Anything by E. Lockhart, Courtney Summers, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jason Reynolds or Elizabeth Briggs
All my client’s books (and luckily, I do get to read these over and over and over)
The Mortal Instrument Series
Anne of Green Gables
I could just go on and on and on
- Are you actively seeking submissions?
Yes. I’m especially interested in fresh voices, unique stories, diverse perspectives, and twists on the predictable. I enjoy a well-crafted unlikable character and stories that represent the real lives kids/teens are dealing with today.
Sometimes I don’t know what I want until I see it, but it might be worth mentioning things I’m NOT looking to see in my inbox:
Books that start with a dream or a character waking up (I promise you can do better than this)
Books that depict animal cruelty
Graphic horror or rape scenes
Picture Books (sorry, I’m not taking these right now)