BULLETIN: In case you missed Laura Salas’s question to agent Wendy Schmalz, here it is:
Thanks, Wendy, for your guest post. I wondered if you could share a few titles in both picture books and novels that you consider high quality and high concept. These could be either all by your clients if you want or none by your clients (so you don’t feel you have to choose favorites!). I have in mind what I think is high concept, but I might have it all wrong!
In picture books and especially in poetry, which I love, concept definitely seems to be the name of the game. Out of 50 mss, I’d guess that usually only 1 (or none) feels fresh to an agent/editor. So intimidating!
I sent Laura’s note to Wendy and here’s her response:
I just learned a few hours ago that one of my picture books is among Kirkus’s best books of 2009, so that would be a good place for me to start.
It’s called BILLY AND MILLY SHORT AND SILLY by Eve Feldman, illustrated by Tuesday Mourning. It’s a word play book and loads of fun.
I think Sandy Asher is a master at creating picture books. Her book TOO MANY FROGS illustrated by Keith Graves is on its way to becoming a classic. Their latest collaboration HERE COMES GOSLING is delightful.
As for novels, I think if you read some of the ones on the NY Times best seller list you’ll get a good idea of what publishers are looking for.
Everyone should read TWILIGHT so they can find out what all the hoopla is about. I don’t read much middle grade or YA fiction other than works by my authors, so the following suggestions are all by people I represent.
Amanda Marrone is a great example of a writer of popular paranormal teen novels. Her new book DEVOURED (Simon Pulse) is a present day Snow White story. Julie Anne Peters writes beautiful cutting edge novels dealing with gay and transgender issues. Her most recent book is RAGE: A LOVE STORY (Knopf). April Henry writes fast-paced thrillers. You might look at TORCHED (Putnam), as does Edgar-winner Robin MacCready (BURIED, Dutton).
For middle grade, Marlane Kennedy’s ME AND THE PUMPKIN QUEEN (Greenwillow), Sue Stauffacher’s DONUTHEAD (Knopf), and Dean Pitchford’s CAPTAIN NOBODY
(Dutton) are all popular.
In general, publishers are looking for high concept, fast paced and original works. As I said above, reading what’s on the best seller list for YAs will give you a good overview. For middle grade novels, I suggest reading the most recent books cited by the ALA.
I hope this helps.
INCIDENTALLY, SANDY ASHER IS PREPARING FOR HER GUEST SPOT ON THIS BLOG AS WE SPEAK. BE WATCHING FOR SANDY ANY DAY NOW. DH
Many of you are probably familiar with Alexandria LaFaye’s work. Her ten novels include the acclaimed The Year of the Sawdust Man; Scott O’Dell Award winning Worth; and Dad, In Spirit.
An entertaining speaker and creative writing teacher, Alexandria is tackling the slowdown in the publishing industry head on. In her own words, “This has caught me in a bind with my book The Primed Mind. I’m going back to the subscription days and asking folks who are interested in purchasing the book to help me raise the funds to subsidize it’s publication. Once the goal is met, the book would come out in about a year.”