CYA Notes – Agents and Editors

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I attended rich and varied sessions at the 2014 CYA. And I’ve got notes on all of them. But I thought I’d share these little gems, since everyone always wants to know what publishers are looking for!

Katrina Lehman – Penguin

  • Not just theme. It’s the magic also.
  • Multiple submissions are fine nowadays. Submit to multiple publishers because the lead time is so long. Send to all the publishers you can!
  • 5 editors at Penguin. They do try to mentor an author each, each year.
  • Personally, Katrina Loves Fantasy. Dystopian, supernatural, dark fairies.
  • Junior Fiction Series.
  • Trilogy is hard because publishers need to commit a lot of money to a trilogy. Try to complete it in one book!
  • Don’t send presents. (Everyone affirmed this, and some shared horror stories of messy (and expensive) gifts they’d received.)

 

Karen Tayleur – Five Mile Press

  • Very early 0 – 6 & Adults
  • Early learning, picture books & novelty books.
  • ‘If anyone has a great idea for novelty, we’re the one you come to.’
  • ‘What I’m looking for is picture books, really. I’m just looking for picture books.’
  • ‘Picture books are the hardest thing to do, so if you don’t have a strong will, leave now.’
  • Collaboration of ideas.
  • Takes email submissions.
  • Six month waiting list.
  • MENTION if you attended CYA – to jump up the pile.
  • ‘Never say never. We (FMP) are doing naught to six. But if it’s so amazing, we might look at it, anyway. (But at least acknowledge you know what our style is.)’
  • Happy for you to check in via email after a couple of months to see how things are going.
  • Reading submissions is outside of 9 – 5. We get to read your work in our time. But it’s worth it, because we get to read some beautiful stuff.

 

Leonie Tyle – Tyle & Bateson Publishing

  • Publishing Poetry and YA (In partnership with Catherine Bateson)
  • Write from the heart. It’s the indefinable that highlights your writing. It has to sparkle/shine of the page. The language has to be lyrical.
  • Offering agency representation for picture books and YA.
  • The world’s your oyster.

 

Suzanne O’Sullivan – Lothian Hachette

  • Lothian is the Australian imprint for Hachette childrens.
  • Hooks;

1)  humour
2) sense of character. As author and illustrator you need to show a sense of character.
3) Stories where stuff happens. A lot of action. Not description. I want action.

  • The number 1, 2, 3, 4 … thing I look for is ‘damn good writing.’
  • Kids are the only readers who are more important than editors.
  • Keen to develop ongoing relationships with authors.
  • Work out what your strongest area is and then deal with that. Find your niche and stick to it to build a name and profile. 

 

Rochelle Manners – Wombat Books / Rhiza Press 

  • Produce stories you’ll want to share – to pick up and read over and over again.
  • Family oriented – not too edgy.
  • If the message is the main thing, it won’t work.
  • Wombat Books – picture books
  • Rhiza Press – Readers 14 +

 

Sue Whiting – Walker Books

  • Produce quality books.
  • Stories with heart. Quirky characters. Unique voice.
  • Do everything you can to work on your craft. Make your story sing!
  • The kind of author/illustrator I’d like to work with. Without YOU we don’t exist. WE NEED YOU! We need authors/illustrators to exist as editors.
  • ‘The Real Deal’ – You don’t always have to agree with what they suggest. Know your stuff.

 

Alex Adsettt – Agent

  • Now also looking at middle grade fiction/chapter books. Has one PB author. Blew me away and knocked me off my feet.
  • Wants everything that’s all been said, because they’re the people she’s submitting your work to.
  • Don’t write to a trend. The minute you do, you aren’t writing from your heart. AND you will miss the trend! Making it the hardest thing to publish.
  • DIgital submissions. Don’t use comic sans/coloured fonts. DON’T write the cover letter from the POV of your character.

 

Sue Whiting later took a workshop talking specifically about endings – and I’m so glad she did, because I know from my own writing, and critiquing/judging others, it’s the ending that’s the hardest to nail!

 

Endings Matter (Sue Whiting)

  • Your opening will sell this book, but it’s your climax & ending that will sell your next.
  • Endings are your gift as an author to your readers.
  • Readers may not remember what the ending was, but they will remember how they felt.

Common faults;

  1. Rushed ending – runs out of steam
  2. Flat ending – So what?
  3. Never-ending ending – Cut the last three chapters.
  4. Random ending – Off on a tangent
  5. Several-endings ending (Closely related to Never-ending. Cut. Cut. Cut.)
  6. Dangling ending – Doesn’t answer all the Qs
  7. Lame or disappointing ending – A letdown.

How to Nail Your Ending;

  • Lay sound foundations in the beginning to create a satisfying resolution.
  • Know the problem.
  • What drives your story?
  • Know in a nutshell what your story is about.
  • Threads/themes/plot lines should be linked to protagonist achieving (or not) their goal.
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