Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monster List of Picture Book Agents--Sean McCarthy, Sean McCarthy Literary Agency

11/10/2013 - Sean McCarthy has opened his own agency, Sean McCarthy Literary. Please see his agency website mccarthylit.com for his current info and submission guidelines.

1/10/2014 - I am represented by Sean McCarthy! You can read my announcement, Once Upon a Time a Writer Found the Perfect Agent You can also read a bit about my agent journey in my post, How I Found the Right Agent for Me on the Sub It Club blog.

Sean McCarthy is an agent at the Sheldon Fogelman Agency. His bio states that he is "actively looking to build his client list" along with a little bit of what he is looking for in picture books. Here are some more links to help you decide if Sean might be a good match for you and your work:

Best to read this  interview at Mother. Write. Repeat. first off. Sean says, “In order to consider a picture-book writer, I'd like to see at least three manuscripts, or work in different genres (e.g. middle grade).” He also talks about word count and what types of stories he’d like to see.

JM Tohline has a great blogpost titled The Biggest Mistakes Writers Make When Querying Literary Agents. He asked around 100 agents this question. Sean McCarthy was one of the agents that responded. If you scroll down a bit there is a paragraph from Sean but the entire piece is definitely worth reading.

It looks like response may vary depending on if you e-sub or snail sub. It also looks like Sean may not respond unless interested from these few comments on Querytracker. Good to be aware of. But I did find a response time at the Absolute Write Water Cooler which I will paste here since you have to scroll down to find it, "queried Sean on 1/31, and got a snail rejection dated 4/7." See the Sheldon Fogelman Agency submission guidelines for the best info.

You can find Sean McCarthy on Twitter @sean_j_m

Sean represents author Jamie Swenson who has sold three picture books since signing on with Sean.

BIG RIG - Disney-Hyperion fall 2013, illustrated by Ned Young

BOOM BOOM BOOM - FS&G - spring 2013 illustrated by David Walker

IF YOU WERE A DOG - FS&G – pub date TBA, illustrated by Chris Raschka

Wow! Way to go Jamie & Sean!

This post is part of the Monster List of Picture Book Agents. If you have any changes that you think should be made to this listing, please contact me or leave them in the comments. Thanks!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Change Up

My life has changed up so it's time for the blog to change up too. Since I'm doing this breakfast cafe thing on Saturdays and Sundays it doesn't always work out for me to get the Monster List of Picture Book Agents lising up. No, I don't usually get them done ahead of time! I'm a deadliner for sure. But when the 25th falls on the weekend, that is a problem. So I'm thinking I'll change it up to the third Tuesday of the month. Hopefully I can actually keep track of when the third Tuesday of the month is! I will do my best, but I am not good with time zones and I'm afraid that may translate over to other things--like days. But this is the only scheduled post on my blog. I can do this!

Here's another change up; I think I'm ready to send my critique partner my first graphic novel style picture book! My boys really love the Traction Man books by Mini Grey (and I just learned that a new Traction Man story is coming out from this great review at Oops...Wrong Cookie. Yay!) Formatting a graphic novel is different than writing a regular manuscript for sure, but it's really fun once you get the hang of it. I learned about graphic novel formatting from a great post by Aaron Reynolds and Neil Numberman, creators of Joey Fly Private Eye on Tara Lazar's blog.

With writing, trying something new is never a bad thing!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Agent Susan Hawk Talks Picture Books

When I did the Monster List of Picture Book Agents post featuring Susan Hawk of The Bent Agency, I had a hard time finding what she was looking for when it came to picture books. I was so curious, I decided to ask Susan if she'd answer some questions. She graciously agreed and today she's sharing some really great information about why she represents picture books, what she looks for in a manuscript, common submission mistakes, and even the current preferred word count.

Thank you so much, Susan, for coming to do a picture book centric interview with me! It's a tough, highly competitive market, especially when it comes to picture books. Why do you choose to represent picture book authors?

First, thank you Heather for inviting me to do this interview!  I’m so happy to be here on your great blog.

Now, on to picture books: There are a couple reasons I represent them, but the most significant is that I love them.  I’ve always been a passionate reader and have so many distinct memories of the picture books I read as a child – this is when I began to understand the pleasure of a good book.  As an adult I’ve grown to admire the way the limitations of the form inspire the most careful selection of words; and the way a successful picture book marries story and art to create a whole greater than its parts.

It’s an interesting time for picture books right now, and though it is indeed very tough, I’m happy to be a part of their future!

What elements do you think a picture book needs to be successful?

There are a number that have to be just right; it’s a complex dance between art and text – and a text that appreciates the art, by giving it room to tell the story too, is key.  As a parent, I come to appreciate more and more a text that will stand up to many, many, many…many re-readings.  I love a picture book that has a sweet, smart twist at the end.  The books that have true lasting power feature an identifiable, lovable, and real main character.

What types of stories strike your fancy?

I’m interested in funny stories, family stories, strong girl characters, stories with heart.  Really, I’m open to anything, as long as it grabs my attention and won’t let go.

What mistakes do you see in submissions in general, picture book submissions in particular?

Length – very often I receive submissions that are too long.  Right now, the sweet spot is 300-550 words long.
Message-driven – writers often want to convey a value with picture books, and unfortunately, I often see texts that live to serve the message, at the cost of a good story.
Rhyme – Rhyming picture book are very, very hard to pull off.  And they are limiting, because the writer is constrained to tell their story within a certain framework.  I frequently ask writers if their story truly needs to be told in rhyme.  If not, then don’t.
Originality – I’d love to see more truly original picture book concepts!  There are lots of well-worn story ideas out there, and I’d encourage writers to read, read, read to learn what has, and hasn’t been done before.

There is such a variety picture books, are there certain types you prefer to (or not to) represent?

I am especially looking for a wonderful character, someone who is going to jump off the pages and into kids’ hearts.

I’d love to do some non-fiction picture books – biography, history, science – particularly when the story revolves around a particular person; in essence, is still a character-driven story.

I am not especially drawn to board books, rhyming texts, message driven or purely educational texts.

Who do you represent?

You can learn more about who I represent on my blog, Susan Says, but here’s an overview: I represent books for children exclusively, and that runs the gamut: picture book, chapter book, middle grade and young adult.  My clients run that gamut too – writing very early concept picture books; writing and illustrating a picture book about a sweet dog whose smart nose leads her places she never thought she’d go; to a chapter book series about a lovable oddball named Fishstick; to a middle grade fantasy that’s completely unlike anything I’ve read before; to a contemporary Southern middle grade mystery.  All these projects are in the works or on submission now – so stay posted!

You've started a great blog, Susan Says, and are on Twitter. Who do you hope to reach?

Thanks for mentioning that Heather!  It’s relatively new, so I appreciate the shout-out.  I’ve got a couple goals – the first is to give writers searching for an agent a clear sense of the kinds of projects I’m looking for and my approach to this business.  Writers are told again and again: do your research, make sure you’re querying agents that represent work like yours, and that seem as if they’d be a good fit for you.  So, I hope I’m giving people the information they need to make that determination.

As the blog goes forward, I hope that it will also be a place where my clients and other friends in the business will join me in a larger conversation about the amazing children’s book world we’re part of!

If after reading this you think Susan might be a good fit for you and your work, check out her Monster List of Picture Book Agents listing, go to her blog, and check out her twitter feed too!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Oh my!

I have recently been given not one, not two, but six blog awards! How crazy is that?

Thank you Marcie Colleen, Debbie LaCroixJennifer Lee Young, and Lori Degman! Yes, I know that doesn't add up to five, but Jennifer and Ruth Schiffman aka inluvwithwords also awarded me the Kreativ Blogger award! I truly feel so special that these ladies thought of me!

The Liebster Award is given to blogs less with less than 200 followers. When you receive this award you are to link to the person who gave you the award and also list 5 things about yourself, then pass it on to five other great blogs that have less than 200 followers. Hmmm. What to tell you all?

  1. I would eat cheese and/or gravy for every meal if I didn't know it was so bad for me.
  2. I have music jam parties at my house on a regular basis. I don't sing unless they force me.
  3. I like to quote picture books all the time. "If you love chocolate cake so much why don't you marry it." (That's Betty Bunny, incase you didn't know already.)
  4. I absolutely hate it when my socks get wet. It seems like such a harmless thing, but I can't stand it!
  5. I think that having a breakfast cafe in my house is working against my internal clock. I can only pretend I'm not a night owl for so long.

Now, for the Kreativ Blogger award I have to answer the following questions so you will know even more crazy random things about me! Here are my answers that go with the Kreativ award:

1. Name your favorite song:

Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix

2. Name your favourite dessert:

Wild raspberry pie with french vanilla ice cream

3. What ticks me off:

When people are mean.

4. When I’m upset I:

Tend to not feel very well.

5. What’s your favourite pet:

My three not so little lambies who run up to see me whenever I come around.

6. Black or white:

Depends on what it is. Black sheep? Yes. White pants? No. I can never keep those clean. Black mashed potatoes? Eww.

7. Biggest Fear:

Dying before my children are old enough to take care of themselves.

8. Everyday attitude:

How much can I get done today?

9. What is perfection:

I don't know, I've never experienced it.

10. Guilty Pleasure:

Watching late night tv and not working... on anything!

My nominees for the Liebster are:

Sergio Ruzzier: He has a great blog focused on picture books and he has created tons of great books. Come on, he should have way more than 200 followers!

Nina Laden: Nina is a picture book author and illustrator and she has created some of my favorite books! Plus she taught my kids how to draw some really cool dogs when she visited our library during the Summer Rading Program. My kids still talk about it! She explores all sorts of interesting topics on her blog titled The Night I Followed the Blog.

Natalia Ortega-Brown's A Picture Book A Day: Natalia is a 5th grade ESL teacher and she still takes the time to post wonderful, in-depth picture book reviews every day!

Bridget Heos' Save Everything! (and the Picture Book): Bridget's Blog title says it all!

Lisha Cauthen: Enter The Imaginal Realm and she'll blow your mind with her thoughts on all things writing related And she's always putting up crazy pictures to go with her posts. SHE IS DA BOMB.

And the Kreativ Blogger award goes to the fabulous...Susanna Leonard Hill! She does all sorts of great stuff on her blog, she even has a schedule:

Monday: random topics

Wednesday: Would You Read It

Friday: Perfect Picture Books


Pitch Pick

Straight From The Editor


I was also included in Shore Lines Friday Five! How about that? Thanks Stella!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sharing the Love

Wow. This was our second weekend having the cafe & gallery open and it was hoppin'! I was so tired on Saturday that I fell asleep around 7pm! I have to say, this new venture makes me even happier that I have the fabulous Karen Grencik working to sell my books. I have to use my spare minutes to write! I did find the time to share some love over at Kai Strand's blog for Share the Love month. I talk about my friend/librarian and how she has gently pushed me into being a more outgoing author. I mean, it's not everyone that will get you up infront of a group of librarians while a well known book reviewer flips through the pages of your book for you! Anyhow, if you want to read about my library adventures, or even learn how you can help push an introverted author in the outgoing direction, head on over and check out my post at Strands of Thought.