Childrens Literary AgentsLiterary agents for children
Literary guide for children and YA writers
It is the dreams of many up-and-coming writers to write a children's work. The first warnings that most publishers will give is that the children's books are very, very different from the adults' booksarket. As Vice President of Frahlingur Curtis Brown Ltd., Elizabeth Harding is representing writers and illuminators of books for young adults, young adults and the general public, including New York Times, Newbery, National Books Awards, Printz and Coretta Scott King.
As a Frahlingin with many years of Ph. Harding passes on her best advise to would-be children's authors in this interview: Writing children's literature - reading children's literature! If someone says to you, "I want to make a children's book," what do you say to him or her?
I would ask: "Have you been reading anything lately? "I think everyone feels so attached to children's literature - especially storyboards - because when you were young and you were reading Goodnight, Moon or Madeleine or one of many other storybooks, you have the feeling that you only saw them then.
There' s a whole connection to the textbooks you were reading as a kid. However, I think it is very important for future writers to become familiar with what is being released today. EH: I'm in editing, so I take home the whole day, and since I'm in New York City, my children are more into the bookshop than the arsenal.
More and more people are using Facebook, Tweeters and Facebook. So many supporters of children's literature in the publisher world and they are really involved in the medium. However, for someone new to the subject and beginning to write a children's textbook, it is a good idea to make friends with the library owner, as she or he is probably the most informed student of children's work.
This is especially true for storybooks and mid-range textbooks. Lecturers and library staff are a heavy group of child caretakers. VP: Are educators and bookkeepers also porters for young adults? EH: Yes, but in YA and youth literature the students find and/or buy the literature themselves, while a textbook and a medium sized volume are often suggested by a tutor or library owner.
VP: You've been teaching children's literature for almost 20% of Curtis Brown's 100 years. Are you able to give a short description of the state of the children's literature fair today? EH: The children's literature has always been completely different from the adults' one. What makes it different from my beginnings is that children's literature was a little under the safety camera they are today - now it's a big game.
Publishers of children's literature are valued at $3 billion. EH: After winning titles and serials like Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket, Twilight and The Hunger Games, the sector now realizes that children's and young adults' literature is making a living. From this point of view, the publisher is now looking at them in a similar way to the grown-up world - the realisation that there is cash to draw the industry's interest to the future and to its potentials.
VP: So, apart from the reader ages, what are the differences between the children's and adults' marke? EH: Where the book trade was the main store for adults' literature and children's literature, the schools and libraries have always been very important for selling - and there has been an upswing there lately.
In order to give a historic prospect - 20 years ago the education and libraries markets were very strong and at the moment it was great when your children's literature was on sale in bookshops, of course, but it was not the main spot. And then Barnes and Noble and other supermarkets and Amazon came into play, and it became really important that you could get your copies through those outlets; a great deal of emphasis was placed on those outfits.
There was a shift of emphasis[from colleges and libraries] to the B&N storyboard. There was a strong reliance on retailing turnover in the children's markets - which was not the case in the traditional sense and was more in line with the sale of adults' literature. Much emphasis is still being placed on these purchases, but we are back to the fact that the classroom is really sceptical.
VP: That would help your proposal to up-and-coming writers that they ask their respective libraries for help and guidance. There is a new ticking of the textbook industry, and it is coincident with all the hustle and bustle surrounding standard and common core, so once again it is the teacher, the librarian and the education markets that are really important for the future of books.
VP: How have changes in the bookshop segment affected the children's literature store? EH: One interesting thing is that independents have been forced to be so much quicker and more imaginative to remain competitively, and so many of them have become really good at sales of medium quality libretti.
Sometimes there was a time when I heard that Barnes and Noble "passed on" an author's work and it was disastrous - terrible. It' of course great when the work is at Barnes & Noble, but it doesn't have to be there. When they go through - although it is not perfect - between schools, libraries and the indie people, we can now say: "That's okay.
There' other ways to get the books for sale. "VP: Young Adult has become so much loved in recent years. That' s why I find it important to study - because it is important to realize that your reader is intricate, emotive, intelligent and interesting and that your character is better the same.
Are you able to talk to Young Adult trends? EH: Like many others, the YA is cyclic. VP: The traditional wise thing was that children's writers don't need an assistant, but that seems to have drastically altered. Are you able to talk to today's need to have an operative? EH: It's interesting, but when I began almost 20 years ago, there weren't that many agents who handled children's literature, and the YA/teen store was much smaller than now, so there were fewer children's literature agents and the author-editor relation was directly wrought, and there was a great deal of privacy in it.
While I think the privacy between writer and journalist is still there, this first relationship is more difficult than at the beginning because the store is so much larger now - there are so many more of them. That'?s where an operative comes in. Being an illustrator-agents it is very important that they keep an eye on their portfolio.
VP: What would you have to say to someone looking for a wife? It is important - back to the fact that children's books publishers are a shop, it is important. VP: How do you find the writers you want to be? I' m getting a great deal of recommendations from other writers I write for, which is always very complimentary.
I' ve got four children, so I don't do a whole bunch of meetings right now - but I've made a barrel, and I find them very stimulating. It is important for emerging writers to participate in the conference - I think they are really important. VP: Let's say you have an offering from an operative.
EH: Having an asset is a one-on-one choice - and there are so many out there that I think it's important to find someone similar to you in philospha. If you and your agents have similar people, I think it's important that you are in agreement on how things should be done.
It' thrills an operative to be interested in your work, but if it's not the right operative for you, it won't be a great one. For more information on navigation in the contemporary publishers environment - which includes the digitization of innovations and the sale of movie and television rights - read these in-depth discussions with other Curtis Brown Ltd.