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Who's That Agent?

This week in the Tollbooth we're talking about finding the right agent. Today is all about learning more before you send that query.

Writing a novel can be a lonely experience, but in my opinion every children's writer looking for an agent should enter the community.

Welcome! Come on in- we're waiting for you!

The world of writing for children and young adults is close knit. We look out for each other. Most important, when you're looking for an agent-
We share information.

So where is this community of children's writers?
New York?



Sure you can find loads of children's writers in all these places, but we're spread all over the country. All over the world.

How do you find us?

 SCBWI The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators will give you a road map. There's a treasure chest of members-only information on the SCBWI website. And get involved in your local chapter. You'll meet writers at the same place in their careers. You'll also make friends who've blazed the trail ahead of you. They'll share information with you. I promise.

Practically every serious children's and YA agent looking for new clients speaks at SCBWI conferences from time to time. I've met at least a dozen literary agents at SCBWI conferences. Hearing what my peers had to say and seeing agents face to face helped me learn what I wanted and needed in an agent. I spoke to agents I thought were possible fits for me and my work.  I saw a couple people I knew wouldn't be a match and I crossed them off my list.

Shameless plug- I'll be speaking on May 3 at the next
MidAtlantic SCBWI program, talking about making a writing career work in this economy. Come see me. I'll share some scoop.

After a couple of years of SCBWI conferences and critique groups I needed more so I enrolled in
Vermont College's MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program. We're a powerful community of children's writers who help each other while we're in the program and afterwards, too. Agents flock to the Summer Alumni Mini-Residency.  And make no mistake- it's fun and their talks are packed with information- but they are there looking for clients.

There's a wealth of information about literary agents at your fingertips. If you're reading this blog you already know about it.

The internet.

Published guides to literary agents used to be the only way to know who was looking for what but these days there's no excuse for not knowing an agent's likes, dislikes, and general working style. It's all there for you on your computer screen.

Here are a few internet resources I like-

Verla Kay's Blue Board  A community of writers posting notes about everything including literary agents. Lots of agents lurk or post there too.

Absolute Write Water Cooler  I'm not as familiar with this one but it covers all kinds of writing- not just children's.

Agent Query  Plug in your information. Make your list. But don't end there. Keep gathering information until you have a complete picture.

Some agents report deals in Publisher's Marketplace. It's an interesting place to learn what's on the publishing horizon and to get the sense of what some agents are up to, but it is not comprehensive. In fact, most deals probably aren't reported there.

Writer Blogs  We occasionally post interviews with agents on The Tollbooth. Others specialize in that and the list of good writer blogs is nearly endless. Probably the most complete list of children's writer blogs is on
Kidlitosphere Central.

Agent Blogs and Websites  My agent has an
excellent blog and so do lots of others. I'm not sure who keeps a comprehensive list of agent blogs. If you know about one tell us about it in comments and I'll add it here.
joomla visitor

What resources have you used to learn more about literary agents?



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 14th, 2009 04:05 pm (UTC)
terrific series
Thanks for more great direction from the toll booth! Another resource I like is Writer's Digest Books Guide to Literary Agents http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/. There are interviews, new hire updates, and links to agent blogs.
Apr. 14th, 2009 04:23 pm (UTC)
Re: terrific series
Oh wow yes I meant to include that! Click on Children's for loads of news. I think that's where I first heard Sarah Davies was moving to the US and opening The Greenhouse... and the rest is, as they say, history. The blog roll in the margin of the Editor's Blog there is a great place to find a wide variety of agent blogs.

Also Alice Pope is an EXPERT and her CWIM blog is fantastic. http://www.cwim.blogspot.com/
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )