Friday, March 31, 2017

Illustration Notes: To Include or Not to Include...

Illustration_at_p._207_in_Just_So_Stories_(c1912)
Illustration notes—the bane of a writer’s existence. There are so many conflicting opinions about illustration notes, it’s hard to know where to begin. First off, an illustration note is a quick description of what the author envisions at a certain point in the story. The notes are intended to stand in place of an illustration that might be needed in order for the reader to understand what the author intended.
An illustration note is not a play-by-play of how the author sees the characters, settings, and scenery of the story.
Here’s an example using Where the Wild Things Are:
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“The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind …” [Art: Max is wearing a white wolf suit with buttons down the front and is nailing a line of tied-up clothes to his bedroom wall.]
That is a bad—scold it and send it to time out—illustration note. In fact, you DO NOT need an illustration note for that line at all. It’s perfectly fine just the way it is.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Interview with Agent Natascha Morris

Natascha is a new agent at Bookends Literary and a former editorial assistant for Simon & Schuster. She is open to submissions for picture books, middle grade, and young adult across multiple genres: contemporary, mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, historical fiction, and narrative non-fiction. She is looking for authors, illustrators, and author-illustrators. 
Thank you, Natascha, for your insightful answers.
What was your favorite role during your days as an editorial assistant at Simon & Schuster? 
There were two things I loved about working at Simon & Schuster: reading the submissions to find that standout project, and working with the design team to come up with great covers. As an agent, I can still find that diamond in the rough, but I will miss coming up with cover concepts. 
Were there any manuscripts you helped acquire that you’re particularly proud of? 
Kit Frick’s See All the Stars (Summer 2018) is one I’m particularly proud of. Read it on submission and fell in love with it. I also had the opportunity to offer editorial notes. Kit is an amazingly talented writer who changed the whole manuscript with a few smart line changes. I’d love to find an author like her.
Could you walk us through the acquisitions process—what stars had to align in order for S&S to select a manuscript for publication?
Every book is different and sometimes, editors don’t follow the process. But in general, once an editor has a project they want to pursue, they take it to the editorial meeting. If the other editors agree (and sometimes they don’t), the editor takes it to acquisitions. I worked at two literary imprints, so quality of writing was a big factor. After that it came down to a host of factors: editorial taste, vision for the project, and market saturation. Publishing is subjective, and sometimes timing plays a part of that. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Interview with Agent Wendi Gu


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It’s a new year so let’s start it off with an interview from new-ish agent Wendi Gu of Greenburger Associates. She represents one of my critique partners, so I already know she has great taste (if I could insert the grinning emoticon here, I would). Wendi is looking for authors, author-illustrators and illustrators only. And, as you’ll see by her answers, she will be a champ of an advocate for any client she takes on. Wendi reps kidlit and some adult lit–read on for details. Thank you, Wendi, for your time!
You’re a new agent at Greenburger Associates and have been working with Brenda Bowen—wow. What led you to agenting and to Greenburger? 
Brenda Bowen indeed! She’s been a fabulous, encouraging mentor, and I’m very lucky to work with her. I came into agenting by accident–I knew I wanted to be in New York, and that I wanted to work in books. When I was still studying creative writing at Northwestern, I sent an internship application to every single publishing house and agency I could find. I wasn’t very picky then. At that point, I didn’t even know that there was a difference between agenting and editing! Or what an imprint was. Or what “delivery advance” meant. I never heard back from most places. But lo and behold, I received an internship offer from Greenburger, and worked there the summer before my final year of college. A few months before I was slated to graduate, I got a call that Greenburger was looking to fill an assistant position. I snapped up the position. Then, about a year ago, I was given the green light to agent my own titles. 
If you'd like to read the rest, please visit my site at: https://johnelldewitt.com/2017/01/19/interview-with-agent-wendi-gu/