SCBWI Agents Party
Hi folks, Nicki and I went to a SCBWI (Society of Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators) Agents evening last Thursday evening. It was in a pub in the tropical heat in our great capital. The place was heaving with folk much like us all, desperate aspiring writers wanting meat, and by meat I mean agent of course. The folks at SCBWI had lined up a panel of agents who all answered pre-prepared questions, plus more questions from the floor.
On the whole the evening was positive, the agents are all open to submission (mostly kids or YA I think) and are actively looking to sign new talent. What I should be doing now is summarising what everyone said, but as this has already been done by Addy, Candy and Terri on the Notes form the Slushpile blog, it seems silly to repeat – so check out their blog see link.
The main points that I took away from the evening is this…
· Web-presents – all the agents said it is advisable to have web-presents whereas other sate that they expect it. The general consensus was that authors should be promoting themselves and jobbing authors should be spending 20% of their time on the web, twittering, blogging and Facebooking! How terrifying how long it will be before we all need to be web-designers and engineering our own e-book features! On a more serious note it was said by several of the panel that they are more likely to sign a writer who is promoting themselves on line.
· Myth - Most if not all of the agents on the panel do the first read of any submissions that land on their desks, how that for a myth breaker. They all said what they are looking for is a great story and even greater writing.
· Submissions - Make sure you send what the individual agency want. This seems to be key, don’t annoy them by sending the wrong things in your submission, check out the submission polices on there web-sites first.
· Agents are approachable! - Who would have thought? After the baring the tropical heat, the probing questions, and a raffle, raffling off their services in the way of ‘one to ones’ with budding authors and illustrators, many of them stuck around and mingled, rather than bolt for the door. I always thought that these agents would be like Al Pacino in ‘The devil Advocate’, but the ones I spoke to seemed very nice. I spoke to two, who both gave me their cards – and I or course thrust my business cards and piles of pages of submissions into their arms!
· Clothes - Ware weather appropriate clothes, I almost passed out with heat exhaustion!
So how was it for me? Well I won one of the raffled ‘One-to-Ones’! with the lovely Claire from Rogers, Coleridge & White. Claire who looks like a younger Natile Portman, reviewed my picture book ‘How to Catch a Kangeroo’. Her comments were mostly what I know, but still useful, re-write in non-rhyming, and work on the story arch, but she seems to be happy to look at TME too. So all in all I think that’s a plus. However despite working for the last few weeks on my elevator pitch, we had a pitch working evening with the Abingdon Writers Children’s Sub-group (we need an acronym for that – suggestions anyone?) and practicing it walking around the house and on my way to anf from school every day, I fluffed it up. When I met an agent’s assistant who loves fairy tales, and YA, I couldn’t even talk! So I gave her my prompt card to read, I knew I should have got my pitch printed on a t-shirt! So there goes, no matter how well prepared you are, you can still muck it up!