A literary agent and her friends dish about writing and publishing books for children and young adults.
Here's the Latest Episode from Literaticast:
I check in with my friend Suzanna, the co-owner and buyer for Oblong Books and Music in Rhinebeck and Millerton, NY. She talks about how the bookstore has weathered these wild times, what has changed, and what booksellers have learned -- and together, we give AWESOME BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS! Get your pencil and paper ready and prepare to order awesome gifts for the holidays (and treats for yourself, too!)
Today we're talking pop culture! If you insert specific pop culture references in your work, how do you walk the line between seeming current now, and possibly making your book seem dated a couple years from now... and how DOES a grownup stay current, anyway? How can 1980's TV inform the way you structure your book, and what can superhero stories teach us about crafting a short pitch? All this and more with my special guest, MG and YA novel writing superstar Lamar Giles!
It's a very special episode: Four amazing authors helped me celebrate the Hudson Valley YA Society's 10th Anniversary and launch Christine Heppermann's new novel in verse WHAT GOES UP, in conjunction with Oblong Books & Music's "Oblong Online" event series. Listen in on this great event with Christine Heppermann, Brandy Colbert, Laura Ruby, and Sherri L. Smith. (And please forgive any technical glitches, this was a live event from five locations and something of an experiment!)
As you may have noticed, the podcast took a little hiatus - but we're back, baby! This episode, I give a little "state of the publishing industry" address, where I answer some burning listener questions about how the pandemic is affecting publishing. My special guest is picture book author Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, who talks about shaking up expectations and other important lessons for picture book authors (and, actually, ALL authors!), and tells us all about her latest picture book, YOUR NAME IS A SONG. Plus, I dig a bit into the results of the latest CCBC Diversity numbers.
Author Rebecca Stead (WHEN YOU REACH ME, LIAR AND SPY, among others) joins me to talk about her creative process -- as well as such important topics as revision with book maps, finding an authentic voice, giving yourself permission to suck, shutting down your inner critic, the annoyingness of the word "tween", and the restorative power of watching other people bake things. I'll also let her tell you a bit about her latest novel, out this week: THE LIST OF THINGS THAT WILL NOT CHANGE!
My guest this week is Hannah Moushabeck, a book marketing wizard from Quarto Books with a life-long history in the book industry. Hannah and I chat about ways for you to get the word out about your book, and what your publisher is doing, as well as social media 101, and so much more. PLEASE NOTE: This episode was recorded several weeks ago, in the Before-Time when we still had lively bookstores and libraries. Much of the valuable info herein will still apply, but some of it, well.... bear it in mind for when the "shelter-in-place" orders lift. I'll be updating with "Corona-Time" info as I have it.
My guest is publicist Tracy van Straaten, who will pull the curtain back and reveal everything you've always wanted to know about Book Publicity but were afraid to ask! (Well, maybe not everything. But a LOT OF STUFF!) Including how to best work with your in-house publicist, when hiring an outside publicist might be the right move, and much more.
My guest this week is Kate Messner -- the perfect person to discuss Career Building! Over the past decade she's published over 30 children's books, and has 12 more coming out in 2020 alone. Wowza! We'll talk about how she does it. We also talk about things she WISHES she had known when she was a debut, how to find balance in what can be a wild business, and so much more.
We welcome the return of the Great Big Holiday Gift Guide, 2019 edition! I interview three independent booksellers from various parts of the country, and we give you our best recommendations for ALL the young folks on your shopping list – and some of the grownups, too. Joining me are Abby Rauscher, from Books are Magic in Brooklyn New York – Cecilia Cackley, from East City Books on Capitol Hilll in Washington DC, and Stephanie Heinz, from Print: A Bookstore, in Portland Maine. Get a pen and paper, you're gonna want to take notes on this one!
My guest Kandace Coston is an editor at Lee & Low, the largest multicultural publisher in the U.S. She is a nonfiction picture book expert, and we'll discuss how to choose a topic, what to include in the backmatter, and how to tackle potentially problematic content in a nonfiction book for young readers. Also, I explore an app that makes me feel EXTREMELY old. Join us, won't you?
Welcome to an all-new feature on the Literaticast: BEHIND THE BOOK, in which we take a deep dive into the backstory behind the making of one fascinating book. Up for discussion today is ROAR LIKE A DANDELION by Ruth Krauss, Illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier, published by HarperCollins. Ruth Krauss was one of the foremost children's authors of the 20th century, and ROAR is a long-lost manuscript that has just been published for the first time. I speak to HarperCollins editor Nancy Inteli, who rediscovered the manuscript; Children's Book Historian Philip Nel, who is an expert on Ruth Krauss; and illustrator Sergio Ruzzier, who brought the story to life. If you like children's book history and the art of the Picture Book, you won't want to miss this episode.
I'm joined by author Stephanie Lucianovic, whose debut picture book THE END OF SOMETHING WONDERFUL drops on September 10. She's dropping some hot knowledge on us about what it is like to navigate the pre-debut time, how to find and utilize mentor texts, winning social media strategies, how to work well with illustrators, and so much more. Plus you'll hear me moan about... cars? Listen, I can't talk about TV Shows on a Book Podcast EVERY time. ;-)
My guest is Executive Editor of the Abrams Appleseed imprint, Meredith Mundy. We chat about all things "little-kid" book related -- including the different types of board and novelty books, and the joys and challenges of writing and publishing them.
It's a Summertime Bonus Episode! ABLA Senior Agent Jen Rofé joins me to answer burning listener questions about queries, submission strategies, working with your agent, and so much more. Plus we talk about glass-blowing and Russian spies. (Obviously!)
First I talk a bit about the etiquette of leaving your agent and getting a new one -- it's not as scary or weird as you might worry it will be! Then, the fabulous Dahlia Adler joins me to talk about her books, blogging, promoting authors, self-promoting, cutting through the internet noise, avoiding burnout, and being a professional Big Mouth. We also talk about her site LGBTQ Reads, and Dahlia gives us a taste of her favorite queer reads. Get your pen and paper ready so you can jot down these terrific titles!
I sit down with powerhouse editor Namrata Tripathi, the founder and publisher of Kokila Books, a new imprint of Penguin Random House. The first books from Kokila are coming this week, so we have a great discussion about what it is like to start an imprint from scratch, from deciding on the name and logo to choosing the first books to publish; also the importance of diversity in creators, topics, gatekeepers; and what conversation would be complete without mentioning nerdy vampires?
My guest is Laurent Linn, an Art Director from Simon and Schuster. He'll give us the inside scoop on such hot topics as: What the heck does an Art Director do?! How are book jackets made? What should an illustrator have in their portfolio? What is the "life cycle" of a picture book and why do they take soooo long to come out? And WHO PICKS THE FONTS?! Also we'll talk about vampires and theme parks, obviously.
This episode, I'm pleased to welcome newly minted Newbery Medalist Meg Medina. We chat about world building in realistic fiction, writing large casts of characters, balancing business vs art, tips for debut authors as well as those suffering from "sophomore slump." Oh... and though I promised her I would NOT ask her about "the call" from the Newbery committee.... at the end, she tells a bit of the story anyway! Yesss! Plus we gab about TV shows and Tamales.
I sit down with Lisa Cron, the author of STORY GENIUS and WIRED FOR STORY - she is chock full of advice to make your next novel truly unputdownable. Also, I get a couple of words in edgewise, and talk about my obsession: RUSSIAN DOLL!
I'm getting ready to head to Seattle for ALA Midwinter. So what even IS that? In this episode, I speak to Jenny Choy, the Associate Director for School-Library Marketing for Abrams Books for Young Readers. Jenny tells us the difference between publicity, marketing, and school-library marketing, and gives us the lowdown about what happens behind the booth curtains at a big librarian conference like ALA. What books are on display, and why? Which authors get invited, and why? What does she wish that authors knew about her job? So much great info! Yay!
I chat with four awesome booksellers about their top children's and YA book picks for holiday gift giving (and my own picks, too!) -- some you've probably heard of, but others likely be new to you, and all are well worth checking out. Of course, there's no way that we could get ALL our faves in one little podcast.... but hey, it's a start. :-)
Martha Brockenbrough returns to discuss her latest book of YA Nonfiction, UNPRESIDENTED, a biography/documentary about the life and times of Donald Trump. We also talk about how you can decide when a story is YOURS to tell, how to deal with bad reviews, how teen readers are the BEST readers, and how to write about current events without having a brain meltdown. Martha gives writerly advice about a variety of craft issues, and we do a switcheroo, where Martha asks ME about Holiday Books! Plus, as always, we discuss what we are obsessed with this week.
Editorial consultant Emma D. Dryden has a storied career in children's publishing. She sat down with me to talk about revision, as well as the difference between working for a publisher and editing under her own shingle. I asked her a LOT of questions, including, what should an author expect from a Freelance Editor? How do you know if or when the time is right to hire one? What are the most common problems she sees in manuscripts? What is a "Quiet Book"? What's the difference between YA and MG, reallllly? Plus, Emma gives her top tips and tricks for revising, and a whole lot more.
Guest agent Kelly Sonnack joins me to talk about best practices, agent-wise... and WTH are some bad agents even DOING? Also we answer listener questions, talk about query management, vent on the topic of submission do's and don'ts, and we go in deep about our favorite yearly event, the Big Sur Children's Writers Workshop. Oh and obviously we also talk about the Black Death and how it affects caterpillars, among other scintillating topics. Join us, won't you?
Guest author Lesa Cline-Ransome gets into it about writing nonfiction (particularly biographical) picture books. Like, how does she choose subjects? How does she decide HOW to tell the story, do research, and get a new angle on a topic we might think we already know? Plus, what is it like to have a partner who is also the illustrator for your picture books? Annnnd, we discuss Lesa's brand-new debut Middle Grade novel, FINDING LANGSTON.
Author Debbi Michiko Florence joins us to chat about her winding path to publication, and her awesome chapter book series, JASMINE TOGUCHI, the fourth book of which has just been released. I talk about how to query chapter books, Debbi gives insight into the writing of them, and we both dole out wisdom (??) for listener questions. Plus we talk about ducks, snacks, and cooking shows.
Award-winning author-illustrator Dan Santat joins me to discuss time management, illustrating vs authoring, portfolio-making, the World Cup, killers for hire (again! it's a theme!), and so much more.
I give some recommendations for my favorite books for writers. Then my guest, middle grade novelist and English professor Erin Dionne, chats with me about revision tips and tricks, plotting vs pantsing, story structure, and more. Spoiler alert: There is no one way to be a writer! Oh also we talk a bit about contract killers and trivia addiction. Obviously.
I'm joined by Suzanna Hermans, from Oblong Books & Music in New York's Hudson Valley. She talks about how she curates the selection at Oblong -- what prompts an "auto-buy" from her -- and when books get returned. We also touch on some hot topics: Does a scandal from an author prompt exclusion from the bookstore shelves? And just how terrible IS Henry Higgins from MY FAIR LADY? (#theworst). Plus, great book recommendations, and current obsessions!
It's a jam-packed double episode featuring two authors whose YA books are polar opposites... except for the fact that they are both TERRIFIC... and they both have the same release date! Amy Spalding is on hand to discuss her new rom-com THE SUMMER OF JORDI PEREZ (AND THE BEST BURGER IN LOS ANGELES), and also to do a deep dive into the hamburger-based culinary traditions of L.A. Justina Ireland joins me to talk about her blood-spattered alt-historical novel DREAD NATION, Mark Twain, and how to kill a man with a grass trimmer. Never say we don't teach you anything on the Literaticast!
Every year in Spring, children's agents descend on a small city in Italy for the largest international children's-only book fair in the world. But it's not all gelato-nomming and prosecco-swilling! I give a crash course in what translation rights even are, and then superagent Kathleen Ortiz from New Leaf Literary joins me to talk about what exactly goes on at the Bologna Children's Book Fair. (Though, off the record, if you want to talk to me about gelato, I do also have a lot of opinions on that subject.) Plus, we talk about some upcoming titles in self-promotion corner, and as always, share our current obsessions.
YA author Saundra Mitchell joins me to chat about her new anthology, ALL OUT: THE NO-LONGER SECRET STORIES OF QUEER TEENS THROUGHOUT THE AGES. ALL OUT is stuffed chock-full of genre-spanning queer historical stories, and Saundra talks about not only the making of this book, but also different ways to approach anthologies. Also: we talk about how YA publishing has changed in the past ten years, what's up with writing under pseudonyms, what the deal is with #ownvoices, how to know if you are writing YA or adult, and how to juggle writing and promoting your books while holding down a day job. Plus, what we're obsessed with this week.
Brilliant and opinionated Lisa von Drasek joins me to talk about Kerlan Collection, the Caldecott and Newbery Awards, and much more. Lisa tries not to get roped into my shenanigans of wildly speculating about award outcomes, and only partially succeeds. And, we share a passion for a certain upcoming book about zombies. PS: I almost definitely said the date of the ALA Youth Media Awards announcements incorrectly on the podcast, or forgot to say it at all. If you want to attend the press conference or view the livestream, the correct date is MONDAY, FEB 12, at 8am Mountain Time. Link to the livestream in the show notes, and I'll be tweeting about it on the morning of!
Superagent Molly Ker Hawn, head of the U.K. office of The Bent Agency, joins me for a proper chinwag about the U.K. vs U.S. book market. Along the way, we answer some listener questions, including: What does one look for in a newer agent? How does one work with an editor? What if one wants to write in multiple categories/genres? Plus, we talk about upcoming new books, complain about the monarchy, gab about ghosts, and more!
I spoke to four amazing children's booksellers across the country and got their top picks for holiday giving. Obviously this is for AFTER you've already bought all my client's books ;-) I hope you find some new favorites on this list, and I hope all my listeners have a wonderful holiday season full of warmth and light... and BOOKS!
I sit down with editor Kendra Levin, who is also a life-coach for writers, to talk NaNoWriMo, among other things. She uses the Hero's Journey as not just a craft tool, but a process tool, and gives us a big dose of inspiration for the writer's life. (NaNoInspo that should be useful all the year round!) Along the way, I tell my secret NaNoWriMo confession. Kendra also helps me answer some listener publishing questions, and we talk about Fancy French People and the Librarian of Congress.
I chat with Scholastic/Graphix editor Cassandra Pelham Fulton about how graphic novels are created from the editorial POV... and then with creator Nilah Magruder about her road to comics success. It's a double episode - and DOUBLE the fun!
This week's show is jammed full of goodies. I explore the topic of Authenticity, then talk with guest author and self-marketing guru Jess Keating about Platform Development (what even IS that?!?), social media best practices, how to buddy up to librarians and booksellers, how to add value for educators, and so much more. Then Jess regales us with some wild animal facts (both the animals AND the facts are wild!), and we get into talking about Jess's new book SHARK LADY, as well as a handful of Non-Jess nonfiction picture books. Plus, as always, we talk about what we are currently obsessed with - in this case, a grownup book, and a hashtag!
I talk about the qualities of my "ideal author" besides, like, writing awesome books. Author Martha Brockenbrough joins me to rap about such topics as: Writing in multiple categories; the difference between writing fiction and nonfiction; the value of saying YES to opportunity, and more. We then take a look at the subject of her newest book, a man who may have said YES at least two times too many... founding father Alexander Hamilton. HAMTASTIC! Oh and we discuss Santa, do a dog poet storytime, and I not-so-subtly beg for a special ARC.
I rant a bit about "girl books" and "boy books", then I am joined by David Elliott, the brilliant author of BULL, the ORQ series, and much more. His books are generally hilarious, and his latest is in verse, so we talk about having an "ear" for comedy and poetry. We talk about novels in verse, and David sheds light on his process, talks about Jungian analysis, and gabs about Greek myths and Joan of Arc. David also gives his advice for both how to take criticism of your writing... and how to GIVE it. And he reaches into the archives to give some book recommendations, including TUCK EVERLASTING. :-)
I give the skinny on how to spot SCHMAGENTS in the wild - aka scammy and scummy fake "agents" who take naive writers for a ride. Then superagent Kate Testerman joins me for frank talk about how to work with an agent, the ever-loving slowness of publishing, how to choose comp titles, and even the eternal question: When to give up on publishing dreams and go learn to become a carpenter. We also touch on fanfiction, Maurice Sendak, Pokemon, possessed nutcrackers, and Doctor Who. It's a wild ride!
YA author Mackenzi Lee joins me to talk about, well, almost everything, from book deal depression to hitting milestones like the NYT Bestseller List. We also cover: how to tackle historical research (and when to get anachronistic); cross-dressing fencers; Dutch tulip-mania; a lady painter of the Italian Baroque; 1980's women wrestlers -- this is a wide-ranging conversation with a fascinating author.
I talk about what I like to see in an author's website. And Publicist Extraordinaire Saraciea Fennell talks to me about the Secret World of Publicists -- including what authors can do to work with their publicist, how to grow your own network by getting the word out in your local community, when (and if) to spend your own money on publicity, authors getting political on social media, and much more. Saraciea also mentions a couple of her most memorable publicity campaigns, and we talk about our current obsessions.
I share some of my top tips for writers attending big conferences. And Chronicle Books senior editor Melissa Manlove joins me to give advice about writing picture books. Also, I give HER advice about getting sick in Italy (spoiler: DON'T). Plus Swedish Punks, Turkish Cats, and more!
In this episode, I answer my most frequently asked question: What the heck is a literary agent, anyway? And author and professor Laurel Snyder is on hand to talk about Imposter Syndrome, mid-list author mania, crafty plots (and how to keep 'em moving), avoiding creative burnout, and more.