Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Even More Conference Notes

One of the speakers was agent Jodi Reamer from Writer’s House. I’ve heard a lot about her as she was the agent that brokered the first $1,000,000 YA deal (TWILIGHT by Stephanie Meyers). And I was very impressed. She had some wonderful, concrete advice for the conference attendees.

1. Be careful in applying information about other authors to your own situation. Every author is different, and every author’s path to a successful career is different.

2. It really is ALL about the writing. The good news is that writing is a craft and you can always improve your craft.

Jodi Reamer’s Editorial Tips
1. Three most important things about the writing: engaging characters, strong voice, uniqueness
2. SHOW don’t tell
3. Character’s voice MUST ring true
4. Writing must be sophisticated
5. Don’t over simplify historical fiction
6. Don’t copy styles of another book
7. When considering literary vs. commercial, write to your own personal strength

On the Market (Jodi had some great guidelines for the different categories of children’s books which I’lll post here because they can be confusing.)

YA – Ages 12 and up (although some at the conference felt that most YA was read by 11-14 year olds)
40-60M words; 240 mss pages
Characters 18 and younger
Can’t be in college
Character drives book
(Caroline Cooney, another speaker at the conference, had this to say about YA: The most terrifying plot in this category is being without friends.)

Middle Grade
Ages 8-12 or 10-12 for older middle grade books
30-50M words, 180 mss pages
Flawed characters, complex, sophisticated writing, series making a comeback, but with limited arcs
Most editors looking for standalone titles
Publishers looking for one book a year from author

Chapter Books
Agegs 7-10
15-20M words, 110 pages
character driven, simple stories

Picture books
Must be evocative
Must be illustrateable
Can be no longer than 750 words


Anonymous said...

Great info. Jodi is actually my agent as well and she is very sharp. Her energy is incredible. Sometimes it is hard to find the right voice to fit either middle grade or YA and you wander back and forth. I recommend reading several books in your genre in whatever spare time you have. Take from them what you will, but havng read them can be helpful to your own writing.

Robin L said...

Lucky you, Darren, for having Jodi! I've heard nothing but terrific things about her. If I'm ever in the position of looking for a new agent, she'd be at the top of my list.

And I agree with that sometimes nebulous distinction between YA and MG. Reading tons is the best way to get a feel for it.