2016 Update: Sara is no longer agenting. Do not read out to her.
WD’s September 2013 Agent One-on-One Boot Camp is shaping up to be an awesome opportunity for writers of children’s books. The new topic is “How to Write and Sell Great Children’s Books: From Toddler to Teen,” and this boot camp is for writers of picture books, middle grade novels, and young adult novels.
It all starts on September 9, 2013, and features the amazing agents at Full Circle Literary offering instruction and critiques to all attendees. Picture book writers get their entire book critiqued while MG & YA writers get a query critique and five-page critique. This is a great opportunity to get a professional’s thoughts on your work, and possibly attract the attention of an agent at the same time. There is a limited number of seats for this event, and WD Boot Camps frequently sell out, so sign up quickly.
The world of children’s books has seen more growth in the last ten years than any other category in the publishing industry. Countless articles and op-eds have analyzed the booming success of now-iconic series like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Fancy Nancy. But while critics are debating the triumph of a particular series, readers – both children and adults – are clamoring for more books that will enchant and entertain them.
But in such a competitive market, how do you make your book stand out as a quality submission? How do you walk the fine line between capturing the attention (and purchasing power) of both child and adult reader? In this Writer’s Digest Boot Camp, the agents of Full Circle Literary will teach you:
- The key elements to writing a successful children’s book, be that a picture book, young adult novel, or middle grade story
- The pitfalls to avoid when writing for kids – whether toddlers or teens
- What agents and publishers look for in submissions
- How to make your opening pages shine
You are the new generation of authors, creating that next iconic book as we speak. Let’s get to work.
Here’s how it works:
On Monday, September 9, you will gain access to one of the following online tutorials presented by the agents at Full Circle Literary. It’s your choice.
1. How to Write Successful Picture Books (45 minutes)
2. How to Write Successful Middle Grade and Young Adult (45 minutes)
These webinars will focus on the particular challenges and lessons for each category of children’s books. While there will be some overlapping information, please choose the webinar that speaks to your chosen genre. After listening to the presentation, you’ll spend Monday evening revising the opening of your project as necessary.
You are then invited to submit one of the following for review:
- For picture book authors: Query letter and up to 1,000 words (i.e. recommended length of full text) of your picture book
- For middle grade/young adult authors: Query letter and your first 5 double-spaced pages
Also on September 9th, you will be notified about your assigned agent. You will submit your pages for review by EOD, Wednesday, September 11, attached as a Word document. The agents reading and critiquing submissions are Stefanie von Borstel, Adriana Dominguez, Sara Sciuto, and Taylor Martindale.
They will spend the next few days reviewing their assigned pages and providing feedback as to what works and what doesn’t. During that time, from 1:00 to 4:00 PM EST on Tuesday, September 10, the agents will be available to answer questions and provide additional feedback via the Writer’s Digest University message boards. Only registered students can access these boards. You’ll also be able to ask question of your fellow students. Feel free to share your work and gain support from your peers. The agents will return your pages with their critiques on or by September 18. Please note that any one of the agents may ask for additional pages if the initial submission shows serious promise.
In addition to feedback from agents, attendees will also receive: A 1-year subscription to the WritersMarket.com Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Database.
About the Agents:
Stefanie von Borstel is co-founder of Full Circle Literary. Prior to agenting, she worked in editorial and marketing with Penguin and Harcourt. Stefanie represents children’s books from baby to teen, as well as select adult books. On the adult side, her focus is on family-interest, craft/design/lifestyle, and creative nonfiction. Representative clients include: Meg Mateo Ilasco, Barb Blair, Justina Blakeney, Betz White, and Kelly McCants of Modern June, among others. On the children’s side, she is especially seeking middle grade fiction and nonfiction, and is excited about the latest books from her clients Diana Lopez’s Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel, Karen Benke’s Leap Write In!, and Sarah Burningham’s Girl to Girl. For picture books/chapter books: author/illustrators, character-driven stories, unique nonfiction, stories that keep her turning the pages, and books that inspire imagination of the young and young-at-heart. Clients include: Monica Brown, Jennifer Ward, Toni Buzzeo, Carmen Tafolla, Rafael Lopez, Cindy Jenson-Elliott, and SCBWI Grand Prize Portfolio Award Winner Juana Martinez-Neal, to name a few. Stefanie is thrilled to work with clients that have a distinct style or expertise that can crossover to both the children’s and adult markets. Most of all, she loves authentic voices and viewpoints that make us look at the world and ourselves in new ways. When not reading, Stefanie is probably searching for green fig beetles or exploring tidepools with her son.
Adriana Dominguez has 15 years of experience in publishing, most recently as Executive Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, where she managed the children’s division of the Latino imprint, Rayo. Prior to that, she was Children’s Reviews Editor at Criticas magazine, published by Library Journal. She has performed editorial work for many children’s and adult publishers, both on a full time basis and as a freelance consultant, on English and Spanish language books. Adriana is also a professional translator who has worked on a number of translations of award-winning and best-selling children’s books. She is a member of the Brooklyn Literary Council that organizes the Brooklyn Book Festival, and one of the founders of the Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference in New York City. Adriana joined Full Circle in 2009, and is based on the East Coast. She is interested in children’s picture books, middle grade novels, and literary young adult novels. On the adult side, she is looking for literary and women’s works of fiction that feature characters with unique voices telling unforgettable stories. In the area of non-fiction, she seeks pop culture, and how-to titles geared toward women of all ages, written by authors with rock-solid platforms. Adriana has a long trajectory of publishing underrepresented authors and illustrators, and welcomes submissions that offer diverse points of view. Her client list includes seasoned authors such as Reyna Grande, Las Comadres Para Las Americas, Tim Z. Hernandez, Lorena Siminovich, George Ancona, and Rafael Lopez, as well as newcomers such as Angela Cervantes, Michaela & Elaine DePrince, Katheryn Russell-Brown, and Lila Quintero-Weaver, among others.
Sara Sciuto is a literary agent with Full Circle Literary. A graduate of the University of California, San Diego, Sara also completed literature coursework at NYU. Before joining Full Circle, she gained valuable experience working on film and foreign rights with Taryn Fagerness Agency. Sara is actively building her list with a focus on middle grade and young adult fiction; in particular, fantasy, gothic/thriller/horror, historical, sci-fi, mystery/suspense, and other supernatural or speculative fiction. She also enjoys contemporary stories with a strong, authentic voice (but no chick-lit, please). She has a particular soft spot for gritty narratives, anything with international or regional locales, period settings, and anything with artistic themes. Sara is also looking for standout picture books, especially those with a quirky or humorous narrative; and welcomes author/illustrators, as well as conceptual or art-driven projects. She’s also considering select adult nonfiction in the areas of craft, design, how-to, lifestyle, and pop culture. For children’s nonfiction, she’s open to a wider range of both narrative and prescriptive projects. Currently, she is NOT considering any adult fiction (all genres). Her great passions in life are travel and good food – and good books, of course, but that goes without saying! While she’s always cultivating new obsessions, her latest are photography and sailing.
Taylor Martindale is a literary agent with Full Circle Literary, actively acquiring fiction and non-fiction projects. She began agenting with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency and is a graduate of The College of William and Mary, where she studied English and Hispanic Studies. Taylor is looking for young adult fiction, literary middle grade fiction, women’s fiction, and select non-fiction projects. She is interested in finding unique and unforgettable voices in contemporary, historical and/or multicultural novels. She is looking for books that demand to be read whether the stories are light-hearted or address important issues (she adores both). More than anything, Taylor is looking for character-driven stories that bring the world vividly to life and voices that refuse to be ignored. When considering non-fiction projects, Taylor uses much the same approach, and hopes to find authors with fresh ideas and perspectives, with writing that is accessible, entertaining, and compelling. When not working, Taylor can be found traveling, cooking, spending time with loved ones, or (surprise!) lost in a good book.