Children’s books—young adult, middle grade, and picture books—have taken over the publishing industry (in a good way). Readers of all ages are devouring the books that used to only take up space in libraries, children’s bookshelves, or school classrooms. Now, children’s books are celebrated for their enchanting prose, their relatable characters, their beautiful illustrations, and their fantastic stories that transcend age category. The growth of the children’s book sector has been unprecedented this past decade—so how can you make your manuscript stand out in these crowded categories and genres?
In this Writer’s Digest Boot Camp starting April 18, 2016, “Selling Your Children’s Book: How to Write and Pitch Novels & Picture Books for Kids,“ the agents of P.S. Literary Agency will show you how to make your submission stand out. How do you write a children’s book with commercial appeal? How do you decide what category and genre your book belongs in? How do you find agents and publishers to submit your manuscript to? How can you attract both child and adult readers (and buyers)?
The agent instructors will answer these questions—and more! They will also critique your work and answer any questions you have about writing and selling books for children. As a registrant, you can choose to hear a tutorial on how to craft an amazing picture book, and then have your picture book critiqued—or you can choose to hear a different tutorial on writing middle grade and young adult fiction, and then have the first five pages of your YA/MG manuscript critiqued.
This program will show writers of Young Adult and Middle Grade the following:
— What the difference is between Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction
— How to create engaging characters that agents, editors, and readers will love
— Where (and where not) in the your story to start the manuscript
— How to avoid the most common mistakes found in Young Adult and Middle Grade manuscripts, such as talking down to your audience
— How to use common Middle Grade and Young Adult tropes
— What the biggest genres are in Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction right now—and how to decide where your manuscript fits in
— What to highlight in your pitch to sell your book to agents and publishers
— What you can learn from your favorite Young Adult and Middle Grade novels
This program will show writers of Picture Books the following:
— What the state of the market looks like for picture books
— How to learn from previous bestsellers
— How to come up with a great story that’s character- and plot-driven
— How to create a page-turning arc that will keep kids coming back
— Why rhythm, not rhyming, is the key to success
— How to think visually and how to work with illustrators
— How to avoid the “don’ts” in writing for children
— How to inspire kids without writing heavy morals
Here’s how it works:
On April 18, 2016, you will gain access to one of two special 60-minute online tutorials (or you can watch both, if you choose) presented by literary agents from the P.S. Literary Agency. You can choose to listen to agent Carly Watters’s tutorial on writing and selling picture books, or you can choose to listen to agent Maria Vicente’s tutorial on writing and selling Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction.
After listening to your choice of presentations, attendees will spend the next two days revising materials as necessary. Also following the tutorial, writers will have two days in which to log onto the course website and ask Carly Watters and Maria Vicente questions related to revising your materials. The agents will be available on the course website from 1-3 p.m. (ET) on both April 19 and April 20. No later than April 21, attendees will submit either their completed picture book text (1,000 words or fewer) or the first 5 double-spaced pages of their middle grade / young adult manuscript. The submissions will receive feedback directly from the literary agents of P.S. Literary Agency.
The agents will spend up to two and a half weeks days reviewing all assigned critiques and provide feedback to help attendees. (The agents reserve the right to request more materials if they feel a strong connection to the work and want to read more; note that multiple agents have signed writers before from WD boot camps.) No later than May 9, 2016, agents will send their feedback to writer attendees.
Only registered students can access the discussion boards. You’ll also be able to ask questions of your fellow students. Feel free to share your work and gain support from your peers.
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 Getting Published in the 21st Century: Advice from a Literary Agent, an ebook by Carly Watters.
Monday, April 18: Online Presentation
Tuesday, April 19: Agent Discussion Session Q&A 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM (ET)
Wednesday, April 20: Agent Discussion Session Q&A 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM (ET)
Thursday, April 21: Writers Submit Materials
Monday, May 9: Agent Critiques Due
Carly Watters is a VP and Senior Literary Agent at the P.S. Literary Agency. Carly began her publishing career in London at the Darley Anderson Literary, TV and Film Agency. She has a BA in English Literature from Queen’s University and a MA in Publishing Studies from City University London. Since joining PSLA in 2010 Carly has had great success launching new authors domestically and abroad. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents at PSLA. Representing debuts and bestsellers, Carly is drawn to: emotional, well-paced fiction, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in; and platform-driven non-fiction.
Bestselling and debut clients include Taylor Jenkins Reid, Karen Katchur, Rebecca Phillips, Andrea Dunlop, Colin Mochrie, Jay Onrait, Julianna Scott, Danny Appleby, Paulette Lambert and more.
She has been faculty at numerous industry conferences around North America including SCBWI North San Francisco, Surrey International Writer’s Conference, Las Vegas Writer’s Conference, Ontario Writer’s Conference, CanWrite, Florida Writer’s Conference, and Oklahoma Writer’s Conference.
Her blog (www.carlywatters.com) has been named one of “101 Best Websites for Writers” by Writer’s Digest magazine for three consecutive years.
Maria Vicente is an Associate Agent at the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a creative and editorial agent, providing support to her clients through all stages of the writing and publication process. Her publishing career began as an intern with Bree Ogden at D4EO Literary Agency, and she also interned at P.S. Literary before joining the agency as an associate agent. Her reading preferences vary across categories and genres, which is reflected in her client list. Maria holds a B.A. in English Literature from Carleton University, a B.Ed. from the University of Western Ontario, and many years of experience editing and designing literary magazines.
Clients include Sam Maggs, Suzanne Sutherland, Crystal Smalls Ord, Janelle Asselin, and many more. Maria has affinities for literary prose, strong character development, original storytelling formats, and anything geeky.
Her website (www.mariavicente.com) includes articles about publishing and writing for current and potential clients.