With registration opening on February 15th for the NESCBWI 2011 Celebrating Milestones Conference, I wanted to give everyone a chance to find out what the 2011 Agent Quick Query agents are thinking.
First up, Stephen Fraser of Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency.
1. What makes for a healthy working relationship between you and your authors?
Clients need to know that the onus is one them to stay in touch. I will stay in touch with clients as I submit manuscripts and then as I get rejections or offers. I am good about responding right away. But an e-mail or call from a client as a reminder doesn’t hurt; and I don’t mind. If a client hasn’t heard from me for months, that is really their fault. With more than 40 clients to handle, I can’t be in touch with all of them all the time. Except, of course, if I am selling all their books!
2. What are you always looking for but never receive in a submission?
I have been extremely fortunate. The most wonderful manuscripts have found their way to me…and into publication. So, I can’t complain. We had a PEN award winner last year and a Newbery Honor winner this year. Yahoo!
3. What is your agent style?
I am quick to respond, honest in feedback, friendly with editors - albeit persistent. One of my clients called me "a true gentleman of the business," which was extremely kind. But I like to think it's true. I do think civility is important. And I think Fun is an important part of this whole thing, too. It's a joyful thing to be involved with children's books.
4. What do you see as upcoming trends in the industry? What themes do you see as having endurance?
Y.A. has been having a comeback, thanks to certain vampires. I think paranormal is probably here to stay, but I think vampires may be replaced by other creatures. I’m frankly am bored by the dystopian novel, because I think it’s too easy to get depressed about the world right now. I’d rather see someone try something bolder like optimism or humor. Middle grade certainly is not going anywhere, either historical or contemporary. Chapter books are becoming more of a staple. And I would [like] to believe that picture books, lyrical and imagistic and beautiful, will always have a place.
5. What would you like to see more of and why?
I’d like to see more mysteries and ghost stories (really scary ghost stories). Love stories are always fun. Nonfiction that is one of a kind and fresh is always welcome. I adore poetry – though it can be hard to sell (I’ll try!) And funny books, truly funny books.
6. What conferences will you attend this year?
Right now I have three invitations, including Montana and Iowa SCBWI. I’ll probably accept a couple more.