My wonderful intern Vina Castillo attended the Agency Interns Networking Toolbox, sponsored by AAR and came back with this report:
Brimming with eager interns alert to any advice and words of encouragement, The Agency Interns Networking Toolbox consisted of a panel of top notch publishers including Amy Einhorn, Jonathan Karp, Sarah Crichton, Julie Strauss-Gabel, and was moderated by agent Gail Hochman. After the esteemed panel members provided an insight into their successful careers, agent Hochman was curious as to what is the best possible relationship publishers look for with agents. All four publishers agreed that the bond between agent and publisher can only truly come to fruition when both sides are passionate about the manuscript and when both are aware of the constant work that is required to get it published. After all, its a long journey from acquisition to publication and beyond.
As for authors looking for agents, they had this advice: familiarize yourself with who you would like to work with. Do not look for an easy yes. Does the agent represent work that is in some aspects similar to your manuscript? Either in style, overall message, audience? Alas, as Amy Eihorn (Penguin) pointed out, it isn’t necessarily attractive if a manuscript resembles a known hit. Agents and publishers are looking for innovate, unique material that will surprise and them and can surpass past bestsellers.
The conversation then turned to the hot issue of the moment: YA. Young Adult books are currently at their peak, from Vampires to Dystopia. Curiously enough Julie Strauss-Gabel, VP and Publisher of Dutton Children’s Books who is responsible for award winners John Green (who quite possibly changed my life) and Scott Westerfeld, has been resoundingly declining Vamps and dystopias for strictly literary YA. There is no guarantee that vamps will live on, at least not with The Big Six publishers.
As an intern for Ayesha Pande whose literary taste breaks the current mold of bestsellers, this panel reinforced my belief that trends are temporary and for a manuscript to truly succeed it must be timeless.
— Vina Castillo