Alyssa Eisner Henkin is a literary agent with Trident Media Group. She represents the whole spectrum of children’s books, kidlit, and picture books.
When Alyssa Eisner Henkin became an editorial assistant in 1999 she was just happy to have coworkers who loved Anne of Green Gables as much as she did. Little did she know, over the next decade children’s publishing would become the fastest-growing genre in reading and entertainment.
Alyssa candidly admits that she did not foresee the magnitude of this when she became an agent. “I joined Trident because I wanted to be an entrepreneur, to have a more direct impact on authors’ careers, and to use both my creative and business acumen”. While at Trident, Alyssa has been able to take advantage of changing formats and venues for her clients. “Most companies consider the international market to be secondary,” says Alyssa, “but at Trident, we view foreign as a ‘must’ market, and my clients are pleased to find their books selling around the world.”
“Through all of the growth and change”, Alyssa emphasizes, “there is no doubt that the key elements of storytelling have remained the same. The book that cannot be put down will continue to hold value, whether as a groundbreaking app, or as the beloved and tattered Anne of the Island that still reigns your bookshelf.” Alyssa considers herself privileged to be able to work with talents who create the books that readers cannot put down.
Still, new projects are always of interest: On the middle grade fiction front, mysteries and high-concepts may lure, but it’s the authenticity of the setting, be it golden plains of yesteryear or lunchroom etiquette circa now, that seals the deal. A nonfiction series for k-5 that makes facts fun would satisfy Alyssa’s lifelong yen for trivia and history. Picture books that feel unfamiliar yet obvious are always worth fighting for. And what does page-turning YA contemporary look like when it’s not centered around first love?
Above all, Alyssa digs deep when she sees potential, from editing, to title brainstorming, to securing the right publisher, to novel marketing ideas. “There’s no greater professional joy than championing a book that you believe in and watching the world delight in it.”