Get to Know an Editor in Attendance: Lauren Jablonski is an assistant editor at St. Martin’s Press, part of Macmillan

Screen Shot 2017-03-04 at 2.56.59 PM.pngLauren Jablonski is an assistant editor at St. Martin’s Press, part of Macmillan.

Lauren is interested in acquiring commercial fiction and nonfiction for both young adult and adult. She enjoys contemporary, historical, fantasy, sci-fi, dystopian, romance, thrillers and anything with a unique voice — especially works that promote strong female characters, inclusion, and diversity.

In nonfiction, she is interested in quirky, gifty, and celebrity projects as well as memoir, pop-science, business, and projects about strong women. She loves being sucked into worlds she knows nothing about. The magic is in the details.

She works with authors including Anita Hughes, Meghan Masterson, Jonathan Maberry, Lev Grossman, Martine Rothblatt, Doug the Pug, and Ron Darling among many others.

She was a Literature major at CNU before doing NYU’s post-grad certificate program in publishing at the Summer Publishing Institute. She moved to New York City from Virginia (which everyone should go visit) and has been at Macmillan for the past five years.

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Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Alyssa Eisner Henkin of Trident Media Group

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 1.08.32 PMAlyssa 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.”

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kelly Peterson of Corvisiero Literary

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 9.58.43 AM.pngKelly Peterson is a jr. literary agent with Corvisiero Literary.

Kelly has spent her whole life with a book in her hands. Whether it’s from reading, writing, or day dreaming, her mind has always been up in the clouds wishing her fantasy stories would come true. A graduate of West Chester University, she earned her B.S.Ed. in English. When not working one of her three jobs and being a nerd, Kelly can be found dancing, riding horses, perfecting her yoga technique, blogging, and writing.

She represents middle grade, young adult, new adult, and adult. In middle grade, she seeks adventure, fantasy, and sci-fi with a lot of humor. In young adult, she seeks all sub-genres with an emphasis on fantasy, sci-fi, and diverse voices. In new adult and adult, she seeks contemporary romance that makes her sob uncontrollably. She specifically loves strong and witty voices, independent female characters, and a lot of action.

Tips For Pitching Your Book at the 2018 PWW

If you are coming to the 2018 Philadelphia Writing Workshop, you may be thinking about pitching our agent-in-attendance or editor-in-attendance. An in-person pitch is an excellent way to get an agent excited about both you and your work. Here are some tips (from one of last year’s instructors, Chuck Sambuchino) that will help you pitch your work effectively at the event during a 10-minute consultation. Chuck advises that you should:

  • Try to keep your pitch to 90 seconds. Keeping your pitch concise and short is beneficial because 1) it shows you are in command of the story and what your book is about; and 2) it allows plenty of time for back-and-forth discussion between you and the agent. Note: If you’re writing nonfiction, and therefore have to speak plenty about yourself and your platform, then your pitch can certainly run longer.
  • Practice before you get to the event. Say your pitch out loud, and even try it out on fellow writers. Feedback from peers will help you figure out if your pitch is confusing, or missing critical elements. Remember to focus on what makes your story unique. Mystery novels, for example, all follow a similar formula — so the elements that make yours unique and interesting will need to shine during the pitch to make your book stand out.
  • Do not give away the ending. If you pick up a DVD for Die Hard, does it say “John McClane wins at the end”? No. Because if it did, you wouldn’t buy the movie. Pitches are designed to leave the ending unanswered, much like the back of any DVD box you read.
  • Have some questions ready. 10 minutes is plenty of time to pitch and discuss your book, so there is a good chance you will be done pitching early. At that point, you are free to ask the agent questions about writing, publishing or craft. The meeting is both a pitch session and a consultation, so feel free to ask whatever you like as long as it pertains to writing.
  • Remember to hit the big beats of a pitch. Everyone’s pitch will be different, but the main elements to hit are 1) introducing the main character(s) and telling us about them, 2) saying what goes wrong that sets the story into motion, 3) explaining how the main character sets off to make things right and solve the problem, 4) explaining the stakes — i.e., what happens if the main character fails, and 5) ending with an unclear wrap-up.

Get to Know Writing Day Workshops Coordinator Jessica Bell

Screen Shot 2017-01-15 at 12.15.26 AM.pngJessica Bell is the executive coordinator of Writing Day Workshops, which organizes one-day writing conferences. These events take place mostly in the U.S., but can happen elsewhere.

If Jessica could choose only one creative mentor, she’d give the role to Euterpe, the Greek muse of music and lyrics. This is not only because she spends most of her time in Athens, Greece, but because of her life as a 30-something Australian contemporary fiction author, award-winning poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist, whose literary inspiration often stems from songs she’s written.

She started as a poet, drawing from her musical background and etching her thoughts and feelings into verse. Those stanzas soon turned into sentences and paragraphs, and eventually into published books. Her literary voice is said to overflow with “lyrical descriptions, unique metaphors, tight dialogue, and an abundance of sensory detail.” She has also been told she has the ability to take a seemingly ordinary three-chord type story and turn it into a main stage event.

In addition to her novels about unique dysfunctional families, poetry collections, and her best-selling pocket writing guides (Writing in a Nutshell series), she has published a variety of works in online and print literary journals and anthologies, including Australia’s Cordite Review, Writer’s Digest, and the anthologies 100 Stories For Queensland and From Stage Door Shadows, both released through Brisbane, Australia’s, eMergent Publishing.

One of Jessica’s proudest moments was when, in November 2013, her poem, Sugar (which was published in a poetry anthology called Women’s Work, edited by Libby Hathorn) was broadcast on ABC National Radio’s Poetica program.

Jessica Bell is the Publisher of Vine Leaves Press, and she makes a living as a Book Cover Designer for indie authors, and an editor/writer for English Language Teaching publishers worldwide, such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

As of October 2016, she is the singer of Keep Shelly in Athens.

To see a list of awards click here.