Happy Tuesday and welcome to Picture Book Spotlight!
Hey there, kidlit fam. It's been a minute since I posted one of these here blogs. Probably because grad school swallowed my head. Now that I am between classes, my head has been briefly dislodged, freeing me to Spotlight a new agent who is actively building her client list.
And then all the querying authors and illustrators' ears perked up.
Yes. A new agent!
I am very pleased to feature Emily Forney of Bookends Literary Agency. Emily is doing a giveaway with this post, but make sure to read the interview before you toss your name into any figurative or literal hats. You may find you connect with Emily in a unique way and might want to share that with her in your query.
It goes without saying that new agents present a unique opportunity for authors and illustrators seeking representation. They're on the hunt! They have to have a first client...why not you?
Finally, for those of you familiar with my pretend bios, I believe I've really outdone myself for this one. Took me eleven hours so I hope it meets all your wildest expectations for what a Brian Gehrlein pretend bio ought to be.
And without any further ado...
The hidden snacks I keep literally all throughout my house, the raggedy old sweatpants I’ve had since I was seventeen and do all of my readings in, and probably really cheesy ASMR videos.
What’s something you absolutely must have in your refrigerator or pantry?
Oh, okay that’s good, because I normally strategically place snacks around for those times when I’ve settled down on my couch and don’t want to get up. In the fridge, probably honey vanilla Greek yogurt and cut strawberries. In my pantry, unfortunately for my stomach, Hot Cheetos.
Give us a little bit of your background prior to joining Bookends Literary Agency.
Before I joined BookEnds I worked as an editor for a small popular fiction press for a while, developed literary journals as an apprentice, wrote and edited for dozens of digital prints and magazines, and studied as a publishing and editorial fellow for the LA Review of Books. Honestly, I did so many odd jobs in publishing for years. If you can imagine it, I’ve done it.
I’ve always been drawn to kidlit. I know that seems like one of those basic answers, but it’s so true. I love the magic and whimsy and warmth of the genre. You can have fantasy and history mixed with stories of grief and multigenerational legacies, all packaged beautifully for young minds who so desperately want to make sense of their complex feelings. I love the bonding agent kidlit has and I just want to help foster that. I’m genuinely excited to create spaces for these new worlds to flourish.
If you decide to pass on a project, do you encourage authors and illustrators to resubmit after significant revision? If so, how much time is appropriate before a resubmission?
Of course. I truly believe in cultivating a space for authors and illustrators to grow and thrive in, and I don’t see how that is possible if I close myself off to that progress. I think artists and writers can sometimes have a fear of missing out if they don’t act quickly, as if an agent will forget they requested a revision and will dismiss their second go around. That usually results in someone hurrying to produce some kind of new content that may not actually align with the work they want out there. So, I encourage anyone to sincerely give themselves the time they need to refocus on their work. If they can reflect on it and themselves, then great. But don’t rush.
I will be honest if I feel I am not the right agent though. Sometimes I just won’t do well with a story because it doesn’t excite me like it should. In that case, I will kindly express that and encourage the author to find someone who vibes better with their work.