Agent Spotlight: Adria Goetz
Happy Monday and welcome to Picture Book Spotlight!
Today's episode: Characters with agency, humor, and querying Adria Goetz!
I'm happy to share the first of many Agent Spotlights of 2023. In addition to spotlighting great picture books and their creators, I like to illuminate agents who represent picture book creators. Agent Spotlights can provide insight into what agents are thinking and give updates and quotes to use as connection points for those actively slogging through the query trenches. A crucial part of the opening of any query is to provide that specific human connection that says, "I see you...I'm tuned into where you're engaging in the kidlit community...I know what you're looking for...and this is why I think we'd be a great match!"
So please welcome Adria Goetz of P.S. Literary Agency! Adria will be doing a picture book query letter critique as a giveaway for one lucky winner. Be sure to check out the details at the end of the interview to enter the raffle!
Speaking of critiques...
If you or anyone in your circle is on the hunt for a set of eyes on that picture book manuscript, I'd love to collaborate with you!
Today marks the last day to use the promo code "opening25off" for a picture book Zoom critique with me--get that critique locked in so you don't pay full price!
Now, let's jump into an Agent Spotlight to learn from Adria Goetz of P.S. Literary Agency! Cue the spotlight...
Hello, Adria! I’m so glad you could join us today. Okay…inquiring minds want to know…are you currently open to building your client list for picture books? If so, what are you most excited to see? What types of picture books might not be the best fit for you?
I am! I am most excited to see picture books by author-illustrators—particularly stories that are tinged with magic, brimming with heart, humor-driven, and have a great hook. A few other things I love are stories about food, family, and traditions. I’m not usually the best fit for meta picture books, nonfiction, a story that doesn’t have a strong hook, and anything to do with sports.
To help us get more acquainted with your style, share three picture books that you would have LOVED to represent.
THE NIGHT GARDENER by The Fan Brothers
WE DON’T EAT OUR CLASSMATES by Ryan T. Higgins
And HAIR LOVE by Matthew Cherry and Vashti Harrison.
Why is humor so important to you?
I think humor can be such a powerful tool for reaching kids and creating lifelong readers. When a book makes a child laugh, it creates positive neural pathways in their mind so when they see a book, they have positive associations. Humor-driven books are especially great for kids who are reluctant readers—the humor can help put them at ease.
In your opinion, what do the most effective art notes look like or provide for the story?
The best art notes guide the illustrator in aspects of the story that are specifically taking place in the illustrations and not in the text. They point the illustrator in the right direction, but only when it’s needed.
When you’re reading query letters, what kinds of things really jump out to you and capture your attention?
When it comes to the query letter, I’m looking first and foremost at the overall concept of the project and whether it feels not only salable, but irresistible. Everyone is tightening their belts these days—both publishers and consumers—so I’m looking for picture books that are so good that you don’t just want to buy it, you need to buy it.
What are some essential questions an author or illustrator should ask themselves before they submit to you?
“Am I ready to buckle up for the long haul?” is a good question for any creator to ask themselves before submitting to an agent. Getting a project ready for submission takes time, shopping it takes time, negotiating a deal takes time, negotiating a contract takes time, editing the book takes time. I think creators are often shocked by how long and tedious the publishing process can be, but the more patient and ready you are for it, the happier you’ll be.
If we could put on “Adria Goetz eyes” to look critically at our stories, what is ONE THING that you always look for that we can too?
I’m always looking for characters with agency. Many times over the years I’ve heard editors give the note that the main character of a story needs more agency. I’ve heard it so many times that it’s become part of my editorial process to look critically at main characters to make sure that they’re an active character who is curious and sets out to solve their problems or take charge of their story in some way. A few examples of picture books that feature characters with notable agency are: ANNI DREAMS OF BIRYANI by Namita Moolani Mehra and Chaaya Prabhat, MARIA THE MATADOR by Anne Lambelet, MY NAME IS NOT ED TUG by Amy Nielander, and STELLA’S STELLAR HAIR by Yesenia Moises.
Complete the following sentence: "Adria is an agent who…"
refers to her slush pile as her “treasure trove” because to her reviewing submissions feels less like wading through slush, and more like sifting through gems.
Thanks for stopping by, Adria! We appreciate learning more about you and how we can improve our craft!
And thank YOU for reading and sharing, kidlit fam. If you find yourself knee-deep in the mushy, slushy query trenches I'm sending you positive vibes today. It's the hardest thing in the world to put yourself out there and be vulnerable enough to share your creativity, to open yourself up for rejection. It's painful, beautiful, exhilarating frustrating, lonely, and thrilling all at once, isn't it? Don't forget to have some fun along the way...you're not your words. You're not your work. You're you! And you're the only you we have. So be kind to yourself. Take a breath. Take a chance. You got this. Your voice matters. Do you believe it?
As I mentioned in my previous post featuring Chris Haughton's book, Well Done, Mommy Penguin, there are some new requirements to enter PB Spotlight giveaways. I opened the social media platforms that "count" when sharing the post. And all posts have to include our hashtag (#PBSpotlight). And don't forget to subscribe to PB Spotlight as well! So, if you want to toss your name in the digital raffle hat to win Adria's PB query letter critique, make sure you subscribe and share! Thanks in advance!
TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY:
✅ Subscribe to Picture Book Spotlight
✅ Share post on social media using the hashtag: #PBSpotlight
Accepted platforms: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok
Follows and tags are appreciated so I don't miss your sharing!
***The deadline for this contest is Monday, February 13th at 9 AM CST
Winner(s) will be contacted on Monday, February 13th & announced on Brian's social media channels***
About Adria Goetz
Adria Goetz is a Senior Literary Agent with P.S. Literary Agency. She accepts queries for picture books, middle grade, adult fiction, graphic novels, as well as quirky gift books and Christian devotionals.
Adria is a 2016 graduate of the Columbia Publishing Course in New York City, a six-week intensive course on all aspects of book, magazine, and digital media publishing. She is also a graduate of the University of Washington in Seattle with a B.A. in English with a creative writing emphasis. Adria also worked for Washington’s Pierce County Library System for two years. In 2019, she was selected as a Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree.
Her mission statement says: “I look for books that delight readers, that comfort readers, that help readers escape for a while when they need to, that help inspire wonder and imagination, that foster deep empathy and compassion for our fellow human beings, that provide rich character representation of marginalized people groups, that take the reader on an adventure, that uncover fascinating stories from history’s footnotes, that make people laugh or cry or jump from fright, stories that explore the female experience, that ask nitty gritty questions and don’t settle for easy answers, that make people disappointed when they have to close the book and go to bed, and books that add a touch of magic to readers’ lives.“
Adria lives in an old Victorian home in the Seattle area (which she hopes dearly is haunted with a few friendly ghosts) with her husband Alex and their two darling kittens, Maple and Mulberry.
Some quick links with information you may want to know about Adria:
Visual MSWL – Kid Lit: https://bit.ly/2Xe3uT8
Visual MSWL – Adult: http://bit.ly/2HRV3Wv
Books she’s worked on: https://bit.ly/2zc7hIH
Submission guidelines: https://www.psliterary.com/submissions/
This is a bio about wolves. Because SOME people think the previous pretend bio had a significant lack of wolves. This bio shall remedy this egregious oversight. So what's up with Brian and wolves? Why this obsession? Just...why? This bio will shed light on this complex and nuanced issue. Wolves are awesome. Put them in your books. Fear them. Respect them. Be glad you are not being actively hunted by them. That's it. If you want to increase your chances of winning the query critique by Adria, please howl at the moon like the wolf you are...the emoji code is the moon. Moon emoji posts will receive three additional entries for this giveaway. Happy hunting, fellow wolves!