Happy Tuesday and welcome to Picture Book Spotlight!
Today is a pretty special day. It feels crazy to even type this but...my debut picture book, THE BOOK OF RULES, comes out in exactly 10 months from today. Bahhh!!!! What is happening? I don't even know. I need an adult.
But enough about all that. Today we have the first of MANY awesome Agent Spotlights lined up for 2021. I'm super pumped for Paige to be our first! Paige recently joined Andrea Brown Literary Agency as an associate agent and will be actively building her client list. Did you catch that? Let me rephrase...
NEW AGENT ALERT!!!
Update that query doc and buckle up!
Ahem. Where was I? Oh, right. Paige. Paige will be doing a pretty nifty giveaway with this post so be sure to check that out. But don't just scroll to the bottom of this post like some uncivilized wolf. Only wolves do that. You're not a wolf. You read things. You read all the things. Especially my really important bios at the bottom of these interviews. I had my wife, Katherine, do some new headshots and I have to say...she really captured my mischievous side. Enjoy.
Name three things you can't do your job without.
Can I say coffee three times? No? Then it’ll have to be my glasses, an endless supply of snacks (it’s brain food!), and the hilarious and supportive Slack channel with my fellow Andrea Brown Lit agents (in all honestly the combined hive mind is an incalculable resource.)
What’s something you absolutely must have in your refrigerator or pantry?
Another answer where coffee is the first thing that comes to mind, but apples with peanut butter is a close second.
Congrats on joining Andrea Brown! Back when I was seeking representation, it was always so exciting to learn about new agents. What are you looking forward to the most about your new role at Andrea Brown Literary Agency?
I am excited to work with amazing authors and illustrators. The book world is full of creative, dedicated people and it’s a joy to see the spark of an idea develop into an actual book you can hold in your hands and gaze at lovingly on a shelf.
I’ve had an array of jobs and I like to think they all directed me toward agenting in some way or another. I worked in marketing and communications at the National Renewable Energy Lab and Department of Energy; web and graphic design for behavioral health businesses; and even scooping horse poop at a ranch in the Rockies. But after all that I realized books will always have my heart, so I went back to school—getting an MA in Children’s Literature and an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. Then it was all books all the time: marketing at Candlewick, interning for literary agencies, freelance editing for Charlesrbidge Publishing, assisting Executive Agent Laura Rennert, and now an Associate Agent.
When you think about building your client list, what are you most excited to see? What are your absolute priorities in terms of genre/audience/style/kind of stories, etc?
I represent picture books, MG, YA, and select adult fiction. It’s fun to see such variety in my inbox, but I think I am most excited to find some chapter book or lower MG graphic novels with spunky, adventurous characters that could be spun into a series. I adored Harriet the Spy as a kid and I would love another gutsy, genderfluid detective on my bookshelf. (Harriet was totally genderfluid in my imagination!) Regardless of genre, I am seeking inclusive, intersectional voices and gorgeous line-level writing with emotionally compelling narratives.
Rhyming can be really tricky to get right, but when it works it’s amazing (look at how unbelievable Tammi Sauer is!) I don’t want to rule it out, but I’ll admit, I am really picky about it.
To help us learn more about your tastes, what are three picture books that you would have LOVED to represent?
Oh, narrowing it down to three is tough, there are so many amazing books in the world! I adored Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love—the gorgeous art, the sparse, vivid narrative, it was all completely heartwarming and lovely. I also still crack up any time I read Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back, the humor is dark and delightful, and who wouldn’t love Klassen’s stylish art. Last, I’m going to cheat and give two more that have recently published—All Because You Matter by Tami Charles and Eyes That Kiss at the Corners by Joanna Ho—because they both feel like love letters to readers that haven’t been represented enough in children’s literature. They both are poignant, simultaneously timeless and timely, and contain powerful messages of love. I can see these books becoming cherished classics in no time.
In terms of query letters, what is the most important thing authors and illustrators need to accomplish in this first impression?
For picture books I look for a captivating hook and strong line level writing above all else. There are a lot of picture books, what makes yours stand out? Also, picture books are sparse, so make every word count and be sure to leave room for the artist to advance the narrative even more.
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?
Yes, absolutely! My colleague Jennifer March Soloway always says, “revision is magical,” and I absolutely agree. The Andrea Brown Literary Agency has a policy, when resubmitting it needs to be a substantial revision and after six months’ time. Of course, there is some flexibility here, but the rationale behind the timeframe is so authors don’t feel rushed. It’s important to take the time to really dig into revisions and to seek counsel from a critique group.
I would recommend that an author ask themselves if their book is as strong as they can make it. I see a lot of writers getting so excited by simply finishing a draft, they start to query. And while I totally understand this impulse, remember you’ve only got one shot at a first impression. I’d also check my website (paigeterlip.com) and the ABLA website (andreabrownlit.com) to make sure that you are following submission guidelines and that I am the best fit.
If we could put on “Paige Terlip eyes” to look critically at our stories, what is ONE THING that you always look for that we can too?
I always look for voice, which sounds weird when you say it out loud, but voice is truly what makes a book stand out for me. An exciting premise hooks my interest, but characters and voice keep me reading.
never stops learning and believes life should be an adventure.
Thank you so much for stopping by, Paige!
And thank you for reading, kidlit fam! Say, how would you like a chance to get your manuscript directly to the top of Paige's inbox and also...wait for it...get feedback on your work!? Yepp. That's the giveaway. See details below for your chance to win a picture book manuscript critique by Paige!
PB Manuscript Critique by Paige Terlip!
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The deadline for this contest is Tuesday, January 26th at 9AM CST
The winner will be contacted on Tuesday, January 26th and announced on Twitter and Facebook
About Paige Terlip
Paige Terlip represents all categories of children’s books from picture books to young adult, as well as select adult fiction and nonfiction. She is also actively building her list of illustrators and is especially looking for author-illustrators and graphic novel illustrators.
Across age categories, Paige is drawn to high concept novels with captivating hooks, snarky characters with hearts of gold, creative magic systems, complicated relationships, and found families. She loves well-plotted twists, being a little bit scared, and stories that explore the fluidity of gender and bring queer experiences to light. Regardless of genre, she is seeking inclusive, intersectional voices and gorgeous line-level writing with emotionally compelling narratives.
On the adult side she is open to thrillers/psychological suspense, fantasy/sci-fi, upmarket fiction, cozy mysteries, as well as narrative nonfiction and self-help that centers the mind, body, and spirit. She loves stories that make her feel a range of emotions, even if that means she ugly cries while reading. She wants a narrative that will stick with her long after reading.
Prior to becoming an Associate Agent, Paige was a Senior Assistant for Executive Agent Laura Rennert, and has been with ABLA for over three years. She comes to agenting with a background in marketing, design, and freelance editorial. She’s worked at Charlesbridge Publishing, The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and a ranch in the Rockies. She has an MA in Children's Literature and an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons University. If she’s not reading, you'll find her practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, re-watching the Great British Baking Show, or hiking with her Husky-Shepherd mix.
Brian Gehrlein is actually a monster named Dennis. Yepp. Dennis. This is Dennis. Dennis comes to life in exactly 10 months. He is excited to exist--mostly so he can eat children. But don't worry, he only eats children when they don't follow the rules. This is the end of Brian's pretend bio. You now know zero things about Brian. Congratulations. Still reading this? Perhaps you're looking for a certain emoji code. Remember those? Yeah, me too. Why don't we send Dennis a little love and do a purple monster. Yeah, that. Add a purple monster emoji in your retweet of this post and I will give you 3X entries into Paige's giveaway raffle. Aren't you glad you read to the end? I bet you are. I bet you are...