Marcia speaking to the room of PAL Session attendees
Marcia Wernick is the agent that introduced Mo Willems to the publishing world. Previously at the Sheldon Fogelman Agency, together with Linda Pratt she launched Wernick & Pratt Agency in January 2011.
Marcia starts her workshop speaking about career paths, and how there's no magic - it takes years of struggle and commitment to become an overnight success (she recalls that it took her two and a half years for her to sell "Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus.")
For your path, you need to find your strengths, hone your skills and keep creating...
She's advising us how to be strategic in choosing what you are going to work on next, and sharing about how placing a second book is different than placing a third book - when the third book is being submitted, there's already a track record on how your debut novel sold, and that's considered as part of the acquisitions process.
She goes into depth on how you need to treat this writing/illustrating career as a business, and how you need to rally your business team:
Your writers group
your editorial relationship
And if a publicist isn't possible, what creative things can you do marketing-wise to entice readers to come to you?
Social media (PB authors don't need to be on facebook)
Conferences - which ones (besides SCBWI) to attend!
She spoke about ways to diversify your portfolio - from writing to other age categories to licensing.
One of the great points she shared:
We need to have a business plan, and to review it at regular intervals for what we've achieved and which goals need to be re-set. She urges us to set realistic goals that are under our control (you can't set winning the Newbery Award or getting starred reviews as a goal, since you don't control those) but you CAN set a goal of delivering a new draft of a manuscript in the next six months, or contacting your local newspaper, or getting 300 new facebook friends in the next month... She also suggests keeping these lists of checked-off goals as an "inventory of achievements."
And Marcia urges us to not get caught up in comparing ourselves to others (there will always be someone doing better in terms of NY Times bestseller lists, awards, and other authors/illustrators doing worse...) We should keep in mind there are lots of other measures of success, and suggests a few:
solid, consistent publication of your books
support of your indie bookstore
making state library book lists
subsidiary rights sales
And Marcia concluded the session with a fun and super-informative Q&A, fielding questions on when to leave your day job, how to approach publishing in more than one age category, pseudonyms, and many more!