|Jennifer Laughran speaking to a packed room|
Jennifer starts her session with sharing her background. She was a bookseller (her family owns an independent bookstore), then a buyer for a major bookstore and an events coordinator.
She became an agent in 2007 and finds the jobs are very similar – matching the right books to the right people… just in a more macro way.
Andrea Brown Literary has nine agents, Jennifer is their NY agent (the main office is in the San Francisco bay area.
They're the #1 children’s agency in the country, and they only represent children’s, PB to YA
Her focus is MG and YA
with a few authors who do PB also,
and a few author/illustrators.
Jennifer has a wonderful blog here's the link and has sold 78 books as of this month since 2008! (27 or so are out already.)
She covers a number of different metaphors and definitions of fiction, positing that fiction is always true, some element of truth, some part of the human condition that you’re exposing – that’s where “write what you know” comes in. It means “write what you know about the human condition to be true.”
She talks about many of the “rules” as a reader, and how you really need to ignore the rules.
A writing tip via author Holly Black:
“Write to please a reader self and not a writer self.”
Jennifer explains that means don’t write things that are boring.
“If you do get dressed in the morning, don’t tell me about it, I’ll take it on faith.” Tell her about what happens when you leave the house and have an adventure.
Write the book that you would have held close to your heart when you were a kid,
a book that only you can write.
“trends suck. I hate them. I think you should be setting trends, not following them.”
The fact that the marketplace has contracted is a good thing for readers, but it’s tough for writers, means we have to work that extra hard. But she praises those of us here doing our work, saying we’re already one step ahead.
She’s running down different kinds of MG and YA books, and urges us to figure out how to differentiate our take on the subject if we’re going to write in a genre that’s well-known. Writing about vampires? How do you have a different take on it?
She explains how each of us can find our voice, defines high concept, and tells us
“There’s always a market for awesome books.”
Her tastes are “at the intersection of beautifully written and highly commercial,” saying the greater a manuscripts un-put-down-ability, the easier it is to sell, and that’s the book she wants to represent. She adds, “I am always interested in fresh unique funny MG and
mysterious, scary YA.”
She took a lot of questions from a very enthusiastic and interested audience, making us laugh many times and sharing so much great information.