Sunday, February 8, 2015

Jennifer Laughran: Agents' Panel

Jennifer Laughran is a senior agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She joined ABLA in 2007 after many years as a buyer and event coordinator for an independent bookstore. Jenn is always on the lookout for sparkling YA and middle grade fiction with unusual and unforgettable characters and vivid settings; the common thread in all her favorite stories is an offbeat world-view. She loves funny books, thrilling books, romantic books, books that make her cry, and all-around un-put-downable books.

Jennifer Laughran on the big screen - and on the Agents Panel

Jennifer talks about the scope of her agenting, from big picture to deals to day-to-day author/illustrator care. A few highlights:

She goes into detail about the ways she helps her illustrator clients get their work in front of art directors and agents. Hint: make sure you have a good website with an online portfolio, showing a broad range of styles, action, movement, kid characters...

In fielding a question about how she feels about clients who want to write in two different genres, Jennifer says it depends: "Are you good at both?" She cites her client Kate Messner's range of titles, genres and categories and how they strategize Kate's releases with a color-coded calendar! (p.s. - she's sold 30 books for Kate!)

Query letters: Long enough to cover what she needs to know, but short enough to intrigue her.

On success: "George" is a middle-grade debut novel by Alex Gino that Jennifer sold overnight to Scholastic. They got it Monday evening and made an offer Tuesday morning. It's being talked about as an overnight success. Except for the eight years Alex spent writing it. And the additional year the author worked with Jennifer on the book before it was sent out on submission. So it's really "a decades-long success."

Jennifer represents a lot of established authors and also a lot of debut authors. She looks out at the room of over 1,000 authors and illustrators and tells us she's always looking for new people, and hopes some of her future clients are in the room.

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