Sunday, February 4, 2018

Agent Panel: Erin Murphy

Erin Murphy is the founder of the legendary Erin Murphy Literary Association.

She started her career as an editor at a small publishing house, where she learned to navigate contracts, and in eighteen years, she’s risen to one of the top agents in the business. The agency represents authors, illustrators, and author/illustrators.  The agency has four agents, including Erin, Ammi Joan Paquette, Tricia Lawrence, and Tara Gonzalez. The agency is currently closed to submissions unless you are a conference attendee. There is no end date to this; Erin wants you to query when you’re ready.

Agency clients include Mike Jung, Kevan Atteberry, K.A. Holt, Janet Fox, and many, many more beloved creators.

Erin talked about what’s happening in the market these days. Children’s books are a bright spot in publishing and have been for several years—which has put us in a position of respect in publishing (even if grudging).

“I feel like it’s generally robust,” she said. That said, the last year has been hard on many people creatively, and it’s delayed some writers and editors. “It felt creatively stagnant on all sides of the table last year.”

But now she’s feeling great about things. One important thing is that we are redefining what it means to be “evergreen.” There are a lot of stories that haven’t been told before and are now being told; these will be tomorrow’s evergreens.

She told us about a book out on submission by an established, trusted author that includes a shocking death and deals with grief. Many editors think it’s too hard of a subject for middle grade readers, which surprises her. (And I know which book she’s talking about. I’ve heard parts of it; it’s breathtaking and beautiful.)

One of Erin’s books is The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater, a nonfiction book about a crime told from the points of view of participants, an important and complex work informed by the author’s journalistic background.

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