Sunday, August 7, 2011

Agent Panel: Marcia Wernick

Marcia Wernick has brought some of our favorite creators into the publishing world, like Mo Willems and Peggy Rathmann. Her new agency, Wernick & Pratt, just celebrated its six-month anniversary. She promises their website will be updated soon.

Thoughts on digital publishing?

The digital world offers a lot of opportunities, but it's not a replacement for publishers. It's changing the way
Opportunities for game apps, things linked to picture books, but I don't think it Most of our job is to be your advocate and business advisor, this is part of what we have to do, guide you through whether digital publishing will be good for your career.

In your opinion, is there a genre or age-group category that's drying up right now? Or one that's thriving?

Marcia: I think there's always a market for a well-crafted, strong original voice. It took her two and a half years to sell DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS, but it did sell, eventually.

One market more challenged than the others is the non-fiction market. It's taken a hit. It's traditionally been geared to the school and library markets, both of which have endured big budget cuts.

You have a client, you've sold four books with the client. They deliver their next book and you don't love it, what do you do? 

Sometimes, to support my opinion that it's not working, I'll share the manuscript with Linda Pratt to get her opinion and share that with the author, too. On occasion I'll share it with the editor who is publishing that author, too.

When you go out with a manuscript from a debut author, what makes you sure you can sell it?

This industry is driven passion, so I need to be passionate about the manuscript. I am the Mama Bear, I make sure my client is taken care of and their work is out there. I feel an incredible entitlement on behalf of my client. It's their right to get their work out there—it's our right. 

How do you find illustrators?

Most of my clients have come through referrals. Some digital submissions, sometimes meeting them at conferences. One of the things that's very different about looking at artwork vs. illustration is an illustration portfolio needs to show characters. And character development and emotion moving or changing through an illustrator's portfolio.

What happens if you can't sell something?

It's important that while I'm trying to sell a project the author continues to move forward by working on new projects. We're looking long term, I'm not just interested in selling one project.

If you were given a magic wand to change one thing in publishing, what would that thing be?

On the business side, I like escalating royalties across the board.

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