Saturday, August 2, 2014

Agent's Panel: Alexandra Penfold

Alexandra Penfold is an agent at Upstart Crow Literary and has been working in publishing for over a decade. She is also an author of picture books and cookbooks. She represent everything from young picture books to young adults.


Alexandra likes books that show her something about the world or about life, books that take her to a place away from where she lives. She's drawn to books that recognize that kids are smart.

On cover letters: There's nothing more disappointing than a cover letter that gets you so excited to read the manuscript only to open it up and be disappointed. Be sure your work is delivering on the promise you make in your cover letter.

As an agent (and an editor) you want a writer's second book to be even more successful than their first. As an agent Alexandra wants to help her clients hone their focus moving forward into a career.

If you think about brand as your reputaiton it makes you think about what you do, including on social media.

Lin flips the panel topic around to: What doesn't hook you?

Alexandra gets a lot of picture book submissions. Awful rhyme makes Alexandra cringe. She loves poetry when it's joyful and done well. But it doesn't work when the story bends to fit the rhyme. Books can also be lyrical without rhyming.

Lin: How do you see the children's publishing landscape today?

It's been a fantastic year for picture books. There's been a resurgence. "Yay, picture books."

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