Sunday, February 4, 2018

Agent Panel: Marietta Zacker and Brooks Sherman

Marietta Zacker is the owner of Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency. She is a literary agent who has worked with books, authors, and illustrators throughout her career – studying, creating, editing, marketing, teaching, and selling. She supports independent bookselling, believes in libraries, and takes pride in her work as a Latina in the world of publishing. She is always on the lookout for visual and narrative stories that reflect the world we live in, not the bubbles in which we put ourselves. She loves books that make readers feel and shies away from those that set out to teach the reader a lesson. Whether she is reading a young adult novel, a middle grade novel, or a picture book, Marietta looks for a book in which young readers can identify with the actions and reactions of the characters, not the perspectives of the author or illustrator. She aims to shine the spotlight on soulful, insightful, well-crafted, literary or commercial projects aimed at any age group. Some of the books she is championing during 2018 include This Is It by Daria Peoples-Riley, Sometimes You Fly illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt, Trace by Pat Cummings, It Wasn’t Me by Dana Alison Levy, and the Narwhal & Jelly series by Ben Clanton.

Brooks Sherman is a literary agent with Janklow & Nesbit Associates. He client list includes #1 New York Times best seller Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give), New York Times best seller Adam Silvera (They Both Die at the End), Morris Award winner Becky Albertalli (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda), acclaimed author/illustrator Sam Garton (I Am Otter), and many more. Brooks is currently on the lookout for middle grade fiction of all genres (especially fantasy and contemporary), young adult fiction of all genres except paranormal romance, and character-driven picture books with an emphasis on humor. Across all categories, he seeks projects that balance strong voice with gripping plot–ones that make him laugh earn extra points! He is particularly drawn to stories that elevate marginalized voices and where contemporary social issues are either prominently centered or woven into the worldbuilding; he prefers nuanced narratives over “issue books.” You can find him sharing publishing perspectives and horrible puns on Twitter at @byobrooks.


The panel opens with a joking challenge Brooks puts down, about how he's sure he has the "most random path to publishing." He shares his very circuitous path that includes the Peace Corps – and then Marietta takes the challenge with one sentence, "I was a math major in college."

Brooks speaks about the "absence of trends in the YA space" and how that's a good thing from his perspective, as it allows the focus to be on each story individually, He worries, with the new focus on diversity and #ownvoices, if publishers are starting to emphasize diverse author's identities over their stories.

Marietta also touches on the opportunity the lack of a current YA trend creates, telling us there's now space for all of us to tell our own stories. "Give yourself permission to write your own story" in the way only you can, and how that leaves room for everyone to speak... and how that also means that sometimes, you have to ceed the floor.

The panel talks more about books being relevant to today's issues versus being ever-green, diversity, the line children's and teen books walk between protecting innocence versus telling the truth, and much more!

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