Sunday, February 10, 2019

The #NY19SCBWI Agent/Editor Panel: Tanusri Parsanna, Alexander Slater, and Mekisha Telfer

(left to right:) Tanusri Prasanna, Alexander Slater, and Mekisha Telfer

Tanusri Prasanna is an agent at Foundry Literary + Media representing children’s books, middle grade, and YA. Picture books are at the heart of her list. She's especially looking for author/illustrators.


"The real debate on diversity needs to be on the gatekeeper level... We're really not doing nearly enough."

"If I love it, really love it, I feel confident that I can sell it."

"It really helps, at the agent level, to say 'don't try to write to trends... write what you're bursting to write.'"

Everything that you're writing in a year isn't going to be pearls. 'I have this amazing book coming out, what else do I want to have out there along with that?' Don't throw stuff out there because you're impatient. Be thoughtful about what you're submitting next.

Alexander Slater is an agent at Trident Media Group — his own list focuses on YA and middle grade, graphic novels, and some picture books.


re: graphic novels "publishers are giving creators the reins" and that's exciting. "I'm not getting as many queries for graphic novels as I want" and Alexander finds he's reaching out to illustrators to encourage them to put together a graphic novel proposal (and he's sold a few of those.)

Diversity is something we should be working on throughout the industry.

Diversify who you're reading, and who you're critiquing with.

In response to a discussion about subscription boxes, "I always tell my clients, 'we need to come up with marketing ideas that don't cost the publisher anything'."

Mekisha Telfer is an associate editor at Roaring Brook Press (Macmillian), where she is building a list of picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels. Her sweet spot is middle grade and YA.


Roaring Brook has First Second as their sister imprint, and Mekisha echoes the panels' interest in graphic novels. "I just bought a graphic novel that was just a script, no illustrator attached."

Something she wants to see more of is more novels about the LGBTQ experience.

"There's still work on the diversity front to be done in the industry... Marginalized children are still under-represented."

On having a "balanced list" - Mekisha speaks of passion being a driver of publishing (she doesn't have to acquire a book if she doesn't love it), and how that means that the more well-rounded your publishing staff, the more well-rounded your list will be.


The panel covers creative trends (what editors are interested in right now), diversity, #ownvoices, financial/marketplace trends, what happens in acquisitions meetings, "quieter" books, how to decide what to work on next, their best advice for those just starting out and those already published, and so much more!

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