Thursday, May 21, 2020

#SCBWIdigital Workshop: Marietta Zacker Presents "A Creative Look at the State of Children’s/YA Books"

Marietta Zacker

Marietta Zacker is Co-Owner and Agent at the Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency. She 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.

Once again, today's #SCBWIdigital workshop is interpreted in sign language by Jennye Kamin. In Lin's introduction, she mentions that there will be six additional SCBWIdigital workshops that are free for SCBWI members in June and July!

Lin then introduces Marietta, calling her "passionate," "inspiring," and someone who "leads with her heart."

Marietta opens with some stats, from a recent Publishers Weekly article, citing that children's and teen bookselling is generally going strong amidst the COVID-19 crisis.

Marietta Zacker (at bottom) shares in her #SCBWIdigital workshop. At top is ASL interpreter Jennye Kamin. 

She is asked all the time, "What should I write? What should I illustrate?" Marietta notes that the books being sought right now offer readers an escape, truth, hope, or are practical. But, she reminds us, "Anything you write or illustrate now won't be published for another couple of years." So what to focus on?

Just because we're in this crisis now, doesn't change the needs our young people have. You need to think about what is important to you as a writer. "What's important to your heart to get out? That's what people are going to want. It's about what's authentic to you."

A screen shot from Marietta's presentation, with her key takeaways for us. 

What are agents and editors looking for? What they're always looking for, only maybe now more so. Escapist, Truthful, Hopeful, and always Authentic.

Marietta shares some examples of picture book, middle grade, and young adult books that "perfectly encapsulate" these four elements: in them you can escape, find truth, find hope, and they're authentic.
Picture Book and Middle Grade examples

YA examples

“It’s about being truthful to yourself and being authentic about what you write.”
Marietta answers attendee questions ranging from the COVID-19 crisis impact on advances, online book marketing, critical skills for authors and illustrators, #OwnVoices, and much more.

One final gem to share: When asked to define authenticity, Marietta challenges us to consider:

“Is the story you’re telling one that only YOU could tell in the way you’re telling it?”

Thank you, Marietta!

Stay safe, all.

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