SCBWI Highlights: Your Impact and Agent’s Thoughts on Industry

Gary Schmidt was the final keynote speaker at the SCBWI 41st Annual Summer Conference. He echoed the sentiment about surprises in his own unique way saying, “the only gift that God gives us that he can’t enjoy are surprises.”

He also said, “As writers, never doubt that your stories can change a kid’s life.”

Power stuff there. Realizing the impact a book we write can have on a reader. On a complete stranger we may never meet.

The three day conference ended with a book signing party. BTW, it’s a great way to find new books to read, talk to debut authors, and meet fellow writers in line.

The next day, I attended an additional intensive with agents, hearing their take on lots of aspects of the publishing industry. Here are a few of my takeaways:

  • Editors are looking for award winning books and bestsellers. Agents try to take on books with the potential to do that.
  • Agents do prioritize conference attendees queries over cold queries.
  • As a writer, it’s important to stop and think about what you want your career to be. Whatever you want your career to be, it can be. But be honest with yourself, can you produce 2-4 books a year or 1 book every 2-3 years?
  • Sometimes in auctions it’s not the highest dollar value that wins. Authors need to find an editor whose vision for the book matches the author’s vision.
  • Agents must feel intense/passionate about your book to take it on. Must live with it for a while.
  • Agents are advocates for writers.
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16 Responses to SCBWI Highlights: Your Impact and Agent’s Thoughts on Industry

  1. I am thoroughly enjoying these posts, Kourtney. thanks for sharing.

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’d love to attend a big writer’s conference, but it seems many are in the fall, and I’m too busy and can’t get away. Plus, I have other conferences in my field to attend. I’m hoping there is one in the spring.

  3. Great post, Kourtney. Sounds like a really good conference.

  4. jmmcdowell says:

    Excellent post, as always, Kourtney. But a bit depressing to hear more of the agents and editors are looking for bestsellers and award-winning books. That’s a small percentage of the books that are published and relegates a lot of good, entertaining books to the slush pile.

    I hope those agents and editors understand why so many new authors are going straight to indie publishing!

    • Thanks JM. I actually had an agent reject my manuscript because she said it wasn’t a best seller. Ouch. So it is something they really consider in offering representation. Indie/small press publishing may be the place more and more authors go to break into publishing.

      • I think you may be right. Mainstream publishers want assured profit and a guaranteed winner/seller. So celebs and high profile people get signed before a solid book by an unknown author.
        Very down to earth – realistic advice from this conference. Thanks

        • I don’t think every agent is looking for that, but many are because many editors are focusing on that. It is sad that our culture is so “celebrity” obsessed. I don’t know why we “celebrate” Snooki or most reality tv stars. It’s sad that they get book deals, but people want to read about them.

          Glad you enjoyed the post!

  5. berry says:

    You give such detailed info. Can’t u find work writing reviews. You’re outstanding.

  6. Time is the most precious commodity in our lives. I read to improve my writing, but I don’t want to get so focused on the reading that the writing gets neglected. 🙂

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