Today I have the pleasure of hosting Jill Corcoran, a literary agent with the Herman Agency and a speaker at the SCBWI Southern Breeze Region's SpringMingle conference in Atlanta Feb. 22-24, 2013.
Jill Corcoran primarily represents children's books. She has sold over 60 books and recently signed her first movie deal. Her clients include Robin Mellom, Janet Gurtler, Martha Brokenbrough, Kelly Milner Halls, Ralph Fletcher and Jen Arena. Jill also is the editor of DARE TO DREAM...CHANGE THE WORLD (KANE MILLER, 2012), a poetry anthology which includes Ellen Hopkins, Jane Yolen, J. Patrick Lewis, and Lee Bennett Hopkins.
Recently, I talked to Jill about her work and her upcoming sessions at SpringMingle. Below are highlights of our conversation.
Q. Jill, you were an author before you were an agent and (correct me if I'm wrong) you presently wear both hats. How do you balance these two careers?
A. I mostly agent. I have slowed down on my writing quite a bit. It is hard to do it all as I also have 3 children. What I do love is creating poetry anthologies like DARE TO DREAM...CHANGE THE WORLD (Kane Miller, Fall 2012). I hope to come up with another great theme and create that anthology some time in the future.
Q. I read online that you are a member of SCBWI. How has SCBWI helped you as a writer and an agent?
A. I love SCBWI. I have met all of my writer friends though SCBWI and many of my clients through SCBWI conferences. I have learned so much, and continue to learn from every conference I go to.
Q. Tell me a little about what to expect in your Spring Mingle general session, "Great Expections."
A. Beck McDowell and I will be talking about what expectations are on both sides of the author/agent relationship. What expectations are reasonable? What are unreasonable? How do you work out those differences? Plus all the ways an agent and author work together to grow an author's career.
Q. Your split session is "What Makes a Manuscript Sale-able." Is there one thing above everything else that makes a manuscript salable? If so, what is that one thing? Can you tell us a little more about this session?
A. I have a blog post called WHAT MAKES A BOOK SELL and I will quote some of it here:
"What makes a book sell to a publisher, and sell-through to readers?
It is NOT how fabulous your website or blog is. It is NOT how many facebook or twitter friends you have, how many publishing links you forward or put on said website, blog, facebook and twitter. It is not how much editors and agents like you, though being a pain in the arse will NOT help you in any way, shape or form.
What sells a book is THE WRITING coupled with an ORIGINAL, COMPELLING CONCEPT!"
Q. I see you take email queries only. What triggers a "yes, send me the rest of the manuscript," response from you?
A. When I can't put those first 10 pages down and I have to find out what happens next. That = a YES!
Q. On the agency website, you say you're interested in high concept Young Adult Middle Grade Thrillers, Mystery, Romance, Romantic Comedies, and Adventure manuscripts. Do you have a favorite from this list? Is there a particular kind of manuscript that you'd really like to find?
A. I am looking for original voices and concepts. There is no favorite. Simply, I am looking for a book I cannot put down. A character I want to carry in my head. Writing that blows me away.
Q. What are you absolutely not looking for at this time? Is there a particular type of manuscript (or first 10 pages) that you see over and over and wish you never had to see again?
A. I am not looking for poetry, plays, screenplays, dystopia, vampires, devils and angels (I represent Martha Brockenbrough's DEVINE INTERVENTION, Arthur Levine/Scholastic 2012 and the SWEET EVIL TRILOGY, HarperCollins, 2012, 21013, 2014), and historical fiction for which the author has not done a great deal of research for setting/dialog/plot/etc.
Q. You are the editor of DARE TO DREAM. . . CHANGE THE WORLD (Kane Miller, 2012), a poetry anthology which includes Ellen Hopkins, Jane Yolen, J. Patrick Lewis, & Lee Bennett Hopkins. Tell me about this book.
inspiration for DARE TO DREAM...CHANGE THE WORLD came during a car
ride, listening to NPR cover the uprising of the Egyptian people against
their oppressive government. I have been to Egypt twice and remember
the extreme riches, and poverty, as well as needing to be escorted by
gunman with assault rifles to keep safe. I was overcome by the courage
of the Egyptian people and amazed by the role of social networking to
bring their dreams and actions instantly to the rest of the world.
To me, the tweets were like poetry, capturing the essence of
the people's hopes, fears, strength and determination.
The title of this collection sprung into being during that car ride as well as the dream of a collection of poems by the best children's poets living today to share the spirit of dreaming + action = change and that each one of us can make the world just a little better.
Dare to Dream … Change the World pairs biographical and inspirational poems focusing on people who invented something, stood for something, said something, who defied the naysayers and not only changed their own lives, but the lives of people all over the world.
The poets included were chosen because they too have informed, inspired and engaged young people throughout their careers with both their actions and their words.
My hope is that the Dare to Dream…Change the World can spark a paradigm shift from resigned to inspired.
Please see my website www.daretodreamchangetheworld.com for a free 30 page Common Core State Standards Curriculum Guide, bios of the contributing poets, and information about the Annual Dare to Dream Poetry Contest for Kids with prizes of donation of $1,500 worth of Kane Miller and Usborne books to the winner’s school library or a library of their choice plus an ebook to be published by Kane Miller of the top 30 poems.
Q. There are many changes going on in publishing. What are your feelings and predictions on the future of writing, publishing, children's book publishing, in 2013 and beyond? Do you see e-books taking over? Do you see the rolls of agent, editor, author changing? How do you feel about authors who self-publish?
A. Kids need to read good books, plain and simple. An unedited, poorly illustrated home-spun book is not going to cut it. BUT, for me DISCOVERABILITY is the key to publishers survival. Publishers already know how to publish great books. They do it better than most self-published books. But, they need to hone their marketing and publicity skills and develop new ways of reaching readers.
I do not believe e-books will take over as much as they are another means to share intellectual property with readers. The story, the words, the characters, setting, plot, etc=the book. How we read it does not determine the quality of that book.
Q. On the same note, tell me about new books on the horizon for your current clients.
A. I can't discuss all of them because some of them are hush, hush....strange, right? But some ideas we keep under wraps to make a big splash when they hit bookshelves and e-readers. Here are some books coming in 2013:
Janet Gurtler's HOW I LOST YOU about two girls who have been best fiends forever coming to terms with a change in their relationship and learning when it's best to hold on and when it's best to let go, Sourcebooks Fire, Spring 2013. This is Janet's 5 YA book of 7 that she is writing for Sourcebooks.
Robin Mellom's THE CLASSROOM, book 2, Hyperion-Disney. This is book 2 of a 4 book deal, and Robin also has her YA DITCHED plus a new YA coming out from Hyperion soon.
Wendy Higgins's SWEET PERIL and SWEET RECKONING, books 2 and 3 of the SWEET EVIL trilogy, in which a half-angel/half-demon is our last hope to rid the earth of demons and must choose between her love for Kaidan (son of the demon of Lust) and her angelic destiny, HarperCollins 2013 & 2014.
Wendy Higgins's FLIRTING WITH MAYBE, in which a tenth-grade baseball star falls hard for a senior girl but finds himself benched in the friend zone until one drunken night changes everything, Harper Teen Impulse (this is a YA Digital)
Denise Lewis Patrick’s LIFE GETS TWISTED pitched as the THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET twisted with the Southern African-American experience unearthing the raw reality of prejudice, courage, perseverance and love, Carolrhoda Lab.
Gary Urey's debut SUPER SCHNOZ AND THE GATES OF SMELL, when a corporation pollutes his school, a boy with a massive nose transforms into Super Schnoz, a nostril-flaring, booger-blasting, crime-fighting superhero and works with his friends to defeat evil, and save their summer vacation, Albert Whitman.
Kelly Milner Halls' COURAGEOUS CANINE, featuring a pitbull who lost her leg when she saved her owner from an oncoming train; a pod of dolphins who saved a surfer from a great white shark, and a gorilla who saved a three-year old boy after he fell into the gorilla enclosure at the zoo, National Geographic Children's
Kenn Nesbitt's KISS, KISS, GOOD NIGHT in which baby animals snuggle in tight with their mothers to say good night, Scholastic.
Aimee Reid's LITTLE GREY, in which a baby elephant dreams of growing big while spending a playful day in the forest with his mother, Random House Children's Books
And of course Beck McDowell has more books coming! IMMORTELLE, in which mysterious mementoes in a New Orleans cemetery lure a girl into a terrifying journey that leaves her wrapped in the arms of one boy and longing for another, Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin will be coming to you in 2014.
There are so many more but the above is a sampling of what I rep.
Q. Have you ever been to Georgia?
A. Nope and I am so looking forward to it.
Q. Anything else on the horizon that you can tell us about?
A. I am starting a new educational venture to give writers the opportunity to learn more about traditional publishing, publishers and agents. I am just now creating these workshops so the topics and dates are still up in the air. Workshops will be live, 9pm EST.
Each workshop will consist of 3 presenters plus a moderator. I will either be on screen as facilitator...and in some workshops I will participate as a presenter too.http://apathtopublishing.com/
Thanks, Jill. We're looking forward to your SpringMingle visit and sessions. Here is more information on Jill's sessions.
General Session: Great Expectations: what are the expectations on both sides of the author/agent relationship? What expectations are reasonable? What are unreasonable, and how do you work out those differences? This session will feature Jill with her author Beck McDowell.
Split Session: What Makes a Manuscript Sale-able? Providing examples of books from many genres, Jill will talk about what has sold as well as some which, while well written, were not contracted.
For more information about SpringMingle '13, visit the Southern Breeze Region website.
To register for SpringMingle '13, which will take place Feb. 22-24, 2013, in Atlanta, GA, go to the registration site.
Know who else will be at Springmingle '13? Check out this list, follow the blog tour to meet them, then register to see them in person at www.southern-breeze.net
Jan. 21: Will Terry, illustrator, at Elizabeth O. Dulemba's blogFor more information, visit the work-in-progress website for A PATH TO PUBLISHING:
Jan. 22: Beck McDowell, author, at Bonnie Herold's "Tenacious Teller of Tales"
Jan. 23: Nikki Grimes, author, at Gail Handler's "Write From the Soul"
Jan. 24: Jill Corcoran, agent, at Donny Seagraves' blog
Jan. 25: Chad Beckerman, creative director, at Laura Golden's blog
Jan. 28: Katherine Jacobs, editor, at Cathy C. Hall's blog
Jan. 29: Mark Braught, illustrator, at Vicky Alvear Shecter's "History with a Twist"
Jan. 30: Carmen Agra Deedy, author, at Ramey Channell's "The Moonlight Ridge Series"