I asked Susan Hawk, the new children's book agent at the Bent Agency, to do a guest blog to introduce herself and let you know a little bit about what she's looking for. As you all know, I am thrilled to pieces to have Susan join the team here. Over to Susan....
This is Susan Hawk, the new children's book agent at The Bent Agency. I'm happy to introduce myself here and tell you something about the kind of books I'm looking for.
I’ve been in children’s books for over 20 years, and I’ve worn a couple hats in that time. Actually, the first job I ever had was at The Cheshire Cat Bookstore, a children’s only bookstore, in
I mention this because it feels like where it all began for me. I re-stocked the shelves, so I touched almost every book in the store. It was here that I saw not only how many truly wonderful books there are in the world, but I saw how happy books can make a person – happy to give, happy to receive, happy to read. And from that time on, books have been a big part of my life.
Fast forward. I moved to
My daughter was born two years ago, and I took some time to be with my kids. I knew I’d go back to working in books, but was ready to try something new. I was considering agenting when a post on a neighborhood parenting list-serv from Jenny Bent caught my eye. She had just started her own agency and was looking for readers. We had coffee on her stoop and agreed that in exchange for me reading, she’d answer my questions about the business. Time passed and we kept talking about agenting. When Jenny suggested that she’d like to add a kids’ book agent to her company, I couldn’t have been more pleased, and here we are today! I feel incredibly lucky to have connected with Jenny, who is smart, funny, so knowledgeable about the business, and who has been incredibly generous to me of her time and wisdom.
Now enough about me – on to what you really want to know: what I’m looking for!
My interests are broad and I’m reading in lots of areas. I plan to work with authors of middle-grade and YA books, both fiction and non-fiction. In the latter I’m looking for something commercial and topical – think of Chew on This. In fiction, I would love to find a wonderful new mystery or historical fiction. I've always been a fan of fantasy, though not really epic, high fantasy. Science-fiction is a particular favorite and I wish there was more of this for kids. I'm interested in boy books, and seeing something that really makes me laugh would be great. I don't run across many things in which religion plays a role, so I'm looking for that as well.
More than any particular plot or genre though, I’m looking for wonderful characters (the kind that you come to know so well that you're still chatting with them long after the book ends) and a unique, arresting voice, wrapped up in a great story. Story is key -- I can never resist a good plot and strong pacing. My tastes run more towards the literary, but I think the best books can’t be typified as either commercial or literary, they are just the sort of books that you can’t help but swallow in one gulp, while never wanting them to end.
I think it’s helpful to know who some of my favorite books and authors are, so I’ll list some here, in no particular order: MT Anderson, Elise Broach, An Na, Adele Griffin, Gennifer Choldenko, Nancy Farmer, Jack Gantos, Katherine Paterson, John Bellairs, Sid Fleischman, Zilpha Keatley Snyder.
So that’s a bit about me. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to seeing your submissions! For information about submitting, please visit: thebentagency.com.