Saturday, March 30, 2013

Young Adult/Middle-Grade Intern Opening

As well as the three adult fiction interns we're looking for, we also have an opening for a remote, unpaid intern who loves to read young adult and middle-grade fiction by authors like:

Stephanie Perkins
Rebecca Stead
Patrick Ness
Gayle Forman
Jack Gantos
Rae Carson
Laura Jarrett
Philip Pullman
James Dawson
Maureen Johnson

You don't have to love (or even have read) all of those authors, but you should definitely have read more YA/MG than just THE HUNGER GAMES and HARRY POTTER! Ideally, you're an avid reader of books for young people and you're familiar with both the classics and more recently-published novels. 

Interested? Send an email to Tell us why you want the internship and something about yourself, or include a resume if you have one (but it's not necessary). Include two lists: the last ten books you read and your ten favorite YA/MG books of all time. 

We ask for a ten-hours-a-week commitment at the minimum. If you've applied in the past, you're welcome to apply again.

We usually get a great many applicants and the application period will close fairly quickly: watch this space and Twitter (@mollykh) for details.

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Post-Bologna Post from Molly

Note the grey skies. Dismay at the dreary weather was the no. 1 topic of conversation

I'm still in a post-Bologna fugue state. I flew in early Monday morning, brandishing my new British passport for the first time since becoming a dual citizen, and promptly found myself in the world's longest taxi queue. An editor friend close to the front of the queue, flushed with excitement at having already bought "the book of the fair," rescued me and we shared a cab to our respective hotels. 

Taxi-queue rescuer, big spender, and Bookseller-headline-grabber Ben Horslen of Puffin UK. You'd be grinning too if you'd had the week he had

The driver dropped my friend off first and then I had a chance to warm up my very rusty Italian. 

"Americana?" the driver asked me. 

"Americana e inglese," I answered proudly. "Ho due passaporti."

"Ah," he nodded. "Come James Bond." 

Yes. Exactly like James Bond. 

My new favorite taxi driver ever waited while I dropped my suitcase at my hotel and then it was off to la fiera and the first of 33 scheduled appointments. 

The Literary Agents Centre directory. I still can't believe no one got out a sharpie and added an apostrophe

Mostly, Gemma and I met with U.S. editors, though we saw a fair number of U.K. editors and foreign rights representatives, too, discussing our clients' projects but also the editors', always looking for a sense of what each editor is looking for and the trends she sees in her market.

The Agents' Centre. Everyone in this photograph is complaining about the weather

Exhausting? Absolutely. But anyone who knows me knows I love to talk, and the added joy of catching up with so many friends and colleagues kept me energetic even when I was running on just a few hours' sleep. And there were lots of chance meetings, too, as I hurried from publishers' exhibit stands back to the Agents' Centre, including one with the president of the publishing house that hired me as an editorial assistant nearly twenty-one years ago. Seeing him brought me back to the summer I started that job, just a few weeks after I'd graduated, when my first task was to help the editorial director make her appointments for the Frankfurt Book Fair (which is like the Bologna Book Fair, but exponentially larger and not focused solely on children's books). Back then, appointments were made via an endless series of faxes, and within days I became my generation's leading expert on international dialing codes. I knew nothing about publishing, though, and a few days into my Bataan Fax March, I worked up the courage to ask my new boss: "Is it Frankfurt, Germany or Frankfort, Kentucky?" It was not the last stupid question I would ask her.

I hated that thing

It was chilly in Bologna -- spring hasn't arrived there any more than it has in London -- and I wore my big furry boots when I walked out of the fair, carrying my shiny work shoes in a plastic laundry bag from my hotel. After a glorious dinner at Scacco Matto, I didn't realize until I was back at the hotel that I'd left those shiny shoes behind -- so there I was at one in the morning, ringing the tired restaurant owner and stammering, "Mi dispiace, ma ho perso le mie scarpe."  I'm sorry, but I have lost my shoes. Even if I make a million-pound deal off the back of this trip, I will have no prouder Bologna 2013 moment than coming up with that sentence. (I picked up my shoes the next morning. I couldn't have pitched anyone wearing those furry boots.) 

Other highlights: indulging my love of macabre German picture books at the German publishers' stands; trading gossip over magnificent dinners and plenty of local sangiovese; bumping into Peter Sís at the gelato stand and reminiscing about a children's book conference a few years back at Chautauqua which felt like it ought to have been the scene of an old-fashioned murder mystery. The payoff for all the frantic preparation for the fair is the easy camaraderie of an industry full of people who dream regularly about the money they'd have if they still had those Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone galleys they recycled in 1998.

By day three, everyone at the fair knows exactly how Huckle Cat feels

And as soon as it had begun, it was time to go home. I spent a little too long chatting over a farewell gelato with superagent Jennifer Laughran and rushed down to the bancomat for cab fare to the airport, but the queue moved slowly and I started to get anxious. "Here," Jenn said, pressing euros into my hand, "go!" I'd only met her two days before. I guess she figured I was good for it. Then again, children's publishing is a small world; she knows where to find me.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Two-Book Deal for Middlegrade Debut Author Simon P. Clark

It's been a great Bologna Book Fair week for us at TBA, and I'm so pleased to cap it off with a deal announcement for Simon P. Clark, whose middlegrade novel EREN was one of the most confident, sophisticated manuscripts I've ever come across in a slush pile. The first time I read it, I was on the tube, my jaw went slack, and I looked frantically round the carriage for someone to whom I could say: Oh my God, look at this! This is incredible! Even now, having read it a dozen times, it still gives me chills -- it's reminiscent of both SKELLIG and A MONSTER CALLS, and yet EREN is entirely, beautifully unique.

I think we've found it -- and him -- just the right home at Constable & Robinson. Congratulations, Simon!

 International rights:
UK Children's 
Simon Clark's EREN, in which a 12-year-old is whisked away to his uncle's country house in the wake of a scandal involving his father, and encounters a captivating creature in the attic whose attention comes at a sinister price, to Sarah Castleton at Constable & Robinson, in a a two-book deal, for publication in Fall 2014, by Molly Ker Hawn at The Bent Agency (World).
On Twitter? Send Simon your congratulations at @araenvo!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

TBA is looking for three new interns!

We are once again looking for remote (unpaid) interns, people who like to read books by authors like:

Tana French
Eleanor Brown
Jacqueline Sheehan
Jodi Picoult
Gillian Flynn
Lori Roy
Laurie Notaro
Celia Rivenbark
Elin Hilderbrand
Kristin Hannah
Jeannette Walls
Kate Atkinson

This is an eclectic list, so obviously you don't need to like everyone on it! But basically, you should like at least two of the following genres: humor, memoir, upmarket women's fiction and literary suspense.

You do not need to have any kind of publishing experience or even publishing aspirations. We are just looking for people who love books and love to read.  You do not need to live in New York, this is a remote internship.  Please note that it is unpaid.

Please send e-mail to Please put "generalist intern" in the subject line. Tell us why you want the internship, attach a resume if you have one although it's not essential, and list the last ten books you read and your ten favorite books.

Please do not apply if you are primarily a young adult/middle grade reader. It's fine if you do some of that, but we already have our young adult/middle grade specialists in place.

If you have applied in the past you are more than welcome to apply again.

We ask for at least a 10 hour a week time commitment.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Bologna Book Fair Meetings--a post by Gemma

In my last post, I talked generally about what goes on at the Bologna Book Fair, and how our preparations were going.  

Well today, I want to go into greater detail about a key part of our fair experience — meetings. A few times this week my clients have asked how we tackle the half-hour slots we have with editors, film agents, and foreign rights people, so I thought I’d share that answer with you all! 

Firstly, it’s worth remembering that half an hour isn’t a long time, so we need to be focused, organised, and have your pitches polished to perfection. Lots of preparation has already gone into this! 

Meetings take place mostly in the Agents Centre, or sometimes at the editor’s stand. After pleasantries — ‘How are you?’ ‘Did you have a good flight?’ etc. — we get straight down to business. There are two key things we want to know:

What sort of projects are you looking for at the moment?

What are you definitely not looking for?

Spin-off questions from these include:  

What is your dream project?  Some editors have a really specific type of book they are dying to take on. But often people are less specific about what they want, saying just good voice, great characters, a future classic, series potential, etc.  

What are you seeing too much of? This helps us gauge what trends are coming to an end and where the market is saturated. 

What have you bought recently? If the editor has recently bought a YA romance based around a team sport, chances are they aren’t going to want to buy another. 

What have you lost out on recently? If an editor bid for a book and didn’t get it, they might be on the lookout for something similar. 

The answers to these questions help us decide what projects on our submission list would be a great fit for that person. So we listen for the first part of the meeting, and then we start pitching our wonderful clients’ books. Sometimes people just like to hear about everything, and sometimes people just want to hear about one project. We keep pitches short and enticing and if a project sparks an editor’s or co-agent’s interest, we make a note, and send them the full manuscript.

It’s easy to get into a rhythm with meetings after you’ve done a few, but of course each one is slightly different. Some editors we’ve seen recently, so it’s more of a general catch-up, and some have books with us already, so we might take the opportunity to talk about those projects, how they’re going, or whether they are looking to commission more books from those authors. The above isn’t set in stone, but it’s nice to have a rough plan.

And now I really need to go and pack! Molly will be posting a roundup of our Bologna experience when we get back.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Middle-Grade Debut Deal for Shelley Tougas

I'm just back from Southern CA SCBWI Agent's Day, which was great, and wanted to announce TBA's deal for Shelley Tougas's THE GRAHAM CRACKER PLOT.  I knew I wanted to take Shelley's book on when I realized that I hadn't ever read a book that made me laugh out loud, that kept my stomach in knots and that broke my heart in just this way.  It tells the story of an eleven year old Daisy and her sometime-best friend, who plan to break her father out of prison and escape to Canada, in spite of a massive rainstorm, a mini-pony and other calamities.  

Look for THE GRAHAM CRACKER PLOT in Fall 2014, from Roaring Brook Press.  Congratulations, Shelley!

Middle grade 

Shelley Tougas's middle grade debut THE GRAHAM CRACKER PLOT, in which an eleven year old girl and her sometime-best friend plan to break her father out of prison and escape to Canada, in spite of a massive rainstorm, a mini-pony and other calamities, to Nancy Mercado at Roaring Brook Press, in a very nice deal, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in Fall 2014, by Susan Hawk at The Bent Agency (World English).

Monday, March 18, 2013

Molly Closed to Queries until Monday 1 April

Authors: I'm closing to queries until after the Bologna Book Fair. It's an exceptionally busy time of year for me and I just can't give submissions the attention they deserve until I'm back from Bologna.

If you submit to me before then, you'll get an automatic response saying that I will be accepting queries again after Monday 1 April. Queries received before 1 April will not be read, so please resubmit after that date.

If you've sent me a query since Tuesday 12 March 2013 and have not had a response from me, please resend your query after 1 April.

Can't wait to see what I find in my query inbox next month! 


Debut Deal for Rebecca Donnelly

I'm taking a quick break from prepping for the Bologna Book Fair to announce TBA's deal for Rebecca Donnelly's THE CHANGING HOUR, a smart, snappy middlegrade novel featuring the most compelling brother-sister relationship I've seen in a long time. Congratulations, Rebecca!

Middle grade 
Children's librarian Rebecca Donnelly's debut, THE CHANGING HOUR, in which a 12-year-old girl has a secret brother hidden in her attic who's been sneaking out to spy on his biological family, who happen to be trolls -- and soon it's up to the siblings to save their parents from an angry enemy with an unexpected score to settle, to Nancy Mercado at Roaring Brook Press, by Molly Ker Hawn at The Bent Agency (world).

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Deal Announcement for Shannon Greenland!

March has been a very busy month for us here at the Bent Agency, and we are thrilled to announce a new deal for our very talented client, Shannon Greenland.

Young Adult 

Shannon Greenland's KILLER INSTINCT, first of a chilling series featuring a brilliant teenage girl who studies and understands serial killers... because she might be one herself, to Patrick Price at Simon Pulse, in a good deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in Summer 2014, by Jenny Bent and Gemma Cooper at The Bent Agency.
Film: Shari Smiley at Resolution

Check out Shannon's website - and follow her on Twitter to send your congratulations!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Preparing for the Bologna Book Fair--a post by Gemma

It’s March, which is just another month for most people, but for children’s publishing, it means one thing – the Bologna Book Fair, the date in the calendar with the most exclamation points around it!

Much as March always feel like a big panicked rush, we have actually been preparing for the fair for months. From the first meeting request that came in December, to booking flights/hotels and arranging schedules, a lot of preparation goes into these four days. 

Last year was my first experience of the fair, and just remembering the buzz makes me want to jump on the plane right now. From the mood in the airport – goodness knows what any non-publishing people must think – to the enthusiasm in the Agents Centre, this shared excitement by a group of people focused on children’s publishing is the really big takeaway from the experience. 

I’m lucky this year to be going with my colleague Molly Hawn, and that means shared planning, being able to chivvy each other along when not even Italian coffee is working, and having a great sounding board to decompress after the days’ meetings.

Over the next few weeks, Molly and I will be focused on preparing pitches for the debuts we are taking and planning how to approach our meetings. We will be seeing UK and US editors, and also foreign publishers to show off our fantastic rights guide. Most of our meetings will take place in the Agents Centre, which is positioned between the exhibition halls. The Agents Centre can feel a little like speed dating at times – a half-hour focused meeting to find out an editor’s personal taste and gauge what they are looking for and what they are not. Then we pitch projects that we think would be a good fit. 

Focused, repetitive pitching like this really makes a point about things agents often say when turning down submissions: ‘It just isn’t for me,’ or ‘I liked it, but I didn’t love it.’ We have read our clients’ books countless times, edited them and written pitches for them. Then we have to talk about them endlessly for four days. No wonder we have to LOVE these books! 

Bologna is non-stop. We take a taxi from the airport to our first meeting, and these meetings continue all day, with parties and dinners in the evening. Catching up with agent friends and publishers in these more relaxed social events was a big highlight for me last year. Publishing really is filled with some of the nicest people!

And so after four days we will return from the fair with new contacts, lists of manuscripts to send out to interested editors, and feedback for our clients. We will have seen nothing of Bologna itself, but we will have eaten a lot of pasta and maybe some gelato. We will be exhausted and feel the need to hibernate, but that will quickly pass. 

After all, we have London Book Fair three weeks later!