In a Team Blog pre-conference exclusive, I'm chatting with fabulous agent (who also happens to be my agent) Jim McCarthy. Jim is vice president at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management and he will be speaking at the SCBWI Annual Winter Conference in NYC being held January 28th-30th. Check out the lineup HERE.
Jim, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. To start, I was wondering if you could tell us what your talk at the conference will focus on?
--This one’s easy! I’m doing the same break-out session three times, and it’s What Makes Your Work Publishable: Today’s Market in Children’s Books. I was asked to present on what our agency accepts, what my taste is, what makes something stand out as something I want to represent, how I perceive the marketplace now, and where I see it going. The lovely folks at SCBWI made it very easy on me—they told me I don’t need to prepare a speech because it’s really about what I do all day and what I think is coming. That’s going to leave tons and tons of room open for questions on this very broad topic (and means I won’t bore myself by giving the same presentation three times in a row!).
Are you currently looking for submissions?
--Always. ALWAYS. I have a really healthy client list right now that I’m thrilled with, but I will never close down to submissions because the idea of missing something brilliant because I wasn’t looking makes me physically uncomfortable.
What do you think authors can learn from hearing an agent speak during a conference as opposed to looking them up online?
--Well, you just get a sense of who that person is. Publishing is a business built on personal relationships, and the agent-client one is (in my totally unbiased opinion) the most important. I think it’s a great chance to scope someone out and see if they’re the sort of person you’d have any interest in working with long term. You get to see them as they are, not as they present themselves in writing. It’s kind of like online dating! But most importantly, you get a chance to ask questions and get clarity on some of the murkier issues in publishing which I think can be invaluable.
There’s always so much talk about what to wear to the conference—layer up, comfortable shoes, etc…. Any suggestions?
--Is there really? I never knew! I go to five or six a year and rarely think about what I wear (this is also true when I’m not at conferences). But…it’s New York in winter, so do wear layers. You can probably get away with spending the entire conference in the hotel traveling from event to event, but it would be a shame not to get out into the city at least for a little while, even if it is bitter cold.
Thank you again, Jim! And we all look forward to seeing you next month!!