Posted in this series so far: Intro - Andrea Cascardi (Transatlantic)
Today, Debbie Ridpath Ohi's agent, Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown Ltd, will be sharing with us. Ginger just finished negotiating two book contracts with Simon and Schuster Books For Young Readers for Debbie. Read about it here! Debbie's picture book, I'M BORED (written by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie) comes out this September and you can find out how it was created in the I'm Bored Scrapbook Journal.
Agency Website | Ginger's bio
On Twitter: @gknowlton58 at @CurtisBrownLtd
MiGs: How many clients do you feel comfortable balancing?
Ginger: Such a question! I could say—that depends on the day and the time of day and the month and the time of month and the year and the time of year. Or I could say—all of mine. So that’s what I’ll say.
MiGs: Do you think publishers will be increasing their lists or decreasing them this year?
Ginger: Are we talking about children’s books or all kinds of books? For children’s books, I imagine that there will be a bit of an increase, simply because more and more publishers are seeing how healthy the children’s book field is, and they’re jumping on the bandwagon.
MiGs: What made you pick your very first client?
Ginger: I was working as Marilyn Marlow’s assistant at the time and we thought it might be good for me to start my agent career by representing illustrators, since Marilyn had so many picture book writers, and we were in the midst of a picture book boom at the time (in the late 80s). Laurel Molk and I have worked together since 1988, I think, and she is about to sign contracts to illustrate a graphic novel for First Second and a picture book for Holt.
MiGs: What makes an ideal client?
Ginger: I honestly think there are as many answers to that question as there are clients. Some attributes that I value are talent, honesty, trust, talent, a partnership mentality, forthrightness, talent, and faithfulness. And a sense of humor. Definitely a sense of humor helps. Did I mention talent?
MiGs: Of the most recent 100 queries you received from writers, how many did you accept as clients? (rough guess)
Ginger: Of the most recent 100, I believe the answer is 0. I am truly sorry that is the case.
MiGs: What is one piece of typical writing advice that you think should go out the window?
Ginger: I don’t think it’s necessarily true in all cases that you should ‘write what you know’.
MiGs: Do you read the query letter first or the sample pages?
Ginger: I tend to go right to the writing and read the query letter closely if I like the writing. But that’s not always the case.
MiGs: What is one common misconception that inexperienced writers tend to have about agents?
Ginger: That agents will become irrelevant in this world of ebook publishing.
MiGs: What is something people might not know about you?
Ginger: Wait. Did you get that question from the Miami conference? Let’s see — people may not know that I went to 13 different schools, including college, navy brat that I am. Really, 12, but I say 13 because of the two weeks I went to Vallejo High School as a junior before my parents moved me to St. Vincent’s.
MiGs: What would you love to see in your query inbox right now? or What’s on your wish list?
Ginger: I want what I always want—a story that I. Can’t. Put. Down.
MiGs: Why did you become an agent?
Ginger: My dad asked me to move back east (‘to the civilized coast,’ he said) to work at Curtis Brown. My brother and sister were already working with him, and I guess he wanted to complete the kingdom. I was working with children in California, and I’ve always been an avid reader, so he thought I would be a good addition to the children’s book department.
MiGs: What are your response times?
Ginger: I am struggling with the email problem at the moment. I’m pretty fast when people submit to me via snail mail, but I know that’s a hassle and becoming obsolete. I do try to keep up with emailed submissions, but I need to establish a better system. (I also need more time.) I think it would help if authors put ‘query’ as the subject line. Also, if authors who query me don’t hear back within a month, please feel free to send a gentle nudge along with the original email. Please don’t send attachments unless I request it. I realize I haven’t really answered your question.
Next up: Marie Lamba of Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency