Four Agents’ Views on the Current Market-SCBWI panel


At the Winter SCBWI Conference in New York, I attended a panel where four agents (Ginger Knowlton, Regina Brooks, Chris Richman, and Ken Wright) shared their views on the current market.

Here are some of the main points I took away from that panel:

  • Agents want bestselling material. Editors looking for bestsellers. Which means the market has more of a bestseller mentality.
  • The storytelling is key. Books must engage the reader from the start.
  • Agents want books that can have a global reach, traveling well outside the U.S.
  • Middle Grade is the new YA.
  • It’s important to keep up with the industry by checking out such places as Media Bistro and PW Daily.
  • Editors still publishing debut novelists. New voices are wanted.
  • Authors need to promote their books.But choose what suits your personality.
  • The agent-author relationship is similar to finding your soulmate. There is one person out there meant to represent your book, but it may take a while to find him/her.

Thanks again to all the agents, editors, writers, and volunteers who made this Winter SCBWI Conference an event to remember!

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22 Responses to Four Agents’ Views on the Current Market-SCBWI panel

  1. kford2007 says:

    Great information! Thank you for sharing. I will have to put Media Bistro on my daily check-in list.

    • Jenny, I signed up for them to send me daily digests. ๐Ÿ™‚ Amazing how much writers have to do besides write. Conferences provide so much information, I’m still wading through my notes.

  2. Hehe – agents and editors want global bestsellers, but they’d also like the authors to do their own promotion. At least they’re being honest!

    Thanks for another great post.

    • LOL. I think once you hit global bestseller, word of mouth is doing more than you ever could. ๐Ÿ™‚ From what they said, the market is tightening in terms of midlist writers. But the bestsellers do give the houses enough money to keep publishing their favorite midlists.

      Glad you enjoyed the post.

  3. Terrific takeaways, Kourtney. Thanks for sharing them with us!

    It’s never occurred to me to check Media Bistro and PW daily. I may have to give that a go. I have to agree with that last item… Although I’m in the early stages of working with my agent, it so far feels like a crazy-good fit. *fingers crossed I’m right!* ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Thanks August! I like sharing what I learned, it makes it more concrete in my head and gives others a taste of conference workshops. You can sign up for daily digests from both of them. It just gives you a heads up on major movements in publishing.

      Aw that’s awesome to hear. Fingers crossed the relationship bears a phenomenal book. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Great info and great post! Thanks! ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. You created an insightful concise list. good job

  6. crubin says:

    Thanks for sharing that. Another thing that helps is being topical. If you are lucky enough to time your novel with a real-life similarity, that can help (e.g., releasing a book about polygamy during the Warren Jeffs trial). Pretty tough to do, but every now and then an author gets lucky and can ride the wave.

    • Good point, Carrie! They did bring that up too. But then they brought up the counterpoint of an issue of being dated. How long will the polygomy cult remain in the American people’s mind? They suggested it may be better to write about overarching themes like the bonds of brothers or parent-children conflicts. Things that are universal and anyone can access.

  7. It's the little things that make life great.berry says:

    Tough market.

  8. Lisa Hayes says:

    Thanks Kourtney – as always, succinct and helpful!

    • Lisa, I once read a quote where a writer said something like I’d have been briefer if I had more time. Since I post 5 days a week, I’ve been trying to keep it reader friendly. And it’s a great exercise in self editing. Thought sometimes I can’t help writing a long post. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. jmmcdowell says:

    Great information, but their points also reinforce the difficulty involved in getting that traditional publishing deal!

    • JM, that was the downside of the discussion. Midlist authors are being culled out. ๐Ÿ™ It seems like debut authors must top whatever is currently selling. No easy task. Sigh. Glad we’re in the trenches together.

      • jmmcdowell says:

        me, too ๐Ÿ™‚

        When I really get these novels finished, I’ll see where the road leads. If it’s a traditional publisher, Woohoo! But if not, I think the Indie routes are a respectable path, too. I can’t imagine what things will be like in 10 years.

        But all around me, I see people still reading. And that’s encouraging!

        • I’ve focused on traditional publishing because I want to know I’m ready. Maybe I’m silly, but I feel like I need to go that route to prove something to myself.I remember the thrill of being in Waldenbooks as a little girl and wanting my book there on a shelf. I’ve also invested a great deal of time pursuing that format. Indie publishing is a whole new area and I dread the learning curve. ๐Ÿ™‚

          I think indie publishing is also respectable as long as people engage editors and cover artists and really invest the time and money to make it as professional as possible.

          Seeing people reading and lined up at libraries and bookstores is very encouraging. There is an audience out there, no matter what form our books take. *Fingers crossed*

  10. Laura says:

    Thanks for sharing your info and experiences at the conference!

Any thoughts or reactions or favorite foods you want to share?