Today's post is from long-time ROSA member and ROSACon veteran Alissa Baxter.
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I attended this year’s ROSA conference this year, and I found the range of topics that were presented very interesting. I particularly enjoyed listening to Whitney Ross give us an insider’s view into traditional publishing in the United States.
Whitney represents middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction across all genres, including historical, science fiction and fantasy, romance, and contemporary fiction.
She joined the Irene Goodman agency in 2018, and before that she worked as an editor at Macmillan for nearly ten years, so she is uniquely qualified to give authors an insight into the mysterious world of traditional publishing.
I was very interested to learn about how many imprints the big publishers have. It can be overwhelming to know where to start looking for a publisher, especially when there are so many imprints in each house. Literary agents act as the gatekeepers of the traditional publishing houses, and therefore, if you wish to go the traditional publishing route, it is important to know how to set about finding an agent who is the right fit for you.
Whitney gave us some great tips on how to write a good query letter, and she explained the role of an agent in terms of the business side of publishing. She also warned us about agents who might not be what they seem (“schmagents”), and she showed us examples of query letters which grabbed her attention, and those that didn’t.
It was a fascinating talk, and it demystified the role of literary agents and exactly what it is that they do for authors. Some agents have more of an editorial focus (Whitney is an editorial agent), but all agents bring a unique set of skills to the table, and it’s important to find one that is a good fit for you – that’s if you decide to go the traditional publishing route. If you would prefer to go it alone, self-publishing allows you to manage the entire publishing process yourself, but that’s the topic of another blog post entirely – and I’m sure someone will be writing a post about Ashleigh Giannoccaro’s fascinating talk about this topic.
|Whitney Ross - image courtesy of Suzanne Jefferies|