I’ve been going to BEA for the past eight years, and Book Con for every year it’s existed… but this year’s Book Expo America and Book Con was extra special. I feel like a little recap is required this time around.
So. Here we go.
The great thing about conferences like these, is you’re able to sit down and talk to industry people in-real-life. Publishing is a personal business. Books and reading taste, it’s all subjective. Being able to talk about what you’re reading, what you love… that in-person experience doing that is so valuable. And I’m so thankful for all the editors who wanted to hangout while I was in town.
But the most emotional part of the entire event, was watching one of my authors do a signing at the convention, and get a copy of her book for the first time.
When Sangu Mandanna first pitched me her novel, I shared the query with some of my colleagues at P.S. Literary. I even told a few book nerd friends. I was absolutely freaking out. I’d loved Sangu’s debut novel, The Lost Girl, which came out with Balzer + Bray a few years ago. I was such a fan. I’d even blogged about her before.
The response from friends? “Calm down go read the book.” On the agency side of things? My coworker and pal Maria told me to “drop everything and read it.”
So I did.
I mean, of course I did. Not only did I adore Sangu as an author already, but her new book sounded incredible. A YA sci-fi / fantasy mashup space opera inspired by the Mahabharata?! WHAT?! And as I dove in, the prose was gorgeous. The story was heartbreaking. The characters and the world were diverse and lush. And it felt so very important.
Sangu pitched me on December 14th. I requested the full manuscript that day. I sent her a very professional Twitter DM six days later to tell her how much I loved the book. No, really. I did. I am a professional. Read more
Anna Hecker queried me on my birthday last year, with one wonderful gift.
Her next novel.
It was wild to me, to discover that there weren’t any YA novels about EDM… Electronic Dance Music. Considering the current popularity of The Chainsmokers, the easy listening joy that is Owl City, and my absolute favorites, Daft Punk, how hasn’t this been explored?
Well. Enter Anna with When the Beat Drops.
In Anna’s latest novel, she introduces readers to Mira Alden, a teen girl who wants nothing more than to ace her audition to the prestigious Fulton Jazz Conservatory. See, she’s essentially a teen jazz prodigy, writing beautiful music with her best friends as a somewhat band-geek outcast. And then she falls into the EDM scene when her sister comes home… and discovers a surprise gift for DJing.
The book is Pitch Perfect and Save the Last Dance meets This Song Will Save Your Life, with a heavy splash of Daft Punk, as a teen girl has to choose between what she thought was always her passion, and the exciting new world she’s getting swept up in. There’s drugs, toxic relationships, and oh my, so much music.
I fell in love with this book hard, and loved pitching it around while listening to dance music. Some of my favorite YA contemporary reads are music-filled, like Ashley Poston’s The Sound of Us and We Own the Night, Charlotte Huang’s For the Record, Nina LaCour’s The Disenchantments, and Morgan Matson’s Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. I can’t wait to see Anna’s book on shelves and lists with these.
So last year was my first full year working as a literary agent.
I had a lot of awesome victories that I shouted to the social media winds and posted about here. I signed a number of rockstar authors, from well-established authors to debuts. You can check out my team in this handy Twitter list. They are all wonderful. I went to a bundle of conferences all around the country, so many that I can’t remember all the places. I even sold some books I can’t quite announce just yet.
And the ones I did announce? I’m so proud of them.
And while all of that sounds awesome, there were some big hurdles in the mix, and some major lessons I took away. Because for every author I picked up, there was another I didn’t get to work with. There were conferences that were, sadly, not a good use of my time. And I’m going to try to get better at handling all of these things.
Here are some of the lessons I learned, that I hope you can learn from too. Read more