Bologna Book Fair 2014 -- pre-fair post

One of those "walk outside
in the rain and climb up
stairs with your carry on"
Hello from Amsterdam!

9 hrs and 45 min of flying and I've arrived at my connecting airport. Grabbed a "jetlag" smoothie (banana, strawberry, orange, oatmeal (!) and vitamin C) and am now hanging out, typing out the post I've been wanting to write but haven't had a chance to write.

Last year I wrote a Bologna Book Fair Preparation post which outlined what I did before flying out. You can click the link OR I can sum it up quickly to show you what the past 2 weeks have been like for me:
  • Finalizing our rights guide
  • Finalizing appointments
  • Touching base with scouts
  • Touching base with co-agents
  • Getting last-minute information from colleagues

But if you're TOTALLY new to the Bologna Book Fair itself --- it's an international book fair that takes place every year at the end of March in Bologna, Italy. Publishers, editors, agents, scouts, and publishing professionals from around the world come together to discuss children's book publishing -- what's new, what's working, what's not working, what are some new ways/mediums to sell books to children, etc.

As literary agents, we attend so we can meet with foreign publishers one-on-one. We work with co-agents to sell translation rights, but nothing can replace a personal connection. It's good to go, meet, and ask what's working in their market, what's not working, and just get to know more about their list so we know which books to pitch to them.

2014 Bologna Rights Guide
hot off the press!
My awesome colleague Suzie Townsend is coming with me again this year (woot!). Between the two of us we have 96 appointments this year in 3 days (this doesn't count the weekend lunch/dinner/drink/gelato meetings). We're also booked with dinner and post-dinner meetings those three days! A busy week ahead of us, but a really fun week because we get to talk about our agency's titles all week!

A few new/exciting things in store for us this year at Bologna:
  • One of my very talented illustrator clients, Julie-Anne Graham, is going to Bologna Book Fair as well, so we get to meet up for dinner! Client hang outs are always fun :) She's the author/illustrator of THE PERFECT PERCIVAL PRIGGS which comes out in 2015.
  • We get to meet three of our co-agents for the first time! After years of working together, closing deals together, it'll be nice to finally meet in person :-)
  • Another of my very talented illustrator clients, Sarah Marino, is one of the 34 finalists in the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Bologna Showcase! I'm so excited to go to the fair first thing Monday morning and take photos of her submitted piece on display!
  • I finally get to do the tourist thing! I've come to Bologna, gone to meetings, attended the fair, and socialized with other publishing people, but I've never taken the time to just be a tourist in Bologna. It's a beautiful city rich with history, and I'm so happy Suzie and I are taking one day this weekend to just roam around and learn more about it. 
In the meantime, it's business as usual -- lots of meetings and travel doesn't mean the rest of my agent role gets put on hold. I was able to get a lot of reading done on my flight (cheers) and now I need to shift to my inbox and reply to some emails (and close some deals so I can add them to the rights guide before our meetings!).

Anything in particular you want to know about Bologna? Leave a comment below and I'll answer it on my next post!


What does hating Comic Sans + having an awesome office assistant = ?

An amazing bit that completely made my day.

You can follow her on Twitter.

Comic Sans

There was a woman named Kathleen,
who moved from the East to West,
this caused New Leaf great sorrow,
lots of unhappiness and unrest.

So the depressed New Leaf assistants,
followed her from afar,
they sighed at the pretty Instagrams,
of the trees, her house and cars.

They G-chatted on Gmail,
sent her a video of spinning chairs,
followed her on Twitter,
just trying to ward off their despair.

Then one assistant discovered,
that this woman despised Comic Sans,
so she devised a sneaky plot,
and made an evil plan.

"I shall only compose emails,
in this font called Comic Sans,
and use it for all cover letters,
going to Russia, Spain, and Japan."

So that's exactly what she did,
she even devised this rhyme,
she might compose another next week,
because Comic Sans is that sublime.

Europe Closed: I can blog! Kinda...

Wow. Hello August.

I'm fairly certain I'm not the only person who feels like the below image this summer....

This summer has been like many other summers in publishing. That wonderful Memorial weekend in May where you think, "SCORE! Summer Fridays! I'm *so* going to catch up on my fun reading!"

Then you get to August 1, look longingly at your TBR pile, and wonder how 60 days flew by so quickly while your TBR pile just continued to grow.

August 1 - August 30 is break time for me--kinda. Most of Europe takes 2-4 weeks off for holiday this month. Some co-agents, and even publishers, shut the whole office down. Others take turns taking off various weeks and I have a secondary contact I keep in touch with.

Needless to say, I embrace this slow(er) time and take the extra moments to catch up on fun reading and  going through my inbox.

I know many agents keep track of submissions and queries and give query stats. I used to, but I'm not tracking it much anymore this year since there has been so much going on (cross-country move, wedding planning, lots of travel). But I thought I'd give you a peek inside the agent / foreign rights manager's inbox for once, so you can see the various tasks juggled:

Queries: 0 (ok, I read through them this morning which is why it's at zero...but still) **EDIT: So make that three as of the end of writing this blog post....**

Client manuscripts to be read/ed letter to be sent: 2 (woohoo! Sent a slew of notes out last week. Soooooo ready to submit these amazo projects to editors in the fall!!)

Requested Submissions to Read: 21 (my goal is to get through all of these by September 1 -- start Fall fresh and at zero!)

Foreign contracts to be read/approved: 13 (in the past 4 business days, they all came in...seems everyone wanted to send them out before they left for vacation last Friday)

Foreign offers pending: 5 (some will have to wait until publishers reopen; others I'm waiting for follow ups on my counter-offers; one is an auction in its third week)

This doesn't include the follow up emails for covers, payments, royalties, catalog copy, pub dates, marketing, author promo, etc etc etc.

Summer stays pretty busy -- regardless of publishers shutting down overseas or coagents taking some time away for holiday -- the gears keep moving.

How's your summer? Busy? Are you shocked it's August? DID YOU GO SWIMMING (I do miss Florida for this reason.....)


Always do the thing that scares you...

In honor of my awesome client Mila Ferrera's blogfest for her debut NA SPIRAL (B&N, Amazon, others TK), I thought I'd surprise her with a post of my own to contribute (*waves at Mila*).

SPIRAL is Grey's Anatomy meets Silver Linings Playbook all the way. It's a new adult book that steps outside the comfort lines of your typical NA and really shows you a new side to experiences some people have in their mid-20s. It tugged my heartstrings like crazy and made me wave a fan or two from blushing.

SPIRAL itself is about breaking outside your comfort zone and really doing the things that scare you to get to the things you need.

Let me preface this by saying that growing up, I never took risks. I was a total goodie two-shoes. Which was OK. I liked playing it completely safe. I felt safe.

But that all changed when I did about three major things that usually would have scared me to get the job of my dreams.

1. I switched my life-time dream of being a marine mammal veterinarian to get a degree in communication arts. I decided this within 24 hours.
Scary as eff to put yourself on a solid course and then switch within a day.
Since I could remember, I had collected newspaper clippings on marine mammals and news on advanced research on dolphins. I could name the different parts of various whales' anatomy. I went to a special vet tech magnet program at a local high school to graduate not only with my high school diploma, but also my vet tech certification. I took pre-veterinary courses at the local college in addition to high school classes to get ahead. I worked at a local veterinary clinic. I volunteered at the local marine mammal rescue center/aquarium in the gift shop and giving sea turtle presentation lectures about their anatomy and behavior and environment.

I was on a path and NO ONE could take me off of it.

Until Freshman year of college. When I walked into my guidance counselor's office one semester after starting and said "I'm not happy...this isn't what I need and I just discovered what I do need. I need to work in a field where I get paid to read and work with writers."

I switched to communication arts. Got my minor in secondary education.

I was going to work in the magazine industry.

Oh yes. That's a detention list behind me.

2. I switched from magazines to teaching.
My senior year of college, the head of my department took me aside and told me I was a talented editor and magazine writer with great ideas -- but he was concerned. Several major magazines were either cutting their staff or shutting down. The Internet was causing issues in an industry sold on paper and they were having issues figuring out how to change in a fast-paced industry where blogs were providing more immediate access to similar content.

He then recommended I put my minor to good use because there wouldn't be a magazine industry to work in soon.

So I applied to teaching positions and within a month got hired. Teaching English meant I would read, right?

A few years later....

3. I quit my full-time, paycheck, with benefits and retirement, job to jump into being an intern in publishing. 
Yup. Rewind to early 2009. I was a high school teacher for a few years. I loved teaching but I needed more. I needed to work with something that involved reading the books I  love to read.

Through a series of events (which involved working with a book club to get students reading) I discovered book publishing and agenting. It then clicked. I switched my major from veterinary studies to communication arts because I loved to read.

All my magazine articles were too long....because I loved to read.

Reading was where I was headed this whole time. I just didn't have the resources to figure out how to get there...until now.

I remember telling friends and family my plan: I would leave my full-time job to move to NYC, crash with my sister (in her 350 SF studio apartment)*, and give myself a year to get a paid job in publishing. You'd be right to assume this lead to about 2.3 billion discussions of ARE YOU SURE?

I'm happy to say 2 internships and more than a hundred job applications later (legit), I landed a position at a wonderful agency as an assistant.

Agent Photo
I celebrate my 4th year as an official agent next month. And I couldn't be happier. I can't imagine doing anything else. This is my dream job.

And if I hadn't pushed myself to switch from veterinary to communication arts? I wouldn't be working with some of the best authors ever.

And if I hadn't pushed myself to switch from magazines to work as a teacher? I wouldn't have started a book club and read about agenting.

And if I hadn't pushed myself to move to NYC and intern...I wouldn't be working with both former internship mentors: Joanna Volpe, my boss, was my intern mentor and Elana Roth, whose clients I manage their foreign and audio rights.

Pushing yourself to do what scares you is scary.
Picking up to move to a city that is literally 40% more expensive than your current city, with no steady income, is extremely scary.

But it all paid off in the end to do what I love most.


And I wouldn't change a single experience in the process.

What have YOU done that scared you to get what you need?


About SPIRAL: 

Nessa Cavanaugh, psychology student, knows how to stay on an even keel. Despite the urging of her mother and her academic advisor to get a life and have some fun, “all work and no play” sums up her plan to survive her grueling internship year at a children's hospital. She doesn't want to end up like her father, whose constant ups and downs broke her family, and avoiding unnecessary emotional entanglements is a must.

Then she (literally) runs into Dr. Aron Lindstrom in the middle of her disastrous first day on the job. The attraction is instant—and terrifying. Nessa knows she should stay away—especially when she finds out he has a reputation for being a player—but Aron is brilliant, intense, and as sexy as they come. When he challenges her to take a chance on him, her plans to stay focused on work start to crumble.

But what begins as passion takes on a dangerous edge, becoming an emotional roller coaster that’s frighteningly familiar. As things spiral out of control, Nessa must decide whether she should hold on for the ride or run … even if it means leaving her heart behind.

And here's the fantastic giveaway:

*We moved into a 'real' two-bedroom apartment 2.5 months later. Don't worry :)

Addicted to New Adult

I'll admit: I wasn't a fan of New Adult at first because it seemed like many writers were trying to write a YA, insert a lot of sex, and say 'tada! New Adult!'

And then I read some NA that truly captured the essence of NA.

NA is still about having moments like this.

And yes, you may still need mom and dad.

You discover you actually NEED a budget.

(I may or may not have an issue with this one but I digress. Cupcakes always have space in the budget)

You make GOOD decisions.

And BAD ones.

You continue to have some feelings from high school

over and over again.

You learn to live with non-family members

You still have many life lessons

But at the end of the day, I love NA when I find that character I can relate to.

And the character I can transform into and live vicariously through.

NA is about the experience from child to adult. And then realizing, you may be legally an adult but mentally still very much a child. The experience of making all the wrong choices to learn how to make the best ones. And the experience of truly discovering who you are -- and realizing the experience of truly discovering who you are is a life-long journey.

And I love it.

So everyone at New Leaf is teaming together with bloggers across the country to share our NA love with YOU! You can jump over to Suzie's page to read more about why she loves NA here.

We also have a killer giveaway, with awesome prizes from NA authors like Mila Ferrera, Chelsea Fine,  Colina Brennan, Cora Carmack, Lisa Desrochers, and Megan Powell!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep an eye on our blogs and Twitter accounts for more New Adult goodness, including author interviews, agent interviews, giveaways and more from June 24 - July 16!

Why do YOU love New Adult? Tell us! Jump over to Twitter and use the hash tag #naaddict. Let's get the conversation going and show everyone why we love not only to read, but we also love reading New Adult!


15 hours until BCBF13 officially begins!

Well it sort of began today...

The day before the official Bologna Children's Book Fair is filled with many fun and productive activities:

- lunch with two agents and an editor (Prosciutto pizza for the WIN).

- window shopping (leather handbags...gorgeousssss).

Bologna 2013 rights guide, notebook for meeting notes,
sticky notes for last-minute sales, highlighter and pen
(yes, I'm super organized) :)
- adding last-minute foreign sales to the rights guides (the sales that closed between Wednesday when they were printed and today: 3 to be exact with 4 more pending to be closed sometime this week).

- reviewing my appointments for tomorrow and familiarizing myself with what books publishers have bought, both from our agency and other publishers.

Now I'm relaxing, blogging and munching on some really fantastic biscuits with chocolate (my weakness).

Tonight will be quite busy but fun, too:

- Random House party: everyone in publishing goes, so it's a fun time to see those we haven't seen in months or since last year, as well as networking with some new people we may not have appointments with this week.

- Dinner: again with some agents and other publishing folk. Though this time I hear dinner will be in a place where they scrape Risotto out of a parmesan to come if this happens.

- and of course, no Bologna day would be complete without our annual #GelatoWatch13. Stay tuned.

Tomorrow it's rise and shine at 6:30 a.m. To be at the fair by 8 a.m. to snag a good table in the rights center, and our badges and walk around a bit before our first appointment at 9.

More later once the fair is in full swing!


Bologna Book Fair preparation (the short version)

In just 10 days I will be on my way to Bologna to meet with publishers around the world and discuss our agency's awesome titles! (10 days?! Where did the time GO?)

Bologna Children's Book Fair is an annual fair where thousands of agents, rights managers and publishers meet to discuss children's books. It's pretty fantastic. You can read more about it here on the PW web site.

What kind of prep is required?
  • Finalizing our rights guide of amazing agency titles: this guide is packed with information on our titles -- blurbs, reviews, cover images, film information, rights sales, you name it!
  • Finalizing appointments: My first appointment request came in on December 5, 2012! And we're at about 82 appointments now (in 3 days!). These appointments are why we attend the book fair. The opportunity to meet with publishers face-to-face and gush about our titles is so much fun and a really good opportunity to get our clients' names out there.
  • Touching base with scouts: Calling scouts about new deals, letting them know any updates, etc is important so they can update their clients on which titles to keep an eye out for at the fair. This way when I have a meeting, the publisher may already be prepared to say, "Tell me more about TITLE. I've heard wonderful things."
  • Touching base with co-agents: Emailing co-agents about new deals, updated, etc so they can touch base with publishers about what to keep an eye out for at the fair, as well.
  • Getting new information from my colleagues: What I love about New Leaf is that we're very close and always updating each other on news about our books. It's awesome. And being able to use this information for translation sales really helps. 

This is prep that occurs from beginning of December - the week before the fair, so it's pretty regular for 3.5 months. Registering for the fair, finding an apartment, etc occurs in early Fall usually. I read that in 2009 the fair had ~1,900 visitors and PW says this year they're expecting 5,000

Oh. Yes. I forgot. GelatoWatch2013 will return this year. If you followed Jennifer Laughran or me on Twitter, you know what I'm talking about. If not, keep an eye out and follow Suzie Townsend who will also be with me this year!

Good times ahead. And a Bologna recap when I return! 


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