From Your House to My House: Editors Discuss What Makes Them Choose Your book

Editor Panel at 2010 LA SCBWI

Four fantastic editors got on stage at the 2010 SCBWI Conference to share what makes them choose your book. Moderated by editor Krisa Marino (Delacorte), she asked the tough questions of fellow editors Nick Eliopulos (Scholastic), Claudia Gabel (Katherine Tegen Books), Brenda Murray (Scholastic), and Jennifer Rees (Scholastic).

A Few Opening Notes From Editor Krista Marino:

Krista Marino

  • Acquiring books is a deeply personal decision for an editor. They have to read it six or seven times, so they want to love it.
  • Some editors work to fill a need in their list and it is a less personal decision, while for others it is very personal.
  • One editors dream book is another’s nightmare.
  • More editors in the field create more options and more opportunities to move books.
  • An editor’s choice to acquire a book is often about taste and vision.

KRISTA: Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you are looking for and what you publish.

NICK: I work at Scholastic. Prior to working at Scholastic I worked with Random House Children’s Books. I just transferred to Scholastic in April. I love comic books! Comics are what helped me to break into this business. I am also looking for middle grade and young adult books. I focus on guy books, mostly middle grade guy books or graphic novels.

CLAUDIA: I am the senior editor at Katherine Tegen Books. I used to work for Alloy entertainment who brought you things like Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries. I’ve also worked in adult books, as well as working at Delacorte. I like to do development work and have also worked as a book packager.

BRENDA: I have been with Scholastic since 2002. I’ve worked on over 250 books in my career. I was once a teacher. I acquire books from Pre-K up through 8th grade. I’ve also worked on atlases and dictionaries in my past.

JENNIFER: I am a fiction editor at Scholastic. I’ve worked there for 12 years. I started out as a bookseller in Ohio. I love children’s books, and I acquire everything from picture books up through young adult. I mostly acquire fiction, and not much non-fiction. Personal love is what drives my acquisition choices. Some of my authors include Wendy Mass, Susan Collins, and Sarah Litman.

KRISTA: What is more important to you: voice or plot?

JENNIFER: It’s all about voice! With great voice we can fix plot.

NICK: I’m a plot guy. Of course I want to find both, but if I have to pick I’ll choose plot. I need a hook, one sentence that I can really wrap my head around. That will cause me to pick something up and read it. But an unfulfilled idea won’t work. It must have good writing. But if I did come across something with a really amazing voice I could be convinced.

KRISTA: Well, an editor has to convince others as well, too.

CLAUDIA: The voice really needs to come organically with a manuscript, but plot an editor and author can work out. Great character is important. You can’t have an unlikeable character. Character development is really important and has big appeal.

KRISTA: Name two books in the last ten years that really inspire you.

BRENDA: In My Own Words which is a Bigfoot biography. It’s absolutely hilarious. And also, the biography of Claudette Calvin. It just came out. I love the photos of Brady.

NICK: The Hunger Games! Anything by John Green, Scott Westerfield. Those books really win over guy readers.

CLAUDIA: What I Saw and How I Lied, and it’s older than ten years, but, Little House on the Prairie.

JENNIFER: A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray, and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

KRISTA: Do you find inspiration outside of the trade book world?

CLAUDIA: I watch lots of TV and read magazines to come up with series ideas. The show Barefoot Bandit inspired a series.

NICK: I think it’s important to notice where kids are looking if they aren’t reading. Like checking out YouTube. That can really help inform packaging a book.

BRENDA: It’s important to try to create a tie in with television, if possible. I love planet earth and discovery channels, I’m always looking for trends there. I also look at news articles and magazines. Great non-fiction books can come from hot news items like the presidential election or the oil spill, or something like the anniversary of WWII and the Attack on Pearl Harbor which is coming up.

JENNIFER: I try to keep an ear to the pulse of what people are talking about. NPR is very inspirational, a story from NPR was the basis for Eleven Birthdays which is coming out soon. I also have a six year old boy, so I try to notice what he thinks is cool.

KRISTA: What are you looking to acquire?

NICK: Guy books. High concept books.

BRENDA: With non-fiction, if you can tell me something I didn’t know before, and tell it to me in one sentence then I will be intrigued. Fascinate me. I like both modern and historical. And of course I’m always looking for that gem. Looking for something new and fresh is difficult, if you have an old topic but it is well written then there can be a way to find a place for it. Put a fun spin on your idea. Make it appeal to kids.

CLAUDIA: Beautiful prose. But I’m also looking for people who can write fast! We like to keep a ramped up schedule. I’m also into tween books and teen mysteries.

JENNIFER: Fascinating writing and voice, but something that is also commercial. Ask yourself if it has a wide audience or not. We get really excited about something with wide potential.

KRISTA: What are your pet peeves? Things authors should not do, or common mistakes you see?

JENNIFER: A package that is not professional. I don’t like synopsis that are boring and phrased as “… and then this happened…etc.” I also need authors that can promote themselves in a positive way.

BRENDA: When I get a submission and the author has done no research before submitting. They have no sense of what is already in the market, what’s on the shelves, what’s similar to their book, etc. I want you to sell it to me first! Have credibility if you are a non-fiction writer. Tell me why your book is unique.

CLAUDIA: I don’t like query letters that have no personality. I want to be interested in the author, I want to see who you are on the page. Put all of you into your work.

NICK: I agree with Claudia. The relationship is a huge part of the job. Facebook is another tricky thing. Yes, I will respond to you if you send me a message there, but it can be tricky and unprofessional.

KRISTA: Do you read slush?

JENNIFER: We don’t accept slush, but we get it. And yes, the interns do read my slush for me.

BRENDA: The first book I ever published was found in the slush. But my interns go through it/read it first.

CLAUDIA: Check a house’s submission guidelines. Eventually someone will look through the slush. But you may not get a response. We used to have slush parties where we’d all order pizza and go through the slush. You’d be surprised how much of it is from people in prison.

NICK: If you’ve done your research it will show and stand out in the slush. Don’t randomly send out work.

Audience Question: How do you make sure your agent represents you properly when they are writing the query letters?

JENNIFER: I will often ask to speak to the writer when I find something I like. That will give me a good sense of who they are.

CLAUDIA: Work with your agent before submitting.

Audience Question: Can you comment on books that get rejected quite a bit before finding a home, like The Book Thief?

NICK: I can speak specifically to The Book Theif, but not all queries represent the book as well as they should. It is hard to communicate something high concept in one sentence. Be inventive to make sure you communicate what your book is about.

CLAUDIA: The real question is – did someone respond eventually? Yes. I found and published a book from a contest and the author told me that they were about to give up on writing. That book had been rejected 16 times before. You’ve got to keep plugging away, and find the editor to gets you.

KRISTA: I agree. You need an editor who has the same vision as you do.

About the Editors:

Krista Marino is a senior editor at Delacort Press where she edits and acquires young adult and middle grade novels. Books she has edited include King Dork, The Necromancer, The Maze Runner, and The Forest of Hands and Teeth.

Nick Eliopulos is an editor with Scholastic, following a 5-year stint with Random House Children’s Books. He has edited many middle-grade and young-adult titles, including the Tapestry series, The Pricker Boy, Unfamiliar Magic, and the forthcoming Sons of Liberty graphic novel. He has also worked on chapter books, cutting his teeth as an assistant on the Magic Tree House series.

Jennifer Rees got her start in children’s books as a children’s bookseller in Ohio. Since then, she’s found great joy in working as an editor at Scholastic Press, where she acquires and edits fiction and nonfiction picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels. A sampling of projects she’s edited include The Hunger Games Series, Winter’s Tail, 11 Birthdays, Purge, and Girls and Dangerous Pie.

Brenda Murray was once a 6th grade teacher who went on to receive an M.S. in Instructional Technology. She’s been at Scholastic since 2002 and has worked on more than 200 nonfiction titles. She is currently managing a list of approximately 45 children’s books per year in grades ranging from Pre-K through 8th grade.

Claudia Gable is a senior editor at Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books, acquiring developing middle grade and YA fiction in a variety of genres. Her best-known titles are Summer Boys, The Scarlett Wakefield Mystery Novels, and In or Out.

What Next? What To Do After a Professional Critique

After an intense (and insightful) day of professional critiques, one might be overwhelmed and not sure what steps to take next. Gladly,  after the 2010 SCBWI New York Writers Intensive the faculty didn’t leave the authors hanging. Instead three editors, Allyn Johnston (Beach Lane Books), Wendy Loggia (Delacorte), and Ari Lewin (Disney/Hyperion) shared their insight on how to step back and reflect, and what to do next with your manuscript.

What Should Writers Do With the Feedback They’ve Received During Their  Critiques Today?

  • Step back and reflect. Let it sit in. Sleep on it.
  • What you shared with me, may not be what you should submit to me. (Allyn Johnston).
  • The comments you receive shouldn’t be seen as a checklist that you need to go through and address. Some comments may be relevant, others not so much. You need to find what really will help your work.
  • The editor/writer process is often a negotiation.
  • Ask yourself if the comment was true or not.

Common Things That Need Work in the Writing (Common Mistakes):

  • Is the rhyme of a picture book really as strong as it could be?
  • The voice in a picture book is really too old. Often this is also done in the first person.
  • Starting a picture book with dialog. Instead start with a crisp clear and poignant sentence. “A clear direct statement, with a turn of phrase.” – Allyn
  • Beware of overused picture book themes.
  • Beware of trying to cram way too much information into the first few pages of your manuscript. It can be overwhelming and disorienting.
  • Be careful when starting with a  pivotal moment. Choose that moment wisely. It can’t be “The moment” because we don’t know the character’s yet, or the world. We need to be grounded in the world first before you flip it on it’s end. Orient the reader as to where we are first.
  • Don’t start at the moment that is different. (Same as bullet point above).
  • Need a stronger awareness of the market.
  • No Art notes! (Allyn Johnston).
  • Need a narrative arc for picture books.
  • It’s best to outline.

Good Places to Get Information on the Market:

  • Follow book review blogs to see what’s selling in the market.
  • Look for a quarterly flier called “Indie Bound” ( which is for independent book stores.

What Are Warning Phrases that Writers Should Be Aware of to Clue Them in that Something is Wrong or You’re Not Happy with a Work?

  • “Who is this book for?”
  • “Why would we care about this world or character?”
  • “Put this in the drawer.”
  • “Is there anything else you’re working on?” – This is a good comment, it means they are interested in your writing, but perhaps not this particular work.
  • If I ask about your career, it means I’m trying to find something to talk about because I don’t quite know what to say about the work.

Other Comments and Insight from the Editors:

  • You’re writing for the long haul, so you should have other work, other projects. Don’t be afraid to move on to the next project and put this one away for awhile (or forever).
  • When taking criticism think about the phrase “This is not clear.” Well, if it’s not clear then you should make it more clear so that the reader understands it. That’s your job as the writer. This is an undeniable statement. Think of your comments in this way – you are not being clear on something and it needs to be addressed. That may not be in the way the person giving the critique suggests, but there is something that may need attention.
  • Write letters from your characters. It will help you to get into the voice of your characters.
  • Think about writing and submissions like you’re on American Idol. Everyone tries hard, and some people are pretty good, but not everyone is ready. You’ve got to keep practicing and trying!

About Submissions:

  • All three editors mostly take agent submission, and they also mostly take submissions from agents they know and trust. If it is an agent they don’t know they look up the agent.
  • Don’t submit to more than one editor at the same imprint at the same time!
  • Check out the resource “Edited by” on the website as it shares the names of editors and books they have edited. Good resource for getting an idea of what an editor likes.
  • Target your submissions! Beware of the quantity submission as it wont get you as far as quality submissions will. Plus you’ll save money sending out your work.
  • In general, Allyn Johnston does not accept unagented submissions, however after you hear her speak you may submit one thing to her. This may be snail mailed or emailed.

Check Out Other Great Posts About Professional Critiques:

  • Just Listen: Getting a Professional Critique
  • What I learned from Editor Jessica Garrison
  • What I learned from Assistant Editor Sara Sargent

Allyn Johnston is the Vice President and Publisher of Beach Lane Books, one of the newest imprints at Simon and Schuster. Previously she was the editor in chief at Harcourt Children’s Books. Among the authors and illustrators with whom she works are Lois Ehlert, Mem Fox, Debra Frasier, Marla Frazee, Cynthia Rylant, Avi, and M.T. Anderson. She is primarily interested in a acquiring picture books and middle-grade novels.

Wendy Loggia is executive editor at Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. Delacorte focuses almost exclusively on middle grade and YA novels. Loggia is the editor of many books including: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Going Bovine, and The Gemma Doyle Trilogy.

Arianne Lewin is a Senior Editor at Disney * Hyperion. She edits an eclectic list that emphasizes young adult novels and fantasy, but also includes picture books and chapter books. She works with authors Cinda Williams Chima; Whoopi Goldberg; Julie Anne Peters; EB Lewis; Scott Magoon; and Daniel Waters, among others. Arianne is currently looking for fresh new voices in all genres.

A Talk With Three Literary Agents

Every year the Independent Writers of Southern California (IWOSC) sponsor an agent night. This year’s agent representatives were Sally Van Haitsman, Angela Rinaldi, and Natalie M. Fischer, who all represent a variety of work from picture books to YA, to adult and non-fiction, as well as memoir and romance novels. The following is their point of view on submissions, the business, and how to find the perfect agent.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your agency, and what you represent:

Sally: My new agency the Van Haitsman Agency, is only five-weeks-old (as of April 26th, 2010). But before that I worked at the Castiglia Literary Agency for six years. You can find our submission guidelines online, but I am looking for a variety of work including: commercial fiction, literary fiction, memoir, science, education, etc. I do not represent young adult work or genre fiction. Prior to working in an agency I worked at the San Diego Reader for five years, and I received my Masters degree in communications at UCSD.

Angela: I started out as an editor and worked at Bantam and Pocket Books. I also started the publishing division of LA Times Books. I left in 1993, and started my agency the Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency in 1995. My passion is fiction, but what pays my bills is non-fiction. Successful books of ours include: Who Moved the Cheese, Zen Golf, and Calling in the One. In terms of non-fiction I look for the “quirk within the obvious.”  This is a smaller subject non-fiction book, something specific, rather than a large general book. Some books like this include: Quirky, yes. Hopeless, No (a book about aspergers). For fiction: The Starlight Drive-in, Blood Orange, and The Good Sister. I am also looking for suspense, literary novels, historical thrillers, womens issues books,  and self-help books. I do not cover young adult, but Spencer Humphries at my agency does. If you email me do not send attachments. Please let me know if you are sending me work exclusively. If you mail something to me include a SASE and do not send anything that needs to be signed for as it drives me crazy. I am also a member of the AAR.

Natalie: I work for the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. I am a new agent, and began in sales and and also worked as an intern for one of Dijkstra’s agents who represented romance novels. We keep a very small list at our agency, which means we are very involved with our clients. Right now about eighty percent of my sales have been in children’s books, middle grade, and young adult fiction. I am looking to fall head over heels in love with your submission. I am looking for character driven literary middle grade or young adult novels. I really like fantastical and sexy projects, and I am really looking to build my commercial women’s, historical, and romantic adult fiction lists. I mostly take paper submissions, please include a query, a synopsis, and the first fifty pages of your book, or non-fiction proposal. I am very involved in online blogs, and I find a lot of work that way. I am often scouting in places like and twitter. If you submit to me, I will not respond unless I am interested. And it is always good form to be kind and not send nasty letters to agents who pass on your work. I have a lot of time right now and I am really looking for clients and work.

How do you find clients?

Sally: I meet a lot of my clients at conferences, and through referrals. I also get queries from people who have found my agency online. In regards to conferences, sometimes the client is someone I met many years ago, and they are only submitting now that their work is ready.

Angela: I find clients through referrals or online. Sometimes a client will find me based on an acknowledgments page in a book they liked. Occasionally an editor will refer a writer to me. Publishers like to have the middle man (agents) because it allows them to only have an editorial relationship with the writer and things don’t get bogged down in regards to money conversations. I also find people through journals I read.

Natalie: I find clients through referrals and conferences as well. But as I said before I am on the internet a lot. I suggest everyone start a blog! Then put a blurb about your project on that blog, a description of your book in one or two lines, maybe even an excerpt. “Teaser Tuesday” is a forum online where authors will put excerpts of their books up on the internet, and I often read those.

What type of role do you like to take in your client’s lives?

Sally: If your work is ready and you are up in the 90th percentile then I like working with a client. But if a writer is really not at that place with his/her work then it can become very overwhelming. I would then suggest a writer take a class at a community college, or find a writers group to help them develop. I like to help smooth out the bumps, and make connections with the work, but I’m not a writing teacher.

Angela: I will do some editing with my clients. I feel like I have a lot more input to give on a non-fiction project because that is more of my specialty. I don’t polish prose. If the writing was not almost there to begin with I would be very reluctant to take on the writer. I might suggest you find a co-author to help you. In regards to fiction you are either a storyteller or you are not. And I do take caution when a query says that a book has been professionally edited by someone else as I am then unclear how much of the writing is the author’s.

Natalie: I am not going to fix peoples sentences or grammar for them. But I do participate in general content editing, things like concepts, how you got from one point to another, structuring, etc. I am not a proof reader.

How has the economy changed submission for you?

Sally: I am taking on fewer projects now, and being more conservative. You really need to be judicious. So the more professional and polished your book is the better. Red flags can be small things like typos, grammar, verb tense issues, etc. These will cause me to lose confidence in a submission. After we have gone through two or three revisions, if the book isn’t where it should be it can become difficult, particularly with a fiction book. You can do more with a non-fiction book. You should always get a second opinion before submitting, and research and learn agent’s affinities.

Angela: Editors are buying less, and are looking for books with more weight. There is a lot more pressure on editors to find a winning book these days. Sometimes it is about platform. This is particularly important if you have a non-fiction book. You can look up anything you want on Google now, so you need to be an expert on what you are talking about.

Let’s talk about platform, is it important?

Sally: If you are writing a non-fiction book it is very important that you have credentials. If you are writing memoir then the book can be more fiction related and credentials are less important. However, if you’ve done something significant and are writing your memoir then the book can have a nonfiction slant and it is good to have credentials/platform. Overall show you can participate in the internet community.

Angela: You should establish your reputation with your blog or blogs. Network with peers. Get blurbs from people who will ready your book. But be respective, don’t be silly. No one is interested in the person who will stand on his or her head with a sign that says “will work for book contract.”

Natalie: Credibility will help even with fictional stories. An online presence is also important for fiction writers.

Let’s talk about proposals for memoirs…

Sally: If your memoir is more of a family story then you will want to approach your book as if it is a fiction novel. But if the memoir is subject based, then you can submit a book proposal.

Angela: Memoirs read like first novels, therefore the proposal has to work as if it is for a novel – need chapters and a detailed outline, and a fleshed out story.

What do advances look like these days?

Sally: The middle house has collapsed. Big houses still give out big advances, and the smaller houses have small advances. But it is the middle size houses where we have seen a significant drop. Large advances often go to people who are celebrities or have a significant blog or platform. Examples of high-profile blogs are: Shit My Dad Says, and Hungry Girl.

Angela: Those blogs do so well because they have created a niche market. The content doesn’t even have to be good if the platform works.

Sally: The break down is – High advances are six figures and up. Middle level is 50,000 to 100,000. Small is in the 25,000 and under, and sometimes with presses like universities an advance can be very low and only in the thousands.

Angela: There’s always an exception in regards to advances. Don’t think about the money.

What makes a winning query letter?

Sally: The query captures the voice of what you are writing. I am also a sucker for a good title. But always get into the matter at hand. Forget the whole “I have a book, blah, blah, blah.” Of course you do, that’s why you are querying me. Also, don’t start with hypothetical questions like “Hey, have you ever wondered why people wear pants?” Uh…No! Also, only query one project at a time.

Angela: Be professional, but don’t lose the essence of what you are writing about. Avoid the name Jake for your protagonist. Try and capture your voice, or if it is non-fiction explain why it is that you are the perfect person to write this book.

Natalie: I like it if I’ve met you or we have some connection. Start with how you know me.

Sally: Find a secret reader with a critical eye and have them read your query. Also think about this like it is a job interview.

Natalie: You can post your query on the website and get feedback on it. Also, on our agencies Facebook page we have a template for good query letters.

Angela: Be sure you address the query to me! Say my name! Don’t mass query agents. It feels like spam and I delete it immediately.

Do you think there is a market for personal essays?

Angela: No. Personal essays don’t work unless there is a celebrity aspect.

How long should a work of fiction be?

Sally: There is a sweet spot between 60,000 and 100,000 words. If the book starts to get over 400 pages it can get really daunting. Think about this as the difference between watching a normal one and a half to two-hour movie, or watching a three hour movie. Plus the longer your book is will affect other things like printing cost. This doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions. However, a first novel that is over 100,000 words sends a message that the writer may not have done the proper amount of editing before submitting it. Granted you can get away with longer word counts if your book is fantasy or science fiction. A good rule of thumb is to go to the book store and compare your word/page count with other books in your genre.

Angela: Publishers don’t like long first novels because they cost more and there is a bigger gamble with and unknown author. This really raises the steaks for the publisher.

Natalie: In general, don’t go over 100,000 words. The break down for children’s literature is as follows – Picture books are less than 1000 words, chapter books are between 5000 to 10,000 words, middle grade is 40,000 to 60,000, and young adult is 60,000 to 90,000 words.

Would you ever represent a self published book?

Sally: This can work if your book is selling. But you need to consider what happens when you change from self published to main stream publishing. You will get less money if you go with a main stream publisher, so if your book is selling really well as a self published book you need to decide if you want to change.

Angela: Self published books with low sales is a ding (not a good thing). I would not mention that you’ve self published the book if this is the case.

Natalie: I won’t take self published fiction books. But a self published non-fiction book has some options. If you are going to self publish you should do it because your book is regional or serves a small niche market, or if you are doing it to give it to your family.

What do you look for in a book proposal?

Sally: Proposals are getting shorter and they need to be punchy. Be succinct. They shouldn’t be longer than 50 pages, and they do need sample chapters.

Angela: The overview is very important. Be engaging, grab my attention. Tell me how this book will change my life, will it show me how to cook a meal in ten minutes or discipline my kids, etc.

Is there a difference between having an agent on the West Coast versus the East Coast?

Sally: No.

Angela: If a novel is great it will sell. Agents don’t need to be in New York. The agent’s reputation is what holds water, not where they are located.

What kind of weight does a verbal contract hold?

Sally: I don’t take things very far with a potential client before having them sign. I want them to think about the long-term. In regards to termination, this should be a mutual agreement. But all our policies are all laid out very clearly in our agreement.

Moderator: “A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it is written on.” Email can be used as a paper trail and record agreements, but you really want things to be in writing.

What are you looking for in a synopsis for fiction projects?

Sally: They should be one page long. Get to the gist of the story! Some other agents like to have a longer synopsis.

Angela: One page or even a few paragraphs (only 2 or 3). You should query and send your pages. I read the pages first. I don’t usually read the synopsis because I don’t want to spoil where the book is going.

Natalie: Not more than two pages. I will read pages first, also, but if they seem to have issues, yet I am still interested, then I will read the synopsis to have a sense of where things are going.

What is your turn around for submissions?

Sally: Four to six weeks for manuscripts.

Angela: I’ll respond to an email query within a few days. If you mail me, then four to six weeks.

Natalie: I will respond within a month if I want to see more of your work, then it will depend on my time.

Is there still a chic-lit genre?

Sally: This genre has changed, it is a bit older and come of age. It’s not all about shoes anymore.

Angela: Editors are not really looking for it anymore. It has matured and turned into women married to defunct hedge fund managers.

What is your opinion on trends?

Sally: Write what you have a passion for, you will never time a trend correctly.

Angela: Ditto. However, trends can open the door for new genres. For example multi-cultural fiction is very big now, this opened up room for books like Little Bee. Write what you love.

Natalie: What trends do follow are themes that are universal. Trend books were also bought a year ago. You should also consider the fact that this might not be the right time for your book. Maybe it will be part of a trend to come, in five years it could be a huge hit, but there’s no market for it right now.

What is an agents relationship with a publisher?

Sally: We set up meetings with publishers and have lunches with editors we’ve worked with, or new editors we want to work with. We meet editors at conferences too. Editors want to find us too, this is something that goes both ways.

Angela: Publishers see agents as first readers. We are a filter for them. Our job is about knowing what editors want and who to send a project to. We are also the author’s advocate, and we do negotiations. We don’t have to be lawyers because a publisher isn’t going to budge on a lot of things, so we are really dealing with smaller issues.


Sally Van Haitsma is the owner of Van Haitsma Literary Agencey a boutique agency on the West Coast. Sally previously agented six years at the Castiglia Literary Agency and prior to that, apprenticed at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, both located in Del Mar, California. Learn more about her agency and how to submit at: Van Haitsma Literary Agency Website


Angela Renaldi owns Rinaldi Literary Agency in Beverly Hills, California. Angela is passionate for fiction and look for engaging characters, a strong plot, good storytelling and lovely writing with a distinct voice. She is also looking for Non-fiction work. Learn more about her at: Publishers Marketplace


Natalie M. Fischer is an agent at Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. She specializes in quality commercial books, and currently represents authors in the young adult, middle grade, memoir, women’s, romance (both historical and contemporary), multi-cultural and supernatural mystery genres, biography, popular science/culture and literary creative fiction, cross cultural and select paranormal. Learn more about her agency at: Dijkstra Literary Agency Website

This presentation was sponsored by the Independent Writers of Southern California (IWOSC). Learn more about this organization, events, and membership at: IWOSC Website