BEA Roundup

BEA (Book Expo America) ended yesterday and, as of this morning, I’m finally feeling a bit more human. Expo week is always huge, busy, and full of friends, colleagues, parties and, of course, ARCs.

frazee_the_boss_babySome of the highlights of the week for me were: the Teen Author Carnival, running into Marla Frazee and her editor (Marla’s newest book, out this fall, THE BOSS BABY, is one of my absolute new favorites), seeing my fantastic colleagues (and our agency’s phenomenal foreign rights and subrights co-agent, Taryn Fagerness).

BEA is always crowded and it’s hard to get where you’re going without running into people you know or recognize if you’ve circulated in the publishing industry for any length of time. So you can set up all the meetings you want, but you’ll always be surprised by who you bump into.

brown_childrenI also loved meeting Peter Brown (whose newest picture book from Little, Brown, CHILDREN MAKE TERRIBLE PETS, out this fall, is the best thing I’ve ever seen), reconnecting with some old friends and making plenty of new ones (just in time for my move!), meeting agents from the tight-knit agenting community in NYC, and seeing an AWESOME panel for the new GUYS READ: FUNNY BUSINESS anthology coming out this fall from HarperCollins/Walden Media (the panel featured children’s book heavyweights Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, Adam Rex, Jeff Kinney, David Lubar and the editor of the anthology, Jordan Brown).

keplinger_the_duffIn terms of YA news and ARCs, I went to the YA Editor’s Buzz panel, an annual event where five excited editors talk about the big books on their list. Ally Condie’s MATCHED was the big book for Penguin, of course, Erin Bow’s PLAIN KATE was Scholastic’s exciting new find, Rebecca Maizel had INFINITE DAYS on the St. Martin’s list, and Sophie Jordan’s FIRELIGHT will be coming out from HarperTeen, but there is one book that I kept hearing about over and over and over again: THE DUFF, coming this fall from Little, Brown.

Kody Keplinger was seventeen, I believe, when she wrote THE DUFF (which stands for “The Designated, Ugly, Fat Friend” in insult lingo). She appeared at the Teen Author Carnival, had several signings and panels at BEA, has sold movie and foreign rights all over the place, was flagged by her publicist and editor wherever she went and was otherwise a consummate professional…and she’s just getting started! I can’t wait to read THE DUFF and have heard from pretty much everyone that it is amazing. I had a chance to talk to several Little, Brown editors and they’re really getting behind an amazing list for next season (including Daisy Whitney’s phenomenal debut, THE MOCKINGBIRDS, which got lots and lots of buzz).

the-mockingbirdsOther impressions I got at BEA from editors and panels and all that jazz: paranormal needs to be absolutely unique (don’t start writing a vampire, angel, werewolf or zombie book unless you want to give yourself the steepest odds possible). This applies to mythology, too (Greek and Egyptian will be a hard sell unless we haven’t heard about those characters before).

Mermaids are definitely on the uptick in terms of acquisitions, as is dystopian: those books will start coming out next season. Editors are definitely looking for thrillers, contemporary/realistic, mystery and stories of friendship, romance, and betrayal, in both MG and YA. This is great because all of these themes are right up my alley — I’d love to stop seeing derivative paranormal romance and hear from writers who are really telling unique stories. It’s finally time to break out of the TWILIGHT mold, and it seems like more and more of publishing agrees.

On a purely personal note, I got to meet and fangirl about Bernadette Peters. She was there, signing her newest picture book. I think finally meeting one of my theatre idols made my life at least 117% better. Overall, a fantastic week. Now, off to catch up on emails from all those patient people who’ve been trying to reach me. 🙂

22 Replies to “BEA Roundup”

  1. So glad you had a great week!

    “Editors are definitely looking for thrillers, contemporary/realistic, mystery and stories of friendship, romance, and betrayal, in both MG and YA.”

    Good news! My writing falls in some of these categories. I’ll be working extra hard to finish my current WiP and beginning another I’ve been itching to get started on.

  2. If you get that DUFF ARC, you HAVE to send it to me. I need to read that book like yesterday.

    So jealous of your BEA-ness! Next year, I am so freakin’ there. Glad you had fun and met GREAT people.

  3. Jenn Jones says:

    Bernadette Peters is my idol too. I saw her in Into the Woods when I was four, and I blame her for making me think I wanted to act for 25 years. Also – my dad saw her on the street in New York once, thought he knew her personally for a second, and yelled “HEY!” She smiled, waved and yelled “Hey!” back. So cool.

  4. Good to hear (again) that contemporary/romance/friendship/betrayal are on the upswing! Refreshing and encouraging! The Duff and The Mockingbirds are two of the titles I’m most looking forward to. Sounds like you had a great time!

  5. Mary, you’ve got me psyched to see “Children Make Terrible Pets.” I checked out “Harry and Horsie” on your recommendation and liked it.

    Which brings me to a question. If someone has written and illustrated a 32-page picture book, what’s the best way to approach agents? A query alone or can one attach a PDF of the illustrated manuscript?

    Also — and maybe this is a future post for you or a past one that I missed — what do you do when you get multiple offers from agents for your novel? How do you decide who to go with? Are there places to go that tell you how established agents are and what sales they’ve had? I believe something like this happened to you with your book, unless I’m remembering things wrong.

    Glad you enjoyed BEA. I had a booth there a few years back and it was madness.


  6. Wow. Looking forward attending one of these years! Thanks for this wrap up. Saw (and heard) Peter Brown’s keynote at the Western Washington Conference and part of it included getting to see some of Children Make Terrible Pets. Funny, funny, funny. Happy reading, Mary!

  7. I’m excited to hear that publishers are looking for a shift in the genre, but about our readers? My sense is that they’re not over it yet. Could be wrong, but the lists are still stacked with paranormal/supernatural. I’m of the mind that publishers should stop rolling their eyes and hunker down for the haul.

  8. Thanks so much, Mary. This gives me a lot of hope, especially for my WIP. Have a terrific weekend. Blessings, Buffy

  9. Lucky duck to meet Peter Brown! So very cool that CURIOUS GARDEN won the E.B. White Read Aloud for picture books. Yeah! Love that book — such amazing illustrations and an awesome book to use in my field to promote green infrastructure/stewardship. Excited to read CHILDREN MAKE TERRIBLE PETS. Mary, if you are interested, there is an interview with Peter Brown on the Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog that is really great (April 20th). Thanks for the BEA download.

  10. When I grow up I want to be an agent just like you. Sounds like fun. (Don’t spoil it by telling me about the boring/difficult bits.)

  11. Natalie Aguirre says:

    It sounds like an awesome week. Wish I could have gone. Until I read the list of authors signing one day, I didn’t realize how many signings there were.

  12. Thanks, everyone! I had a great time and, while I think paranormal will keep getting published, I think a lot of people are looking past it right now.

    JR — Two good questions. I’ll address them soon.

  13. wow. Sounds like you got to encounter so many awesome people and books.

    Those picture books look amazing.

    I’ve heard so much about The Duff. I can’t wait to read it.

    Glad you’re back safe 🙂

  14. Olleymae — Oh, I’m in NYC until the 8th! Too much to do here before the move. 🙂

  15. Greta Marlow says:

    Is there any hope for historical fiction? Were agents/publishers talking about it at all? Thanks!

  16. Greta — Historical fiction, especially more literary historical versus, like, a historical fantasy or historical romance, is tough. It’s really tough. I can’t lie.

  17. Great recap! Marla Frazee is one of my absolute favorites. She’s so fresh and honest.

    As an aside – Greta, I LOVE historical fiction!

  18. The Duff, the Duff, the Duff! I’ve been sooo looking forward to that book ever since I read the first chapter on AW–Kody is an amazing writer! So glad it’s creating such a big buzz! 🙂

    Thanks for the wrap-up–I know a lot of my friends who write contemporaries will be excited by it (and am kind of glad my WIPs are contemporary, too, lol!)


  19. Joyce McCann says:

    I am so new at this. I’m a grandma who doesn’t even know what a blog is. I stumbled on your site & I can’t get off. I’m addicted! I as looking for info on how to publish a childrens book I wrote and I’ve been on here most of the day. I have to know, how’s Sushi? I went through the same thing with a dog I rescued. Sadie is fine now. Thank you so much for such an interesting site. I signed up for a feed so I hope to heaven that’s what I do to keep getting your info. Oh I used to live in New Jersey very close to NY and went to the city often. I loved it all, the people, the food, the energy!!!! Enjoy. have a question. Do you need to have your book illustrated to submit?

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