A week ago I had the pleasure of facilitating a discussion with Kendra Marcus of Bookstop Literary Agency. Kendra was in Fairbanks visiting her daughter and offered a free question and answer session to any and all writers.
Kendra contacted Alaskan author Deb Vanasse through SCBWI and Deb (who is one of my long distance critique partners) contacted me. For writers in Fairbanks this was quite a treat. We don’t get many literary agents just stopping by and holding free sessions.
Luckily for us, Kendra enjoys winter weather.
At the end of the session I offered Kendra a ride. She thanked me for the offer but said she wanted to walk the mile up to the University, where she was meeting her daughter. It was a windy day, about 8 above zero.
As for the discussion, I didn’t have to do much facilitating because the ten writers, some published some not, some agented some not, who materialized at the Coffee House were bursting with questions, and Kendra’s responses led to more questions. Kendra even did a first page critique for one writer.
Her love for picture books, middle grade and young adult literature was very apparent. And she knows the book business; she’s been an agent since 1984. If she’s not already on your agent list, check out her website and see what you think.
Here are a few thoughts from Kendra regarding submissions:
1. Make sure your story has layers of complexity. Too often I see stories that are just dealing with the surface. They don’t go deep enough.
2. Let the character drive the plot.
3. Pretend I’m a kid. You have to get my interest on the first page.
How do you know when your first page is doing its job? How do you know when you’ve gone deep enough in your story? How do you decide when your story is ready for submission? I’d love to hear your thoughts on any or all of these questions. Thanks!