Friday, March 4, 2011
Alessandra Balzer - Balzer & Bray
10 things she looks at when acquiring projects:
1. Voice - This is vital; it does all the work for you by conveying things as opposed to exposition
*1st pages are very important.
*What you don't say is just as important as what you do.
2. Groundbreaking Concept - Think about what the market needs before the market knows it.
3. World Building - Doesn't need to be futuristic or fantasy, just believable.
*Limitations can be more important and intriguing that what you add to it.
*Go beyond the "What if..." questions, but keep the ripple effect in mind.
4. Read-aloud quality - Keep in mind voice, accessibility, page turns (especially in picture books). Don't be afraid to read it out loud to see how pauses work and words flow.
5. Heart - The X-factor that most agents and editors have a hard time putting into words.
6. Ripped from the Headlines - Use the news and the real world for inspiration.
7. Fresh Take on a Popular Genre - Don't tell the same story, but make sure it's a new twist if doing something that's already been done (vampires). I also have "ripple effect" down here again.
8. Fabulous New Character - Particularly in picture books and younger books for series potential (Fancy Nancy).
9. Story Arc - Think about where your story is going because you want to go on a journey and end up in a different place. Try to do the unexpected. Get the story going automatically (pacing).
10. Layered Story - War, class differences, etc.
*Don't just scratch the surface.
*Don't make it didactic.
*Don't talk down to your readers. ^
Market - Know your story and where it fits; be able to sum it up in a sentence.
*The Unidentified is Feed meets Mean Girls.
-18 generally the cap for YA
-Teen books tend to be in 1st person but they don't have to be.
-MG tends to be in 3rd.
-She doesn't pay much attention to the query/pitch because she cares more about the actual text.
-Ebooks are happening more and more, so just tell your story and leave interactive media and ebooks to the publisher.
-Trends: *dystopian *picture books harder to sell
-Short story collections are hard but not impossible to sell, but focus on the book and think about your angle and the market.
-Illustrated novels need to have a reason for images.
*Makes the book feel younger.
-Pen names: Don't worry when submitting; let your publisher be the judge of whether or not you need one.
-Do not worry about submitting seasonal books at a certain time.
-Titles get changed all the time, but try to be original nonetheless.
R. L. Stine
Unfortunately, this keynote was during lunch when I couldn't take notes. That being said, Stine is a FUNNY guy. The one thing I really took away was this:
You never know how things will turn out, so just say 'yes' to opportunity.
That's all I can cram in today, but I still have a lot of stuff that I'll keep posting. Again, I'm sorry it's taking so long. I realize it's March and this conference was officially a month ago, but I'm working on it. >.< Life just keeps getting in the way. Anyway, I hope you all got something out of today's post, and I'll be back with a review of Mandy Hubbard's Prada & Prejudice later this weekend!