Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Elana Roth Parker of Laura Dail Literary Agency

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-12-37-28-pmElana Roth Parker is a literary agent with Laura Dail Literary Agency.

She represents: juvenile fiction, children’s books, picture books, middle grade, and young adult.

Elana has specialized in children’s publishing from the beginning of her career, from her very first internship at Nickelodeon Magazine followed by 5 years as an editor at Parachute Publishing. She’s been an agent since 2008, most recently at Red Tree Literary, which she founded in 2012. She joined the Laura Dail Literary Agency in 2016.

Elana is a graduate of Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary, with degrees in English literature and Bible. It’s the second degree which makes for more interesting conversation at cocktail parties.

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Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Bethany Morehead of Hartline Literary

Screen Shot 2017-12-02 at 12.41.18 AM.pngBethany Morehead is a literary agent with Hartline Literary.

She is seeking: children’s picture books, middle grade fiction, young adult fiction, women’s fiction, romantic fiction, and speculative fiction (sci-fi and fantasy).

Bethany is also a quirky millennial and award-winning author. She is deeply in love with Jesus, her hubby, and puppy. You will find her sipping on sweet tea sharing her deepest feelings with a pen to paper, rather than speaking them. Though introverted, she loves meeting and connecting with new people-especially while playing “nerd-tastic” board games.

At the 2019 workshop, she is not only meeting with writers, but also teaching on query letter writing as well.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Janna Bonikowski of The Knight Agency

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 12.11.39 PM.pngJanna Bonikowski is a literary agent with The Knight Agency.

Janna joined the Knight Agency in 2016 with several years of experience as both an independent editor and a freelance editor for Lyrical Press/Kensington. She holds a bachelor’s degree focused on business and economics, but her passion for books made a career in publishing inevitable.

Janna is eager to find well-crafted stories with tight pacing; authentic, diverse characters (especially by #ownvoices authors); distinctive voices; and—above all–big, imaginative concepts. She loves books demonstrating the strength of women, books that make her laugh out loud, and books about socially relevant topics. More than anything, she wants to be surprised. She’s currently looking for young adult, women’s fiction, romance, historical fiction, commercial fiction, and cozy mystery.

Tips For Pitching Your Book at the 2019 MWW

If you are coming to the 2019 Michigan Writing Workshop, you may be thinking about pitching our agent-in-attendance or editor-in-attendance. An in-person pitch is an excellent way to get an agent excited about both you and your work. Here are some tips (from a previous year’s instructors, Chuck Sambuchino) that will help you pitch your work effectively at the event during a 10-minute consultation. Chuck advises that you should:

  • Try to keep your pitch to 90 seconds. Keeping your pitch concise and short is beneficial because 1) it shows you are in command of the story and what your book is about; and 2) it allows plenty of time for back-and-forth discussion between you and the agent. Note: If you’re writing nonfiction, and therefore have to speak plenty about yourself and your platform, then your pitch can certainly run longer.
  • Practice before you get to the event. Say your pitch out loud, and even try it out on fellow writers. Feedback from peers will help you figure out if your pitch is confusing, or missing critical elements. Remember to focus on what makes your story unique. Mystery novels, for example, all follow a similar formula — so the elements that make yours unique and interesting will need to shine during the pitch to make your book stand out.
  • Do not give away the ending. If you pick up a DVD for Die Hard, does it say “John McClane wins at the end”? No. Because if it did, you wouldn’t buy the movie. Pitches are designed to leave the ending unanswered, much like the back of any DVD box you read.
  • Have some questions ready. 10 minutes is plenty of time to pitch and discuss your book, so there is a good chance you will be done pitching early. At that point, you are free to ask the agent questions about writing, publishing or craft. The meeting is both a pitch session and a consultation, so feel free to ask whatever you like as long as it pertains to writing.
  • Remember to hit the big beats of a pitch. Everyone’s pitch will be different, but the main elements to hit are 1) introducing the main character(s) and telling us about them, 2) saying what goes wrong that sets the story into motion, 3) explaining how the main character sets off to make things right and solve the problem, 4) explaining the stakes — i.e., what happens if the main character fails, and 5) ending with an unclear wrap-up.