Monday, July 28, 2014

A Word from Danielle Smith: Jenn Bower's Agent

For the last month Jenn Bower has graciously shared her creative process from her childhood dreams until the time she signed with Danielle Smith of Red Fox Literary. Today you get to see Jenn's work from Danielle's perspective and why she decided to offer Jenn representation.

CAROL What drew you to Jennifer's work? 
JENN Initially I discovered Jennifer's work at the 2013 SCBWI Carolinas Fall Conference. The faculty received postcards in a bag when we arrived for the conference and also had time to preview illustrator's portfolios. During the time we had to preview the portfolios an editor and myself both commented to each other that Jenn's work was really fun and unique. Later I went back to my stack of postcards and searched for Jenn's. Once I discovered it I tucked it (and one other) away for safe keeping until I could email her later. 

CAROL What made her work stand apart from the other submissions you receive? 
JENN My exact words in the first email I sent Jenn were these: "Your characters were fun, a little quirky, and very accessible to children's books."

When I first saw her work online (she had a really well put together blog, website and had great involvement on Twitter with #kidlitart and #inktober) I was instantly pulled in by her characters. I'm constantly looking for the ever-elusive "different" or "spark" with illustrators and Jenn definitely has it. She had one character in particular I loved, a little girl with a huge amount of hair that constantly pulled in a variety of objects and animals. As they say "the devil is in the details" and in Jenn's work there were/are plenty of details and personality popping out everywhere. 

In addition to those elusive details that Jenn brought to the table, it was her submission that showed me she wanted to be a children's book illustrator more than anything else. She mentioned goals she had and her background as a working mom. Jenn's dedication to her craft and her daughter were clear to me and as someone who wants to help to build the career of the clients I work with over the years, these were very appealing to me. Obviously how I found Jenn wasn't exactly a typical submission process and I won't always know this much detail about a potential client's life right away, but knowing that we shared similar priorities was a huge draw to me. 

Jenn's illustration for the July, 2014
issue of Talking Story

CAROL Can you share your collaborative process?
JENN Over the next few months Jenn and I exchanged emails and phone calls while discussing not only text for her picture books, but also the illustration samples she was working on. The edition of the manuscript Jenn first sent me was originally over 900 words (larger than what I'd recommend sending to me, but again, this was an unusual situation) and over those months we whittled it down to under 500 words. I do this with all of my writing clients as I'm more of an editorial agent and prefer to send a polished manuscript on submission. 

Jenn and I also worked to polish her illustration samples. First, Jenn completed a full dummy for the picture book. I don't always ask for this, but because we'd not worked together before I wanted to see her full vision for the story before proceeding. We exchanged a number of phone calls after this to discuss details about the samples we were prepping for submission. Again, I look for details and though I knew Jenn had done amazing work already, I knew she could do even better with a bit of a push. She did! Jenn fine tuned things as seemingly simple as bushes, among other things, and in the end her book is something I am proud to share with editors. 

Thank you, Carol, for giving me the opportunity to share this process with you and your readers. As I mentioned, Jenn's experience may be a little different than "typical" submissions, but I find that discovering new talent is anything but a "typical" process and always an adventure. 

For more than six years Danielle Smith has been the well-known blogger behind the online review site There’s a Book, voted the BBAW’s Best Kidlit Book Review Blog and host to over two-hundred thousand page views per month. Her children’s book reviews have also appeared in top online and print publications such as Parenting Magazine and Women’s World. “There is something magical about working with children’s books,” says Smith who still cherishes the time she’s able to read with her own two children each day. As the latest addition to Red Fox Literary, Smith looks to further expand on the sterling reputation she's built within the children’s trade publishing world. Her client list includes both authors and illustrators working in genres from board books to picture books to young adult novels. Click here for submission information.


Jenn Bower said...

Yay! I love my agent. So proud to be her client.

Rosi said...

Thanks for this whole series. It has been interesting and informative.

Linda Vigen Phillips said...

Thanks for this inside scoop from Jenn's agent, and for sharing her lovely work these past few weeks.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Rosi and Linda. It's been fun! ANd Jenn-- you have a marvelous agent. So glad you found each other!

Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Enjoyed this series, Carol. Thanks for introducing me to Jenn and to Danielle!

Fascinating to read about their working relationship.

The1stdaughter said...

Thank you so much for having me today Carol and for featuring Jenn these past few weeks. You're wonderful and this has been a delightful feature. Thank you! xo

Linda A. said...

Jenn, your art pulls readers in.

Danielle, you have a great eye for art.

Carol, you have wrapped this series up with such style.

Thanks to all!

Carol Baldwin said...

Beginning my day by reading the comments you left last night--Danielle, Joyce and LInda-- makes me smile! Glad you have enjoyed this series as much as I have!

sheri levy said...

Thanks Carol for sharing this interview. I was so impressed with Jenn's talents and loved reading how Danielle found her. Lots of talent there!

Anna E. G. said...

What a fun interview, it was nice to see the inside an agent's process. I've always wondered what their thoughts are when they're choosing who to work with. A great ending to the interviews. :)

Carol Baldwin said...

thanks, Anna and Sheri. Glad you both enjoyed this series!

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