Happy December, everyone!
Let's finish the year on a high note! If you've been in the query trenches for a while and feeling a bit deflated, or if you just need to hear some success stories to inspire you, or you've been considering a new direction and could use some encouragement to start your next year strong, you're in luck. I have good news--Agent Kaitlyn Sanchez is here to lift up our spirits and offer an exclusive submission opportunity to two of my blog fans! How amazing is that?!
Well, I'm super excited to be providing this opportunity to KidLit Oasis followers, and I am thrilled to be chatting with Kaitlyn!
Welcome, Kaitlyn! It's such a pleasure having you on my blog--thank you for being a KidLit Oasis special guest! I am quite excited for our chat today, and I'm extra excited for the kidlit community because this interview is not only packed with invaluable insight and super valuable details, but also an opportunity to submit to you! Some lucky stars are about to shine over those winners! Details on that later, but for now, let's dive in. I had a bunch of questions for you, so again, thank you so much for taking the time to answer them all for my readers!
Let's start from the beginning... How did you become an agent? Did you have any mentors who helped you along the way? Please also tell us about your agency, including its mission.
Thank you for asking! I feel like this part of my life was meant to be because so many things just came together. I was in a lot of picture book critique groups because I just loved reading and helping edit picture books, and at the same time, I had accidentally stumbled into hosting picture book blog contests, where my favorite part was connecting people. I quickly realized that's what agents do: they get to read, edit, and connect people.
My critique partners, James McGowan and Andrea Walker, were both agent interns at the time, and they both helped me a ton! I'm so grateful to them always, and to the wonderful Anna Olswanger who gave me my first internship filled with so much knowledge. Red Fox who taught me a ton in such a short amount of time, and so much thanks to my amazing team at Context Literary Agency who have helped me grow the most with their knowledge and support; I couldn't ask for a better team. But the biggest thanks of course goes to my clients who took a chance on me and believed that, though I was new, I was meant for this. Also, fun fact, Liza Dawson has also always been meant to connect people. She was the one who suggested I check out Context because she thought Tamar and I would work well together. Isn't this industry full of just amazing and giving people?
It is, indeed! The support in the kidlit community is amazing for sure and so awesome to have! It really is essential on this journey, I'm sure my peers would agree. Okay, here's my next question: What is your favorite part of the job and what is your least favorite part? What brings you joy in your position day in and day out?
Oh my, there's SO many things that are my favorite, from reading a client's work and feeling the awesomeness jump off the page, to thinking of the best editors the story will connect with to chatting with editors - so much fun - to our weekly Context Literary Agency meetings, but the best part has to be sharing with a client that their book is going to be published! There are definitely hard parts too, as in all things, we need balance, right? One of my least favorite things is getting passes, but they're definitely part of the job, and finding that perfect editor and publisher is always worth it in the end!
You're right--passes are hard for everyone, but they are part of the process and in order to find the right home for a project, it inevitably goes through some rough patches and discovers the non-matches on its way, too.
So, what is a typical workday for you? If there's no "typical" what are some of the tasks that have priority in any given workday?
Haha, definitely no typical for me, but often you'll find me pulling out my phone in bed at 5 am to answer emails, check in on submissions, read Publishers Marketplace deals and news. Of course, there's also reading client work and sending feedback, reading queries, creating submissions lists, creating submission letters, and checking in with clients.
You are currently closed to submissions... Do you plan to re-open soon? What's on your wishlist, if it has changed lately? What is something you've seen too much of or just isn't for you?
When agents close to submissions it's often because they're focusing on their current clients and/or have many queries to catch up on. I'm definitely focusing on my amazing clients and as I participate in many events where writers and illustrators can submit to me through those events, I actually have a steady stream of submission still, so I'm not sure when I will re-open.
Great! I'm glad to hear there are still opportunities for writers to be considered by you. Speaking of submissions, how much time do you usually spend reading a submission? Do you read the query first or the manuscript?
I always go to the manuscripts first. I want the story to speak for itself, then if I like it, I go back to the query to get more info. :) The time spent depends completely on the submission.
How do you evaluate submissions? What marks does a manuscript need to hit to prompt you to request more work from the author?
I'm still trying to pinpoint this exactly, but honestly, it's a lot on instinct. There's some spark about writers and illustrators whose talent just explodes off the page when I'm reading. Often if I feel that but there are plot issues or the opening or closing need more umph or the character more developed, I'll request an R&R.
What happens next if a project appealed to you? For example, if a picture book submission grabbed you, how many additional manuscripts do you request? Do you expect to see more within the same category as the original submission or a range? Could you walk us through the process from submission to representation offer?
Great question! I ask for their three other favorite stories beyond the one they sent (and I really enjoy when there are MG or YA in the mix as well). I actually expect the other stories not to be the same but to have the same storytelling quality that I read in the first and the unique creativeness that shows me this creator can keep creating because I want to represent their career. Then, if those stories speak to me as well, I'll email the potential client and set up a call where I get to just gush about what I love, share what it's like to be on Team Sanchez, have the creator ask questions and finally, I'll suggest which Team Sanchez clients they should talk to to get insight in working with me and provide the potential client with their contact info. Then I try super duper hard not to think about it until I get an email or a call with the answer because when we offer to a potential client, we're super excited and want to work with them too!
Wonderful--thank you for the details and specifics in your answer! I know that this will be very helpful to all who plan to query you down the road. Writers, take notice of that!
Do you reply to all submissions and what is your timeframe? Or is no reply considered a pass?
I try to respond to all submissions, but I also remind people that they can check in after a certain amount of time too. You wouldn't believe how much goes on in the background of making books, so sometimes, it's nice to get a reminder about queries.
Are you currently taking submissions from illustrators?
I'm always on the lookout for amazing artists!
What is the one thing people should avoid in submissions to you?
People should definitely make sure to read submission guidelines.
How do you handle submissions to editors in concern to your clients? To be more specific, do you share your list with your client? Are you open to taking their input and suggestions, brainstorm together where the work might be sent? Also, do you forward the rejections to your clients?
Yes to all of these. I'm very open with my clients because we're a team. I'm a very curious person, so I always think about what I'd want to know as a writer and do that for my clients as well. And I'm super lucky that my team is very involved in the writing community, so I'm always up for their awesome suggestions - they even send me editor tweets sometimes so I don't miss them - go Team Sanchez! We also have a Facebook group where everyone can share opportunities and ask for help or critiques.
Oh, that sounds wonderful! Let's hear more about Team Sanchez! What are some projects you're excited about and why? Any upcoming titles you could share with us?
This is my favorite! Our first Team Sanchez books are coming out next year! AHH! We just did cover reveals for OLD FRIENDS, HATTIE HATES HUGS, and MUSHROOM RAIN! I can't wait for kids and adults alike to get their hands on these amazing, unique, and inspiring stories. For more Team Sanchez info, check here.
Fantastic! Thank you, Kaitlyn! It was a pleasure chatting with you, and I know my blog readers were thrilled to learn more about you and about Team Sanchez! Please come back to visit again any time.
Please support Kaitlyn and Team Sanchez in any way you can. Check out the submission opportunity that Kaitlyn has generously provided for my readers! Find the details on how to enter the giveaway below.
About Kaitlyn Sanchez
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez is a mom, wife, agent with Context Literary Agency, middle school math teacher, and picture book author. She's also the proud co-creator and co-host of the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest and Kidlit Zombie Week as well as creator and co-host of the Kidlit Fall Writing Frenzy Contest. In her free time, she loves to play soccer, binge-watch TV shows, and, of course, read, especially when she's all cozied up with her husband and daughter reading together.
Connect with Kaitlyn:
Please follow my clients on social media: https://kaitlynleannsanchez.com/literary-clients/
Agency website: https://www.contextlit.com/
Above the Slush Pile
Follow the instructions and leave a comment in order to be entered in to the drawing.
Two options to be entered...
1. Follow Kaitlyn and all of her clients on Twitter and come back and share that you did in the comments (while you're at it, maybe follow me, too ;) I'm @RosiePOV)
2. Pre-order a Team Sanchez book and tell us in the comments
Use this link for more info on Team Sanchez:
If you complete BOTH options, you get two entries!
-TWO winners will be randomly selected
-The winners can use the *website for how to submit
-Make sure you put Kidlit Oasis in the
subject line of the email
P.S. Are you subscribed to KidLit Oasis? More amazing opportunities coming up in the New Year, so consider signing up!
CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU BOTH!!!
* * *
Thank you, everyone who entered the giveaway! We appreciate your support!
More amazing opportunities for you coming on KidLit Oasis this year!
About Rosie J. Pova
Rosie J. Pova is a
award-winning children's author, speaker, and writing coach on a mission to inspire children not only to read and write more, but to use their creativity, follow their passions, dream big and believe in themselves.
Rosie visits schools and shares her inspirational journey as an immigrant from Bulgaria and how she became a published author, encouraging kids to persist, push through rejections, and hold a high vision for themselves.
Rosie's picture book, Sunday Rain, was featured in The New York Times and Parents magazine, and her upcoming one, The School of Failure: A Story About Success, will be released in May 2022 in the U.S. and China.
Check out her Critique Services here, her Workshops here, and her school visits page here.
Rosie is represented by Jennifer Herrington of Harvey Klinger Literary.