Friday, May 31, 2013

Agent Joanna Volpe - The Exclusive #LA13SCBWI Team Blog Interview

Agent Joanna Volpe

Joanna Volpe (New Leaf Literary) represents picture books to teen novels. Some of her recent titles are See a Heart, Share a Heart by Eric Telchin (Dial), Altered by Jennifer Rush (Little Brown), Chained by Lynne Kelly (Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG), Insurgent by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins), Ever Afters: Of Giants & Ice by Shelby Bach (Simon & Schuster), Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Henry Holt), and Puzzled by Pink by Sarah Frances Hardy (Viking). She is currently on the lookout for Young Adult horror, dark high fantasy or literary novels; middle grade all genres; picture book art-focused, 200-500 words.

Joanna will be on faculty at the upcoming 2013 SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles, August 2-5, and I connected with her to find out more...

Lee: As an agent, do you head to a conference hoping to connect with new-to-you talent?

Joanna:  Absolutely. I have found most of my illustrators through SCBWI conferences, and 4 authors from conferences as well. They are a great way to connect with authors and illustrators directly, and to get to know them a little, too.

Lee:  What's the best way for an author attending #la13scbwi to approach you? A business card? A pitch? A sense that they know who you are and what you represent?

Joanna:  It's important to have a quickfire pitch ready if I ask for it. Otherwise, it would be great just to say hello and talk about books they're enjoying and whatnot. It would be nice if they have a sense of who I am and what I represent, but I don't expect it. I don't usually ask for business cards, and sometimes when I am handed them, they get misplaced.

Lee:  Is an on-line presence/profile something you look for before signing someone new?

Joanna: It's not mandatory for signing a new client, no. But anyone I'm considering signing needs to be comfortable with creating one soon!

Lee:  There are big agencies, one-person agencies, and agencies like yours (New Leaf Literary has four literary agents.) Is agency size something authors and illustrators should consider when looking at submitting to an agent?

Joanna:  It really depends on the agency. Whether a big agency or small agency, I think your relationship with your agent is what is most important. So make sure you find the agent you connect with, creatively and business-wise.

Lee:  Your Sunday ProTrack workshop at the conference is called "Cracking The Mystery of Your Royalty Statements." Tell us more.

Joanna:  Well, SCBWI asked if I would talk about this and I said "sure!" haha. In truth though, royalty statements can be very intimidating and overwhelming. And I believe that knowledge is power. So what I'm hoping to accomplish with the workshop is for authors to leave there feeling empowered and able to interpret their statements better--and to also know what kinds of questions they should be asking.

Lee: Should people bring a copy of one of their royalty statements to try to decode it in-session?

Joanna: If they feel comfortable sharing their statement with me, then yes.

Lee:  Any advice for authors and illustrators of works for children and teens you could share?

Joanna:  My advice is always: be ready to work hard, and be open to new ideas and paths to take. Things are changing so much right now, but it's not all doom and gloom! There are some exciting opportunities out there for authors and illustrators that weren't available before. We have to adapt to the changes, and that's OK. Also, always keep reading!

Lee:  Speed round!  Your favorite TV show?

Joanna:  Right now? It's a tie between Parks and Recreation and also The Walking Dead.

Lee:  Literary food you'd most like to try?

Joanna:  Crumpets. I don't know why.

Lee: If you were a contestant on 'The Voice' (or a similar reality singing show) what song would you sing?

Joanna: "What's UP?" by Four Non Blondes

Thanks, Joanna!

To attend Joanna's session and take part in all the remarkable craft, business, inspiration, community and opportunity the SCBWI Summer Conference offers, you have to be there in person!  Go here for all the details, and to register.

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