Saturday, August 02, 2008

Michael Bourret: The Long Haul...

Michael Bourret, an agent with Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, offered this session in the Published Author Track on how to maintain and build a career over the long term. He feels the career writers need three things: focus, diversity and openness.

In terms of focus, he suggests one's goal as an author is to establish a brand--think Sarah Dessen or Bruce Coville--so buyers and librarians will know how to position your books, and, ultimately, readers will know what to expect from an author. His rule for the authors he represents when they are starting out is that they must publish three books of the same type before they can branch out into other areas.

In terms of diversity, Michael is a believer in writers keeping their day jobs and being involved in other things. It's unhealthy to only talk to other writers, he says. He also cautions against telling anyone the terms of your book deal and details about contracts. He advised keeping up with networking. He told writers to be open to doing revision. And he warned against over-publishing, suggesting no more than one book a year in most cases (talking about trade books).

It takes time to build a career in children's publishing, he said, and publishers are willing to stick with you, even if you don't have stellar sales the first time out if they believe in you as an author.

What's he want in terms of submissions? He'd love a fantastic YA memoir. He loves great middle grade novels and says there's a real market for MG fiction--it's the one place in the children's market that is growing and continues to grow. He's desperate for literary writing for teens. And he wants more books for boys.


janeyolen said...

Oh dear, I'd better go back and redo my ENTIRE writing life. None of it fits into his proscriptions.

Jane Yolen

Alice said...

Funny--One of the authors in the audience brought up your career, saying "Jane Yolen has written 100 or so books and she's not 100..." Michael said he didn't know enough about your book sales to speak to that point.

janeyolen said...

Actually, I just sold my 305th book, cover all the genres, and even have some major bestsellers and major award winners.So I guess people do find me on the shelves!

Maybe I don't have to go back and redo my entire career after all.


Alice said...

I think you're doing just fine, Jane.

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