Conference Track Focus: Children’s, Middle Grade, and Young Adult

Books for children, middle grade, and young adults have been some of the fastest growing publishing markets of the past several years — so much so that high-power authors for adults like James Patterson, Tom Clancy, and Robert B. Parker have added their own work to the genres.

It’s an exciting time in this corner of the publishing world, and we’ve pulled out all the stops to make that corner of our conference exciting, too.

The first exciting thing is we’re working closely with SCBWI-Oregon (the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). They’re not having a conference this year, so we’re working together to bring the best agents, authors, and presenters they know to our event. Expect new faces and old favorites, and take the time to learn about this field if you’re not already part of it.

The second exciting thing is the roster of agents and editors we’ve brought in to hear your pitches and ideas for all things child, middle-grade, and young adult focused. From across North America, they’re arriving for pitch sessions with our attendees. The list includes:

  • Alexander Slater with Trident Media, looking for YA and MG
  • Amanda Broder of Ripple Grove Books, seeking picture book
  • Dawn Frederick, taking pitches for YA and MG for Red Sofa Literary
  • Emily Keyes of Fuse Literary, who wants YA
  • Fiona Kenshole with Transatlantic, seeking YA, MG and picture books
  • Lisa Abellera from Kimberly Cameron, looking for YA and MG
  • Michelle Brower, who’s seeking YA & MG for Aevitas
  • Monica Pachico from McDermod, who wants YA & MG
  • Rachel Letofsky of the Cooke Agency, looking for YA &MG
  • Rob Broder of Ripple Grove Books, who wants picture books
  • Rosanne Wells with Jennifer De Chiara, interested in YA and some MG
  • Saba Sulaiman from Talcott Notch, looking for YA & MG
  • Stacey Graham of Red Sofa, seeking YA & MG

Check their bios here to find out what each of these extraordinary hunters of talent is specifically looking for, and register here to get your 10 minutes of their full and undivided attention.

The third exciting thing is our lineup of classes. With the help of our friends at SCBWI, we’ve put together a real power team come to teach you all you ever wanted to know about these three highly accessible and successful genres.

Starting on Friday, we have Melissa Hart speaking about the importance of diversity in middle grade and young adult stories. She’ll look at its emerging importance, and how to write diverse characters who have experiences different from your own. Following her, Fiona Kenshol will give her talk about what to do when movie producers want your story — both how to attract them, and how to handle it. (Hint: the talk is called Take the Money and Run.)

Friday afternoon starts with an introduction to the myriad different kinds of children’s, YA, and MG genres out there. Rachel Letofsky will give the inside scoop on how each format works, their dos and don’ts, and how to pitch your ideas to agents and editors. Lee Edward Fodi will finish up the day for us with his talk on using mythic archetypes to populate your stories with scintellating, memorable characters.

Saturday morning, Lee Edward Fodi brings us his best creative tips for enriching our worlds in a presentation called Magic, Monsters, and Mystery for the Middle-Grade Novel. He’ll be followed up by Sue Ford in a talk about writing for children’s magazines. This is a lesser-known market for children’s writers that our members should learn more about.

The afternoon starts with a panel on writing picture books. A host of local and regional picture book writers, including Gretchen McLellan, Peter McCleery, Susan Blackaby, and Carolyn Conahan will answer any question you think to ask, and bring a few you might not have thought of. We’ll wrap us Saturday with Ruth Musgrave presenting on writing nonfiction for children, another lesser-known market with lots of work for people with the right combination of temperament and skills.

We won’t have any dedicated SCBWI classes on Sunday, but the whole day is full of workshops and programming for writers in all genres and ends with some sessions tailor-made to help all our attendees show up next year with solid progress in their writing careers.

As we said, it’s exciting what’s going on with our writing for younger readers this year. Stay tuned for even more development in this and our other tracks, especially our schedule of interviews and book signings at the Barnes & Noble bookstore stage.