A few weeks back, I interviewed our Blogmaster Extraordinaire, Lindsay Bandy. In case you missed it or want to re-read the interview, check it out here. Lindsay attributes much of her Agent-signing success to meeting Heather Flaherty at the Pocono Retreat. (We also know it’s because she’s an incredibly talented writer, but the Pocono Retreat helped to plant the agent/writer relationship seed.)
We have another success story from the Pocono Retreat. Yes, ANOTHER ONE. Two in one year, and based on the talent of this year’s attendees and our rock star faculty, there’s bound to be more. There’s a few spots available in case you want to sign up. Visit our website for registrations details.
Author/Illustrator and Eastern PA SCBWI member, David Bucs, signed with Rachel Orr of the Prospect Agency in the Fall of 2015. He took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for me.
Hi David and welcome! When did you first meet Rachel?
I first met Rachel at the Pocono Retreat last year. I only attended one day of the retreat, which meant that I had to drive over 6 hours round trip. It was a very long day, but clearly a very productive one as well.
How did that One-to-One Critique go at Pocono?
I actually thought that Rachel wasn’t interested in me as a prospective client. She had great comments about my artwork and manuscript. I also assumed that because she is a literary agent, I had to have more developed manuscripts in my portfolio. However, after the meeting I made changes to my work and manuscript that she had suggested during our meeting, which I made sure to show her at a later conference in New Jersey.
Do you think meeting her at the Pocono Retreat helped seal the deal for you? What was it like being able to hang out with her during the Retreat?
So, I imagine that the Pocono Retreat didn’t seal the deal, but it definitely provided an excellent introduction that eventually resulted in a contract. At the end of that day I did get a chance to give her my dummy, and she did ask me to keep in touch. It was very encouraging, and I did make sure to address all the suggestions that she made, while also polishing my dummy and manuscript for the next conference.
Describe the journey from the Pocono Retreat to signing with her. How often did you check in with Rachel?
The Retreat is a terrific environment to meet agents and professionals in the business. It is a warm, relaxed and ideal setting to mingle and get to know people. As I had mentioned, after the retreat I immediately began working on my portfolio, dummy and manuscript. I made sure to address the changes that Rachel suggested, although I had not expected to run into her any time soon.
However, I registered for the New Jersey Conference and met up with some other SCBWI friends before the event. It happened that one of the artists was represented by Rachel and he was singing her praises. So, I made the point to connect with her at the conference.
I gave her my card on the first morning, (which had improvements!). However, it was very difficult to find the opportunity to speak with her during the cocktail hour. Agents are very popular during these events! But eventually we connected, and she offered me a contract on the spot. I was feeling rather awkward until that moment, and I could not have been more surprised. The conference was a success, and not only did I have an agent, but also my top choice to represent me as a writer/illustrator.
What are the next steps for you?
I have just completed four books for Cantata Learning. Rachel got me that job right off the bat! Now we are shopping a manuscript/dummy called “Animals at the Door”, which is about a little girl named Lilly who is too excited to go to bed because she’s going to the zoo the next day. But things change when a lion shows up at her door, and needs a bedtime snack before he can go to sleep. Soon, Lilly finds herself helping half the zoo with their pre-bedtime rituals. Will she ever be able to get any sleep at all?
I am currently working on two manuscripts which I am really excited about, and can’t wait to get to designing the dummies.
You’ve got your agent, you working on revisions, do you think you’ll continue to attend workshops and conferences? Why?
Actually, I am currently attending the wonderful Eastern PA SCBWI workshop called “Idea to Dummy Workshop”, which is instructed by Book Designer Annie Beth Ericsson of G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
Any other words of wisdom you’d like to share?
I don’t feel very wise just yet! However, it has been in my experience so far that passion and perseverance are essential in this process. You’ve got to love it, and keep on do’in it!
Thanks David for taking the time to chat! Be sure to keep us posted when your books come out!
If you haven’t signed up for the Pocono Retreat, hurry! We’re almost maxed out! Visit our website for details.
And readers, if you have any good news, agent signings, upcoming book deals, book launch parties, or know of any cool Writerly or Art-erly events, we want to hear from you! Contact me.