We’re looking forward to having Wendi Gu, an agent with Sanford J. Greenburger Associates, join us at the 2020 Pocono Retreat in April. Wendi will be leading one of our breakout sessions as well as doing critiques. Recently one of our volunteer members, Susan North, had a chance to catch up with Wendi at the Eastern Penn Points café. Here’s what they had to say.
Susan: Hi, Wendi. Thank you for joining me at our virtual café. Before we get started, may I offer you something to drink—a cappuccino or cup of tea perhaps?
Wendi: Thank you! A cup of lemon-ginger would be great.
Susan: As a fellow dog-lover, I’m curious about what draws you to beagles?
Wendi: I grew up with a beagle named Spunky, god rest his sweet soul. I love their big velvety ears and silly personalities.
Susan: It sounds like you gave him the perfect name! I read that as a child you spent summers with your grandparents in China. What is a special memory from those times?
Wendi: Walks in the park with my Laoye, watching him do calligraphy in the park, eating my Laolao’s dumplings. China is going through a lot at the moment—and so recently I am spending a lot of time thinking of them.
Susan: I’ve been thinking about China as well. I’m hoping we can all pull out of this soon. As a literary agent, how many projects might you be working on at any given time?
Wendi: I work in almost all children’s book formats, so the number is usually pretty big. Almost all of my 30-some clients have at least one project going on at various stages of development. Sometimes, even after a project is acquired, the client or editor asks for my eyes, but I try not to step on anyone’s toes.
Susan: Wow that’s impressive! I never realized a literary agent juggled so many projects at once. Do you have any advice for authors actively querying their work?
Wendi: You know, I tried writing something myself the other day and it was SO hard. Everything I put on the page felt stupid and I had every conviction that no one else would ever be interested in reading it. I gave up too quickly and started answering my work e-mails instead. I’ll go back eventually—probably, maybe.
Writers, don’t take for granted that you are already putting your dreams into action by just getting something down on the page. Do you delight in the writing process? Good. Then you are already, in my book, living a successful life.
Susan: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me. I hope you are looking forward to the SCBWI Pocono Retreat as much as I am. Be prepared to relax in the serene environment and enjoy spectacular meals!
Wendi: I am so looking forward! Thank you for having me.
Wendi Gu is a literary agent at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. She is lucky to work with fiction and nonfiction children’s books across the spectrum, from board books all the way up to young adult. She enjoys lyricism at the line level, sophisticated rhythm, as well as whimsical, absurdist humor. She does not shy away from heavy, darker subjects related to mental health, trauma, and displacement, with a special focus on family stories, and nonfiction books that unearth unexpected corners of history and science. For middle grade and young adult novels, she enjoys voice-driven stories with thoughtful, contemplative, often-flawed characters. She is looking for authors who value intersectionality. Wendi’s clients range from New York Times bestsellers, Pushcart Prize recipients, to various reader’s choice and humor award winners. She grew up in the Chicago suburbs and spent many of her summers with her grandparents in China. With academics as parents, she has always had a nerdy interest in the humanities. You can find her online at @wendilulugu.