With agent, author and editor Abigail Samoun
Abi: Your Brain on Revision
Abigail Samoun, agent, co-founder of Red Fox Literary spoke to us like a seasoned children's book editor in February's live session. For ten years she was the editor of Tricycle Press, the children's publishing arm of California-based Ten Speed Press.
And like a good editor, she kept returning to the theme of revision.
"Don't cement yourself down to quickly in your story," she said in her presentation that kept coming back to the story line.
"A good reviser should be willing to experiment and not have any darlings you're not willing to kill.
"You have to be willing to experiment and move things around. Give yourself time to play around. Try things out in different ways and ask yourself questions that will allow you to dig deeper into the feelings, the character and the plot of your story."
Don't rely on a publisher to make your book wonderful. It falls on you, perhaps with the help of your own team (your critique group and/or perhaps your agent) to accomplish that at the onset.
These days "editors are expected to juggle 25 different projects at a time, " Samoun said. "They rarely have time for the process of Maxwell Perkins-style of exhaustive edit. They just won't be as invested."
It's up to you to "seek out those collaborators who will help you get your ms. where's pretty solid and pretty ready to go."
If you want to lean on a critique group, "make sure it's a group where you leave your sessions inspired," she said.
Illustrators, for your online portfolio, Abi suggested "a good array of at least 15 or so picture book oriented illustrations."
"Master the materials you're working with. Traditional or digital, it doesn't matter. You don't want your illustration's medium to be the first thing the viewer notices." And the viewer will notice if the medium is controlling you rather than the other way around.
She empathized the requirement of doggedness for any author-illustrator. "Get yourself used to sending out your work," she said. "Start submitting and be persistent. I've seen a lot of very talented people give up."
"I've been in this business for 17 years, and I still get rejections every day."
Before co-founding Red Fox Literary, LLC with Karen Grencik in 2011, Abigail Samoun was an in-house children’s book editor for over ten years. Her books received such honors as the CCBC Charlotte Zolotow Award, the New York Public Library Ezra Jack Keats Award, the SCBWI Golden Kite, and the Pura Belpre Honor.
As an agent Abigail now represents authors and illustrators working in a range of genres, from board books to young adult novels. Her clients include author/illustrator Hannah Harrison whose debut, Extraordinary Jane, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and School Library Journal. (Harrison’s picture book was Red Fox’s first project to go to auction.)
'Fellow clients Chris Pallace and Kevin Serwacki wrote and illustrated Joey and Johnny, the Ninjas, an illustrated middle-grade series that received four offers before being bought by Donna Bray at HarperCollins/Balzer&Bray.'
Although a small boutique agency with only three agents (including Samoun, Grencik and Stephanie Fretwell-Hill) and only six years old, Red Fox is considered one of the top children's book agencies, ranked no. 5 among U.S. agencies for children's book sales in 2016!
In addition to agenting, Abigail is the author of several children’s books, including Sterling Publishing’s Little Traveler board book series, illustrated by Red Fox’s own Sarah Watts.