2022 November Fall Conference                          

Frances Gilbert started her career in children’s books when she was still a child, working in the children’s department of her town library throughout high school. After graduating from university with a M.A. in English, Frances’s first job in publishing was as a Book Club Editor at Scholastic Canada in Toronto. She moved to New York in 2000 to set up a children’s editorial division at Sterling Publishing, where she stayed till 2012. Frances then moved to Random House Children’s Books, where she is VP, Editor-in-Chief of Doubleday Books for Young Readers.

Titles she has acquired and edited include the New York Times bestseller The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain, Philip Stead and Erin Stead; I Don’t Want to Be a Frog by Dev Petty and Mike Boldt; the Happy Hair series by Mechal Renee Roe, Bunny’s Book Club by Annie Silvestro and Tatjana Mai-Wyss; and Wordy Birdy by Tammi Sauer and Dave Mottram.

In addition to editing Children’s books, Frances also writes them. She is the author of the picture books Go, Girls, Go!; Too Much Slime!; and I Will Always Be Your Bunny; the Step Into Reading Titles I Love Pink!, I love My Tutu!, I Love My Grandma!, I love Cake! and I Love My Teacher!; and an abridgment of The Secret Garden (Little Golden Books).

You can follow Frances on Twitter @GoGirlsGoBooks, where she posts about children’s writing and editing.                    

Rachel Orr is celebrating her sixteenth year at Prospect Agency, where she represents both authors and illustrators in projects ranging from picture books through YA. She previously worked for eight rewarding years at HarperCollins Children’s Books and uses those editorial skills to help prepare her clients’ work for submission.

Her clients include Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and Leeza Hernandez (ROXIE LOVES ADVENTURE), Cathy Carr (365 DAYS TO ALASKA), Cori Doerrfeld (THE RABBIT LISTENED), Della Ross Ferreri (HUGGLE WUGGLE, BEDTIME SNUGGLE) and Robyn Wall (MY FIRST BOOK OF BEARDS and MY FIRST BOOK OF TATTOOS). Rachel lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, with her husband and two children, where she enjoys dancing, running and reading, or course.

Workshop title: "STURDY BOOKENDS: Crafting Memorable Beginnings and Endings"

A strong beginning will hook the right reader, and a solid ending will allow the book to linger long after the story is over. Together, we’ll look at a wide range of beginnings and endings from both picture books and novels—analyzing why they succeed, or why they fail. Writers will also have the opportunity to practice employing these techniques to their own manuscripts, thinking about where the story really begins (and ends), and playing around with strengthening flat beginnings and ending through exercises focusing on voice.

Talia Benamy, editor at Philomel Books, joined Penguin Random House as an editorial assistant in 2013. She edits everything from picture books through YA.  Talia is the editor of the She Persisted chapter book series, based on the bestselling picture books by Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger, as well as the National Book Award longlister The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum, Cramm This Book: So You Know WTF Is Going On in the World Today by Olivia Seltzer (founder of The Cramm), My Love for You Is Always by Gillian Sze and Michelle Lee.

She also edited You Can Be ABCs, based on the viral video sensation by Robert Samuel White II and Robert Samuel White III, and illustrated by Robert Paul Jr., and the Airi Sano, Prankmaster General series by Zoe Tokushige.

She has also worked on books by Sonia Sotomayor, Kamala Harris, Temple Grandin, Abigail “Astronaut Abby” Harrison and Jane Yolen. Talia looks for manuscripts that have the potential to fulfill Philomel’s mission to publish books by creators with platforms and inspiring, empowering messages for young readers.

Workshop title: "Creating Compelling Characters"

As the entry point into a story, characters are beyond vital. But what makes a character seem real? What makes a reader feel like the character is a person, like someone they can actually connect with? In this session, we’ll explore what makes a character come alive, and discuss some tips to help bring your characters off the page and into our imaginations.

Q & A Panel: "The Inside Scoop: The Business Side of Children's Publishing"

Our panel will consist of our faculty, Frances, Rachel and Talia.  Here’s your chance to ask the agent questions on acquisitions, contracts, first readers, do they share submissions, royalties – how are royalties split if there are multiple authors, if the client and agent part ways – what happens to future royalties and commissions, etc.

Ask the editor questions on submissions, do they operate independently or does the publisher make the final decision, how do they feel about self-published projects, can you get your rights back from a publisher, what happens if that editor leaves in the middle of your acquisition, etc.

Remember, there are no stupid questions only unanswered ones.