Tuesday, December 5, 2017

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Emily Van Beek

Emily Van Beek's bio from Folio Jr.'s website:

I moved to New York City from Toronto armed with dual citizenship, a dream to work in children’s publishing, and inspiration from my favorite (if clichéd) Zen magnet, “Leap and the net will appear”. I became an editor at Hyperion Books for Children before deciding to explore the view from the agent’s side of the desk, where I fell head over heels in love with my role as a literary agent. I spent the next six-and-a-half years as an agent and the rights director at Pippin Properties, Inc. before joining Folio Jr. where I'm an SVP and literary agent. Some of the New York Times bestselling and award-winning clients I represent include Jenny Han, Morgan Matson, Siobhan Vivian, Adele Griffin, Philip & Erin Stead, Matthew Reinhart, Julie Morstad, and Sydney Smith as well as striking debut and emerging voices. I am an editorial agent passionate about negotiating the best deal possible, working with our esteemed subsidiary and contracts teams to squeeze as much juice out of a property as it will yield, and helping my clients to publish books that will stand the test of time.


YOUNG ADULT: I'm eager to find novels that are high concept, diverse, fantasy or magical realism, and am open to anything conceptually unique. In the realm of paranormal, adventure, and dystopian, I'm looking for something entirely unexpected. Give me something bold and fresh with a voice that’s impossible to put aside. I’m probably not the best choice for super edgy, “message”, or hard science-fiction books. What I’m really looking for is the intersection between stellar writing and plot, something that leaves me puffy eyed or laughing out loud. I am looking for emotional connection, for drama, for hope. Oh! Something else--I would love, love, LOVE to discover a FUNNY manuscript, a novel to make me LOL as Louise Rennison's ANGUS, THONGS, AND FULL-FRONTAL SNOGGING did.

MIDDLE-GRADE: Please send me your diverse, epic, cinematic, action-packed, adventuresome, mysterious, and fast-paced novels! I’m open to almost anything within this genre, but I always bear in mind that readers in this age group are looking for fun and mischief, to learn something about life, and to escape and romp!

PICTURE BOOKS: At this time, I am exclusively, but actively interested in AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATORS as well as ILLUSTRATORS only. I adore looking through picture book dummies and portfolios--send away!


Please send along your query letter and first ten pages of your manuscript in the body of the email to emily@foliolitmanagement.com. If you'd like to submit a picture book, please attach a PDF of your dummy. Links to online portfolios are always welcome. I would very much like to be able to respond to every query, but unfortunately time doesn’t allow for it. Please be sure to write QUERY in the subject line as this will ensure I do not miss your letter. N.B.: This email address is for queries and submissions only. For all other inquiries, please call (212) 400-1494. If you haven’t heard back from me within six weeks, I'm sorry to say I've decided I'm not the ideal match for your project. Thanks again for the opportunity to consider your work.

You can follow her on Folio Jr.'s Instagram and Facebook page, or check out her PublishersMarketplace page.

And now Emily van Beek faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

Ah! This question is pure agony. I can maybe, maybe think of top three in each of about a zillion different categories. Yes! No? Okay, then . . . The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier, and Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison.

Honorable mention: The Time Traveler’s Wife. I sent a fan letter to Audrey Niffenegger after reading her novel . . .  AND SHE WROTE BACK! How cool is that?                        

Question Six: What are your top three favorite movies and television shows?

Favorite movies include Amelie (bonus points for that soundtrack!), Bridesmaids, and I have a real soft-spot for the 2014 film adaptation of Paddington—the toothbrush in the ears scene is a family favorite.

I loved The Crown, I’m loyal to Grey’s, and although I once toyed with the idea of becoming an attorney, I much prefer to watch the small screen version of big court drama in Suits.

Question Five: What are the qualities of your ideal client?

I treasure my relationships with my clients. When signing a client I’m looking for authors and illustrators who are professional, who don’t cut corners, who are indefatigable revisers, and who have more than one story to tell.

I strive to present to editors the most polished, fully-realized submissions and I seek to work with clients who believe in putting their best foot forward. I aspire to build long-term relationships with my clients over the course of many books and many years.

I appreciate clear communication and endeavor to cultivate relationships of transparency and accessibility. I like to work with nice people. Most of all, I absolutely love what I do and am looking for clients who feel as passionately about their work!

Question Four: What sort of project(s) would you most like to receive a query for?

I represent picture books through YA and am looking for unique and uniquely-told works. I’m eager to discover and champion #ownvoices stories especially contemporary and fantasy.

I’m dying to find a funny young adult or middle-grade novel. Comedic writing is a challenge to pull-off and a rare find. I’d be on cloud nine to receive a manuscript big on laughs while also serving up a story full of heart. I’m noticing a lot of dark, anxious, dire stories in my inbox and am eager for more humor, light, and hope.

I’d also jump at the chance to represent a clever middle-grade mystery—one that has the hallmarks of a contemporary classic or one that plays with puzzles, clues, and codes in a fresh way. I’m looking for manuscripts that are brave and deliver the feels.

Question Three: What is your favorite thing about being an agent? What is your least favorite thing?

I love what I do. Not “love” love, but “LOVE” LOVE! I love that every day is different and there is always something new to learn and discover. It thrills me to find treasure in my submissions inbox. Calling a client with an offer in-hand never. gets. old. I could read contracts all day and I love to negotiate. I’m fascinated by subrights and adore working with my foreign, audio, and dramatic rights colleagues on licensing rights to our clients’ titles. I relish the editorial work that goes into preparing submissions as much as I enjoy the business side of agenting. I’m so grateful to have the chance to see projects in their earliest stages and to follow their journey to publication.

It's hard to identify my least favorite thing about being an agent. I’d love an eighth day of the week—I think we all feel we could use a little more time! Also, I take my work very personally and feel tremendously protective of my clients and their projects. Rejection smarts, after all these years my skin isn’t as thick as it probably should be, and I hate to relay disappointing news.

Question Two: What one bit of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many other bits of wisdom as you like)

Read as much as you can from across a spectrum, including current bestsellers and new releases as well as classics and award-winners from the past.

Be brave. Writing is not for the faint of heart. And if an agent says your work isn’t right for his or her list, don’t despair. This is a truly subjective field and what isn’t right for one agent or editor might be the treasure another seeks.

Don’t. give. up.

Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

I’d love to have lunch with the late Louise Rennison because I think she was an incredibly talented writer with an extraordinary sense of humor. I wouldn’t mind following-up lunch with afternoon tea with Maeve Binchy, cocktails with J.K. Rowling, and dinner with Jane Austen, to round out the day.

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