My recent adventure to Philadelphia to the writer's pitch conference was a surprising success. Four literary agents have asked to see my manuscript! In addition to doing a major happy dance, I also picked up some advice on trends.
I'm sharing them here, in no particular oder.
From the Philly Literary Agent Panel
YA novels are getting longer, 60K-80K words. Some novels are transitioning into the new adult genre - the next age group up.
Agents want to see something they haven't seen before on that first page. They did a super fun panel where everyone interested submitted their first pages and the agents critiqued them. They didn't get to mine : (. But it was eye opening. There is a lot of generic writing out in the world. Agents want to be grabbed and feel an immediate connection to the character.
Agents want to be in the scene with the character without a lot of back story - that's a big take away for me.
Agents want to know what the consequence is to a character's actions.
YA writers submit a lot of stories about girls with strained relationships with their mothers. While this may not be a bad plot, it goes back to the point that agents want to read something fresh.
YA writers submit a lot of magical realism/fantasy stories where the protagonist comes into his or her power at age thirteen. Again. this isn't bad, but with so many similar stories flying through the air, make yours a jet engine-powered story.
Sharon's Personal Take-Aways
Do your homework before you pitch to an agent. So many writer's came unprepared for the questions they asked such as word count, genre, and what the booked compared to.
Um...it should go without saying, but it needs to be said, if you are meeting someone and pitching your book, your product, take a little care with your personal appearance.
If you don't have any clue about publishing, your genre, or anything to do with the market, there are lots and lots of great writing sites, blogs, and books in the library. Read a few before you arrive.
As this was my first ever in-person pitch, I looked up pitch conferences and read all that I could find. When I stepped into the room, I wasn't too surprised at what I found.
Good luck writing world.