Pint-sized interviews that leave you smiling.
JILL CORCORAN is an Associate Agent at the Herman Agency representing MG and YA authors, as well as being a children’s book author. Lee Bennett Hopkins will be including her poem PIRATES in his upcoming Holiday House MG collection, I AM THE BOOK.
Jill has a terrific blog, Jill Corcoran Books. I’ve known Jill for years—she’s funny, smart, hard-working and persistent! I was so happy for her when she told me of her recent move into her new role as a children’s literary agent.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am an Associate Agent at Herman Agency representing Chapter Book, Middle Grade and Young Adult authors.
I have a BA in English from Stanford University and an MBA in Finance and Marketing from The University of Chicago. I’ve marketed everything from cereal to sneakers at Leo Burnett Advertising, Mattel, LA Gear and my own company, Launch! New Product Marketing.
I am also a children’s book writer and poet. Lee Bennett Hopkins will be including my poem PIRATES in his upcoming Holiday House middle grade collection, I AM THE BOOK. My poem will be one of only l4 in this fully illustrated picture/poetry book.
I’ve won an SCBWI Los Angeles Writer’s Day Poetry Award for my humorous picture book collection, SINK YOUR TEETH INTO POETRY and an SCBWI Work-in-Progress Letter of Merit for my YA novel, TWIN SISTER: I AM NOT YOU. Plus, an article about me and my writing workshops has been syndicated in parenting magazines nationwide by Kathy Sena (http://www.kathysena.com/).
Could you please summarize your specific taste in books and which kinds of stories usually catch your attention (or would be an automatic “No, thanks”)?
I am a huge fan of humor. If you can make me laugh or crack a smile, you are my kind of writer. Even in a serious literary book, there is room for humor.
Some of my favorite books are Frindle, Stargirl, Speak, Stuck in Neutral, How I Live Now, Millicent Min, Good Enough, Seeing Emily, Things Left Unsaid, Flipped and Because of Winn Dixie.
I would also love to find funny boy books that are mixed prose and graphic novel a la Wimpy Kid, Bruce Hale’s Prince of Underwhere, and even full graphic novels like Bone. BTW, Ronnie Ann Herman is also looking for Graphic Novels and I will be passing on illustrator-driven GN to her attention.
What catches my attention is great writing. As I said in my blog post HOW I READ SUBMISSIONS, a great idea can only get a book so far. It is the execution, the writing that brings a plot, a cast of characters, the soul of a book alive. A quick side note here–When I go into classrooms to teach, I’ll give 30 students one prompt, but I get 30 different versions of a story. That is how it is with manuscript submissions. I get a fair share of similar plots outlined in query letters, but the executions of those plots are what determines if I ask for a full or not.
I want a book that I can’t put down. That I have to read in one sitting because I have to know what happens next. I want to close your book and keep living with your characters in my head.
An automatic “No Thanks”… forced dialog, flabby prose, mixed metaphors, expected plot turns and endings, etc.
What will your role be at the Herman Agency? (How will you work together, will you both read all genres, how would you handle authors who write across multiple genres, etc.–anything you feel readers should know)
Ronnie Ann Herman started Herman Agency in 1999 and represents many of the leading illustrators and author/illustrators in today’s children’s book market. As a former Art Director at Random House and Associate Publisher at Penguin Books’ Grosset & Dunlap, Ronnie art directed thousands of children’s books during her more than 20 year publishing career. Ronnie is also the author of 8 picture books with 1,000,000 books in print.
Most of Ronnie’s clients are PB author/illustrators or illustrators. Ronnie has sold CB, MG, YA and adult over the years but her heart is in picture books and that is why she brought me in to expand the company.
For a single author who writes YA and PB, for instance, I will rep the author’s YA and Ronnie will rep his/her PB. When an author signs with me they are signing with the Herman Agency and they will benefit from both Ronnie and my expertise, dedication and effort.
For my clients, Ronnie and I will work together to create a submission lists. While Ronnie is very familiar with different houses’ and different editors’ preferences, I also have editors contacting me, telling me their preferences so that I can direct the right books to their attention. Ronnie will handle all contract negotiations until I know contracts inside and out.
What’s your favorite children’s joke?
I never remember punch lines so I am a bad joke-teller. But I’m a huge fan of riddle poems. Here is one that I wrote a few years ago:
I love to eat green moldy cheese,
Chewed up meat and smashed down peas,
Clippings from your puppy’s nails,
Squashed-shelled squished-up garden snails,
Gooey tissues, chicken fat,
Droppings from your fur-ball cat.
Lumpy milk, month-old trout,
Fill me up…
Throw me out!
What am I?
(answer: a garbage can)
Hilarious poem, Jill~ and thanks for the interview!