This week's Agent Spotlight features Caryn Wiseman of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc.
About: "Caryn has been an Agent with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc. since early 2003, and has sold over 85 books. She handles children's books only: young adult and middle-grade fiction and non-fiction, chapter books, and picture books (fiction and non-fiction). She represents two New York Times bestselling authors, first-time authors, and authors at every stage in between. Caryn holds an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA, and a BS from the University of Virginia, and her fifteen years of business experience prior to joining the Agency emphasized editing and writing as well as sales, negotiation and client management. [...] Caryn is a member of SCBWI and WNBA, and a frequent speaker at writer's conferences, including the Big Sur Writer's Workshop, La Jolla Writer's Conference, SDSU Writer's Conference, Central Coast Conference, and SCBWI conferences." (Link)
Status: Open to submissions.
What She's Looking For:
"Caryn's particular interests include: humorous chapter books and middle-grade fiction; "boy" books; YA that falls at the intersection of commercial and literary; YA that is edgy without being gratuitous; non-institutional biography and other unique nonfiction for children and teens; and African-American and Latino-themed literature in all children's and teen age groups. She would love to see more contemporary multicultural MG or YA fiction—books that deeply explore another culture, as well as books in which the ethnicity of the character is not the issue; magical realism, urban fantasy, or fantasy that is very much based in reality (no maps needed); sports fiction that has a hook other than the sport, for girls and boys; page-turning thrillers; and realistic fiction with an environmental theme. She is always open to terrific children's work that doesn't fit these categories, however. For fiction, a fresh, unique voice is paramount. A literary bent to a well-crafted commercial story in which ordinary characters find themselves in extraordinary situations would capture her attention. She loves nonfiction that reads like fiction; that has a great "story behind the story". She does not represent adult projects at all. Please do not query her regarding adult work." (Link)
Regarding children's non-fiction:
"The most important thing to me is that the nonfiction reads like fiction - that there is a "story behind the story." For example, Pamela S. Turner's George Schaller: Life in the Wild, forthcoming from FSG/Kroupa, is a biography of the great field biologist George Schaller. The book explores Dr. Schaller's career both as a scientist and as an advocate for vanishing wildlife. Appealing to children who are interested in animals, science, adventure and the outdoors, each chapter of the book will also be a "mini-biography" of the species being studied. Several of Pamela's other books study certain environments or animals and make science fun and interesting for kids. " (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
Ms. Wiseman does not represent adult projects.
"We invest a great deal of care in each project and each client. We devise a strategy at every stage of the writing process, from conception, to editorial, to publication, that is tailored to the client and will enable us to find the best publisher for his or her books. We are seeking long-term relationships with writers and illustrators whose careers we can develop and whose talent we can foster." (Link)
"We're looking for fresh, different, and new. As a largely West Coast based agency, we follow in a tradition of West Coast innovation in our passion for discovering new voices and sparking new trends. We're a part of the NY-centered publishing world but also cultivate the advantage of an insider's/outsider's perspective. We have access, standing, and visibility but also think outside the box. Our agents make regular trips to New York, attend industry conventions, and participate as faculty at writers' conferences all over the country. We ensure a high profile for our clients and keep our fingers on the pulse of publishing." (Link)
Her Advice to Writers:
"Make sure that you have a polished, error-free, and complete manuscript to submit - you want to make an excellent first impression. Be sure that you know who your target audience is, and that there isn't a mismatch between your work and your intended reader. A great voice is paramount; whether first or third person, I need to fall in love with your voice. Your characters must be memorable and you need to make me root for your protagonist right from the start. Show your protagonist's journey, through the use of dialogue, the senses, actions and reactions, rather then tell through the use of narrative. Finally, a great opening is absolutely essential. You need to grab me immediately, and keep me turning the pages. If you can make me laugh out loud, cry, or keep reading late at night, you may have a winner!" (Link)
The agents at Andrea Brown, including Ms. Wiseman, have a page on the web site devoted to advice here as well. Ms. Wiseman talks about the benefits of conferences, meeting prospective agents, and acting appropriately at such venues.
Yes. She requests revisions and helps her clients clean and tighten their manuscripts as needed. The following quote also suggests an editorial nature:
"I knew that agenting would allow me to do the things that I love best - reading and editing - and that, as an agent, I could discover wonderful authors, and help them get their books published." (Link)
In no particular order...
Nate Evans and Vince Evans, Laura Lascarso, Dee Garretson, Christine Johnson, Ryan Van Cleave, Amy Novesky, Tom Angleberger, Jennifer Berne, Gene Fehler, Deborah Raffin, Deborah Underwood, Ji-li Jiang, Greg Trine, Sarah Albee, Pamela Turner, Rhonda Stapleton, Sandra Alonzo, Maria Faulconer, Kelly Campbell Hinshaw, Carole G. Vogel, Amjed Qamar', Kevin Markey, and many others!
Ms. Wiseman is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 15 deals in the last 12 months and 43overall. Recent deals include 7 middle grade, 4 picture books, and 4 young adult. You can also view some of Ms. Wiseman's representative deals on the Andrea Brown website.
E-mail: Yes (only).
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Brief query in the body of the e-mail. Put QUERY in the subject line. Include publisher submission history and previous publishing credits (if applicable). Only query one agent at the agency. Note if it is multiple submission. PB: Include full text. Fiction: Include first ten pages. NF: Proposal and sample chapter. Illustrators: Two to three jpegs of children and animals. No attachments.
The agency has a no-response policy (see below). Ms. Wiseman seems to respond within one to three months on requested materials.
"If we are interested in your work, we will certainly follow up by email or by phone. However, if you haven't heard from us within four to eight weeks, please assume that we are passing on your project." (Link)
What's the Buzz?
Like all the Andrea Brown Literary agents I've profiled, Ms. Wiseman has fabulous buzz and respect. The word around the web suggests she's an accomplished agent, great at what she does, and very passionate about her work. She certainly has the sales and clients to back up these claims. She's popular among aspiring authors, and a frequent, helpful conference speaker. Her clients all seem very pleased to be working with her and are quick to call her "amazing." Sounds great to me!
Worth Your Time:
Interview with Caryn Wiseman at Tales From the Rushmore Kid (2010).
Agent Advice interview with Caryn Wiseman at the Guide to Literary Agents blog (2007).
Query success story featuring Caryn Wiseman and client Dee Garretson at the Guide to Literary Agents blog (2009).
Please see the Andrea Brown Literary website for contact and query information.
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail.com
Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.