Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Caroline Trussell Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/20/2024
  • Jenna Satterthwaite Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/10/2024
  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.


First, I’m going to announce the winner of SECOND FIDDLE by Rosanne Parry. The winner is:


Congrats! E-mail me your address so that I can have your book mailed to you.

Today I’m excited to start my Ask the Expert series. It’s where I interview kids between 5th and 12th grades about how they find out about books.

Today I’m interviewing an 8th grader who loves to read.

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself, your school, and what you like to read.

My name is Justin, and I go to an Ann Arbor middle school. I tend to read mostly science fiction and fantasy books.

2. How do you find out about the books you read? What about new books coming out?

A lot of the time I find out about new books from friends when I see what books they are carrying around and reading. I find out about new books coming out when I see posters at bookstores or read about them online. I read about them in ads for books on Facebook and on Wikipedia.

3. Interesting that you find out about books on Facebook and Wikipedia ads. That’s not places I would think to go to. What are you reading now? What books are you waiting to be released?

Right now, I am reading the Isaac Asimov books; that will take a while to finish. I am waiting for the sequel to I Am Number Four to be released. I am also waiting for the next book in the Eragon series and the next book in the Wheel of Time books.

4. I can’t wait for the I Am Number Four sequel too. I found about the series from my daughter and her friends. Do you buy most of your book or get them at the library? How often do go to a bookstore?

Whether I buy books or get them from the library depends on the time of year and the book. If I have recently received a gift card to a book store, I use it to get newer books. I usually get books from the library when they are older or not as many people are interested in them. I don't actually go to bookstores very often; just enough to get 2-4 books a couple times a year.

5. Do you read any teen book blogs, author blogs, or author or publisher websites? Become a fan of an author on Facebook? Why?

I don't follow any blogs or websites regularly. However, when the sequel to a book is taking an abnormally long time to be released, I may search around the internet to see if/when it will be released. I really don't have the time to follow any sites, and they usually are not updated regularly with new and interesting content.

6. I can definitely see how time would make it hard to follow blogs. Eighth graders are busy! Has your teacher recommended any blogs or websites to your class or to you?

My English teacher has recommended Teenreads.com to my class. Also, I have her added as a friend on Facebook and I periodically see and follow links that she posts.

7. Are there things your favorite authors could do that would make you more likely to visit their website, their blog, or become a fan on Facebook?

If authors had websites that looked nice, loaded quickly, and were updated on a daily or weekly basis, I would follow them.

8. Have any authors visited your school? Who? Is there anything you’d recommend that an author do to make their presentation more interesting to you and other kids at your school?

I believe several authors have visited my school, but I really don't remember. Something on age appropriateness: we aren't little kids, don't treat us as such. Also, they could keep things moving; when they just talk and talk and talk and go off onto tangents, we get bored. Enthusiasm would help presentations immensely. Another thing is to make things interactive: ask questions, answer questions, make sure we are participating.

You’re right. Authors shouldn't talk down to kids and should make the presentations interactive. Thanks for all your great advice Justin and for taking the time to answer my questions.

For those of you commenting, how do your kids find out about books? And if you have a kid between 5th and 12 grades willing to be an expert, please e-mail me at rmarma2@yahoo.com. Put Ask The Expert in the subject line. I have a few interviews lined up but am looking for other kids to interview.

Don’t forget that the next WriteOnCon event is tonight at 9:00 pm EST. It’s a live chat with Mary O’Neill, an associate editor at Katherine Tegen Books and agents Joanna Stampfel-Volpe and Michelle Andelman. I’m planning to attend. I really recommend them. I always learn so much. Hope to see you there.

And be sure to come back next Monday when I interview Beth Revis and give away a copy of her awesome book ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. I’m so excited she agreed to an interview. And on June 6th, I’ll be having a big debut party for Elana Johnson. Her book POSSESSION comes out on June 7th. I’ll be doing a BIG giveaway.

Hope to see you next Monday.


Ann Finkelstein said...

What an interesting interview, Natalie. Thank your guest for me too.

Theresa Milstein said...

Congrats to the winner!

I never thought of the ads on Wikipedia and Facebook either. I'm going to check out teenreads.com

Great interview!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Thanks so much! I'm looking forward to reading Second Fiddle.

Great interview, Natalie. It's wonderful to get inside the mind of an 8th-grader and find out what's important to them. I especially loved that part about not talking down to them. Eighth graders are pretty sophisticated people! Tell Justin how much I enjoyed reading his responses.

And facebook seems to be the future of everything: gaming, company advertising, etc.

Kristin Lenz said...

Great idea, Natalie! Some of his answers were different than I expected. Looking forward to more.

Lydia Sharp said...

Love this.

Jonathon Arntson said...

Sweet interview Justin and Natalie. (Michigan shoutout!)

If Justin answers questions, I am curious to know what he considers "an abnormally long time [for a sequel] to be released."

My perception on that wait has changed since I joined the writing industry since I see some of the behind the scenes, snail-paced goings on.

Casey McCormick said...

Fantastic interview, Natalie. Justin, thank you so much for your time and insight!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks so much Justin for letting me interview you. And I'm glad everyone enjoyed the interview.

Michael G-G said...

This was great, Justin and Natalie. I really appreciate getting the 8th-grade perspective. (I know I have an 8th-grader myself, but he doesn't talk to me. Perhaps if I interviewed him...?)

Barbara Watson said...

As a mom of an almost-8th grader, teacher of 8th graders, and hopeful MG writer, this is interesting on so many levels. Thank you.

Paula said...

I just LOVED hearing all that Justin had to say. Big thanks Jutin!! It is so helpful for us writers to learn more about what the readers like and where they find their books.

Look forward to hearing more from other teens. This is AWESOME Natalie.

Dustin Hansen said...

What a great interview! Natalie, you've done it again.

My kids (9,10,12) all love to browse in amazon and see suggested books based on what they (I) have purchased for them in the past. They tumble through and read reviews from there.

They do most of this on the iPad I bought for myself but can never seem to find. Could be worse, at least I know they're reading (or playing Angry Birds).

Sara {Rhapsody and Chaos} said...

What an awesome interview!!

I don't have kids, but when I was a teen, I'd go to the library and just browse the sections where I knew books I already liked were shelved to find new ones :)

Anonymous said...

Interesting interview. Nice to learn the teen readers thoughts on things.

Justin Poliner said...

@Jonathon Arntson

Well, when I say "An abnormally long time," I mean years for some books.

On a slightly different note, I really don't see how books that don't seem to have much thought put in to them should take as long as they do to write (more than a few months, it seems like), while others finish deep, well written books in the same amount of time (or less)

Janice Hardy said...

What a great series. As someone who write for the middle school crowd, I found it interesting that Justin doesn't do a lot of online stuff to find his books. That's been a marketing snag for me and a lot of MG authors. How do you reach our readers?

I also totally agree with what he said about authors and school visits. I do a lot of school visits, and I limit my presentation to about ten minutes, then open it up to questions. It's a lot more fun for me and the students to hear what they want to know and answer their questions. It keeps things interactive and entertaining. I've gotten so wild questions, but if they're brave enough to ask, I'm brave enough to answer.

Sarah Allen said...

Fantastic interview! And thanks to you, Justin :)

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

bfav said...

Very interesting. I love that you're doing this. Marketing to this group is a trick.

Beth said...

I have a 16 and a 13 year old. My oldest finds her books by browsing in the library or the bookstore, and by reading reviews. (Sometimes blog reviews!) My youngest primarily finds her books through her friends, although she's open to browsing the bookstore and library too. And they'll both occasionally take a recommendation from me!