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Thread: A Literary Agency for Children's Books (Ann Tobias)

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    A Literary Agency for Children's Books (Ann Tobias)

    One more agent I'd like to check out:

    Ann Tobias
    520 E. 84th St
    NY 10028

    She is ex Harper, William Morrow and Scholastic. Was based in Washington, now operates out of New York.

    I've heard positive things about her, but there is little or no information available on the books she has sold.

    Thanks

    Peter

  2. #2
    Crypto-fascist Soccer Mom's Avatar
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    I've heard her name mentioned a lot in regards to juvenile fiction. She is highly regarded. Have you googled her name at Amazon?
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  3. #3
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Ann Tobias Agency

    Thanks for your note.

    Yes I have looked her up on Amazon.

    Ann Tobias is a writer/editor/agent. I'm quite keen to see what juvenille clients she represents. I believe she has placed some picture books with Orchard recently.

  4. #4
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Ann Tobias, founder of A Literary Agency for Children's Books and executive editor for Handprint Books. http://www.handprintbooks.com/

    Unfortunately, not much info on her beyond this: http://www.underdown.org/tobias.htm

    Orchard would certainly be a Good sale. You could drop her a line to confirm and/or ask for recent sales.
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  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW Maddog's Avatar
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    Several writers I know have had subs at Handprint for over a year with no response. Hopefully Ms. Tobias is more responsive as an agent...

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW Dollywagon's Avatar
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    Hi, I've just dug out this old thread as I'm thinking of subbing to Handprint. Has anybody got any more recent info on the company?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dollywagon View Post
    Hi, I've just dug out this old thread as I'm thinking of subbing to Handprint. Has anybody got any more recent info on the company?
    I just sent them a query, even though they are very clear on the website that they are small and it will take awhile and I got back a submission acknowledgment and I have to say, I just love it when people do this. Instead of wondering if they ever got it, I can just wonder if I'll hear back in the next six months.
    Just a nice touch. I wish everyone did this.

  8. #8
    practical experience, FTW frandavea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steampunk View Post
    I just sent them a query, even though they are very clear on the website that they are small and it will take awhile and I got back a submission acknowledgment and I have to say, I just love it when people do this. Instead of wondering if they ever got it, I can just wonder if I'll hear back in the next six months.
    Just a nice touch. I wish everyone did this.
    I subbed over a year ago and heard nothing.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by frandavea View Post
    I subbed over a year ago and heard nothing.
    oh. bummer. oh well.

  10. #10
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    Olswanger: What do you think of children's book publishing today?

    Tobias: I'm depressed by it. Don't forget, I was active in the "golden years" of children's publishing, when we would have been fired for even thinking of publishing a Goosebumps. If some editor had gotten totally drunk and published a series like that, the librarians would have organized a strike on Fifth Avenue. I think that the children's book departments flourished because of the benign neglect on the part of the publishers. We were called "the girls." We were put in the darkest offices at the end of the hall with no air conditioning. We were not valued, and we were allowed to go ahead and do whatever we wanted as long as we didn't lose money—and we didn't. We worked closely with librarians who worked closely with children. The books were child-oriented. Nowadays, librarians don't have the clout that they had. The booksellers have taken over. I'm talking about the chains. They don't work with children. They don't know the obscure mid-list people who are very good.


    http://www.olswanger.com/tobias.shtml

    Any thoughts on what this means? I can't tell if she's turning her nose up at Goosebumps or saying that she thinks it was good and spoke to children. The reason I ask is because I'd categorize my YA novel as commercial instead of literary and am trying to determine whether she'd be interested or rolling her eyes.

  11. #11
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Jefflrich's Avatar
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    revolocard: I personally don't know what Goosebumps is/are, but from what you've excerpted: Ms. Tobias doesn't seem to think too highly of the Goosebump series. She's lamenting the days of yore when editors/publishers worked closely with librarians, the people who actually interacted with children and KNEW what they wanted, not what the publisher wanted them to want. They used to create/sell/publish books with the children in mind rather than with the bottom line in mind.

    She's lamenting that children's books are just another commericial product.

    Not sure this helped you but that's my interpretation of this excerpt.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Jefflrich View Post
    revolocard: I personally don't know what Goosebumps is/are, but from what you've excerpted: Ms. Tobias doesn't seem to think too highly of the Goosebump series. She's lamenting the days of yore when editors/publishers worked closely with librarians, the people who actually interacted with children and KNEW what they wanted, not what the publisher wanted them to want. They used to create/sell/publish books with the children in mind rather than with the bottom line in mind.

    She's lamenting that children's books are just another commericial product.

    Not sure this helped you but that's my interpretation of this excerpt.

    Ms. Tobias may "not think highly" of the Goosebump series, but let me tell you, they sold like crazy. When my daughter was young, she had to have everyone of them that came out, and we went looking for old ones at used book stores. (The Goosebump series are a bunch of "sort of scary" stories written for young kids....not bloody or gory, just a bit scary, for a kid anyway).

    We still have them. My daughter wants to keep them for someday when she had kids and they're old enough to read them. For her, as a young reader, the bottom line had nothing to do with anything. She just loved the books. They were the books all the kids her age wanted and were reading, so I don't get what she's talking about.

  13. #13
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Jefflrich's Avatar
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    That's great EgyptianGoddess! Sounds like you've got a lifetime reader on your hands and any book (or series) that can do that I'm all for. As I said, I've never read or even heard of these books (I was a Dr. Suess kid myself, but then again, I'm rather long in the tooth! LOL!) so wasn't making a commentary on them, per se, just what I thought Ann Tobias was saying about them. From what you say: it sounds like the books' effects on their readers and the bottom line actually met in this instance.

    Jeff

  14. #14
    phoenix blazing Parametric's Avatar
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    I used to love Goosebumps as a kid. My brothers and I used to check 'em out of the library en masse.


  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Jefflrich View Post
    That's great EgyptianGoddess! Sounds like you've got a lifetime reader on your hands and any book (or series) that can do that I'm all for. As I said, I've never read or even heard of these books (I was a Dr. Suess kid myself, but then again, I'm rather long in the tooth! LOL!) so wasn't making a commentary on them, per se, just what I thought Ann Tobias was saying about them. From what you say: it sounds like the books' effects on their readers and the bottom line actually met in this instance.

    Jeff

    My daughter is 17 now, and she also read Dr. Seuss and all the rest of the normal children's books. My Mom was a big reader, I always have been, and so is my daughter. Hopefully, when she has children, that'll continue to be passed along. There was also a Goosebumps series on TV too that she couldn't miss....it and the books were big deals at the time.

    Now, of course, she's a Twilight and Harry Potter fan. But she's read all the books, not just going for the movies. There are other series/books she loves too, and when she loves them, we buy them to keep. I like how she plans on passing them to her children someday.

    I rarely listen to what other people say that's negative about another author's work or series. Hey, Stephen King hated Twilight, said she couldn't write....but no matter what his opinion is, millions love those books (and now the movies), she's now famous and rich, just as he is. Each to their own

    It was the same looking for an agent. I got so many rejections, it was really depressing. A couple came close, but for whatever their reasons, they ended up passing. Now, I have an agent that believes in my book (and planned series), and one day, when I'm published, I hope those that passed on me kick themselves until they bleed <g>........it's all subjective, right?

  16. #16
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    Yeah, that's what I thought (re: goosebumps). That's why I found it a little odd of her to say, because Goosebumps connected with young readers so much. It's one of the biggest literary franchises ever so obviously it resonated with tons and tons of kids. I can understand (even if I don't agree) with agents who wouldn't want something as commercial as Goosebumps, but to imply that without librarians having clout, publishers have no idea what kids want and therefore publish Goosebumps seems very strange to me. Any librarian that actually had kids trekking through their library would attest that kids of the 90s adored that series. It makes me wonder if SHE understands what's going to connect with kids these days. Not to say that kids don't like the more literary stuff too, but to think they won't enjoy the commercial stuff...*shrug*

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by revolocard View Post
    ........ I can understand (even if I don't agree) with agents who wouldn't want something as commercial as Goosebumps

    Isn't that what every author and agent wants? Books (series) that sell? Aren't we all doing this to make a good living while at the same time doing what we really love to do?

    If any agent ever said "your work is too commercial" to me, I would look for a different agent. I mean, come on. No one dreams of their book being a megaseller, Spielberg calling to buy the movie rights and making a nice living from your work? Please <snort>

  18. #18
    aka Sadistic Mistress Mi-chan M.R.J. Le Blanc's Avatar
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    I remember reading the Goosebumps series, and remember a lot of my classmates reading them. We liked them because they were good stories. For that age group, they were really well written. It wasn't because they were 'popular', it was because we genuinely liked them. We couldn't wait for the Scholastic flyer to go around the class hoping the next Goosebumps book would be in it. They were some of the most worn copies in the libraries I went to. They weren't good because they were popular; they were popular because they were good.
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  19. #19
    Bird In Flight Wonderlander's Avatar
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    I see from the article that she's big on theme in novels, more than anything else - what the author "wants kids to think about".

    I suspect her tastes are excellent but possibly a touch didactic, going from this. Or at least a touch more didactic than Goosebumps.

  20. #20
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    Yeah. More literary than commercial, it seems. Probably not for me.

  21. #21
    practical experience, FTW Laura Lond's Avatar
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    Got a quick, 1-day R from Ann.

  22. #22
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    I guess I'd have to say that TODAY is the golden age of children's literature. Today, kids are buying books more than ever before. Today kids are reading longer books, shorter books, all kinds of books, blogging about them, talking about them because they want to--not just because a teacher made them read them at school. Kids today are loving books that are then turned into movies *because* they're so popular as books. Not the other way around.

    Goosebumps is still massively popular in my library, among the relevant age group (as I am mom to that age group, I see them a lot...)

    I do agree, though, that a lot of excellent books get overlooked by some stores in favor of wall after wall of (insert today's hot YA book/movie franchise here). I own and like (insert today's hot YA book/movie franchise here)--which means that I'd like to buy something NEW. Perhaps that's what she's feeling frustrated about--the chains making a sensation of a small handful of books at the expense of many other good books people might also like to read?

    Definitely, she sounds like someone looking for literary vs. commercial.

  23. #23
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Just FYI, here's a recurring workshop she's involved with: http://www.3literaryagents.com/index.html
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  24. #24

    Ann Tobias Literary Agency

    I'm not turning up anything useful in the search here, and I didn't see a thread for this person in our index, so apologies if there's a thread out there somewhere that I'm not seeing for any reason.

    Does anyone know anything about this agent?

    I checked QueryTracker, and the most recent buzz on her there is that she was closed for submissions until January of 2011. However, no one has commented on her main page there since last October, so I don't know if anyone's had any luck with since then, or if she is indeed open for submissions again. Either that, or I can't get any more information with the free account I'm using now.

    Anyone here know anything further? All I know is that she specializes in children's literature, and my impression was that that extends to YA as well, but I'm not sure.
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  25. #25
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin CaseyMcCormick's Avatar
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    According to her AAR profile, she's closed to subs until at least January 2012 now.

    http://aaronline.org/Content/Members...mberId=2455074

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