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View Full Version : 12 year old gets agent/contract



MaryMumsy
02-04-2014, 09:16 PM
I saw this the other night on network news. I checked the kidlit section and didn't see a thread.

This boy wrote a book and wanted to get it published. Thankfully his googling told him to get an agent. Not knowing any better he started calling some agents. The first few blew him off. Then he hit Dan Lazar. The assistant told Lazar a kid was on the phone for him, said to tell the kid to send him an email and some pages.

Lazar signed him and got him a two book deal with Penguin.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/58691-penguin-signs-13-year-old-author.html

MM

Phaeal
02-04-2014, 09:29 PM
Twelve? What took him so long? Kids these days, mumble mumble, slackers, grouse grouse, in my day you had to query agents uphill, in the snow, both ways, snarl snarl.

Wake me up when someone gets signed and contracted in utero.

;)

etherme
02-04-2014, 09:29 PM
More power to em! :)

TerryRodgers
02-04-2014, 09:35 PM
That's amazing. I was building underground forts and doing as little homework as possible at that age. What a show off.

Haggis
02-04-2014, 09:39 PM
Freakin' kid ought to be out on the playground tossing a football around.

;)

Shadow_Ferret
02-04-2014, 09:46 PM
Oh. You're supposed to call the agent. Oh.

Snowstorm
02-04-2014, 10:01 PM
Wow, impressive. Well, congrats and best wishes to him.

Liosse de Velishaf
02-04-2014, 10:25 PM
Impressive, but... perhaps not necessarily in his best interests?


Are we sure there's no thread on this, 'cause I remember the story from earlier this year...

Jamesaritchie
02-04-2014, 10:44 PM
Oh. You're supposed to call the agent. Oh.

Hey, I landed an editor that way, and I was all grown up. Got an agent to handle a novel that way, too. I also got a screenplay optioned by making a cold call to a producer/director.

It's not something I recommend, but sometimes breaking the rules works, if you have the right things to say.

The kid had a huge advantage because not many blow off someone that know to be that young, but sometimes you just don't know what will work.

The trouble with rules is that almost everyone follows them, and most of those who don't follow them break them in a silly manner.

But if you give really good phone, you never know what might happen.

Undercover
02-04-2014, 11:14 PM
That's a huge commitment having to write a series at that age? I agree with Haggis, poor thing should be doing kid stuff. I always worry when kids start way too young with something, especially being an actor or something like that. So much pressure so early on.

I'm happy for him, of course. Just hope he can get a chance to be a kid while he's still a kid too.

I saw this earlier in the year too.

loganhu
02-04-2014, 11:25 PM
I wonder what his parents thought about all this.

Lissibith
02-04-2014, 11:49 PM
I wonder what his parents thought about all this.
I'm pretty sure they'd need to have signed for the kid for his contract to be legally binding, right? So I assume at least one must be at least sort of okay with it.

I say good for him. Lord knows I and many of my friends were writing copiously and enjoying it at 12-13 without sacrificing our kid time. I hope the added dimension of a deadline and editors doesn't burn him out on enjoying writing, but man, that is just really awesome.

Ketzel
02-04-2014, 11:58 PM
Yeah, this was the news in my area last night, too. The mother said she had no idea he was looking to publish until he asked her to read the contract Dan Lazar had emailed for her signature. The parents both seemed stunned, but proud.

MookyMcD
02-05-2014, 12:14 AM
Good for the kid.

From a cynical perspective, good marketing move on the part of the publisher. Tons of free pub getting people curious enough to want to see what he wrote. Good job on the agent's part seeing that free publicity windfall and signing the kid up.

Roxxsmom
02-05-2014, 12:35 AM
I saw this the other night on network news. I checked the kidlit section and didn't see a thread.

This boy wrote a book and wanted to get it published. Thankfully his googling told him to get an agent. Not knowing any better he started calling some agents.

MM

I'd think so, since calling agents is a serious faux pas ;) Interesting that one took him seriously enough (or was kind-hearted enough) to say, "Sure, kid, we'll look at it."

Now I wonder, is the kid a literary prodigy (a rare phenomenon, as writing usually takes a lot of practice and life experience to hone), or does this agent think that a book by a real, live 12 year old is simply enough of a novelty to be marketable, regardless of whether or not it's much good? The book is aimed at kids, and it looks like he's a pretty good artist, at least, so I'd guessing the thought is that he can write from a pov that's relatable to MG readers, and the book being by a real 12 year old is a selling point there.

Smish
02-05-2014, 12:54 AM
I'd think so, since calling agents is a serious faux pas ;) Interesting that one took him seriously enough (or was kind-hearted enough) to say, "Sure, kid, we'll look at it."


And not just any ole' agent. Dan-freaking-Lazar. Way to go, kid! :D

nocomposer
02-05-2014, 12:54 AM
some people say I act like a twelve year old.

...I think I've found my angle.

milkweed
02-05-2014, 12:56 AM
IIRC Stephen King was writing and having published stories at a young age, about the same age as this kid, as per his book "On Writing". He didn't seem to come out any worse for wear having done so.

Me thinks so long as it's at his own pleasure, since he's still a kid, all will go well for him.

milkweed
02-05-2014, 12:57 AM
I'd think so, since calling agents is a serious faux pas ;) Interesting that one took him seriously enough (or was kind-hearted enough) to say, "Sure, kid, we'll look at it."

Now I wonder, is the kid a literary prodigy (a rare phenomenon, as writing usually takes a lot of practice and life experience to hone), or does this agent think that a book by a real, live 12 year old is simply enough of a novelty to be marketable, regardless of whether or not it's much good? The book is aimed at kids, and it looks like he's a pretty good artist, at least, so I'd guessing the thought is that he can write from a pov that's relatable to MG readers, and the book being by a real 12 year old is a selling point there.


IIRC from the news last night his book is about bullying and being the new kid in school, so you may be onto something there. He may well be a child prodigy, time will tell.

Siri Kirpal
02-05-2014, 03:33 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Good for him and good for Dan Lazar!

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

DancingMaenid
02-05-2014, 04:14 AM
That's a huge commitment having to write a series at that age? I agree with Haggis, poor thing should be doing kid stuff. I always worry when kids start way too young with something, especially being an actor or something like that. So much pressure so early on.

I guess it depends on how he approaches it? I don't think the problem is writing a series--I was writing a series when I was 13. The risk is too much pressure from the business side of things. My series was a ton of fun to write, and one of the quickest projects I've worked on, but it wasn't anywhere near publishable quality.

Ken
02-05-2014, 04:18 AM
Wow. This makes me feel like such a loser.

ps Congrats to the kid !

JustSarah
02-05-2014, 05:00 AM
Well, that boy is my hero now. Plus one good development from this is, your close enough to that target audience, you don't have to worry about relearning the right voice.

I just hope he sticks with it.

Hanson
02-05-2014, 05:14 AM
ok, so I need a set of tweezers, some kid lingo, and a list of numbers...


I'm on it.

MissAimee
02-05-2014, 05:52 AM
I'm jealous....

Mr Flibble
02-05-2014, 05:55 AM
I'd think so, since calling agents is a serious faux pas ;).

In the US,perhaps. US ain't everywhere.

I the UK though it may be getting that way. But I have talked to several agents on the phone, and they've all been cool with it (me calling -- got two fulls that way)

If this were my kid, I'd be making sure the deadlines also meant they could study. But I could see a couple of kids I know smart enough to do his (no, not only mine)

blacbird
02-05-2014, 06:22 AM
Dan Lazar may have sniffed the aroma of novelty here, and a quick dose of positive publicity. He most certainly is getting it, and it won't hurt the sales of this kid's book one charmed quark.

caw

Hanson
02-05-2014, 06:28 AM
I just dont think it would be logical for Lazar to take on a work which is not at least readable. The kid my have a non-sophisticated but clear and authentic voice. I'd say this is more than publicity stunt, though no one's gonna ignore the novelty power marketing angle

blacbird
02-05-2014, 12:01 PM
I just dont think it would be logical for Lazar to take on a work which is not at least readable. The kid my have a non-sophisticated but clear and authentic voice. I'd say this is more than publicity stunt, though no one's gonna ignore the novelty power marketing angle

Nowhere did I imply the book wasn't readable. Nor did I say it was simply a "publicity stunt". What I said was:


Dan Lazar may have sniffed the aroma of novelty here, and a quick dose of positive publicity. He most certainly is getting it, and it won't hurt the sales of this kid's book one charmed quark.

I think Lazar found something interesting, and was canny enough to recognize the PR potential. Which must be working, otherwise we wouldn't be discussing it here.

caw

MookyMcD
02-05-2014, 12:14 PM
I'd say the existence of this thread ends the debate about whether there is free publicity to be found.

Roxxsmom
02-05-2014, 01:51 PM
IIRC Stephen King was writing and having published stories at a young age, about the same age as this kid, as per his book "On Writing". He didn't seem to come out any worse for wear having done so.

Me thinks so long as it's at his own pleasure, since he's still a kid, all will go well for him.

He published his first short story as a teen, and collected a railroad spike worth of rejections before. But King focused on short stories for many years. His first published novel was Carrie, and that was after he was married. Short stories are a bit different, I think, as they don't come with the kind of pressure that novels typically do. He'll be under the gun if he's contracted to write a series.

But there are plenty of other kids who have adult levels of pressure on them for various reasons. Without knowing the kid, it's hard to say how he'll handle it. I suspect the agent and editor were impressed with his drive and maturity, or they would consider him a poor risk.

It may not be quite as bad as a child actor, since writers generally aren't in the public spotlight in the same way, even if they're successful.


In the US,perhaps. US ain't everywhere. I hope the kid does well for himself.

I the UK though it may be getting that way. But I have talked to several agents on the phone, and they've all been cool with it (me calling -- got two fulls that way)

If this were my kid, I'd be making sure the deadlines also meant they could study. But I could see a couple of kids I know smart enough to do his (no, not only mine)

Ahh, I thought he was American for some reason. Arrogant Yank :D Of course it could be different elsewhere. I just remember reading on query shark that calling an agent (whom you don't already have a professional relationship with) is one of the worst things you can do. But she's (Janet Reid) with a US agency.

waylander
02-05-2014, 03:36 PM
How old was AWer Shady Lane when she got her first agent?

fredXgeorge
02-05-2014, 04:32 PM
How old was AWer Shady Lane when she got her first agent?
Pretty sure she was 16.

Anninyn
02-05-2014, 04:58 PM
Good for the kid.

I just hope they have their parents on side and that everyone involved is going to be understanding they they do need some time to you, know, do kid things.

But well done!

I'm not bitterly, viciously jealous at ALL.

RevanWright
02-05-2014, 05:15 PM
This kid circumvented the established system and got it done. I don't even remember what I was doing at that age. I'm jealous.

Torgo
02-05-2014, 05:21 PM
I just dont think it would be logical for Lazar to take on a work which is not at least readable. The kid my have a non-sophisticated but clear and authentic voice. I'd say this is more than publicity stunt, though no one's gonna ignore the novelty power marketing angle

The novelty angle isn't enough to sell a book; you need to have a good product. 12 seems young to me, but I've read good novels written by 14 and 15 year olds, so I'm sure she must have something.

bearilou
02-05-2014, 05:40 PM
I saw one of the news reports on the kid. He wrote a book about bullying because he believed there was a problem and wanted to write about it. From the news report, the boy still has things he does outside of writing. He plays basketball/sports, he has friends, he does things.

One of those things is write about a problem he felt deeply enough about that he wanted to commit words to page.

Undercover
02-05-2014, 06:52 PM
I have a really good feeling about him. He looks well put together, like he has good parents behind him in this. Plus his name is Jake, and all Jakes are strong people, in my opinion. I wonder if the "Just Jake" means that his name is just Jake and not Jacob. He has his name printed on the book that way too. I instantly thought of my son, he's just Jake too. I love his concept and if he can shed better light on the bully thing at school, more power to him.

I'd love to take a peek at what he wrote. So it comes out this month then?

MookyMcD
02-05-2014, 07:23 PM
I saw one of the news reports on the kid. He wrote a book about bullying because he believed there was a problem and wanted to write about it. From the news report, the boy still has things he does outside of writing. He plays basketball/sports, he has friends, he does things.

One of those things is write about a problem he felt deeply enough about that he wanted to commit words to page.

Oh, so it's a message book. :D

bearilou
02-05-2014, 08:36 PM
Oh, so it's a message book. :D

:ROFL:

You are a bad, bad Mooky.

KTC
02-05-2014, 08:47 PM
I was getting high at 12, just tryna stay alive.

I want to start a clap for this kid...and I never want to stop.

Liosse de Velishaf
02-05-2014, 09:33 PM
Oh, so it's a message book. :D


:roll:

aus10phile
02-06-2014, 08:36 AM
Wow, this story makes me feel pretty dumb. I wrote my first book when I was 12. Now, 20 years later, I'm hoping to submit for the first time.

I'll forgive myself because I didn't have the benefit of the Internet then. It's a good excuse, right? Just go with me on this.

bearilou
02-07-2014, 03:43 PM
Two things I took away from the news story I saw about him.

1) He was a very well-spoken boy for his age. And he seemed quite grounded.

2) He cold-called agents. I wonder how many agents are getting calls now, as opposed to getting the usual (and desired) query letters, due to this story.

Reece10
02-07-2014, 05:48 PM
Yeah, that's what I was wondering - is this now going to spark a rush of 'cold-calling'?

I know, I don't feel brave enough to pitch an idea over the phone.

MookyMcD
02-07-2014, 08:39 PM
If I were an agent or his assistant, I'd have a LOT more patience for a 12 year-old who called my office than I would for any adult doing the same. In fact, I'd probably take the call thinking it was my obligation to encourage the kid. If he was polite I would ask for pages assuming I would be doing little more than trying to wrap one or two suggestions in a mountain of encouragement and I don't think the possibility it could be turned into a book would even enter my mind until I was looking, surprised as hell, at what he did.

If an adult called, I'd probably start a list of names to auto-reject when they tried again by e-mail.

RaggedEdge
02-07-2014, 08:45 PM
First, good for him. It's the kind of story about kids I love.

Second, I feel like a double loser. Once because I didn't pursue my love for writing when I was younger, and twice because I'm not making my own kids do anything worthwhile for 1.5 hours a day, as his mother did.

As for the book being well written, the article that the OP linked said the publisher was surprised by how young the writer was. He'd been enjoying the book before he knew that, apparently, and laughed 'all the way through.' I believe they saw enough quality.

RevanWright
02-07-2014, 09:38 PM
Yeah, that's what I was wondering - is this now going to spark a rush of 'cold-calling'?

I know, I don't feel brave enough to pitch an idea over the phone.

I would never have been able to cold-call and pitch a book to an agent, especially not at 12. I was too shy when I was a kid. Still not sure I could work up the courage to do it now.

gingerwoman
02-09-2014, 03:54 AM
In the US,perhaps. US ain't everywhere.


Dan Lazar is an agent at one of the top agencies in New York. They accept snail mail queries only. They are Nora Robert's agency! If you over 12yrs old I wouldn't advise ringing them.

Smish
02-09-2014, 05:38 AM
Dan Lazar is an agent at one of the top agencies in New York. They accept snail mail queries only. They are Nora Robert's agency! If you over 12yrs old I wouldn't advise ringing them.

Dan Lazar accepts queries by email, actually.

Old Hack
02-09-2014, 01:09 PM
I once phoned up a major UK agency to ask if they were open to submissions as it wasn't made clear on their website. I ended up being put through to a senior agent there who wasn't the agent I had my eye on, talking to him for over an hour, and being offered representation a few days later.

I didn't accept, but that's a whole other story.

The point is that it can be acceptable to phone, sometimes, but that if you do you have to be prepared and able to talk about your experience, and your book, with some degree of fluency. It can work. And I was a bit older than twelve when I did it.

shaldna
02-11-2014, 04:50 PM
I didn't see this earlier.

That's a great story. Good for him.

Giant Baby
02-12-2014, 09:21 AM
I once phoned up a major UK agency to ask if they were open to submissions as it wasn't made clear on their website. I ended up being put through to a senior agent there who wasn't the agent I had my eye on, talking to him for over an hour, and being offered representation a few days later.

I didn't accept, but that's a whole other story.

The point is that it can be acceptable to phone, sometimes, but that if you do you have to be prepared and able to talk about your experience, and your book, with some degree of fluency. It can work. And I was a bit older than twelve when I did it.

It's really not okay to phone in the US w/out invitation, Old Hack. Writers House is absolutely a very big US agency, and this kid did get noticed by them, but please note that he did not get put through to Mr. Lazar by cold calling. The assistant told Mr. Lazar that a kid was on the phone and he asked her to tell the kid to email pages. That is very different.

I suspect that Mr. Lazar's assistant/interns are still getting totally bombarded by cold calls due to this publicity by authors of all ages. I'm sure Ms. Reamer's are still getting subs of 200K word vamp novels.

So it goes...