Monday, November 26, 2012

The times they are a changin'

As Penguin and Random House agree to merge, and HarperCollins and Simon and Schuster consider doing the same, an Hachette-Macmillan alliance can only be a heartbeat away. The landscape of traditional publishing is shifting more dramatically than at any time in the last 30 years. It's not all bad news - out of the mergers and consolidations of earlier recessions came the phoenixes of Bloomsbury and Headline - new companies started by gifted entrepreneurial publishers.

Much has already been written, but I particularly like Mike Shatzkin's blog piece today:

Monday, November 5, 2012


My wonderful client, Kevin Crossley-Holland has a book on the Carnegie Awards long list, announced today.  SCRAMASAX, (published by Quercus in the UK and to be published by them in the US next year) is an extraordinarily compelling novel about a young Viking girl's journey to find her father. For my US readers, the Carnegie is awarded by British libraries to the best children's/YA book of the year, and is thus the equivalent of the Newbery. Kevin has previously won for a younger book, STORM. It is terrific that this outstanding book has been recognized. Fingers crossed for the shortlist!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Submission Guidelines

If you are interested in submitting your work, please send me your query letter with the first three chapters of your novel, a full synopsis of the rest of the book, and a short biography.

If you are sending a picture book, please send the full text. If you have artwork to show, please contact me in advance before sending any visuals. I am not currently taking on many picture books and am not accepting rhyming texts as these are more difficult to sell internationally.

This is a specialist agency and does not accept manuscripts aimed at adults, inspirational texts, short stories or educational work.

Please paste your work into the body of the email rather than sending an attachment.  If you submit by snail mail, send a photocopy as it will not be returned.

I personally read everything that is sent, and consider it carefully so my current response time is about 6 weeks. If you haven't heard within that time, feel free to email me a reminder. I'll look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A really nice article about the agency in today's Oregonian. So nice that it was a joint piece about my wonderful client Nancy Fischer.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What I would love to find: middle grade adventure stories, animal stories (talking or real), real children in an unreal world, and, please, some funny novels. Make me laugh out loud!

How about a 21st century Wrinkle in Time or Incredible Journey?

Younger end YA - I'd love some great realistic voices - not necessarily with hard edged issues, more about coming of age, growing up and the experience of being a teen and finding out more about yourself. Insight and humor would be a bonus!

I have a special passion for really great novels for 7-9 year olds.
I've just done an interview with a very interesting journalist from the Oregonian, our local newspaper. This reminded me that until my website is up and running, I should probably post some information about myself up here.

I have spent most of my life dedicated to children's books and children's reading. I was a precocious reader, learning to read at 3 years old. As a child, I helped my aunt in the library and catalogued all my books at home! By 16, I worked in the local children's book store, and went on to do my college thesis at Cambridge on children's literature - which was almost unheard of back then.

After a brief flirtation with magazines, I became an editor at A and C Black, working on non-fiction and commissioning their first series of beginner readers - the Jets books. These were considered ground-breaking in their time. They still continue today, some 30 years later - last year 9 million of the Mudpuddle Farm books by Michael Morpurgo and Shoo Rayner were given away by Macdonalds Happy Meals! I am proud to have published Helen Cresswell, Kaye Umansky, Colin West, and to have won the Times Information Book Award for my non-fiction titles.

I moved to HarperCollins, who published the paperback editions of the Jets and became Editorial Director for fiction. I was fortunate to publish Lois Lowry's The Giver, Hilary McKay, Michael Morpurgo, Cynthia Voigt, Karen Wallace, Adele Geras and Mary Hoffman amongst many wonderful writers. During this time, my books won the Smarties and the Guardian awards. As Publishing Director at Hodder, I worked with many wonderful picture book creators, including Mick Inkpen - we published Wibbly Pig together - David Melling and Francesca Simon, Vivian French and Alison Bartlett. We had a great fiction team at Hodder and developed a list that boasted Animal Ark through to David Almond's Skellig!

As Publishing Director at Oxford University Press, I worked with the great editor Ron Heapy whose list includes many Carnegie winning titles. Tim Bowler won for River Boy on my watch! I also had the opportunity to work with Geraldine McCaughrean again - a writer I hugely admire. I launched OUP's paperback list in 1999, thus scraping into the 20th century!

For several years, I co-ordinated the children's and educational events programme at the Oxford Literary Festival. The immediacy of connecting writers to 3000 children over one action-packed week cannot be beaten!

A call from Phil Knight of Nike's office led to a new direction, as he hired me to find projects for his new animation studio. It was a privilege to work with his son Travis, director Henry Selick, and dozens of talented directors, writers and artists, especially in those heady early days of Laika. Moving to Portland, Oregon, I enjoyed seeing the development of CORALINE and PARANORMAN, and the short film MOONGIRL, while optioning and acquiring a number of exciting new projects that the studio continues to develop, including Alan Snow's HERE BE MONSTERS and Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis's WILDWOOD.

This year, I launched my new venture - putting together all the skills I have learned over the years and starting a literary agency dedicated to nurturing and developing writers' and artists' careers. I continue to be as passionate as ever about bringing good writing to a wide audience, and to giving children the pleasure of total immersion in wonderful books.

It's an exciting time at the Agency. I spent 10 days in New York visiting publishers and talking about their lists. It's always stimulating to see editors being so passionate about their books. I was tag-teaming with Claire Wilson, an agent at the distinguished British agency Rogers, Coleridge and White. It was her first sales trip to NYC, so I set up joint meetings together. We were a good team - she and I were each from different time zones, so we could pick up the slack when the other one faded!

On returning, I have been lucky enough to find two new clients - one based in Hood River - the talented self-published novelist Nancy Richardson Fischer, and one on Larch Mountain - the gifted artist Bruce Zick.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Welcome to the Kenshole Agency. I represent writers of children's fiction from picture books to YA, and a select number of illustrators and animators. I am offering career management from your first book onwards, giving safe, experienced and supportive editorial direction, allowing you to concentrate on being creative, knowing that the business side is skillfully being taken care of.