Article by Donna Brennan:
Stephanie Kehr is a Junior Agent for the Cyle Young Literary (C.Y.L.E). She currently lives in Northern Virginia and serves on the publishing board of Illuminate YA Fiction, an imprint of LPC Books. She’s an adventure lover with a special place in her heart for travel and culture. Although she grew up reading books, writing and representing them became an accidental passion.
Stephanie will be taking pitches during the GLVWG Write Stuff Conference™ March 23, 2019, and is looking for skillfully crafted stories that stir the soul and sharpen the mind. In fiction, she’s seeking young adult, middle grade, historical, children’s picture books, romance, fantasy, inspirational, and authors with strong platform, unique ideas, and diverse characters. She also represents non-fiction, including religious genres.
NOTE: To sign up for a pitch session, follow the instructions on the registration form. Your actual times for your pitch will be assigned after registration is closed, and will be attached to conference materials upon signing in.
GLVWG veteran member, Donna Brennan, caught up with Stephanie to ask her a few questions.
DONNA: Your agency places a lot of emphasis on platform and discoverability. How important is platform to you versus a well written book with an engrossing story?
Our emphasis on platform does seem to intimidate a lot of authors – but it’s really not as scary as it looks. The publishing industry is changing, and with it, platform has become more and more important for authors to have in order to sell their books. Platform isn’t a request to “be famous,” it’s simply a venue used test your product, and see if people are interested in what you have to say.
For non-fiction authors, I do require some form of platform. However, fiction allows me to be a little more lenient—and I look primarily for solid writing talent and storytelling skills. Across the board, I’m looking to be impressed. It’s hard to turn down a book that’s incredibly done.
DONNA: Many authors have a full-time job and/or family responsibilities; they need to fight their overburdened schedules just to find time to write. What are some tips you can offer regarding what platform building tools they should try to squeeze in, and how could they go about doing that?
I tell most of my authors just to start with Twitter—it’s a great platform with a fantastic writing community. If you’re a non-fiction writer, find creative ways to test your content by posting on blogs or by writing articles for magazines. It’s easy to draw small pieces from your book and rework them into a post, newsletter, or even talk about them in an Instagram story. It’s a lot more productive to find one avenue that works for you, and focus on that. Find the best way to create community.
DONNA: In one of your blog articles you wrote about the importance of authors being confident—both in themselves and in their work. But I know many authors who, although they might have confidence in other areas of their lives, seem very vulnerable where their writing is concerned. What advice can you give to these authors?
Know why you write your story. I see so many authors struggle—bouncing from one piece of writing advice to another, and applying these to their manuscripts, without really taking the time to figure out for themselves why their book isn’t working. Advice from other authors, agents, editors, and professionals is fantastic—but at the end of the day, you know your book better than anyone.
One way you can work to gain confidence in your writing is simply to spend time with it. Save pieces of encouragement people have given you, and read over the chapters or scenes you’re most proud of. Work so hard on your book that you can’t help but be confident in it.
DONNA: What advice or encouragement can you offer to authors whose work has been rejected—not just once, but multiple times?
Keep going! Let rejection motivate you to submit more. There are so many reasons an agent or editor might reject your manuscript—sometimes, simply because it isn’t a good fit. Research the industry, agents, and become your own advocate.
DONNA: I know your faith is an important part of who you are, and one of the types of writing you seek is inspirational—or Christian. Can you give a brief description what is meant by this category? How important is it for authors to mention God or faith for a work to be considered inspirational?
Absolutely! It’s becoming less and less important for Christian authors to mention God or faith in their fiction to be considered “inspirational.” A lot of Christian publishers are looking simply for books that show good morals and character, and aren’t “preachy” or trying to sway readers one way or another. Think about “show” vs. “tell” and apply that to Christian literature. We’d rather be shown how God can impact a story, rather than told.
Article by Donna Brennan: