Agent August with Caryn Wiseman
Caryn Wiseman know her business! With a an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA, Caryn knows how to negotiate a great deal for her clients and help them understand the book business. As an agent For Andrea Brown Literary, Caryn has sold over 450 books including the New York Times bestseller THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA BY Tom Angleberger.
Caryn joined the agency in 2003 after spending over a decade in the business world. She is a senior agent and exclusively represents children's authors. Caryn is always on the look out for great nonfiction writers.
Nonfiction ninjas were thrilled to catch up with Caryn and learn a little more about her.
Why did you become a literary agent? I have been an agent for 17 years, and it's a second career for me, but it's definitely the one that I was meant to do! I have been a voracious and critical reader all my life, and agenting was the perfect way to combine my love of books and reading, social justice, and my business education and background.
What excites you most about working in publishing? Three things: 1) That I actually get to make a small difference by bringing children's books that matter into the world 2) that I still get a thrill when I walk into a bookstore and see a book that I represented on the shelf 3) that every day is different, so I'm never bored
What are you looking for in nonfiction projects? Nonfiction that reads like fiction, whatever the category
Are there specific topics that interest you? Social justice in any form is my number one interest
What trends are you seeing in the industry? The market for picture book bios (a particular love of mine) is saturated; there's a growing market for older nonfiction and graphic novel nonfiction; a market for narrative nonfiction for younger kids that isn't picture book bio, but is fun and non-institutional; also a great interest and respect for getting the historical facts right, rather than whitewashing them
Who is your ideal client? Someone who does their homework; who understands the research and permissions process that's involved with nonfiction; someone who understands issues of diversity and inclusion, and who is willing to look at a question from more than one angle; someone who is willing to ask the hard questions about who should tell a story; someone who is willing to take narrative or format risks to tell a story in an interesting way
Are you more interested in PB, MG, YA, or all three? All three, and graphic novels in particular
What do you want to see in a nonfiction proposal? All of the standard proposal stuff, including sample chapters.
What are some of your favorite kidlit nonfiction books? All of my clients' books, of course, like those by Debbie Levy, Don Tate, Kelly Starling Lyons, Sarah Albee, Jennifer Berne, Amy Novesky, Sarah J. Marsh, Susan Wood, or the forthcoming TRUE OR FALSE by Cindy L. Otis. For nonclient books, I'd say The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater, Unpresidented by Martha Brockenbrough, March by John Lewis and Nate Powell, They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, anything by Steve Sheinkin
And last but not least – are you a dog person or a cat person? And do you have a pet? Definitely dog, but small dog. I have a cockapoo named Olivia, who serves as my office assistant.
If you have a project that you think would be right for Caryn - you can contact her through her query manager account.
8/10/2020 09:10:27 am
Love many of the authors and books mentioned here.
8/10/2020 10:21:25 am
I love your clients’ books!!
8/10/2020 10:33:22 am
I'm a big fan of Steve Sheinkin's too -- nf that reads like fiction! Thanks.
8/10/2020 10:45:44 am
I like looking at things from different angles. So often only one angle is shown in books.
8/10/2020 11:27:34 am
Those are some of my favorite NF books, too! I almost queried Caryn again recently but I figured she was too much out of my league. Her clients are very lucky to have her.
8/10/2020 12:47:58 pm
I really admire the work of Sarah Albee and several of the other authors mentioned. Thanks for sharing!
8/10/2020 12:55:16 pm
Love the nonfiction authors and books you mention, and use many of them for mentor texts. Figuring out the puzzle of how best to tell the nonfiction story is one of my favorite things to do. Thanks for the post!
8/10/2020 02:37:40 pm
Great interview! Thanks for sharing☺️
8/10/2020 04:30:54 pm
I love your three reasons for being an agent - and thank you for bringing books that matter into the world - especially for children!
8/10/2020 04:58:19 pm
Great interview! I love that agenting was a second career but a great fit! I love her client’s books!
8/10/2020 07:45:59 pm
I have a picture book biography I’m passionate about and have labored over for many years, so I hope the market won’t get or stay so saturated that I can’t place it at some stage. Thanks for the insights!
8/10/2020 10:47:02 pm
Caryn, I am excited that you are seeing a market for narrative nonfiction that is "fun and non-institutional." What an honor to be an agent for those authors, they are all so amazingly talented.
8/11/2020 03:21:45 am
Thanks for a great interview. I love nonfiction that reads like fiction and I use many of the books you mentioned as mentor texts. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
8/12/2020 05:53:07 am
Thanks for taking the time to help us get to know you better. I appreciate your thoughts on narrative nonfiction.
8/12/2020 01:12:19 pm
Always appreciate a closer look into the backgrounds, wants, and needs of successful agents.
8/13/2020 07:38:36 am
Thanks for this glimpse into Caryn’s world. I love that her passion matches my own in “bringing children’s books that matter out into the world”.
8/16/2020 05:45:20 pm
"Anything Steve Sheinkin!" 😍😆 So true!!!
8/24/2020 02:58:15 pm
Caryn is one of my dream agents! I would love a critique of my non-fiction piece by Caryn!
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Disclaimer: The Nonfiction Ninjas are a group of writers with diverse ideas . The views expressed in each post are those of the author and may differ from others in the group.