I moved to New York City from Toronto in 1999 armed with dual citizenship, a dream to work in children’s publishing, and inspiration from my favorite (if clichéd) Zen magnet, “Leap and the net will appear”. Soon after my arrival in the city, I was hired as an editorial assistant at Hyperion Books for Children. During my three-and-a half year tenure at HBFC I became an editor working on projects by celebrated authors and artists, including Julie Andrews Edwards, Rosemary Wells, Susan Jeffers, and L.M. Elliott.
In 2003 I joined Pippin Properties, Inc. as an agent and the rights director. Kathi Appelt’s Newbery Honor-winning, National Book Award-nominated, and New York Times bestselling THE UNDERNEATH, Jandy Nelson’s acclaimed THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE, Jenny Han’s New York Times bestselling SUMMER series, and Erin Bow’s TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award-winning PLAIN KATE are examples of some of the titles I represented before joining Folio in May of 2010.
At Folio Jr. I represent a select group of illustrators, including the Caldecott Medal winning creators of A Sick Day for Amos McGee, Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead, New York Times Best Illustrated Award-winner Gabi Swiatkowska, Governor General’s Award-nominated Irene Luxbacher, and Theodor Seuss Geisel Illustrator Honor-winner R.W. Alley, among others. I also represent established authors, including bestselling YA novelist Susane Colasanti, New York Times bestseller Jenny Han, award winner Morgan Matson, and acclaimed novelist Siobhan Vivian as well as debut voices who write for the youngest readers on up through teen, like Juli Brenning, Sandra Bradley, Crystal Chan, and Meg Fleming, to name a few. For more on the clients I represent, please click the link below. I completely love what I do and hope never to retire.
WHY I LOVE BEING AN AGENT:
I am passionate about children’s and young adult books. I am passionate about negotiating the best deal possible. I am passionate about working together with our experienced and esteemed subsidiary rights and contracts teams to squeeze as much juice out of a single property as it will yield. I find it incredibly rewarding to work with new voices (and I’m thrilled to say that I’ve discovered several irresistible projects by debut authors and artists in the submissions pile). I’m also committed to helping established authors and artists continue to grow their careers. I am an “editorial” agent, in that I’ll work through as many drafts over the course of as many years as it takes to polish a manuscript I believe in to a high shine prior to submission. My goal is to build long-term relationships with authors and to help them publish books that will stand the test of time.
WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR:
I am exclusively interested in acquiring projects for young and teen readers, from picture books by authors and author / artists, to authentic and fresh middle-grade fiction, to lyrical and daring YA.
I’m looking for voices that won’t be ignored. I am open to considering all sorts of YA from mysteries to well-written chick lit, coming-of-age, the lyrical, the literary, and the laughable. I am looking for fiction that has an impact—whether it packs a punch or effects change with a more subtle hand, but something that can’t be put down, a manuscript that begs me to turn the page, work that changes me with the reading. I’m really, really looking for something that feels new, that I haven’t read before. I am not the best agent for fangs, claws, and wings. These topics have been very successfully published already. I’m looking for what comes after vampires and werewolves. I would love to be surprised!
I believe it was Ursula Nordstrom who once wrote (of the process of considering a manuscript) something along the lines of: “If you can resist it, do.” A tough love sort of approach to the process, but it’s a litmus test I often use to help me decide if I am the right agent to represent a particular project and to help an author achieve his or her publishing goals.
WRITERS WHOSE WORK I ADMIRE (BUT DON’T REPRESENT):
When it comes to picture books I am a big fan of Mo Willems’ work (who better to capture a two-year-old’s temper tantrum?! Thank you Pigeon and Trixie!) I am madly in love with anything and everything “Polly Dunbar” (so much so that I’d submit her grocery list to publishers if I could). I think Jon Muth’s work is extraordinarily beautiful and thought-provoking, Kadir Nelson’s regal and rich, and Komako Sakai’s touching and so child-friendly.
In terms of middle-grade, when I was growing up I couldn’t get enough of Enid Blyton’s mystery series (Famous Five and Secret Seven omnibuses were my favorite Christmas gifts ever!) I’d love to find a contemporary MG mystery series. I’m also a fan of THE PENDERWICKS, WHEN YOU REACH ME, and THE MEANEST DOLL IN THE WORLD (gotta love Brian Selznick’s hilarious treatment of front matter). Classics that will always hold a special place in my heart include CHARLOTTE’S WEB, THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, and A WRINKLE IN TIME.
Young adult favorites include Lucy Christopher’s STOLEN (I can still taste the sand in my teeth and feel the burn of the Australian sun on my skin), Suzanne Collins’ HUNGER GAMES AND CATCHING FIRE, Gabrielle Zevin’s ELSEWHERE, and Shannon Hale’s works.
WHERE TO FIND ME:
July 12 – 14, 2013: VCFA 6th Annual Alumni Mini-Residency, Montpelier, VT
HOW TO CONTACT ME:
To send me a query, please fill out the form below.
Thanks so much for reaching out to me at Folio Jr. I truly appreciate that you thought of us and that you’re giving me the opportunity to consider your project. Unfortunately, due to the volume of queries I receive, I am unable to reply to each individually. I’m afraid that if you haven’t heard from me within four weeks, I’ve determined I’m not the right representative for your project at this time.
All my best,
Emily van Beek