Nancy Sondel's Pacific Coast Children's Writers Workshop
16th Annual    September 28-30, 2018    Master Class to Masterpiece
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“Ted sold my debut novel in a two-book deal. He helps me develop compelling new
 ideas, manage delicate editor-author relationships, and strategize long-term goals. Ted is
 an invaluable agent and author advocate.” — Sarah Ockler, author of Twenty Boy Summer
 and the forthcoming Fixing Delilah Hannaford (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

pencil bullet  Like our workshop, these faculty interviews focus on youth novels. To read all years’ faculty interviews, see our Directory.

TED MALAWER

Literary Agent

Upstart Crow Literary

Ted MalawerDoes it get any better? Ted Malawer is actively seeking new clients. He hails from a highly respected agency and has a track record that rocks. He lands sweet deals with major publishers, including multi-book mega-contracts for debut authors. Ted is passionate about fiction and his clients, with whom he enjoys warm professional relationships that evolve with the clients’ careers. He encourages novelists to “dream big.”

As if these attributes weren’t enough to entice the discriminating writer, Ted—formerly a Comparative Literature student in college—is a published author himself. He has experienced the creative process first-hand, start to finish. Being “in the trenches” translates into solid, hands-on advice for Ted’s clients and workshop participants.

Although Ted’s two contemporary teen novels are funny, smart, and fresh (ah, the complexities of high school life!), his taste runs the gamut. Ted represents a wide range of innovative middle grade and young adult novels—perhaps like the one you’re writing?

Come meet Ted at the 2010 Pacific Coast Children’s Writers Workshop, and enjoy his interview below.

I. OVERVIEW

How would you characterize your agenting focus and/or goals?

I cannot imagine a more fulfilling job than helping to create books for children. As an agent, my role is to recognize and nurture talent. This occurs at nearly every stage of the writing process—from finding writers with great voices, working together to revise their manuscripts until they are ready for submission to publishers, and guiding the writer through the sale of his or her manuscript (negotiating the right deal points, making sure the contract is in the author’s favor, etc.).

Most times, writers think an agent’s job ends there—with the sale. But in reality, this is where a large part of my work comes in. What happens if your editor is late getting you revision notes? If you hate your cover? If your monies are not received on time? And what about the next book—how are you going to decide how to launch and build a career that is rewarding in both the short and long term? An agent is a planner and a support system for writers, from the first sale to the tenth, and beyond.

What are three youth novels you’ve sold in the past few years? What aspects appealed to you from the query and/or manuscript’s first lines?

Three teen novels that have recently hit the shelves represent the spectrum of my taste: Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer is a beautiful, lyrical coming-of-age novel about love and loss, and is an early nominee for the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association’s book awards.

Josh Berk’s The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin is a laugh-out-loud murder mystery featuring a deaf, overweight protagonist with an unforgettable voice, and received starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal.

Bree Despain’s The Dark Divine is a darkly romantic re-imagining of the parable of the prodigal son, and one of the most original paranormals I’ve read in years—so far, it will be translated into more than 12 foreign languages.

Are you actively seeking debut as well as experienced authors? How much personal attention do you offer each?

I represent a select number of authors, so that I can offer each client a large amount of personal attention. I love working with debut authors, and have had a fantastic success rate in selling first novels—and subsequently working with those authors to develop, sell, and publish additional works.

How do you help writers grow their professional careers?

As an agent, my focus is career-building. Besides helping secure deals for film, TV, audio, and translation rights, after the initial sale I help clients develop proposals for future books. If an author has multiple ideas for future projects, I assist in choosing which ones to proceed forward with, and facilitate conversation between the author and the potential publishing houses.

I am eager to work with authors who want to stretch, experiment, and try new things in their writing—I want to help them jump out of their “comfort zones” and push each novel to be the best, and most unique, that it can be.

What background do you bring to agenting?

I graduated from Columbia University and The Juilliard School, where I studied Comparative Literature and Opera respectively. In general, I believe I have a good blend of the creative and the business-savvy necessary to help my authors succeed in the publishing industry. Certainly, as a lover of all literature, my English studies have helped familiarize me with the many different facets of the novel. I am able to share this with my clients when we talk about revision, plotting, and tone.

My experience as a novelist is, I think, a large part of what informs my agenting. I understand first-hand the process of writing a novel, revising it, and subsequently publishing it. This helps me to relate to my clients on a level I would be unable to otherwise.

Note: Ted penned two Delacorte YA novels under the name Ted Michael: The Diamonds (2009) and Crash Test Love (April, 2010).

THE AGENCY SCOOP

 Upstart Crow Literary’s catchy name stems from an insult slung at the young Shakespeare by an older, more-established, but less successful playwright. The agency’s website notes that the latter’s “obvious irritation at the younger artist’s pluck and nerve is, we think, typical of the response of the old guard toward any new talent. There is something in the phrase that speaks of courage and brio and daring, and we feel we should all be upstart crows when it comes to our writing and our work.”

Upstart Crow’s four skilled, savvy agents commit to more than just a “quick sell.” To sample the agency’s full-spectrum approach, browse their website’s Blogs & Netcasts, the Writers Toolbox (topics include dialogue, revision, query writing), and more.

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