November 6, 2013

Literary Agents Discuss the Diversity Gap in Publishing

As promised, I am sharing my various writings on the Internet here. This particular discussion is an important one, since—as Jason Low so eloquently puts it—agents are now, more than ever, the "gatekeepers" of the publishing industry. Enjoy, comment, and please share and discuss!

Literary Agents Discuss the Diversity Gap in Publishing
Literary agents make up a big part of the publishing machine. Most publishers no longer consider unsolicited submissions, so an agent is a must if you even want to get your foot in the door. Each year, agents review many promising manuscripts and portfolios so it is safe to say they have a good sense of who makes up the talent pool of children’s book publishing. So what kind of diversity are agents seeing? Being that the number of diverse books has not increased in the last eighteen years, in order to understand why this problem persists we decided to ask the gatekeepers.

Adriana DomínguezAdriana Domínguez is an agent at Full Circle Literary, a boutique literary agency based in San Diego and New York City, offering a unique full circle approach to literary representation. The agency’s experience in book publishing includes editorial, marketing, publicity, legal, and rights, and is used to help build authors one step at a time. Full Circle works with both veteran and debut writers and artists, and has a knack for finding and developing new and diverse talent.

Karen GrencikAbigail  SamounKaren Grencik and Abigail Samoun own Red Fox Literary, a boutique agency representing children’s book authors and illustrators. They offer a dazzling array of talents among their roster of clients, including New York Times and Time magazine Best Book winners, and some of the most promising up-and-coming talents working in the field today. The agency is closed to unsolicited submissions but it does accept queries from attendees at conferences where they present or through industry referrals.

Lori NowickiLori Nowicki is founder of Painted Words, a literary agency that represents illustrators and authors in the children’s publishing marketplace and beyond. Their goal is to provide the utmost in representation for illustrators and writers while placing a unique emphasis on developing characters, books, and licensed properties.

Do you receive many submissions from authors and illustrators of color? Overall, what percentage of authors and illustrators who submit to you are people of color? Note: Estimations are fine.

AD/Full Circle: I honestly wouldn’t know about percentages, but our agency receives a good number of submissions from authors of color. Proportionally, our agency represents more authors of color than most others. Authors and illustrators who are familiar with our work and/or visit our website know that we welcome diverse points of view, and see that diversity represented in our client list. I will say that I have personally felt for a very long time that there are simply not enough illustrators of color in the marketplace, and I am not quite sure why that is. I am usually very enthusiastic when I receive a query from a talented author/illustrator of color—I wish we received more of those! As a general rule, our agency represents illustrators who are also writers, and such people are difficult to find under any circumstances, as not everyone is equally good at both.

Click here to read the rest of this important discussion.

October 3, 2013

My Latest Mamiverse Editorial and the Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference This Weekend!

As promised, I plan on sharing all of my various writings and endeavors here, in the hopes that they will help authors, educators and readers find information on a variety of topics related to Latino literature. 

It's Hispanic Heritage Month! And I am personally celebrating by doing more of the same: promoting Latino literature and helping Latino authors get published! Here is my latest editorial for mamiverse, with my list of recommended titles to help you celebrate: 

Children’s Books to Help You Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

Each year, from September 15 to October 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month offers all Americans the opportunity to celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of Latinos in the U.S. These dates were not chosen randomly; September 15 is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18 respectively, and Columbus Day or El Día de la Raza, helps to close the festivities on October 12, as we celebrate Latinos with parades and events held throughout the country.
I can think of no better way to share our culture than through books! Here are some of my personal favorites to share Latino achievements with our children and their friends, teachers and caregivers. I hope that you will make them part of your own library!
Children’s Books to Help You Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month-Photo2Monica Brown’s Bilingual Biographies
Over the years, Monica Brown has made a name for herself as the premier bilingual picture book biographer for kids, by writing engaging books that entertain as they teach—in English and Spanish! Her subjects hail from different countries in Latin America and the US, and include Nobel Prize winning authors Gabriela Mistral (My Name is Gabriela/Me llamo Gabriela, Luna Rising), Gabriel García Márquez (My Name is Gabito/Me llamo Gabito, Rising Moon) and Pablo Neruda (Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People, Holt—note that this title is available in English only), soccer legend Pelé (Pelé, King of Soccer/Pelé, el rey del fútbol, Rayo), and Latinos who made a significant impact on US culture and society, such as Tito Puente (Tito Puente, Mambo King/Tito Puente, Rey del Mambo, Rayo), Celia Cruz (My Name is Celia/Me llamo Celia, Rising Moon), and César Chávez and Dolores Huerta (Side by Side/Lado a Lado, Rayo). You simply can’t go wrong if you pick up one of Brown’s picture book biographies to celebrate Latinos with your child!

Click here to read the rest of the article. 

And don't forget that this Saturday is our Second Annual Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference! 

Last year, three of our attendees secured agents, and one has already signed a book deal! It is not too late to register! 

Participants currently include: Erin Clarke, Executive Editor, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers; Adriana Dominguez, Agent, Full Circle Literary; Sulay Hernandez, Senior Editor, Other Press; Toni Kirkpatrick, Editor, Thomas Dunne Books; Andrea Montejo, Agent, Indent Literary Agency; Lukas Ortiz, Managing Agent, Philip G. Spitzer Literary Agency, Inc.; Jeff Ourvan, Agent, Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency; Johnny Temple, Publisher, Akashic; and Stacy Whitman, Publisher, Tu Books

This year’s keynote speaker is Reyna Grande, a National Book Circle Critics Award finalist and winner of the American Book Award and International Latino Book Award.

Take a look at some of our testimonials!
“I’m a huge fan of this conference! I went last year and loved being able to connect with other Latina writers, and with local editors who were seeking freelance work (as well as editors who encouraged us to submit to their literary journals). I pitched my book project to two agents, one of whom later offered me representation! The book is still in the submission process, but I’m hoping to hear some news very soon. Overall, it was a really inspiring, action-packed day, and I would highly recommend it to any writer who wants to network and learn more about the craft.”
—Lesley Tellez (, conference attendee
“The conference was very well-organized, the location was modern, close to major transportation, and tech-friendly. The volunteers were enthusiastic and very willing to help in any way possible. All of the attendees were genuinely excited and eager to learn, which was refreshing. Kudos on a job well done and to many more successful conferences!”
—Mercedes Fernandez, Assistant Editor, Kensington Publishing
“It was wonderful seeing so many young people who want to add to the chorus of Latino voices out there. I believe they got inspiration, information, and a healthy dose of reality. Thank you to Medgar Evers College and Las Comadres for creating a much-needed service for our community of writers.”
—Dahlma Llanos Figueroa, author of Daughters of the Stone

You can (still!) register at The conference twitter hash tag is #LCWC

See you in Brooklyn!—Adriana

September 17, 2013

Book Launch and Panel on How to Get Published at La Casa Azul Bookstore in NYC this Week!

Come join us on Thursday, September 19th for the launch of MAÑANA MEANS HEAVEN, Tim Z. Hernandez's latest novel, which the LA Review of Books calls "well researched and exceptionally executed."

And if you are an aspiring author, join us again on Saturday the 21st for our workshop for writers titled "How to Impress Agents and Editors." Here is a brief description:
Do you have a book idea and don't know where to begin? Have you submitted to agents and editors and don't understand why your work is rejected?  Are you a published author and are confused by the industry? Cofounders of the Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference and Count on Me author Nora Comstock, literary agent Adriana Dominguez, and editorial consultant Marcela Landres will share essential steps to take--and missteps to avoid.

For more information on both of these events, visit La Casa Azul's website.

Hope to see you in New York! —Adriana

August 28, 2013

CBC Diversity: Guest Post By Angela Cervantes

Here's a thought-provoking post on becoming a Latina author by one of my clients, written for the Children Book Council's "Diversity Blog" (which, if you are a writer of color writing for children, you should really check out). Enjoy, and share your thoughts with us, here, or there! We really do want to keep the conversation going!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Finding Diversity and My Voice with a Flashlight and a Pen

Guest post by author Angela Cervantes

I am an original flashlight girl. You know the type. Hours after parents called for bedtime; I was still up under my bedcovers with a flashlight reading a favorite book. Many times, those books under the covers with me were the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby books. The fact that the heroines of these books were white and I was Mexican American didn't stop me from enjoying these books and rereading them several times. However, the more I fell in love with reading the more I questioned why there weren’t books like these with Latino characters. At the time, I remember thinking of all the girls in my neighborhood who were just as funny, spunky and adventurous as Ramona, Lucy and Laura. Surely there were books about them out there, right?

Not so much.

As a child, I often sat in front of a bookshelf in the children’s section of the public library and searched for books with characters and authors that had last names like mine. Latino last names like Gomez, Ortiz, Zuniga... but I didn’t find those books. At school, I asked my fifth grade teacher, Sister Judy, to help me find books “about girls like me,” but she couldn’t find any either. She must have apologized to me a hundred times for that.

Twenty some years later, a lot has been said about the disparity of Latino characters or diversity in children literature. There’s been a well-known New York Times article, “For Young Latino Readers, an Image Is Missing” by Motoko Rich and a probing blog by Jason Low: “Why Hasn’t the Number of Multicultural Books Increased In Eighteen Years?”. With all this insight as a call to arms for diversity, I’m not sure that I have much to add to the discussion. All I can offer is my own humble experience as a Latina child with a flashlight who grew up to be a children’s author.

I decided a long time ago, when I used to stare at bookshelves in the public library, that I was going to be a writer. It was as if those bookshelves were my Mount Sinai. I had received a spiritual calling to go to my comunidad with pen, notebook and an honest heart and bring back stories.

As I set forth to write my first middle grade novel four years ago, I knew I would write about my neighborhood, mi familia, and my world. Even though I had heard a rumor from other writers that publishers didn’t publish Latino authors, it never dawned on me to write about anything else. I had a flashlight and lots of passion. I refused to be discouraged.

Today, I’m a debut author whose first book, Gaby, Lost and Found (Scholastic, 2013) is about a modern, bilingual Latina heroine who won’t stop in her quest to find shelter animals a forever home even as her own family life unravels. It turns out that the lack of diversity in children’s books, although disheartening to me as a child, had motivated me as an adult to create change. And I’m not alone. I’ve read interviews of authors like Malín Alegria (Border Town teen series) and Diana Lopez (Ask My Mood Ring How I Feel) who have expressed the same experience and responded with great books.

The way I see it, children’s stories featuring Latino main characters are worth telling and NOT just because census data tells us that the Latino population is the second largest ethnic group in the United States and the fastest-growing segment of the school population. Even if the Latino population wasn’t growing rapidly, these stories would still be important. They have a place on the bookshelf because these books are not written just for a Latino audience; they are written for all children.

In my book, Gaby, Lost and Found, the main protagonist transforms from a victim of a bad immigration system that splits up her family to a protector and advocate for shelter animals. Gaby is an empowered character that any reader can cheer on. It doesn't matter that she also happens to be Latina. Nor does it matter that she comes from a mixed-status, mixed-culture family. She’s a risk-taker, funny and kind. These are characteristics that any child could relate to, regardless of ethnicity. 
I’m grateful to be a newly published children’s author. I do not take this responsibility lightly. Today, children are growing up in a much more multiethnic America than I experienced as a child. This is a beautiful thing. And the role children’s books play is crucial. Children’s literature remains one of the first encounters a child will have with the world. I’m honored to be a part of that. I believe Sister Judy would be proud.

August 21, 2013’s Summer Reading List

I put this list together for earlier this summer and decided to share here as it contains some of my favorite Latino-interest children's books published recently. You can't go wrong if you buy any one of these books for the children in your life. And if you are an aspiring children's author, here are some of the books you want to pick up for your research into what is being published successfully these days. Remember that you have to read before you can write! Enjoy!—Adriana


Mamiverse’s Summer Reading List-MainPhoto 

Creating “reading lists” is a time-honored tradition in the world of book reviewing—there are “back-to-school” lists, lists that celebrate particular holidays, and of course, the ubiquitous “summer reading list.” After more than 15 years in the children’s book industry and many years as a professional book reviewer, I’ve put together a list or two. So I thought I’d share some of my recent favorites with Mamiverse readers, sure to make for great summer reads for your kids of all ages.

Whether you are looking for baby shower gifts this summer, welcoming your own little one with the help of his or her budding library, or looking for ways to keep your school-aged kids occupied and interested in reading during these months when they are out of school, here are some wonderful books that include the added benefit of celebrating our culture and language. For this list, I decided to include as many of the newer Latino-interest titles as possible to give those books another opportunity to catch the eyes of readers, and to help our mamis and their children keep up with what is currently being published. So you will find no classics here—though I’d be willing to bet that this list includes some future classics! And of course, some of the books, with their mentions of “paletas” or “public pools,” just scream “summer” to me! All of the titles on this list are excellent and certainly worth your kids’ time—and yours, because many of them are being enjoyed by adults as well as kids!

Mamiverse’s Summer Reading List-Photo2


BOARD BOOKS (Ages 0-3)

La casa adormecida/The Napping House by Audrey Wood, Illustrated by Don Wood and Es hora de dormir/Time for Bed by Mem Fox, Illustrated by Jane Dyer
While the original English editions of these two books are considered modern classics, their bilingual formats, brilliantly translated by award-winning authors Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, are brand-spanking new! The rhyming Spanish is just as appealing and engaging as the original English—a rare feat—making these two perfect choices for bilingual bedtime reading.

You Are My Baby Series Written and Illustrated by Lorena Siminovich
An innovative format that enables toddlers to “read” the smaller version of the books along with their caregivers and charming artwork makes this series a winner and these little darlings the perfect baby shower gift!

August 15, 2013

I'm Back! (and) Our 2nd Annual Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference!

Dear VOCES Readers:

I  know that I've been on a bit of a hiatus from this blog for a while, okay a long while! During that time, I have been mostly working for my clients (many of whom are fabulous Latino authors), and writing for various other folks. I have been working on a Book Reviews section I launched last summer for, where I post regularly on all things related to Latino children's books. I also blog for the agency where I work, mostly about happenings related to my clients. I've contributed posts to many other sites as well, such as the CBC Diversity Blog, where I shared my story of how I got into publishing, and others. So, although it may seem as though I don't blog very much anymore, the opposite is in fact true! I blog all the time, just not here! 

Because I do so many different things, I do think that it is high time that I return to this, my original blog—the only one that actually belongs to me—and share some of what I do with the readers who so often reach out to me from here. 

Over the coming weeks and months, I will make an attempt to double post everything I post elsewhere, making this the main contact and source of news from me, as it was meant to be from the beginning. On occasion, I may also write blogs that are exclusive to this site and offer my unfiltered personal perspective. 

On this last point, I want to express exactly how proud I am to announce our second Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference in New York City, coming up this October 5th. If you are Latino and serious about writing, please join us, registration is still open. I can truly say that everyone who participates—not just the organizers, but also all of the agents, editors and authors joining us—truly care about helping Latinos writers navigate the complex and sometimes baffling world of publishing, and to give them the tools necessary to become successfully published authors. Our biggest endorsements this year are coming from last year's attendees! What more can I say? 

Here is more detailed information about this not-to-be-missed event:

Las Comadres to Host 2nd Annual Latino Writers Conference
Day-Long Event to Offer Access and Guidance from Publishing Insiders

Las Comadres Para Las Americas, the national Latina organization, will present a day-long conference on October 5 for Latino writers seeking book publication.

The Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference will be held at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, Brooklyn. Joining La Comadres as collaborators are AT&T, Scholastic, the National Black Writers Conference, the Center for Black Literature, the Foreign Language Department and the Latino American Association, Adriana Dominguez, and Marcela Landres, with support from the Association of American Publishers.

The conference will help attendees navigate the challenges and opportunities specific to Latino writers. Scheduled panels will focus on poetry, marketing/publicity, children’s/young adult writing, self-publishing, fiction, and non-fiction as well as craft workshops for adult and children’s books. Two of the more popular sessions are a pitch slam and an agents/editors panel. In addition, writers will have the option to meet one-on-one with agents and editors.

Participants currently include: Erin Clarke, Executive Editor, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers; Adriana Dominguez, Agent, Full Circle Literary; Sulay Hernandez, Senior Editor, Other Press; Toni Kirkpatrick, Editor, Thomas Dunne Books; Nancy Mercado, Executive Editor, Roaring Brook Press; Andrea Montejo, Agent, Indent Literary Agency; Lukas Ortiz, Managing Agent, Philip G. Spitzer Literary Agency, Inc.; Jeff Ourvan, Agent, Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency; Diane Stockwell, Agent, Globo Libros Literary Management; Johnny Temple, Publisher, Akashic; and Stacy Whitman, Publisher, Tu Books.

This year’s keynote speaker is Reyna Grande, a National Book Circle Critics Award finalist and winner of the American Book Award and International Latino Book Award.

Registration is now open for the conference at The conference twitter hash tag is #LCWC
I hope to see you in NYC!—Adriana