I’ve been lucky enough to meet with agent Rueben Pfeffer twice in the last year. First, at the summer 2011 PNWA Conference, and then at the Spring SCBWI WWA 2012 Conference. He is a veteran of the children’s and adult book market. He has served as President and Publisher of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, SVP and CCO of Pearson, SVP and Publisher of Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Books, and as of December 2009, he has been a partner at the East West Literary Agency.
At the spring conference Rueben was asked what he is looking for when he first see’s a new manuscript. His reply- “The OMG Factor”. He went on to say that he is a bit jaded now after being in the business for so long. He used to ask himself, “What would a kid think?” now he asks himself, “What would an editor think?”.
Are publishers still viable in today’s atmosphere of self publishing? “Yes,” he said, “publishers are viable. You want expertise and cooperation of all the talents who want your book.” The bigger question, he pointed out, is what KIND of publisher do you need? “There are more opportunities nowadays.” Also, “Publishers publish better works. It is a great time to be in children’s publishing.”
What does Rueben think about digital picture books? He thinks they are sensational in a different way and that we just haven’t used all the possibilities that are available with them yet. He is still “content” to publish in whatever form is wanted, but is also open to all the different ways.
Should a writer have an agent? A definite “Yes!” on Rueben’s part. “Agents know what to do with contracts.” He also pointed out that they can handle current and back lists.
What should a writer do if they want a career in kid’s books? “Love them, and want to make a difference however you may,” said Rueben.
And one last tidbit- What were Rueben’s favorite books as a kid? He loved non-fiction and biographies.
Find more info at http://www.eastwestliteraryagency.com/