Name: Kris Coronado
What you Write: nonfiction picture books
Agent: James McGowan
Why BookEnds? When I first began diving into the world of querying, I accidentally stumbled upon the BookEnds team on Twitter. Right off the bat, everyone seemed extremely passionate about what they do, yet also warm and approachable. Even so, I still wanted to make sure I did my homework, learning as much as I could about other agencies out there. Two years later – in which my knowledge of the children’s writing community grew through joining groups like 12 x 12 and finding a fabulous critique group (now called Crit Happens) – I discovered my first impressions of BookEnds weren’t wrong. This is a great agency with a solid lineup of enthusiastic and talented agents.
Reading interviews with James, following him on Twitter and hearing him speak on a 12 x 12 Zoom event last year made it abundantly clear that he would be a fantastic agent to work with. A picture book author himself, he’s extremely energetic about this area of children’s publishing. The fact that he adores nonfiction, which I write, all the better! When my previous agent decided to step away from agenting, there was no doubt in my mind that I should reach out to him about representation. I am so thrilled he’s taken me on! Just from our early conversations I can tell he’s going to be a fantastic creative partner.
JM: Thank you for those kind words, Kris! I am so thrilled to be partnering with you on your fascinating kid lit projects. Here’s to much success!
What book do you wish you had written, and why? Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. Absolutely brilliant. The concept is so inventive and makes you look at a piece of history in a completely new way.
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing?
Chasing after my children! I’m a stay-at-home mom to a five-year-old and two-year-old, so life is pretty fast paced these days. I also love cycling. Not necessarily going for long rides these days, but you’ll find me biking to the famers’ market with the kids, lugging loads of veggies in the bike trailer.
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?
A quiet cabin in the woods … with a cute little town that’s a 15-minute walk or bike ride away.
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice you’ve received?
I attended the SCBWI New York conference in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit. I can’t remember who it was exactly, perhaps it was director Lin Oliver, but someone onstage spoke about how important it was to figure out what type of writer or creator YOU are meant to be. What about your life or life experiences gives YOU a unique perspective that you’re able to share with the world? At the time, I was writing a lot of fiction picture books and had just finished my first nonfiction one.
That thought stuck with me for months upon months, gnawing at me, until one day – EUREKA! I’ve been a journalist writing atypical and quirky stories for years. These were the kind of children’s picture books I needed to be writing. I’m a nonfiction picture book author through and through. How had I not seen it before? Suddenly, the ideas were gushing!
What advice would you give to other authors in the query trenches?
Cool your jets! Don’t be in such a rush to query, query, query. Join SCBWI. Find a great writing community (like 12 x 12) and join a critique group. A query letter can be solid, but it’s the work that will truly stand out. Have three or four manuscripts that are polished and vetted by your critique group before you start querying. When you do query, do your research on who you are approaching. Read interviews, follow them on Twitter. Make sure they’ll be a good fit for you. If you feel like you’re convincing yourself that they’d probably be a good agent for you, he or she probably isn’t “the one.” Not that there is only “one” – there are many talented agents out there, just make sure you approach people who you feel will be an amazing champion for your work and vision.
What was the most important question you asked when interviewing agents? Are you editorial and what is your communication style like? As a writer who thrives on feedback, I wanted to make sure I have a creative partner who is game for diving into the process and being receptive to bouncing off ideas.
How did you know your book was ready to submit? When my critique partners were excited about the manuscript and had minimal suggestions.