Brent Taylor is an agent at TriadaUS and represents picture books, chapter books, middle grade, young adult, and graphic novels (GNs) for kids and teens. Brent graciously agreed to share his knowledge about GNs for the MG and younger crowd. His answers help fill in the gap authors and illustrators often stumble into when seeking info on GNs for lower ages. For more information about Brent and his interests in other categories, please visit his MSWL.
Thank you, Brent!
What made you choose to represent graphic novels?
I’ve always loved reading them, and I want to work on what I love as a reader.
How young can graphic novels go? There’s clearly a market for MG and even chapter book graphic novels (like the Narwhal and Jelly books). We’ve seen some publishers dipping their toes into the PB-aged market with Benny and Penny, Mini Grey’s books, Mr. Particular, and Mad Scientist Academy, but is this dip into younger audiences something you think will continue, or maybe even expand?
The comics format can work for any age category in the children’s book world. So that includes picture books and the chapter book audience. Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez is a brilliant comics picture book that’s gotten terrific buzz. Scholastic’s Graphix imprint just announced they’re launching the Baby-Sitters Little Sister series, which is aimed at a younger audience. I do believe we will see comics expand beyond the middle grade market in trade publishing—both younger and older.
Is there space in the current graphic novel arena for writers-only and illustrators-only, similar to the Picture Book market where the publisher will pair a writer up with an illustrator?
Absolutely. I have sold six graphic novels. Two of them are written and illustrated by the same client. One of them is solely illustrated by one client that I represent, and three of them are solely written by a different client I represent.
How would a writer-only or illustrator-only break into the graphic novel market?
By querying and submitting their work the same way a novelist would.
How should a writer-only pitch or query a graphic novel text?
The same way as a novel—with a query letter and all that encompasses (pitch, author bio) and sample writing.
Do agents ever pair up a writer and illustrator as a graphic novel duo and then pitch their work to a publisher?
I believe so, though I have never done this.
What are publishers seeking in the lower GN market?
Writing and voice that feel authentic and fresh. Stories and characters never experienced before.
How many graphic novelists for MG and lower do you currently represent? What made you fall in love with their work?
I represent one graphic novel author-illustrator and one graphic novel author. I fell in love with how perfectly they capture the universal middle grade experiences and feelings—finding your place in the world, navigating complicated family dynamics and friendships, and discovering who you are.
Who are some of your favorite kidlit graphic novelists that aren’t your own clients?
What does a GN submission need to have, dummy-wise and story-wise, to keep you engaged and possibly interested in representing it?
Incredible art always catches my eye, but above all I’m looking for writing that speaks to me and feels accessible and engaging to an audience of kid readers.
Are you seeking kidlit graphic novel clients? For what age group(s) are you hoping to receive more submissions?
Yes, I am seeking graphic novel projects for all age categories: picture books, chapter books, middle grade, YA.