Jacqui Lipton: Raven Quill Literary Agency Founder & Kidlit Agent
Hi, Dionna! Happy to be interviewed.
All right, here's your first question. How is a raven like a writing desk?
Haha! Why don't you tell me.
I'm asking the questions here. Seriously, do tell a little about yourself, I'd especially like to know how you found your way to becoming a kidlit agent, and if you're enjoying it.
I always loved writing (and reading of course) ever since I was very young. In college, I took some writing classes and majored in theater studies where I was able to do a lot of script writing. Then I turned to legal studies and became a lawyer, and then a law professor. I did that for a LONG time--probably too long!--and eventually turned back to writing when I had my first child.
After taking a bunch of online writing classes, I decided to enroll in an MFA program, which I loved, but I found the business/legal side of publishing just as intriguing and invigorating as the writing side. I ended up interning for a terrific literary agent in the kidlit area for many years and then decided it was probably time to fish or cut bait. So I ended up merging my interests in business/law with my interests in writing (especially writing for children) and that's how I ended up where I am now.
Raven Quill was really a joint effort between me and some of my initial clients when we struck out on our own. The name actually is an homage to the daughter of my very first client who has been with me since the beginning. Her name is Raven. Then we played around with "raven" symbolism for a while, eventually ending up with Raven Quill because of both the flying and writing connotations of a raven feather.
We generally represent kidlit from early board books through to YA and some of us (including me) take on selected projects for older audiences. I have a particularly sweet spot for romance. I love the clients I have today and am always on the lookout for new and exciting voices. The agency is particularly committed to raising the voices of historically underrepresented groups in kidlit.
Even before you became my agent, I always enjoyed reading your informative legally speaking articles in the SCBWI Bulletin, and just purchased a copy of your recent release, Law and Authors: A Legal Handbook for Writers. (Congrats, by the way!) So, what motivated you to write this book?
This one was kind of a labor of love for me. After spending some time observing the business side of the industry, it dawned on me that there were very few easily accessible and user-friendly legal resources for authors, while authors have a lot of questions about things like copyright, trademarks, defamation, privacy law, etc. There are some great resources on legal issues that are a little more sophisticated and complicated than many authors need to get, and some (often misleading) blog posts and generally available information online.
I wanted to create something in the niche between a short blog post and a complicated legal book: a resource that authors could dip in and dip out of without needing to prepare themselves for too much legalese. I made the tone of the book more like an informal chat to smart sensible authors who have an interest in their rights and obligations. The key takeaway from the book (I hope--and I stress this in the first and last chapters ) is not to let the law freak you out or get in the way of writing what you need to write. There are always ways to deal with legal problems and I've tried to touch on those in the book and to suggest ways for finding effective and affordable legal advice where help is actually needed.
Can't wait to read it! Well, Jacqui, thanks so much for stopping by. I really enjoyed it!
I enjoyed being here!