Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

Discover the Trick to Finding an Agent – Online Agent Day

Date(s) - 10/31/2020
9:00 am - 4:00 pm

Discover the Trick to Finding an Agent – October 31st, 2020

Treat Yourself to SCBWI Iowa Online Agent Day!


  • Cost for SCBWI Members: $50.00
  • Cost for Nonmembers: $75.00


*Payment can be made online during registration with a major credit card or sent by check to SCBWI Iowa, 6732 Northview Drive, Urbandale, IA 50322.

NOTE: All sessions will be recorded and available for 30 days after the event. All agents will also be available for submissions afterward.


Agent James McGowan


Literary Agent, James McGowan — Bookends

Since interning at BookEnds as an undergrad in the summer of 2015, James has (basically) never left. He’s just continuously level-up-ed inside of BookEnds. Now he is the Literary Assistant and Social Media Manager for the team.

James is a Staten Island native and holds a master’s degree in English from the College of Staten Island. He’s been a reader since his mom gave him the first A Series of Unfortunate Events book, and ordered the sequels regularly through Scholastic book orders. He only recently learned he could be a writer… now, his debut picture book, GOOD NIGHT, OPPY, publishes in Fall 2021 from Boyds Mills Kane Press

James is currently open to submissions in picture book fiction and non-fiction, middle grade fiction & non-fiction, and adult fiction. More information can be found on the BookEnds submissions page, and you can query him here: http://QueryMe.Online/jmcgowan. Follow him on Instagram & Twitter @jmcgowanbks.



Agent Beth Phelan



Literary Agent, Beth Phelan — Galt & Zacker

Beth Phelan has been working in literary agencies since 2010, splitting her time at Waxman Leavell, Morhaim Literary, and The Bent Agency, before landing at Gallt & Zacker in late 2017.

A lifelong reader, Beth represents authors of the kinds of books that drove her to love reading in the first place: middle-grade and young adult fiction. She gravitates toward stories and characters that inspire, and anything with a touch of humor and the bittersweet. She is very interested in powerful and unique storytelling, offbeat contemporary fiction, immersive fantasy, and profoundly resonant voices. Beth is also the creator of #DVpit, a Twitter pitch event for marginalized creators, which she launched in April 2016. Most of her time is spent reading, editing, and trying new recipes that end in either disaster or total bliss. (Results have been mixed.) Follow her on twitter at @beth_phelan.



Charlotte Wegner


Literary Agent, Charlotte Wenger — Prospect Agency

Charlotte Wenger is a literary agent in the Boston area with Prospect Agency. Prior to joining Prospect, she was an associate editor at Page Street Kids. She has her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature from Simmons College (now University) and serves on the national advisory board of the Mazza Museum, the world’s largest collection of original artwork by children’s book illustrators. Charlotte is drawn to children’s literature and art for all ages—board books through YA, but especially picture books. You can find her on Twitter at @WilbursBF_Char.




Written Critiques:

Critiques are assigned as first-come, first-served basis and are $40.00 per critique. 

  • James McGowan, Bookends Literary: 10 critiques
  • Beth Phelan, Galt & Zacker: 10 critiques
  • Charlotte Wenger, Prospect Agency: 10 critiques

Submit the first 10 pages and a synopsis in standard manuscript format or full picture book manuscript (double-spaced; 12 point Times New Roman) to by 5:00 PM on Friday, September 18. Late submissions will be charged, but not critiqued. Save your document with Title by Author. Example: The Best Novel Ever Written by Eileen Boggess. Please attach it as a document, not a PDF.


Zoom Schedule (Central Time Zone)

9:00 AM  – Welcome

9:15-10:15 AM – Charlotte Wenger: Every Word Counts: Crafting Successful Twitter Pitches

Twitter pitch events are day-long, hashtag-based events that give writers (and illustrators) the opportunity to pitch their work to agents and editors. They make pitching accessible to people who might not otherwise be able to attend other book events like conferences and be seen by publishing professionals who might not otherwise know about their work. During this presentation, I will provide information about specific events, guidelines, and hashtag tips; go over important story elements that can be helpful to include in a Twitter pitch; and give you the opportunity to practice writing and sharing your own pitch tweets. 

10:30-11:30 AM – James McGowan: How to Craft a Picture Book Submission Package

Have you written a picture book manuscript? Are you hoping to get it published? In this presentation, James McGowan (Literary Assistant and Social Media Manager of BookEnds) covers everything you’d need to do to submit your work to literary agents. From compiling your submission package to writing the query letter, from researching agents, and finally sending out those queries. He’ll give his best tips and tricks and answer some questions along the way.

12:30-1:30 PM – Charlotte Wenger: Pacing Out Your Picture Book

Most picture books are limited to 32 or 40 pages, so the pace at which a story unfolds is important. How do you effectively build to a climax? What makes a satisfying conclusion? Being conscious of how your story breaks down across pages can help strengthen the story’s arc. We’ll take a look at a few examples that really get the pacing right, and with the help of picture book maps, explore how being aware of visual aspects of storytelling can influence pacing by building tension and highlighting key moments in the text.

1:45-2:45 PM – Beth Phelan: Successful Partnerships Between an Agent and Author and What Pre-Agented Authors Should Know Now 

Although every literary agent will have a unique approach and style, varying strengths and weaknesses, there is one expectation that should be met: an agent is your business partner and your advocate in traditional book publishing. Learn now what you should know about entering into an agent relationship, how a strong foundation can support and enrich your career over time, and how to determine if an agent is not the right fit for you. 

3:00-4:00 PM – Agent Panel: Are You a Good Pitch or a Bad Pitch? 

Submit your 2-3 sentence pitch to be read to our agent panel to find out if you have an idea that will fly.

Deadline for submitting a pitch is October 16 at 5pm.  Pitches should be emailed to Please include “Pitch Panel” and your genre (PB, CB, GN, MG, YA, etc.) in the subject line.

Due to the limited time period, some pitches may not be read.


For problems with registration, please contact Cindy Johnson at

This event is fully booked.