YA Grows Up: A Genre For All

The Fault in Our Stars, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter...These wildly successful stories all began as ‘Young Adult’ (YA) books. Now, not only are their adaptations blockbuster hits, but the books themselves have been read worldwide by readers of all ages and ilks. In a world where Young Adult stories dominate bestseller lists and movie marquees, what is the point of this delineation? What is the genre’s function in the literary landscape? Join us for a scintillating discussion about what the genre means to those working within it, and to our reading culture at large. Moderated by Caty Gordon. 

Linda Camacho, Agent, Prospect Agency

After a decade in publishing, Linda Camacho joined Prospect Agency in 2015, where she seeks children's and adult fiction across all genres. She attended Cornell University and her experience since graduation created a great background for a career in publishing. She interned at Simon & Schuster and Writers House literary agency, worked at Penguin in production, and settled into children's marketing at Random House before making the move to Prospect. She received her MFA in creative writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and you can follow her on Twitter at @LindaRandom.

Ashley Woodfolk, Macmillan Children's, author of Unraveling Lovely (2017, Delacorte/Random House Children's)

Ashley Woodfolk graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in English and her life-long love of books led her straight to the publishing industry. She's a member of the CBC Diversity Committee and markets books for children and teens at Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and pit bull puppy, Winnie. Her debut young adult novel, Unraveling Lovely, is due out in Fall 2017 from Delacorte/Random House Children's books.

Gavriel Savit, author of Anna and the Swallow Man (Knopf) 

Gavriel Savit's debut novel, Anna and the Swallow Man, is a New York Times Bestseller, has been translated into thirteen languages, and was recently named Young Adult Book of the Year by the American Booksellers Association. As a performer, Gavriel has appeared both on and off-Broadway as well as on stages around the world. He holds a BFA in musical theatre from the University of Michigan.


Mind the Gap: Diversifying the Field

While the range of authors published each year may be growing (slowly), many of the books that gain attention — those that are reviewed and taught — are written by white, heterosexual, cis-gender men. Behind the scenes, the industry is made up predominantly of white, heterosexual,  cis-gender women and men. How does the world of books remain so unrepresentative of the one outside them? How do we change that? In this panel, we’re talking to the individuals who grapple with this lack of diversity in the literary field on a daily basis, exposing disenfranchisement and creating a space to correct the injustice. What are their to-do-lists, their five-year plans? What strategies have they mapped out? Join us to learn from the writers and editors across the industry working to combat prejudice, to explore the actions we can all take, and to discuss how to balance creating a space and building community. Moderated by Clare Smith Marash. 


Jennifer Baker, Minorities in Publishing Podcast

Jennifer Baker is an editor with over 14 years’ experience in the publishing industry. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in Eclectic Flash, Boston Literary Magazine, Newtown Literary Journal, Poets & Writers magazine, Bustle, The Daily Worth, and The Female Complaint (Shade Mountain Press). She is a contributing writer of monthly articles on books, publishing, and the intersections of media for Forbes.com as well as writing instructor and social media director for Sackett Street Writers' Workshop. In addition, Jennifer is a long-time member of the nonprofit We Need Diverse Books and the creator and host of the podcast Minorities in Publishing.

Zareen Jaffery, Salaam Reads 

Zareen joined S&S Books for Young Readers as Executive Editor in February 2011, continuing her focus on commercial and literary young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as teen non-fiction. Zareen works with a number of New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed authors including Jenny Han, Becca Fitzpatrick, Siobhan Vivian, Christina Lauren, Sarvenaz Tash, Lilliam Rivera, Sonya Mukherjee, Claire Legrand, Emma Trevayne and Octavia Spencer. Her non-fiction acquisitions include The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez, Hidden Girl by Shyima Hall, and Far from the Tree: The Young Adult Edition by Andrew Solomon. In 2016, she began acquiring for Salaam Reads, an imprint that focuses on publishing books about Muslim children and families. Her upcoming projects with Salaam Reads include books by Awakening Media recording artist Harris J, poet and TEDx speaker Mark Gonzales, as well as debut authors Karuna Riazi and H. A. Raz. Zareen served for two years as a member of the CBC Diversity Committee, and is currently a co-chair of the Diversity within ALSC Task Force. Prior to Simon & Schuster, Zareen worked at HarperCollins Children’s Books, and Hyperion books. Zareen is a graduate of New York University.

William Johnson, Lambda Literary

William Johnson is the Program Director of Lambda Literary, an organization dedicated to prompting LGBTQ literature. He is also the editor and publisher of Mary Literary, a literary journal dedicated to showcasing queer/gay writings of artistic merit.


Leigh Stein, Out of the Binders/BinderCon

Leigh Stein is the author of the novel The Fallback Plan, a collection of poetry called Dispatch from the Future, and a memoir, Land of Enchantment, forthcoming from Plume in August. She is the Executive Director of the nonprofit literary organization Out of the Binders, and organizes two conferences a year for women and gender non-conforming writers called BinderCon. You can find her on twitter @rhymeswithbee