Erzsi Deak of Hen&Ink will be accepting picture book submissions from 12 x 12 members in June. This is a special opportunity because “The Coop” as it is lovingly called, is not open to unsolicited submissions!

Erzsi Deak 1So. What to say about Erzsi Deak, who is my own agent, albeit only for a short time (read: we haven’t gone out on submission with anything yet).

Here are a few things. She is whip-smart and forward-thinking. As a “boundary-pusher” (can I find more phrases to hyphenate?) in publishing, part of the reason I knew we’d be a good fit is because she doesn’t shy away from new challenges or the opportunity to chart new ground. She does not see herself as just a seller of manuscripts but as an advocate for her clients’ careers. Another thing I appreciate about her is that she’s not a “client-coddler” (there’s another one, AND I think I made that one up). Meaning — she will stretch you to do your best work and beyond. Ask a straight question and you’ll get a straight answer. I’ve already found that quality of hers immensely helpful in thinking about and planning my writing projects.

Last, but certainly not least, she LOVES picture books. But she is, to put it in her own words, a “hard ass” about them. 

In short, I’m proud to be one of the chicks in the coop and hope some of my 12 x 12 brethren will join me there. 🙂

I asked Erzsi what she looks for in a picture book manuscript, and here is her response.
What I’m looking for in a picture book manuscript is a shorter (often less than 500 words; definitely less than 1000 words) character-driven story with a beginning, middle, and an unexpected inevitable ending that rides both the inner / emotional and outer / action threads and speaks to the universal needs of kids everywhere without being banal or trite or derivative. A text that leaves plenty of room for illustrations and that will stand the test of many readings. Verbs and language that dance, shout and sigh across the page and through the story. A character or characters we care about and want to hang out with. Again and again. I’m not looking for pure poetry, rhyme, nor anything didactic. I love quiet stories and laugh-out-loud stories. I’m not the right reader for gross-out books just for the sake of being gross. If you can include wordplay, terrific, but not where the story gets lost.
To sum up: Write a terrific original story with an unexpected inevitable ending in fresh language that leaves room for an illustrator — and multiple re-reads. And have fun!
Easy, right?? Just KIDDING!

A little bit about Erzsi Deak, founder of Hen&ink, from the Hen&ink website

“Hen&ink is a literary studio with a twist. We aim to work in the traditional publishing arena, but also to encourage and develop work across cultural borders, genres, and media.

Hen&ink founder, Erzsi Deàk, brings her 25+ years experience on the international stage, connecting individuals and companies with those around the globe who can make things happen – no matter where you find yourself.

With her growing list of prize-winning clients and new voices from around the world, Erzsi Deàk meets often with publishers in the US and UK and aggressively markets domestic and foreign rights, attending the Bologna, London and Frankfurt rights fairs. 

Erzsi’s book, PERIOD PIECES: STORIES FOR GIRLS, was a Bank Street pick and her articles on the world of children’s publishing regularly appear in CHILDREN’S WRITERS & ILLUSTRATORS’ MARKET. Based in France, Erzsi ran the international arm of the SCBWI for nearly ten years, developing and mentoring writers, illustrators and publishing programs in 28 countries. She founded and organized the SCBWI Bologna Conference and was awarded the SCBWI Member of the Year in 1999 and 2008. 

But mostly, Erzsi is on the forefront of the international publishing scene, doing what she does best, connecting people across borders and genres.”

Full 12 x 12 submission guidelines and requirements for Erzsi will be posted in the Submission Station section of the 12 x 12 Membership Forum, accessible to Little GOLDen Book members by 2:00 p.m. EST on May 31st. In the meantime, here are links with more information about Erzsi.
Good Luck!
Hen & Ink website and blog:
Erzsi’s website and blog:
Erzsi Deak’s profile on LinkedIn
Erzsi Deak on Twitter
Categories: 12 x 12, Agents, Authors, Bologna Children's Book Fair, Books, Children's Books, Digital Publishing, ebooks, How I Got My Agent, Picture Books, Publishing, Queries, SCBWI, Storybook Apps · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. Oh how exciting, Julie. Erzi sounds fabulous! I’d better get cracking. Thanks!

  2. Oh….just my cup of tea!

  3. Thanks, Julie, for arranging this opportunity for Little GOLDEN members to submit to Erzsi in June!
    We are one luck bunch of lit lovers!!

  4. YaY! This is super exciting. Thanks Julie.

  5. You nailed our wonderful Mother Hen. Enjoyed your post and thanks for the blog shout out.

  6. Sharalyn Edgeberg

    Since I often write quiet stories–an editor who actually likes them!

  7. Why do I feel excited? I think it’s because I love the name of the agency, which doesn’t ‘mean’ anything, right? But I am the kind of person who chooses wine by the cool name (among the best value competitors, that is). Or maybe I have been bedazzled by all the hyphenated words in this post, or maybe I’ve had too much coffee already, or it’s almost beer o’clock! Anyway, I thank you, Julie, once again, for another WUNDERBAR opportunity!

  8. Great to learn more about Erzi.

  9. That was the best description ever written of what makes a great picture book!

  10. I have written a ‘quiet’ story. Let’s see what happens. Thanks, Julie!

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