Congratulations to Austin SCBWI member Carol Kim, who within a few weeks both signed with a literary agent and announced her debut picture-book deal! King Sejong Invents an Alphabet, which will be illustrated by Cindy Kang, is set to be published by Albert Whitman in fall of 2021. Carol is now represented by Charlotte Wenger of Prospect Agency.
“The idea for King Sejong Invents an Alphabet was given to me by my father, who emigrated from Korea in the 1950s, and did not return for a visit for 60 years,” says Carol. “My oldest brother and I, along with our families, joined my father on his first trip back. It was while planning for our trip that my father told me how King Sejong invented Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, in the 15th century. The king’s motivation was to bring literacy to the majority of Koreans who could not read or write, largely because of the lack of an alphabet. When I heard this story, I thought to myself, ‘This is a great topic for a children’s book!'”
While it took Carol a few years to begin drafting the nonfiction picture book, she ended up receiving an offer of publication from Albert Whitman without even being represented by an agent. In a reversal of the usual order of events, she signed with her agent a few weeks later. Carol describes this unusual publication journey in more detail (along with some tips she learned) on her blog, “Make a Living in Kidlit: How I Got My Agent.”
“I am overwhelmed with gratitude,” Carol says. “Somehow the stars aligned for me in such a way that I found the motivation, support, and resources to finally [write the book]. The fact that a book deal and my signing with an agent eventually followed is, at least to me, like a fairy tale.”