There are two pivotal events that shaped how Robert Agis, president of the independent children’s publisher, Starry Forest Books, works with his team. One hails from the time he was frustrated that a then-colleague’s ideas were ignored during a meeting, the other from a teaching he learned from an improv class. “One of the great things they teach you is if you treat your teammates as though they are poets and geniuses, they will be,” the publishing veteran recalls to So Booking Cool.

Agis expounds, “What that leads to in terms of my group is there is not a fixed sense of hierarchy. There is not a sense of ‘this person’s opinion matters, this person’s opinion doesn’t.’ And in that sense of leveling the field of perception of power and encouraging everyone to contribute in whatever way feels authentic to them, that allows for a whole bunch of ideas, good and bad, to be thrown out, so that you can select the right one.”

This mentality also applies to one’s personal work and/or creativity. Agis believes that if people treat themselves with respect and appreciation, the way many of us do when it comes to our inspirations (for Agis, this includes legendary composers Stephen Sondheim and John Williams), the outcome will be good.

“Regardless of whether it’s marketable or not, it’s going to be the best that you can do because you’ve seen yourself and allowed yourself for it to be good,” he says.

Before entering the publishing industry, Agis worked as an actor, singer, composer, and performer. A lot of his artistic beginnings have influenced his work in publishing, an industry in which he has been a part of for more than ten years. As a youth, he was charmed by words and “pretty’ details.

Check out the exclusive interview to learn more about Agis including what led to him working in publishing, his advice for aspiring publishing professionals, what Starry Forest Books looks for in authors, his work at e-audio and what he looks for when casting talent for audiobooks, some of his music and theater views, and of course plenty of juicy publishing tidbits, the upcoming titles he is excited about and more! For more information, visit Starry Forest Books online.

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