Hi there! My name is, you guessed it, Julia Byers. Some friends call me Jules. Some of my family calls me J-Bird. Honestly, I’ll respond to basically anything other than Julie. (Okay, I’ll respond to Julie too. But I’ll hate you a little bit for it.)
long story short
I graduated in 2016 from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor with a BA in Honors Creative Writing & Literature and Global Media Studies (Film), as well as the inaugural Columbia Publishing Course UK. Currently, I live in New York City, where I work in children’s book publishing and run a small photography business and a nonprofit that plans events for young writers. I spend my free time writing, watching too many movies, and staring longingly at other people’s dogs.
short story long
I grew up in metro-Detroit, where I spent my childhood annoying the billion and one pets my parents loved me too much to say no to, doing theatre and film stuff, and, of course, writing. I wrote SO MUCH as a kid. To the point that some of my best friends were girls I’d met online through Scholastic’s old teen writer forums, Write It. By the time I was graduating high school, it seemed we had been friends for far too long without ever actually getting to meet IRL, so we convinced our parents to let us all spend a weekend together in Chicago, under the guise of founding a young writers’ conference.
I’m still confused how we pulled this off, but it HAPPENED, and we had so much fun, I ended up founding nonprofit Chapter One Events, through which we still to this day run year-round events online and off for tween, teen, and twenty-something writers, including the annual Chapter One Young Writers Conference (ages 12-20) and Chapter Twenty-One Conference (ages 21-29).
In the midst of planning conferences (and writing away), I earned my BA in Honors Creative Writing & Literature and Global Media Studies (Film) from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. Between 2012 and 2017, I received the Detroit News Best & Brightest scholarship in Language Arts, First Place in the Children’s/YA Lit category of the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition, a Hopwood Underclassmen Fiction Award, the Arthur Miller Award, Highest Honors for my creative writing honors thesis, was a multi-time James B. Angell Scholar for earning straight As, and won a Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Student Achievement Award, as well as a number of other awards and recognitions. (Wow. That was a mouthful. I apologize.)
Because I clearly hate sleep, I spent my college years also interning around the publishing industry; studying literature and climate change abroad at St Peter’s College and Magdalen College, Oxford University; working as the assistant manager and publicist for Dawn Treader Book Shop; writing film and event reviews for Arts at Michigan; volunteering at various film festivals and other campus events; and taking an active role in multiple student organizations, including co-chairing the university’s Publishing Career Forum and taking a student theatre troupe abroad to produce a play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland.
The Fringe took place the summer after I graduated, and since I was already abroad, I figured why not stay longer–so I headed back down to Oxford to attend the inaugural Columbia Publishing Course UK at Exeter College, Oxford University (organized by Columbia University). Afterward, I headed back stateside and moved to NYC, where I interned in the editorial department at Scholastic for six months, mostly working with chapter books and YA novels. (Highlights included getting to work on some of the Goosebumps books by RL Stine and spending an afternoon coming up with puns for the endpages and marketing materials of Goldy Moldavsky’s excellent YA satire No Good Deed.)
Eventually, I landed at iconic NYC children’s literary agency Sheldon Fogelman Agency, where I’ve been the assistant since 2018. Along the way, friends kept asking me to take author photos and headshots for them, so I ended up also starting up my own photography business, Julia Byers Photography.
All around, I’ve spent the past few years getting up to all kinds of adventures and mischief around the greater New York City area. These days, I mostly fill my time with working, friends, keeping active, taking care of my billion and one houseplants, cooking unnecessarily elaborate meals, missing my dog (who still lives back in Michigan with my parents), and, of course, writing. I write SO MUCH as a twenty-something New Yorker.
And yeah. Here’s to the adventures to come.
site photos (c) Christine Woeller Photography, Avery Byers, and Julia Byers Photography