Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Agent or Publisher?

If you're somehow involved in the publishing business, and you're not aware of the social media website known as "Linked in", you're missing out on a great thing. Linked in allows you to

ask questions on just about any subject,

and get answers and debates (sometimes heated) almost immediately. Sure there are other sites that are set up the same, but there's something different going on over at Linked in, that keeps pulling me back day after day. 

Perhaps it's the open floor, and the fact that anyone can step onto it at any given moment to be heard....I mean really heard! I've seen discussions that went on for days and involved hundreds of people! Many such discussions are jam packed with information, because Linked in has so many participants from every walk of life.

If you are a new author or illustrator, I suggest you consider trying Linked in as a supplemental learning tool. You can ask questions, and know who's giving you the answers! Every participant has a profile, where you can see who they are, what they do, and who's recommended them. 

Recently (on Linked-in) I answered the following question:

 What is the best route for am unknown author - 
agent or publisher? 

Here's my answer. When you're new in this business, it's sometimes harder to get an agent than it is to find a publisher on your own. That's because;

A: children's books are generally tough to sell (especially if you've never been published before, and if your book rhymes - the odds are greatly reduced.)

B: You have no proven track record to pitch.

C: Most agents aren't interested in new picture book authors because of inexperience. Most new authors need hand holding, and who has time for that?

D: The return on their investment is too low for the time involved.

E: Why would you agree to rep someone if you knew the odds were strong that the end result would be disappointing? Every new author thinks that they've written "the next BIG thing", it's not fun to watch bubbles burst. AND there's no money to be made by it!...agents are all about the money and who could blame them?

Your best bet is to do exactly what almost every successful author has done since the dawn of publishing....learn the craft, join a crit group, join the SCBWI, do your homework, and develop a thick skin. You'll need it if you hope to weather all the rejections you will face. (I could wallpaper my studio with them.)

Fact: Dr. Suess's "Green Eggs & Ham" was rejected by over 50 publishers before it found a home. That's a lot of editors with egg on their face! Ba-dum-bum!

Seriously, it doesn't matter if your genre is picture books, chapter books, or mid-grades, it's tough to find a publisher. But it's not impossible for everyone!

Make sure that your manuscript is the best that it can possibly be, and polish it until it sparkles so bright that any editor would be a fool to pass it up! Then write a "take-no-prisoners", kick-butt cover letter that shows the editor what a great writer you are before he/she ever looks at your manuscript. Only THEN will you have a chance at beating the odds.

Fact: Seldom does an editor take more than 30 seconds looking at a submission, unless he/she is WOWed by the cover letter!

After you have done that, start researching publishers on line. Follow their submission guidelines to the letter. Look at what they've published in the past...would your book fit in their line-up? Is it the type of book that they publish? If so, send them your stuff!

Keep good records of who you send your manuscripts to, you don't want to accidentally send it to them again later down the road (unless they request it). Also, if you keep info on all the publishers you've researched, it'll save you time when your next manuscript is ready to go.

Don't sit around and wait for responses from publishers...you can be waiting up to 6 months! Get yourself a calendar and mark a day 6 months from the day you send your submission, and then get started on your next manuscript right away. By the time the date arrives, you will have written and submitted many more stories and not waisted one moment in angst over something you can not control!

If you haven't heard from a publisher within 6 months, it's now safe to send them a polite note, asking the status of your manuscript. Some will respond, some wont. If you don't get an answer, assume it's a rejection and send your manuscript elsewhere. It's what they expect you to do, so don't worry about stepping on toes.

I hope that helps! Unfortunately, you have a lot of work ahead of you. Stay strong, keep learning, be humble, and if you really LOVE writing for kids, DON'T GIVE UP!!

1 comment:

Christie Wright Wild said...

Thanks for the reiteration of facts. I guess I'm doing everything right. I just need to write more and submit more and maybe learn how to write that kick-butt cover letter. All in good time...