Learn the protocol of submitting to a
ONLINE COLUMN: Writing for Children
Published: November 3, 2009
|Q: What protocol should I follow for submitting my manuscript to |
a children's-book agent?
The answer is different for each agent you approach. Some children's-book agencies accept e-mail queries. Others expect to receive an entire manuscript in the mail. Some agents accept manuscripts as e-mail attachments. Others state that they don't accept attachments because of viruses. To learn how the agents work, visit their Web sites, read their blogs, and attend their sessions at local conferences. Learn what their submissions policies are and follow their guidelines exactly. Nancy I. Sanders
Most children's-book agents represent young adult and middle-grade novels. A few will also represent picture books, beginning readers and chapter books. Because of the competitive market these days, most are fine with simultaneous submissions as long as you let them know.
Some children's-book agencies may have several agents who represent the genre you're interested in. The proper etiquette is to submit to only one agent at the agency you're targeting. Many agencies hold team meetings regularly and if an agent reads a manuscript that she feels would be a better fit for her colleague, she will share it with him. If the initial agent rejects your manuscript, however, it is perfectly permissible to wait several months and then resubmit it to another agent at the same agency. Or, if a new agent joins the agency, you may resubmit your manuscript to him.
Networking is key. Some top agents want referrals. Get plugged into your local Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI, at www.scbwi.org). SCBWI is the most prestigious and recognized organization for children's writers in the world. All the top authors and illustrators are members. Join their ranks. Attend writers conferences both at the local and national levels and make friends with successful working authors. Dialogue with your writer friends and let them know you're looking for an agent. Agents are people and if one of their clients refers you to them, they will take a longer look at your package because of the personal investment they'll naturally feel.
If you are an established author but don't currently have an agent, be careful how you make your next move to advance your career. If you have completed a top-quality manuscript that you think could be published by the big houses that require agented submissions, you will have to have an agent to get it where it belongs. Go ahead and submit your manuscript to potential agents at this time, but resist the urge to also submit it to various publishers.
An agent might not want to represent a manuscript that has already been seen by too many editors' eyes. If an agent believes in your manuscript enough to represent you, she will want to take your manuscript straight to the top as a fresh, new voice in the children's market. She'll want to give the top editors she works with the first chance at seeing your work and not have to tell them that numerous editors at smaller houses have already seen it (or perhaps even rejected it).
|Nancy I. Sanders|
Nancy I. Sanders is the author of the groundbreaking new book for children's writers, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children's Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career. Web: www.nancyisanders.com.
--Posted Nov. 3, 2009