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To ask how you get a children's picture book published?

(9 Posts)
Midge1978 Wed 13-Dec-17 01:45:05

I've emailed mine off (text only) to several literary agents but had no answer. Do I just assume it's crap or is there a better route to take?

noMessagesYet Wed 13-Dec-17 04:50:44

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

HerSymphonyAndSong Wed 13-Dec-17 05:06:21

I am ex-publishing, though not children’s books, so my advice may be out of date or not helpful

However you have no reason to think it is crap - they may have a particular strategy and your book happens not to fit into that. Also their manuscript pile will be huge so it will take ages for yours to be read

Sending without illustrations is fine as far as I am aware - they will be used to receiving text-only submissions and have the expertise to visualise what illustrations might work. Also if they were interested in your book they would want you to be open to other ideas for illustrators so being wedded to a particular type or illustrator (or paying for someone to illustrate out of your own pocket) may be a disadvantage to you.

On the other hand, self-publishing is an option, though it is trickier with picture books due to print costs etc. There is lots of advice about how to do this sensibly online

Thingsthatgo Wed 13-Dec-17 07:02:28

How long ago did you send it off? Agents can take 3 months to get back to you. I’ve always had a reply eventually (whether it’s good news or bad news.).

shrunkenhead Wed 13-Dec-17 07:43:14

A lot of publishers won't accept unsolicited manuscripts.

HerSymphonyAndSong Wed 13-Dec-17 08:08:53

Presumably that is why the op sent it to literary agents

OnTheRise Wed 13-Dec-17 08:53:22

I'm not sure that agents rep writers of picture books. The advances are so small it's often not worth them getting involved. But this isn't my area of expertise, so I might be wrong.

Join where you'll be able to find out everything you need to know. And if you're in the UK consider joining (I think) SCWBI, which I've heard great things about.

shrunkenhead Wed 13-Dec-17 16:47:55

Sorry missed that bit! Thought the op was sending manuscripts out willy nilly to children's publishers! Maybe get yourself an agent first. But maybe ring and speak to them first rather than randomly posting manuscripts to save wasting time.

DailyMailReadersAreThick Wed 13-Dec-17 17:05:14

Do not call literary agents or publishers. All the information you need is on their websites, and you'll mark yourself as an amateur if you call.

There's a similar thread with more replies: As I (and others) said there, self-publishing a children's book, especially a picture book, is pointless. You won't sell more than a handful of copies, if any.

Anyway, on to your question! How many agents have you queried? If you queried 50 and none of them are interested then it's a fair assumption that they don't think your manuscript is publishable. Bear in mind that doesn't mean it's crap: not publishable can mean anything from it's crap to it's the wrong length to it's fine but not unique enough to sell in a competitive market.

If you've sent it to five agents, then you can't read anything into silence.

And how long has it been? I queried mostly US agents, but the UK agents took much longer to respond on average. Believe it or not, I had a reply a full 17 months after I'd sent a query. She did apologise for the delay. :grin: The length of response has no bearing on the outcome, either. I had a rejection from one agent 13 minutes after querying. I had a full request from another an hour after sending. I had a full request after eight months, long after I'd signed with my agent. The one that took 17 months was a rejection.

I queried around 50 agents. 15 of them requested the full after reading my query and sample pages, and I signed with an agent within six weeks of sending my first query. My manuscript obviously isn't total crap, or it wouldn't have got that response, but 35ish still rejected me. Nobody, and I mean nobody, gets a 100% request rate if they query more than a couple of agents. It's so incredibly subjective.

Now picture books are different - you send the full text with the query so, unlike novelists, you can't gauge how good your query and sample is from how many full requests you get. But I would still keep trying. I know authors who queried the usual 30-60 agents and only had one request, but that one offered representation and sold their manuscript. It only takes one.

Just please don't be sucked in by a vanity publisher, or "assisted" self-publishing. I know you didn't give any hint that you would, but so many authors are exploited.

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