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Advice on submission author/illustrator

(49 Posts)
CupOCoffee Tue 24-Sep-13 11:30:57

I've been working on a book which I have written (and rewritten . . . and on and on!) and illustrated which I feel is ready for submission. I am tying myself in knots trying to decide who to send it to, despite many hours of googling. It's a picture story book for the 3-6 bracket.

I feel as though I need a recommendation and can't seem to make the decision without one. Can anyone help?

I was originally going to submit to a publisher but am now looking at agents. I'm just not sure which is most advisable as there is so much conflicting advice on the net.


TunipTheUnconquerable Tue 24-Sep-13 18:33:37

I don't know about the publisher/agent conundrum for picture books, but for working out which agents to sub to I would really recommend Twitter.
You get a sense of personalities and whether you'd get on, and who is doing a lot of deals, and they often tweet about what they're looking for or link to blogs about it.
Right now there's a 'manuscript wishlist' hashtag, #mswl, where they're tweeting about their wants. The tweets get collected and put into an 'agent and editor wishlist' Tumblr which you can then search to narrow it down to just picture books.

I am writing YA so I'm not specifically looking at picture book agents but of those I follow the ones that rep picture books and seem very good include Jodie Marsh, Stephanie Thwaites and Julia Churchill.

I expect to submit to a lot more than that though!

CupOCoffee Wed 25-Sep-13 09:37:16

Thank you for your reply. I just looked up Jodie Marsh and I like what she has written on her website, she seems kind.

I was thinking of submitting to one I found yesterday but what was on the website seemed a bit . . . arsey?! There was a tone of "oh don't bore me with x,y,z you imbeciles!" which I found a bit arrogant. There was another which had a tone of "We produce the magic, the illustrators and writers just happened to be there as well". It's amazing how a line can turn you off someone.

I've never used Twitter, never seen the point of it . . . but I do now! Will have to figure out how it all works.

There also seems to be conflicting advice about whether to submit to more than one at a time. I was thinking of maybe just two. Do you think that would be ok?

YA must be fun to write smile

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 25-Sep-13 11:13:36

You need to submit to loads. Do it in batches of 3-6. All the recent advice I've seen says you shouldn't submit exclusively.

I don't think they're arrogant, I think they're just trying to deal with a MASSIVE stream of material from would-be writers, a few of whom are a bit mad or rude, and a lot about the way they engage is just an attempt to manage that. Eg when they seem to be very picky about the format of what they get sent, or when they don't give feedback, it's just because they are dealing with such a large volume of submissions that anything that adds just a couple of minutes to the time they take to deal with each one ends up increasing their workload by an unsustainable amount.

When you go on Twitter you should have a look at the #askagent q&a sessions - they're a good chance to ask specific questions (though not all the agents who do them rep picture books, so you would have to look out for ones that do).

You can read things on Twitter without signing up for it, but it is fun chatting to other writers and handy being able to ask questions!

If you need a good intro to how Twitter works there's an excellent book here called Learn Twitter In 10 Minutes.

CupOCoffee Wed 25-Sep-13 11:46:26

Yes I do realised that they have a lot to deal with. I read recently that they often get 100-200 submissions a week! shock I don't know how they would have the time to get through them all!

I am just a bit wary of submitting to the wrong one and them being mean to me [scaredy-cat alert!] Probably because I'm not feeling that confident right now. I need to toughed up! grin

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 25-Sep-13 12:50:41

They won't be mean!
The worst that can happen is a form rejection or no reply at all. If they give you any specific feedback then that's very useful as it'll help you improve.
I do know it's nerve-racking though. I am dreading it. The thought of having to open all those rejection emails. (Last time I submitted it was all by snail mail so it was all about hearing the heavy thump of the returned manuscript on the doormat....)

CupOCoffee Wed 25-Sep-13 17:33:24

Did you get anywhere last time?

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 25-Sep-13 17:37:21

No, and tbh I didn't deserve to - it was little more than a first draft with a tiny amount of editing. I cringe at what an unfinished state I sent it out in blush

CupOCoffee Wed 25-Sep-13 18:34:13

Im worried about that too! I keep editing it but im not a writer, more an illustrator who's giving the writing a go. I've written it in perhaps a slightly unusual way, or at least not the most common. Im not sure where the line is between 'good different' and 'embarrassingly shit and weird different'!

My main tactic is to go through and remove anything that makes me cringe!

Do you have actual training?

TunipTheUnconquerable Thu 26-Sep-13 09:02:26

No, I've published a few short stories but I've never been to formal creative writing classes.
Over the last year I've read a lot of stuff on craft and learned a stonking amount but still have a long way to go. I'm at that point where I can see how much better everyone else's is than mine without being able to do it myself.

CupOCoffee Thu 26-Sep-13 09:20:57

Over the last year I've read a lot of stuff on craft

You mean the craft of writing? (stupid question alert)

I've never fancied going to a writing class. Perhaps because I'd feel embarrassed if it what I had written was really bad!

Well done on your short stories! smile

TunipTheUnconquerable Thu 26-Sep-13 10:15:17

Thanks. It was an embarrassingly long time ago blush

Yes, the craft of writing.

CupOCoffee Fri 27-Sep-13 11:21:41

Oooh bloody hell! I have it all ready to send to the first ever agent and I'm pooping myself! I actually feel sick and have stomach pains!

I need to just do it don't I.

TunipTheUnconquerable Fri 27-Sep-13 11:25:27

Yes. It'll be horrible the first few times but by the time you've done 50 you'll be hardened!

(Unless it doesn't take 50, but then you will just have to deal with the same feeling when your agent sends it to publishers.)

TunipTheUnconquerable Fri 27-Sep-13 11:25:46

Good luck!

CupOCoffee Fri 27-Sep-13 11:30:40

I have this feeling that I will press send and then my phone will be immediately ringing, and I'll answer it and some person will be cackling and saying "what did you send me that for, it's shit, you're shit, seriously don't bother loser!".


TunipTheUnconquerable Fri 27-Sep-13 12:23:26

Just seen this blog post which might be of use Penny Holroyde wishlist

CupOCoffee Fri 27-Sep-13 13:11:51

Thank you! Weirdly she is on my list to send to.

A bit concerned that my word count is a bit long now though!

Thanks so much Tunip. You've been great!

schmalex Fri 27-Sep-13 17:42:18

Hi cupocoffee
Have you considered subbing to illustration agencies? They may represent you too.
I have found it very hard to get an agent for picture books (I write but don't illustrate) even after I have signed a contract with a publisher for my first book. I think the money involved often isn't enough for them to take you on unless they think you're absolutely amazing. Don't be disheartened if they knock you back!
I'd really recommend joining a class or critique group. It is scary reading your work to others at first, but I find it essential to get my manuscripts up to scratch before submitting.

CupOCoffee Fri 27-Sep-13 22:58:56


My experience is actually in related arty area (don't want to out myself) so no previous illustrations commissions, so don't think i could get representation just as an illustrator. I would need more experience first.

So you write picture books? Do you write older books too?

I was thinking of maybe submitting to a publisher as well but need to research will ones will accept unsolicited submissions.

fackinell Thu 03-Oct-13 02:01:27

Coffee, I have just done exactly the same as you. I'm thinking of putting it in print myself and have self published on amazon kindle for now. Good luck in your search. I'm not usually an illustrator either, it was a bigger job than I thought!!

CupOCoffee Thu 03-Oct-13 07:47:32

I didn't know you could get illustrated books on kindle. I don't have one . . . Am i the only person in the world who didn't know that?

What is it called? (if you don't mind outing yourself)

fackinell Thu 03-Oct-13 09:18:11

Yes, you can. They don't sell hugely well as I don't think that many parents are keen to give teenies a tablet to play with. You can download a kindle app for pretty much anything (not sure about android) these days. They are handy for holidays though as you can have loads of kids books on the one tablet. I will PM you the name as not keen to out myself or get free advertising.

thoughtsandall Thu 03-Oct-13 10:57:10

Hi Tunip, thanks for the Twitter tips. As a total twitter virgin (and a social network phobic) I attempted twitter to have a look at #ask the agents. Some great inside info out there and i'm not even sure I am doing it right.

Fackinell, I have tried to be a super sleuth in the past and see if I could work out which book on kindle was yours, as I have followed the creative writing posts with interest. Would you be happy to pm me the name of your book? How are the sales going?

cup in researching through twitter(#MSWL, kindly highlighted by tunip) and agent profiles they author/illustrator combos seem to be in favour at the moment. The advice I was given on the route to getting published and the route I am taking to try and understand the process is to exhaust the list of agents I have compiled, if no joy then try a few publishers and if no joy then cry try the self publishing route. There seems to be some success stories in other threads for self publishing (*Mme Guillitine* amongst others, I think). Would be interested to see what you decide.

fackinell Thu 03-Oct-13 11:27:42

Hi Thoughts, sales are going well, thanks. It peaked at 8k sales in July (I just got paid for that yesterday) and now settling down to around 3k sales a month. It won't last for ever though! That's a scary thought.
I will PM you. smile

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