Your hands are sweating. You lie awake at night. You can’t stop thinking about your face-to-face critique with the publishing professional of your dreams. On the day of the conference, you manage to stumble to the registration desk, blurt out your name to the welcoming lady behind the table, and get your shiny folder which includes everything you need to know … including your critique assignment.
You open the folder.
Wanna learn more about my agent Jennifer Rofe from the Andrea Brown Literary Agency? Check out our interview at kidlitcentralnews.com. See the woman herself, sans shoes, and learn about her interesting penny-collecting habit, among other things.
Q: How do I know if a literary agent is great?
A: Great is a subjective word, but if you do your research by going to the places I suggest in my course, you’ll start to narrow down who might be great for your work and who might not.
Are you gearing up for a conference and find yourself wondering what to wear, what to bring, and how NOT to make a fool of yourself in front of editors and agents? Then this is the article for you.
Practical Do’s and Don’ts for Attending a Children Writer and Illustrator Conference
1. Do NOT harass editors and agents to see your work.
I have run into countless writers who have spent hundreds of dollars on literary agents, vanity publishers, and book doctors, in the hopes of making it big in children’s publishing. It really breaks my heart to hear this because the truth is, there are people out there feasting on hopeful newbie writers, turning a very legitimate business into something reeked with fraudulence. THIS ANGERS ME.
I’ve been asked this question quite a bit since I wrote my series of articles on How To Find a Great Agent For Your Children’s Book. It occurred to me that I never provided detailed information on how to execute the agent interview. But before I get into that, here are the conditions under which you will need to interview an agent.
Do you know the difference between a status query and a status update? It goes something like this:
- Status Query: You’re asking about the status of your manuscript. You hope information will come back.
- Status Update: You’re notifying someone about the status of your manuscript. You do not require information to come back.
So things haven’t gone as you’d hoped. Your manuscript went off months ago, and your phone didn’t ring off the hook with five editors or agents vying for your awesome book.
You find yourself wondering – what are they doing with my manuscript?
Did it get lost in the mail?
Did my dog Rufus eat my rejection letter?
Did I even include my manuscript in the submission?!
Status queries are a touchy subject where people will have different opinions.
Say you’ve just realized you made a bunch of typos in your manuscript or you forgot to enclose an SASE AFTER you sent the whole thing off. Should you try to contact the editor or agent and correct your mistake? Um….no.
Why? Mistakes will happen no matter how hard you try to make it perfect. RESIST THE URGE TO MAKE IT RIGHT. Trying to apologize will only point out your error and demonstrate to the editor/agent how neurotic you are.
No one can read more into words than a writer. It makes sense. Why? We write. We play with context and permutations of words every day. So it’s perfectly logical we’ll analyze any letter from an agent or editor better than a forensic analyst working for the FBI.
Under Agents, you'll find articles on beginning your agent search, how to communicate with agents, and submisson protocol. Have a suggestion for an article? Can't find your answer here? Leave a comment.
Whether you’re submitting to agents or editors, you’ll need to understand what the difference is between exclusive and simultaneous submissions.
- Exclusive – Once you send your work to the agent or editor, you do not send it to anyone else. You wait until you hear back or until the exclusive expires.
- Simultaneous – You may send your work to more than one editor or agent at the same time.
Whether you’re submitting your children’s book to agents or editors, you’ll need to understand the difference between exclusive and simultaneous submissions. A wrong move here and you could torture yourself needlessly. Read my post, Exclusive Submission or Simultaneous Submission?
Now that you understand how exclusives work, we’ll get more into the manner in which you submit to your top picks.
Assuming you’ve followed steps one through four (be sure you’ve read my post, Get a Second Opinion), you might wonder if you should be looking for an agent now. That depends.
What do you have to sell? If you only have one picture book (PB) manuscript completed, it is very unlikely (almost impossible) you can get an agent off this one work. Why? PBs are difficult to sell in general (because so many people write them and the market for them is so competitive).
Finding the right agent all begins with research.