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.
If You’re Looking For an Agent (if you’re looking for an editor, go to Step Six – Find an Editor)
I recommend subbing simultaneously to agents in small rounds (like 3-5 agents at a time), provided all the agents you are submitting to do not require exclusives.
Why can’t I just sub exclusively to my favorite agent and work my way down? You can, but what happens if that agent offers to rep you? You’re just going to say yes? If you only know the agent on paper, you don’t know them very well, do you? How much can you learn about her without talking to her? This will be your business partner. You should give yourself options. If you only submit to one agent at a time and he offers representation, you’ll be so freaking excited you’ll say yes to anything. And you might regret that later when you find out the agent doesn’t do things like you had hoped.
If you do know the agent well because you’ve met them before and had a detailed discussion about how they operate, then great. But if you haven’t and you only know her based on some tiny entry in Childrens Writers & Illustrators Market (CWIM), then please submit to more than one agent at a time.
The other advantage to simultaneous submissions is the process will move very quickly as soon as one agent expresses interest. We can get into that later.
But won’t I burn my chances with my favorites all at once if every single one rejects?
Not necessarily. Typically you can hit up the agent again with another work in a few months. Also, if the agent likes your writing, she will ask you to revise and resubmit. Or she may say, do you have something else for me to review? If all your top agents say nothing encouraging at all, take that as a sign to keep working on that book, send them something else later, or decide whether or not you want to move down the list and continue subbing that work.
Remember: getting an agent is not about getting any agent. Get a great one. If you don’t, you may find yourself worse off than having no agent at all. Why is that? Agents by definition are middlemen. You have to go through them to get to an editor. A good agent will be a great go-between. She’ll carry forth her duties efficiently, wisely, and in your best interest. A bad one will simply be in the way. She might put her interests ahead of your own and leave you to rot while she sells the works of her hottest clients. Or finds the next JK Rowling. So do what you can to find the agents with the great reputations. Talk to them before you sign and get a feel for who they are. Agents who know their stuff will respect you for asking the right questions. And an agent who can’t answer your questions fairly is one you don’t want. Don’t sell yourself or your work short.
Let’s get to the nitty-gritty details. Now you know who you want to send your manuscript to and how (exclusive or simultaneous). Let’s talk about what you’re going to send. Go to Step Seven – Send Out Your Work.