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What If You Have More than One Manuscript?

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Hello!  I have a question regarding multiple manuscripts.  Right now, I have one manuscript for which I barely sent out the first batch of queries and another one that is just about ready to go.  Both are picture books but they are quite different from each other.  I have read conflicting advice for what to do in this situation.  Do I just keep querying the first and do nothing with the second?  Query the first and mention that I have another in the query?  Query both at the same time in the same email?  Query one to some agents and the other to different agents?  Some places say on thing and other places say the opposite.

If I sent one to some agents and the other to different agents, what if I got offers of representation for both (I know, I know, unlikely)?  Just hypothetical.  I really don't know which one is stronger.
#1 - April 08, 2015, 05:20 PM

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FWIW (I don't have an agent but have been looking into getting one lately), once you have been working at this for a while you will have plenty of manuscripts waiting in the wings. While you are still agent-free, research your agents to find which of your manuscripts suit which agents. PB agents state what they like - eg character driven, quirky, lyrical, etc. Until you sign with an agent, you can have more than one manuscript out with different agents, but only send out your strongest ones. Be sure to keep good records so that if you get an offer, you can notify all other agents you have contacted. It's polite, and they may wish to counter-offer. It's fine to say in your initial query letter that you have other manuscripts too. Agents usually want to sign an author for the long haul (i.e. their career; not book by book), so it's good to say you have built up a body of work.
My two cents' worth.
Best of luck.
#2 - April 08, 2015, 06:52 PM
« Last Edit: April 08, 2015, 06:54 PM by JulieM »
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JulieM gives you good advice. Do you have a critique group? Maybe they could advise you which manuscript is stronger. If you get an agent's interest, they'll want to see what other works you have before signing you, so keep that in mind.

If you query both manuscripts and get an offer on one or both, you'll just talk with each agent and evaluate their responses to your work, etc. I wouldn't worry too much about that at this point.

The most important thing is making sure your work is ready to be queried. And for that, experienced critique groups/partners are invaluable.

And while you wait, write another story! Good luck.
#3 - April 09, 2015, 04:45 AM
Twitter @jodywrites4kids

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I agree with everything that Julie and Jody had to say.

I also want to add that you should probably have at least one more strong pb manuscript in your repertoire. To get representation for pb's (without also being an illustrator or someone who writes novels), it would be best to have a minimum of 3-5 manuscripts waiting in the wings.

#4 - April 09, 2015, 07:48 AM

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Agree with all! And note that the mathematics of picture books (many manuscripts possible from each writer but few books published each year) means that even with representation, your agent will likely not submit every manuscript you write, and will likely not sell every manuscript he or she submits to editors. Picture book writers need to write many stories to have ongoing careers -- your agent subs and editor publishes the ones that are likely to meet the best success right now.
#5 - April 09, 2015, 09:08 AM
Kell Andrews

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Thanks for your advice!  I am definitely working on more manuscripts.  I have been learning a lot about this business and I am so glad these boards exist to help out newbies like me!
#6 - April 09, 2015, 11:06 AM

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Congrats for having two completed picture books! :yay You've already received lots of great advice. I know how hard it is to wait to sub after all that work, but like Diana said, most agents will want to see more picture books before signing a client. Most agents say not to query a picture book until you have at least three manuscripts polished and ready to go (or completed manuscripts in other genres).

Have your manuscripts been critiqued yet? No matter how awesome I feel one of my manuscripts is, I always find so many ways to improve it after getting feedback from other picture book writers (and then after several rounds of critiques/revision, editors and agents at paid conference critiques).

I agree with everyone who said to find out which manuscript is your strongest, and lead with that (although if you have multiple completed manuscripts that are really strong, you can see if one of them might fit what an agent is looking for better than the other).

There are lots of fun picture book challenges each year that can inspire you to keep writing new manuscripts or come up with ideas for future manuscripts. I believe the next challenge is NaPiBoWriWee, which is the first week of May. It encourages you to write one rough draft of a picture book a day from May 1 - 7. You can start jotting down ideas now and work on the plots and character sketches, but wait to start writing the actual drafts until the beginning of May. There's also a fun Facebook group where participants cheer each other on! Here's a link:
#7 - April 09, 2015, 11:53 AM


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