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How many projects do you actively work on at one time?

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Hi everyone,

I have quite  a few PB mss that I feel good about, although I'm only querying one of them at this time. I wonder though, how long should I focus on this one project before moving to another? Should I try querying multiple projects at one time or focus on one? While I wait to hear back ( :lol5) from agents/editors, how many other projects should get my focus?

I understand the question is very subjective but I wanted to gauge what seems normal among other PB writers. How many projects to you write/revise/query at one time? Any advice on how to choose between projects?
#1 - December 28, 2018, 04:17 PM
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If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become. -W.A. Ward

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It's industry standard for a picture book author to have three manuscripts ready before querying. You only query one at a time. The others are ready in case an agent asks to see more of your work. They want to know you won't be a one-hit wonder.

I will often work on two picture books at once, or one picture book and a longer work. This way, when I think I have a solid draft of one, I can let it rest without feeling idle. Time away from a manuscript is important. I always notice things that need changing when I come back.

I decide what to work on by thinking about what wants me to work on it most. Often a character or concept will call out to me. If I don't seem to have more passion for one project over another, I'll ask myself what's most different from the current project so the two don't converge or what I think might be most marketable at that moment. (Impossible to predict. It's just to get me to decide on something.) I always complete a draft before moving to something else unless I'm stuck in the draft. In that case, I may switch gears to free up my subconscious.

I hope this answers your questions.
#2 - December 28, 2018, 06:07 PM
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I'm usually juggling 2 - 4 PBs at a time. One or two at more of a "polishing stage" either sending to critique groups to get feedback or my agent to get her feedback. One where I've got the sh***y first few drafts done and I'm trying to make it more solid, and one or two ideas where I'm still researching (I do a lot of NF) or just getting the bones down.

Like Debbie, I like to let things rest. When I'm tired of one, I just jump to another. Or if one "calls" me more than others. When I wasn't agented, I definitely always wanted one or two "in circulation" with agents (or the occasional editor.) Now that I have an agent, sometimes I have to work on something she wants vs. what I want, but that's OK, too.

And yes, query one PB to an agent at a time, but when I was querying agents and had several polished stories, I sent out the story that seemed the best fit for that agent. So I actually queried 2 or 3 PBs at a time, but not all to the same agent until they asked, if that makes sense. A spreadsheet was the only way for me to keep track! :-)
#3 - December 28, 2018, 07:11 PM
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Hi Amanda!
Glad to see you on the board. I think it's kind of unique to each person and you'll find the rhythm that feels right to you. I usually have one project I focus on very hard and work through to "completion," but I also have others on the back burner. That said, once you start selling books there is usually the book you're working on with your editor or agent, plus the book you've sold that suddenly needs rewrites or for which you're planning publicity, plus the next book that you're beginning to think about.
#4 - December 28, 2018, 07:25 PM
Rebecca Langston-George

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I think the answer varies for every writer/illustrator. I'm currently finishing up the final art for a PB under contract, finalizing the dummy for a WIP, working on final samples for another WIP, have a stack of WIPs in various stages that I can pull from when I need something to work on (old ms's that I still believe in plus two first drafts I'm working on), one dummy out to agents, and another dummy out to publishers.
Realistically I can only work actively on/think about 2-3 at a time (one will be the priority project) but if I need to let something sit for more than a day or two I'll work on something else.
I'm querying agents & publishers at the same time but with different projects (I have a backlog of projects to show if they ask for more). Some of my stuff is probably too niche for an agent & better suited for small publishers so those skip the agent rounds. (Jane Yolen says the more sticks you have in the fire the better - so I'm adhering to that advice!)
I also have lots of time to focus on my writing/illustrating with a supportive spouse who can provide for the family and an awesome part-time job with lots of downtime that I can use for writing/revising etc. I suspect that has something to do with how much I can handle at any given time.  There are certain activities that I can only do at home and certain ones I can do while on the go/at work so I can balance WIPs at different stages depending on where I am any given day.
#5 - December 29, 2018, 08:01 AM
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