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nikki2526

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Hi, I am currently writing a series of short stories (about 15-20 pages each), I have the first two finished and I am working on the third. Should I send them all to an agent or only one? Thanks
#1 - September 24, 2003, 06:07 AM

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Nikki,

Agents usually don't handle short stories.  Agents want to see book manuscripts, either a sample of three chapters (but you have to have the rest of the book finished) or a picture book manuscript.

Even though the short stories would give a sample of your writing style and ability, agents want you to send them something that is immediately marketable to publishers or at least close to marketable.

Short stories are for magazines, and few, if any, agents will shop your work to magazines.  The pay isn't good enough.

If you are talking about an anthology of short stories, then the above answer doesn't exactly apply, but you should know that anthologies are a VERY HARD sell, even for established authors.

If I have misunderstood what you're doing, please give us some more details so that we can give you a better answer.

AM

#2 - September 24, 2003, 07:44 AM
VAMPIRINA IN THE SNOW (Disney-Hyperion, 2018)
BUSY-EYED DAY (Beach Lane Books, 2018)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

nikki2526

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Thanks AM for the imput , i meant a picture book if that helps you answer my question better
#3 - September 24, 2003, 08:26 AM

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Also, FWIW, with just about any agent, you need to query first.  

Like Anne Marie has said, short story collections are hard to sell. If you haven't already, I suggest you read a lot of short story collections since this is what you want to write. You might take a look at "Jack's Black Book,"  three stories linked together with the same main character. (I think it's three.) He's a fantastic author and well known. Also, Robert Cormier has written at least one collection. Again, well known. His writing is awesome.

I hope this helps a little.
#4 - September 24, 2003, 08:37 AM
PAINLESS (Albert Whitman 2015)
BLOOD BROTHERS (Delacorte 2007)

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Ooops--disregard my other post. I did not realize you meant picture books.

#5 - September 24, 2003, 08:40 AM
PAINLESS (Albert Whitman 2015)
BLOOD BROTHERS (Delacorte 2007)

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Nikki,

If you're talking picture books, then I would say to send one.  

But when you said 15-20 pages, did you mean manuscript pages?  That would mean a word count of over 3500 words.  Most pbs run 300-1500 words.

Anne Marie
#6 - September 24, 2003, 09:20 AM
VAMPIRINA IN THE SNOW (Disney-Hyperion, 2018)
BUSY-EYED DAY (Beach Lane Books, 2018)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

Jaina

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Nikki, I had typed you a long reply, and somehow hit one key and erased it all!  Arrgh!  But Anne Marie answered you anyway.  I, too, would say only send one, and don't even mention the others for now.

And I was also going to add that most picture books are 32 pages, with their manuscripts coming to under 7 pages (under 5 is even better) of double-spaced type (12 point).

Can I recommend a great book about children's publishing?  It's the one called "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Children's Publishing" (or something like that) by Harold Underdown.  Terrific info.  It's not a writing guide--it's all about the business end.  There are a few sample queries in it, too, if you need to see what one looks like.

 :D  Best of luck with it!
#7 - September 24, 2003, 09:37 AM

nikki2526

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Thanks everyone you are all very helpful... when I said 15 pages I meant I was hoping to make the book around 15-20 pages. I have about 650 words. The reason I asked about sending the other to was that the first book ends sort of as a to be continued book and my idea was that when you read either the second or third book it picks up from the first. the second and third are not to follow each other though, they each follow the first. So, if I only sent the first book it would seem unfinished if I did not mention my ideas about the other books. (anyone confused?) Any suggestions would help a lot! Thanks again
#8 - September 24, 2003, 09:54 AM

HB

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As Jaina said, PBs are usually 32 pages. As newbies we can't get away with changing the format -- unless we're Madonna.   ;D So you need to see if you have enough illustration potential to sustain either 28 single pages or 14 double page spreads. There's a few pages of credit at the front that you don't need to worry about. Consider making a dummy (8 folded sheets of paper) and breaking your 650 words across those pages to see if there will be a unique illustration for each. (change of scenary or change of action)

I'm not sure what you mean by a to be continued PB. If you mean that the main character has a problem, adventure ensues, solves the problem and then as a twist ending another problem crops up on the last page it sounds great! You don't need to send the other books to an agent as they will see the potential.

But if you mean that it ends with a cliffhanger and it can't stand alone then I don't know how well it will go over. Older kids may be able to wait for the next Harry Potter or until part II of the old Batman show (I loved those). But the PB crowd is probably too young to wait.

Good luck!
#9 - September 24, 2003, 10:12 AM

nikki2526

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yes the other books are continuous adventures to the first. do agents require an author bio and outline or description of story for PB's
#10 - September 24, 2003, 10:34 AM

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I'm with HB on this, Nikki.  Picture books can have sequels (more books with the same characters in new situations with new problems) but they should NEVER be "series" where there isn't a real ending of some sort to the current story.  Each picture book needs to be able to read alone, without any other book with it.  While it can make you want to pick up another one and read it, too, it should still be a complete story and make total sense without having to read any other book with it.

I would recommend that you spend some time in your local bookstore and also your library picking out the most CURRENT picture books they have on hand.  Read through them and see how they end.  Find some that have sequels and look at the stories in each book.  See how they are ended.  This will help you to see how your stories need to be crafted if you want them to sell.

Also, it's absolutely vital that you plan your picture book to be a 32 page book. (And as HB also said, that means it needs to have about 28 actual "pages" in it.)  When I'm writing my picture books, I count the number of different scenes/illustration possibilities and make sure there are between 16 and 22 of them.  Less than 16 or more than 22 won't make a good strong picture book and it will be hard to sell.  If you have 8 or less in your story, then it's better suited for a magazine story than a picture book.  (I'm ignoring Board Books here that have less than 32 pages in them, as those are a completely different thing and are almost always done by authors who are also professional illustrators.)

There are several good workshops about writing good picture books on the Transcripts page of my website (see the link at the top of this Message Board) and you may find some of these helpful, too.

Good luck!  It's great that you are asking these questions now, before you start sending your manuscripts out.  It will save you a lot of unnecessary rejections!   ;D
#11 - September 24, 2003, 10:46 AM
« Last Edit: September 24, 2003, 10:47 AM by Verla Kay »
Verla Kay

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Jaina

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Nikki,

Are the stories about the same characters just having more adventures of the exact same type?  Like Sammy and Jennifer in the first book are trying to figure out how to spend a rainy day, when they discover a magical crayon that will give them anything they draw?  And in book two, they draw something different and have another adventure?  

Or is it more like Sammy and Jennifer have fun in book one learning how to ride bikes, and the second book is about the day they went to the fair?

I would echo HB and Verla and say get that first story perfect and able to stand entirely on its own.  The ending should be satisfying, not something that would disappoint a child who can't wait/afford/find book two!  (As HB said, older kids are better able to deal with "to be continued" but I'm guessing even the HP books have some sort of ending, right?).  I can't imagine anyone would buy a story that didn't have a satisfying ending with some sort of resolution.

Agents usually have guidelines that specify what they want.  They might want a little info about you, and they want an appealing description of that book you're pitching.  They most likely do NOT want an outline for a picture book!  But as I said, earlier, you can see actual examples of this sort of thing (query letters and cover letters) in some really great books, including the "Complete Idiot's Guide" mentioned above.  The same guy, Harold Underdown, also has a great website at underdown.org.  Here's a link to his "basic information for writers" page:

http://www.underdown.org/articles.htm#WI

You can also check Verla's page right here for transcripts.  There are so many, it'll take you minute to scroll through the list.  I've learned lots and lots by reading these!  

 :)
#12 - September 24, 2003, 11:21 AM

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