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Submitting Picture Books to Agents

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I am an unpublished author/illustrator of picture books. I am wondering whether to pursue getting an agent. This paragraph from Agent Query on the subject makes me wonder if it would be worth the effort:

"On the other hand, write a children’s picture book and… well, okay, it might help to be previously published if you’re trying to publish a children’s picture book. But still, it's not impossible, although agents aren't always the best resource for aspiring writers wanting to write children's picture books. Instead, your better off checking out one of the best resources in country, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, becoming a member of your local chapter, or attending the SCBWI annual national writers' conference."

So does that mean it is not common for first-time picture book author/illustrators to submit to agents? Should I just submit to publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts? Attend conferences? How can Captain Crab sail out of the slush pile? :)

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Jenny
#1 - December 13, 2014, 08:19 PM
CAPTAIN CRAB'S ABC (in the submission process)
https://www.facebook.com/DreamofSkyArt?ref=bookmarks

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Hi Jenny! I'm an unpublished author/illustrator who dived into agent querying for the first time this year. It's common enough that you should not feel discouraged. It really comes down to what feels right for you - plenty of authors find success and happiness dealing directly with publishers - but because my focus is writing AND illustrating (and thus I'd be dealing with a variety of contracts!), I feel I'd be more comfortable working with an agent to negotiate on my behalf.

If you'd like to go this route, I'd suggest beginning your search with agents who are specifically looking for author/illustrators - and there are some! I began by looking for agents who rep picture books, and then looking through interviews and client lists to see if they repped any author/illustrators. Sometimes their submission guidelines will say they are seeking author/illustrators. Literary Rambles and QueryTracker are great resources for agents.

How to submit was something I struggled with, because while there's plenty of information on submitting as an author or an illustrator, I haven't found many resources for author/illustrators. I decided to submit with a picture book dummy. My query e-mails include a letter with a summary of the manuscript and my bio, a link to my online portfolio, and a link to a PDF of the dummy, and the manuscript text embedded below all of this - no attachments. I've had a few responses with this approach so far!

Hope this helps.  :flowers2
#2 - December 13, 2014, 08:37 PM

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Hi, Nilah! Your artwork is fabulous. I especially love the monsterly lady bookmarks! Thank you for taking the time to respond. Which program do you use to create your dummy?

Thanks!
#3 - December 13, 2014, 09:03 PM
CAPTAIN CRAB'S ABC (in the submission process)
https://www.facebook.com/DreamofSkyArt?ref=bookmarks

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Aw thank you! I do a lot of digital work so I used Photoshop to put mine together. 32 pages (plus cover), 8.5"x11". Mine was entirely black and white sketches, but it's good to include 2-3 polished pages to show agents how the final art would look.
#4 - December 13, 2014, 09:22 PM

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Hi Jenny,

Because the royalty on a picture book is split between the author and illustrator some agents are less interested in repping picture books from pb writers because of the smaller royalty percent.  However, if you are an author/illustrator you may have better luck and find this isn't an issue for you in dealing with potential agents because your agent would be repping both halves of the pb royalties.  Ultimately you have to decide whether or not you want an agent, but I wouldn't let what you read deter you if that's what you want. 
#5 - December 13, 2014, 09:25 PM
Rebecca Langston-George
The Women's Rights Movement: Then and Now
Capstone: January, 2018

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Thanks, again! Do you always try to adhere to the 32 page rule? Also, how do you decide the size?
#6 - December 13, 2014, 09:26 PM
CAPTAIN CRAB'S ABC (in the submission process)
https://www.facebook.com/DreamofSkyArt?ref=bookmarks

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For a first PB submission, yes, I think 32 pages is the way to go. I checked out a few blog posts about PB dummies and went with what was suggested, and 8.5"x11" is easy to print.
#7 - December 13, 2014, 09:32 PM

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Thank you, Rebecca! That makes sense. It is overwhelming to try to wade through all the information about submitting/agents/publishing. I just want to make millions of people happy. That's not too much to ask, right? :)
#8 - December 13, 2014, 09:32 PM
CAPTAIN CRAB'S ABC (in the submission process)
https://www.facebook.com/DreamofSkyArt?ref=bookmarks

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Nilah, you have my gratitude! I hope your books find a home!
#9 - December 13, 2014, 09:34 PM
CAPTAIN CRAB'S ABC (in the submission process)
https://www.facebook.com/DreamofSkyArt?ref=bookmarks

It is quite common for unpublished picture book writers as well as writer/illustrators to submit their work to agents. There are some agents that, when it comes to picture books, want to see work from writer/illustrators only. And yes, like Nilah said, it depends on what you feel is right for you. :goodluck
#10 - December 21, 2014, 06:34 PM
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