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for unpublished writer, agents or editors?

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Hi, friends! I just finished the manuscript of my first PB and really like it (which is rare for me, as a perfectionist). I know I can submit it to some publishers who accept unsolicited ms; shall I also query agents too?

Would querying agents  be  a waste of time, since I haven't published any PB and only have one ms ready? If I really want to have an agent (which i think is the ticket to bigger publishers), shall I finish another PB ms and show her both mss -- would that help substantially?

Many many thanks!  :flowers2
#1 - October 06, 2020, 09:45 PM

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The time old question - agents or editors?

If you truly want this as a career, many people will say to focus on finding an agent. They are the ones who can get you into the bigger houses that most writers don't have access to, plus target your manuscript to the editors that they think is the right fit. However, you are correct. For PB writers, most agents want to see 2 - 3 polished manuscripts as they want to feel comfortable that you are capable of more than one book and feel they can sell the style you write in. It's hard to tell that from just one PB. BUT, for most agent submissions, you still start out with submitting one PB. If they like it, they'll ask to see more.

Some PB writers have been extremely successful without ever having an agent. But, that will mean that your opportunities to submit to the bigger houses are limited as they usually only give you access if you attend a conference that they are faculty at. But while the number isn't huge, there are houses that do accept unagented (unsolicited) submissions.

And in response to your question about "Would querying agents be a waste of time since I haven't published any PB. . ." That is not an issue. Agents care about the writing and if they think they can sell it. The realize that authors have to start somewhere. Many, many unpublished authors find agents. I am one of them. I queried for several years as an unpublished author and I did land an agent. And my debut is coming out next spring.  :-)
#2 - October 07, 2020, 06:12 AM
Freaky Funky Fish ( Running Press Kids, Spring 2021)
Tell Someone (Albert Whitman, Fall 2021)

You might want to try subbing your manuscript to publishers directly to see what kind of response you get first. If you want to go the agent route, you'll need at least 2 or 3 polished picture books (as you said). What that usually means is, going through many manuscripts that don't work in order to get to those first few that are marketable/salable. At least, that's how it was for me. Sometimes it's a good idea to test the waters, just because the whole process is so time consuming. The important thing (according to my own experience) is not to rush. You certainly don't need to be published in order to get an agent. But if you only have one completed pb, then it's probably too soon to query an agent.
#3 - October 07, 2020, 12:46 PM
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
CITY SHAPES, DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS, ONE SNOWY DAY, PIZZA PIG, and more...
http://www.dianamurray.com

Oh, and as dkshumaker said, an agent would want to be queried with only one, but they would ask for more if interested.
#4 - October 07, 2020, 12:48 PM
NED THE KNITTING PIRATE, GRIMELDA series,
CITY SHAPES, DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS, ONE SNOWY DAY, PIZZA PIG, and more...
http://www.dianamurray.com

Reader, Writer, Teacher, Wife & Mother
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Since you only have one polished manuscript, I'm in favor of sending it out directly to publishers--see who's a good fit for yours and send out your baby, see how it does. And in the meantime, you can be writing more stories. Lots of stories. I cannot stress enough the value of volume because only some of them will rise like cream to the top. Just look at those gorgeous covers from Deb and Diana! One day, you will have one too. :clover
Oh, I'm unagented and my stories go through the slush pile, but they get picked up as well.
#5 - October 07, 2020, 03:27 PM
Little Thief! Max & Midnight, Bound, Ten Easter Eggs & 100+ bks/mags
https://vijayabodach.blogspot.com https://bodachbooks.blogspot.com

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Thank you so much Deb, Diana, and Vijaya! Your answers and encouragement are extremely helpful! I really appreciate it!!
#6 - October 07, 2020, 07:14 PM

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Just be careful and remember that if you get rejected by a publisher, further down the line, when you find an agent, you'll have burnt that bridge and probably won't be able to submit the same book to them again.

You certainly don't need to be published in order to get an agent. But if you only have one completed pb, then it's probably too soon to query an agent.

Yes. I think it's a common misconception (perpetuated by aspiring authors who haven't got an agent or publisher yet) that people are only interested in authors who are already successful. It makes no sense - everyone is new at some point.

Most importantly: agents and editors are always looking for the newest, shiniest author. It's a good thing to find exciting new talent to take on.
#7 - October 07, 2020, 08:05 PM

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One thing to add to the great advice you have: an agent won't take a manuscript that has already been rejected by publishers. Once an editor says no to that manuscript, an agent is out the opportunity to have that editor say yes. This is true even if the agent works with you to revise the manuscript. (If it's completely rewritten to the point where it's a new story, that's different.) So, in general, you wouldn't want to submit a story you've shopped to a lot of editors to agents. (It's fine if only an editor or two has seen it.)
#8 - October 07, 2020, 09:08 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

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Thank you so much, Debbie and Sonya! I had never thought of that! Thanks for the heads-up!
#9 - October 08, 2020, 07:01 PM

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