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Author Topic: Querying a Children's Book  (Read 967 times)
Voxeterna1
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« on: July 13, 2017, 08:41:30 PM »

I'm not typically a children's book author, but I got inspired to try one and I really, really like the way it turned out. With a bit of polish and TLC I think I would like to query it. Unfortunately, I know pretty much nothing about querying this type of book so I'm really hoping perhaps someone can help me out with the "do's" and "don'ts" .Here are the major questions I have:

1. Does the length and format change for this kind of query? I feel it could maybe be shorter, but I don't know.
2. How much of a sample do you send? It's only 4  MS Word pages long. Would I just send the entire thing?
3. It's intended to be a picture book, but I am by no means an illustrator. How do you find an illustrator? Does the publisher/ agent hook you up with one or is that on me to do somehow?


Any information or assistance ( helpful links, etc.) would be greatly appreciated! I haven't been able to find much information on children's book publishing, so I would be grateful for advice.

Cheers,
Bri
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mgmystery
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« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2017, 07:41:04 AM »

Voxeterna1, are you looking for an agent, or planning to sub straight to publishers? I think most publishers accepting unsolicited submissions don't expect illustrations. However, some agents are only looking to rep PB authors who are also illustrators. (It's easy to find in their guidelines.)

From what I've seen, queries are basically the same for picture books. For a sample, you are usually requested to send the entire thing for a PB.
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Sarah Ahiers (Falen)
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« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2017, 08:11:59 AM »

1. Okay for a picture book it's the same as for a novel, though because of the length of a PB, usually the query itself just ends up being shorter.

Sort of like:

Dog has a blue ball. Cat wants her big, bouncy blue ball. Cat offers to trade dog every toy she can find until, in desperation, she’s left offering a ribbon. But when Dog points out that this ribbon is purple, and has a wonderfully shiny sheen, Cat has a pretty tough decision to make.


And sometimes you do tell the end in a PB query, if it's like a going to bed story, etc.


2. For a PB you ALWAYS send the entire manuscript with the query. Because they're so short.

3. Publisher's always select the illustrator (the only exception would be if you're the illustrator/author and they're buying your book mostly because of your illustrations)

In fact it's waaaay harder to sell a PB if you already have illustrations or an illustrator in mind (and PBs are already the hardest category to break into) and that's because houses have their own cabal of illustrators they prefer to work with.
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Voxeterna1
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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2017, 06:37:32 PM »

Thank you so much for the feedback everyone! I truly appreciate it, as I am a novice in this realm of publishing. ( I'm a novice in all realms of publishing actually, but I'm trying really, REALLY hard not to make dumb rookie mistakes...)

I will do my due diligence and obey all of the publisher's/ agent's guide lines for the queries and manuscript submissions. It's good to know that I'm not really expected to line up my own illustrator. ( Although one of my critique partners happens to be a digital artist and she has expressed interest in illustrating children's books.)

I hadn't realized that picture books were one of the toughest markets to break into. That's a bit of a bummer, but the odds are never great in this business anyhow. I'm just going to polish it the best I can and move forward once I've done research into publishers and agents.

Speaking of which, for a new author in the genre, is the path of least resistance submitting to a publisher? Or an agent? I would assume a publisher, but perhaps I'm wrong?

Again, thank you so much for the input everyone! I am so grateful for your help! 
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gckatz
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« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2017, 07:13:36 PM »

Speaking of which, for a new author in the genre, is the path of least resistance submitting to a publisher? Or an agent? I would assume a publisher, but perhaps I'm wrong?

Again, thank you so much for the input everyone! I am so grateful for your help! 

It all depends. If you're planning on writing a lot of books, an agent is the way to go. Otherwise you have to start over from scratch with every manuscript. Also, if you want this to be a big release with national distribution, the big presses require you to have an agent.

But it sounds like this is a one-off for you. If it's more of a personal project (which is TOTALLY legitimate), going straight to a small press may be perfect for you. In fact, if it's on a local topic, you may want to look into local groups that publish in-house. For instance, I know someone with a nature picture book and she's looking into local environmental groups, nature centers, etc, some of which publish and distribute their own books. And then there's the self-pub route.

Bottom line: It all depends on what your vision is for this book and what kind of work you want to put in. And that's a question only you can answer.
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Voxeterna1
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« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2017, 07:45:43 PM »

Okay so here's my general plan of attack:

(1) Polish manuscript
(2) Research the crap out of Agents and publishing houses that handle children's picture books.
(3) Start querying agents, beginning with my top choices and working my way into the more realistic choices for a first time author.
(4) After exhausting my list of agents, query directly to publishers. I think I will avoid on demand publishers and self-publishers. Though I'm passionate about seeing this published, I'm not SO invested in the idea that I would pony up money to have it published. 

Again, I appreciate everyone's input and assistance.  Smiley
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mgmystery
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« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2017, 07:35:27 AM »

Voxterna1, I'm curious about your future plans. Gckatz made a good point. If you usually write for adults and aren't planning future picture books, your best plan might be subbing to publishers. That way you can search for an agent more suited to your adult work. Some agents do rep both, but I think you'd be expected to sub with what you plan to do most.
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Sarah Ahiers (Falen)
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« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2017, 08:09:09 AM »


Speaking of which, for a new author in the genre, is the path of least resistance submitting to a publisher? Or an agent? I would assume a publisher, but perhaps I'm wrong?

If you are looking for an agent, most (not all) PB agents will expect you to have a portfolio of PBs. Meaning, they're not going to offer you rep on only a single PB. You would query with one PB, but when they call to talk, they'll want you to have 5-10 complete and sub ready PBs before they offer rep. And that's generally because when you're a PB author with an agent, the agent tends to either A) sub multiple things at once or B) sub a sort of package deal (meaning sending more than one PB to one editor at the same time, instead of just one PB.)
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Voxeterna1
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« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2017, 05:04:03 PM »

Again, thanks so much everyone for the insight! You're helping me in all kinds of ways!

It is a good idea to start in top, though not TIPtop agents. I'll do that rather than starting by swinging for the fences with the big, big names.

I had no idea that you were expected to have a portfolio of PB manuscripts ready to go, but I can see how that would be a logical way to do it. I can easily come up with more. I'm an elementary school teacher by day, so I'm constantly thinking of things that might make good children's books. I usually just don't write them out. But getting several done wouldn't be a hardship.

I usually write romance novels and lately some YA stuff. Though some agents rep both kinds of books, most don't. ( I wouldn't think that the children's book world and the romance world would collide that often but maybe they do....?) I've been querying a romance with limited success ( only one full request after 6 months of querying so I'm considering major revision) Should any of my adult fiction ever make it to publication, I was planning on using a pen name. The PBs would likely be under my real name. Would it be unheard of to have two agents? One who handles children's books and one who handles books for the adult market? Does anyone know if this is a thing that ever happens?

Again, thanks so much for the wisdom! You all rock!
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Sarah Ahiers (Falen)
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« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2017, 10:10:19 AM »

Would it be unheard of to have two agents? One who handles children's books and one who handles books for the adult market? Does anyone know if this is a thing that ever happens?


I know a few people who have multiple agents for that same reason. Of course, it's way easier if you can just find an agent who reps everything you write.
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