Picture Book Submissions, or how not to rant about the insane state of affairs in the world

tumblr_static_cats_umbrellas_vintage_postcard_kats-in-klompenLet’s not talk about real estate mogul 1%-er fascist scary political crazy people. Let’s not talk about bigotry and racism and feeling impotent against its magnitude. Let’s not talk about women’s reproductive freedom and that there are places where women are actually getting stoned to death and where girls aren’t even allowed to go to school. Let’s not talk about terrorism and school shootings and let’s also not talk about poverty or disease or feeling powerless about the destruction of our planet and natural resources. Let’s look at pictures of kitty cats. Yes, let’s do that. Let’s try to get our minds off the terrible, scary things for a moment.

Oh, I know! Let’s talk about some writing things! Let’s talk about things regarding submitting picture book manuscripts to agents, because this is The Blabbermouth Blog, and I’m a literary agent, and you’re probably here because you’re a writer. Right. Ok. I can do this!

Here are a few things to keep in mind when sending your picture book manuscript to an agent:

  • Follow an agent/agency’s submission guidelines. If you’re supposed to include the full picture book manuscript in the body of the email, do that. If you’re supposed to attach the manuscript to your email, do that. There’s no one right way to do this, there’s only the way the agent asks you to do it.
  • If you’ve written the text of a picture book but you’re not an author-illustrator, there’s no reason to send sample pictures with your submission (unless there’s some reason these pictures have to be included… like you can’t understand the text without them).
  • The author doesn’t find an illustrator for their book; the publisher does that after they decide they want to publish your book. So, unless there’s a very good reason to submit your book with an illustrator already attached (e.g. you wrote it together), there’s no reason to find someone to draw pictures for you. That’s actually a rookie move.
  • If you’re an author-illustrator and you need to include samples of your artwork, see if the agent makes exceptions to the standard “no attachments” rule. Or, provide a link to your website, which should have illustration examples on it. If you have a site that has a password protected aspect to it, provide a link to the site and the password for the agent to use. Make it as easy as possible for agents to see your work.
  • Only submit one manuscript at a time. If interested, an agent will follow up and ask if you have other manuscripts (because most folks don’t want to represent someone with only one executed idea). But we don’t want to be bombarded with a gazillion pitches in one email. It will suffice to just state that you have other manuscripts already written, which you can send on request.
  • Remember that the agents you are submitting your work to are just regular people, with families and interests and outside concerns. So, sometimes you might go to a writing sight to learn about submitting your manuscript, and first have to wade through a tiny rant.

Hope this has been helpful! Feel free to comment with writerly questions about other writerly things you’d like to see written about on this blog. I’ll try really hard not to include a rant next time.

Peace out.




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13 responses to “Picture Book Submissions, or how not to rant about the insane state of affairs in the world

  1. Pingback: On Writing: Why Story Is Necessary | The Blabbermouth Blog

  2. It’s really hard to keep the world out these days. I think that’s why I love reading literary and art blogs, they seem to soften the outside world while sprinkling useful info on writing and art. Thanks and I loved the kitty illustration too!

  3. Thanks for the practical guidelines (and the rant!).

  4. Pingback: Picture Book Submissions, or how not to rant about the insane state of affairs in the world | Michelle Eastman Books

  5. Jennifer DuBose

    Love it! Enjoyed meeting you at Prairie Writers’ and Illustrators’ Day, too. Fabulous insights to be had, there and here. Perspective with a side of cats and clarity. Nice! 🙂

  6. Carrie Finison

    I know exactly what you mean. I’ve tried to put up a solid wall of picture book thoughts, but still the insanity going on in the world occasionally leaks through. Scary stuff.

    Thanks for the submission tips!

  7. Rant away! At least your rants are on the side of the angels, rather than They-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named who are minions of the Dark Side.

  8. Way to not-rant. It’s a dance between feeling the pain/not going numb and carrying on with everyday life (because that’s also the right thing to do). XO.

  9. Wow. That may be the first internet cat picture I haven’t wanted to click away from immediately.

  10. Great post! When a PB author has more than one manuscript ready for submission, is that helpful to address in the query?

    • Yes, but don’t PITCH more than one in your query. It’s enough to just say something like, “I have other manuscripts that are submission ready, which I’m happy to send on request.”

  11. Always helpful, thanks!

    And I dunno: submitting to agents sometimes seem as terrible and scary as all those other things in the world except that the only deaths are the little ones inside and the scarring is not outwardly visible.

  12. Sharalyn

    Thanks for sharing the straight forward advice. Love the kitty cats illustration.