Tag Archives: submissions

Why Did You Pass On My Query?

no-thank-you.jpgI finally finally made a dent in the queries that hit my inbox in January, when I was open to submissions for a short window of time. It is intense. There are a lot. I’m still getting through them, and reading some full manuscript requests as well. And I still have to get through many of the Open Call to Muslim Writers queries. I don’t have the time, sadly, to go into specifics of why I’m passing on individual manuscripts. It would take so much time to do that. My first priority is taking care of the clients I already have. After that I have room in my brain and my day for looking for new clients.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about near misses… about manuscripts that I almost want to represent. Sometimes I pass on a project that seems like it would be perfect for me. Maybe it’s poignant and odd and funny and smart. Maybe it’s super queer. Maybe it’s beautiful. Maybe it’s ridiculous in just the right way. And it must must must be well written. But then I pass anyway.

I can hear you, right now.  You’re saying, “Oh my God! Why?! Why would you do that?! Is it my manuscript you’re talking about? I want an agent!!!!” Just sit down. You’ll be ok. Listen to me. Take a breath.

Here’s how it is: I already have clients. I love my clients. I work really hard for my clients. I have a small client list because I know that’s what I can handle. My clients are at many different stages of their writing careers. Some of them have been with me for years and we haven’t sold anything yet. I say yet because I’m pretty sure we will. They are talented writers. I’ll stick by them if they stick by me.

But I do take on new clients. What makes me do it? What has me make room for them, squeeze another writer in? Well, when I read a manuscript that feels essential, like I must have this. Must! When I feel like I’d fight other agents (I hate fighting other agents). When I’ll put everything aside for it (at least for a moment). When reading it sets up a humming in my body. When I start thinking about editors I’d like to send it to. That’s when I make an offer of representation.

So to answer the question, “Why did you pass on my query?” That’s why. Because that’s what I’m looking for and it’s not easy to find. It’s why I pass on most things, and why I don’t often ask to see full manuscripts. Because if I don’t feel like there’s a magical imperative to me having it? Then I’m not the right agent for you. And I know that’s disappointing, but that’s the truth.

 

 

 

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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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Open to Picture Books! Tentatively.

imgresIn case you missed the news back in 2013, I have two clients coming out with picture books in the next year! Ruth Horowitz, award winning author of Crab Moon and a bunch of other books for young readers, has a picture book coming out with Scholastic about Abel and Beatrice, two friends who raise apple trees and bees,  who get in an argument that escalates (in very silly ways), tentatively titled BEES IN THE TREES.

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Debut author Joe McGee has a picture book coming out with Abrams, about a zombie who would rather eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than brains, tentatively titled PEANUT BUTTER AND BRAINS.

Both tentatively titled… yes, titles do change and sometimes it takes a while for publishers to commit to a title. And, apparently minds change, too. I’ve repeatedly said, “I don’t do picture books. I don’t do picture books. I don’t do picture books.” The problem is, when a project comes along that I LOVE, I have a hard time saying no. So….. I would like to tentatively declare that I am now open to picture books submissions.

BUT (and this is a big but!) please be aware that I am only interested in quirky, funny, off-beat, or high concept picture books. Do NOT send me your sweet, sappy, life lesson picture book manuscript. Do NOT send me your cute, saccharine, didactic issue-based picture book. If you’re not an illustrator, do NOT send me pictures (although I’m very interested in author/illustrator submissions).

And please know what a picture book manuscript should look like. That is to say, way less than 1000 words and only put in illustrator notes if they are integral to understanding your story.

There. I’ve said it.

Any questions?

 

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