Sunday, July 15, 2007

An Easy One

I'm coming across several rejection letters due to the fact that many publishers simply aren't accepting unsolicitated ms. I have the 2005 Children's Writers and Illustrators Market book and have done some homework on who's accepting, etc., but they have obviously closed their doors this year. My question is, how do I get in the door?? I'm really too destitute to work with an agent, and I already know there's not much money in the biz. I know I have at least a dozen creative stories that are publishable, which I've been tweaking over the past 10 years. I have all different types, including a YA fiction novel that is halfway complete. I'm a first-year Language Arts teacher and a former reporter of a small newspaper. More so, why are there so many freaks cramming up the circuit!!!?

Um. You get in the door by being persistent and submitting to the publishers who are accepting unsolicited manuscripts currently. There are so many unrealistic people submitting to slush because people think children's books are just something you can knock off 1-2-3.
Keep working, and keep submitting.
Good luck!

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

so many freaks cramming up the circuit? wow.
and she, apparently, isn't one of them. i love your answer. too destitute to work w/ an agent? what in the world does that mean? this was your best letter yet.

lynne said...

You wouldn't be paying a reputable agent anything until your work sells, so I'm not sure why you feel like it's not financially feasible to work with one. You may be better off querying agents since you haven't had any luck with editors yet. An agent can get your work seen by more publishers, and if you end up selling a book that way, it'll be worth the 15% fee.

Anonymous said...

The 2005 CWIM? Honey, the 2007 is almost too old. Never work with any guide older than this year's, and cross-reference with every pub's website to check for changes to guidelines.

You don't need any money to get an agent.

How do you know your stories are publishable?

"Fiction novel" is redundant.

I teach writing, and many of my students are teachers, even English teachers. As a group, they write no better than anyone else. Truly.

Deirdre Mundy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deirdre Mundy said...

For a novel, an agent is worth it...

85% of something is a lot more money than 100% of nothing...

I'm tempted to try finding an agent for my picture books, but I've heard it's unlikely....

Also, have you had your work critiqued by other writers? Perhaps there's a major problem that you're just not seeing....

And you should have your query letters critiqued too. It's hard to sell your book in under a page... advice helps...

As for cross-checking print resources with the websites -- it helps, but I've noticed that some of the bigger publishers state a blanket policy of no submissions, while individual imprints may still be taking them...

But if you can't afford the new CWIM (I think 2008 is already out... I'm getting one for my birthday in a few weeks), get your library to buy it!

If it's reference only, use your old one to highlight interesting publishers and then cross-check with the new one!

(The old CWIM are worth keeping, IMHO, but mostly for the articles)

Joni said...

Anyone who needs to ask "How do I get in the door?" hasn't done their homework, particularly in the children's book arena -- there are zillions of resources answering this question, most obviously SCBWI.

He or she has answered his/her own question about the "freaks."

Anonymous said...

Deirdre, we all know you're keeping them for the centerfolds.

ann said...

I signed with an agent this year, and just last week I signed the contract on my first novel.

From initial offer to final, my agent was able to bump the advance up 2500 dollars. Even with her take that means I take home more in the advance than I would have had I signed the contract as initially offered.

My point being...my agent not only sold my book, but she negotiated her salary and a bump in pay, for me, as well.

Clearly, getting an agent was the smartest thing I've ever done. And, now, when I finish my next work, there's somebody already interested in reading it. That's worth tons to me -- time, angst, the whole ball of wax.

Anonymous said...

"unsolicitated?"

rhubarb said...

Speaking of freaks cramming the circuits, a claim to have 'done your homework' and to be using an out of date market guide says freaksville to me. With a capital freak.

A teacher and former reporter using out of date materials to 'get in the door' of an entirely new profession, then feeling victimized when that doesn't work? Would this person use an outdated newspaper to look for a teaching job? I doubt it.

Speaking of publishing-induced magical thinking: a doctor and an author meet at a party. The doctor says "Wow, you are an author? I've always thought one day I will take a year off and write a book", so the author says "What a coincidence, I've been thinking of taking a year off and practicing medicine!" And the doctor gets mad, and says "But you are not qualified to practice medicine!" and the author says...

Janniel said...

The updates their list of publishers every month. A publisher's position on unsolicited manuscripts may change depending on the size of the slush pile, and the number of books the publisher is bringing to market that year. Whatever the reason, the information is always more current than CWIM.

Nancy said...

I'm really too destitute to work with an agent.."

What do you mean? An (ethical) agent only gets paid if YOU get paid, and would charge you nothing until he or she has sold your ms (and then would get paid a percentage of your earnings, not money out of your pocket directly).

eluper said...

Wow, this is a tough crowd...I've been enjoying EA from the comfortable distance of my Google Reader for months. This is the first I've come into the snakepit called the Comments section. You guys are brutal!

Eric

Anonymous said...

Eric, we don't mean to be brutal, but anyone who's been in the business for a while has grown a thick skin out of necessity. Like a lot of professions that look glamorous and really aren't, writing (for kids especially) looks far easier than it is. It's a lifetime of intensive study -- reading, writing, and marketing. It's an entire lifestyle and way of viewing the world. At risk of sounding grandiose, it's a state of being similar to that of clergy: you are never not a writer (or a priest, say). Considering the years of effort involved in becoming a publishable writer, "Do your homework" is actually a bit of an understatement. The questioner dropped all kinds of clues that s/he hasn't. Most writers are generous with other knowledgeable writers, but when somebody clearly hasn't done enough self-study, they're sent back, hopefully with some hints and resources, to the drawing board.

bluebug said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kate said...

Um... speaking of doing one's homework, anonymous 1:10 PM, it's my opinion that any children's writer who's been doing his/her homework really ought to recognize Eric Luper's name and to realize that he's hardly a newby.

I don't know him personally, never met him, but I do try to keep up on what's happening in children's publishing, so I know that he hardly needs to have the doing-one's-homework-while-having-a-thick-skin business explained to him.

(BTW, congratulations on your upcoming release, Eric!)

Anonymous said...

As I read it again, I think the original post was a fake, just to get everybody's juices running.

Editorial Anonymous said...

The "examples" I pull from slush are rewritten so as to spare the author from any embarassment (and me from recognition), but all the emails directly to this blog are posted just as received.

Anonymous said...

Please, no offense to anyone, but I've also been in the business for many years, have a number of published books, and never before heard of Mr. Luper. I see that he is a member of the class of 2K7, and his novel is upcoming this fall.

A newbie? In a sense, no; anybody who manages to get published by a top house has paid dues, maybe lots of dues. But a first-time novelist whose book isn't even out yet? Sorry, but that doesn't mean the industry knows who you are.

"Doing your homework" does not entail recognizing the name of every single children's author who's ever sold a book. I daresay you would not recognize mine. Fortunately for us all, there are more and more new names, ones we don't recognize, all the time.

Anonymous said...

I'm not suggesting Editorial Anonymous posted a fake. I'm suggesting the writer was pulling our leg. From "solicitation" to using a 2005 CWIM... saying he/she's too destitute to work with an agent... tweaking for the past 10 years... all of it sounds like somebody who's having some fun.

angela said...

Goodness me! It's getting hot in here.
Actually, I'm happy when newbies write queries like the one posted for this thread. Means my chances are much better at looking reputable. Keeps me from landing in the "freakish" pile and I don't receive so many "freakin" rejection forms, therefore, I don't "freak" out:)

Anonymous said...

Gosh...do some of you beat crippled dogs on the side? I almost hear faint whimperings.

Anonymous said...

About "beating crippled dogs":

The question itself used disparaging name calling!

Anonymous said...

oops, I wrote the above and wanted to clarify. I meant the original question where the questioner had no hesitation in labeling others 'freaks'.

I didn't mean the "do you beat dogs" question, which was fair enough.