A few summers back, I started chasing this dream. I had no understanding of the industry, no awareness of the process and no clue where to begin. Somehow, probably after enough Google searches, I got my hands on a copy of the 2016 Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market. I remember the excitement I felt when it came in and I promptly read it cover to cover. The excitement quickly turned into overwhelm and the book was shelved. I had the wonderful problem of having too much information. Fast forward two years, and I had the good fortune to catch one of Katie Davis’ Writing for Children podcasts (Episodes 74 & 78) about using Market books wisely. She and her guest, Marni McNiff spoke to the fact that most writers had a copy, and most copies looked brand new because they had never been used. Bam, that was me. Thankfully, I learned a great deal while the book was shelved and recognized that it was time to pull it out again.
Like all writers, one of my 2018 goals is to continue submitting my work (see my full list here). Last year, I sent a handful of queries out to agents, with an equal amount of rejections received. I don’t think these queries were as ill-fated as my earlier ones, and I believe that I’m moving in the right direction. But I know myself, I’m a bit of an acquired taste and I always do better with in-person introductions, one major exception being that awful pitch session I had back in the fall. (I’m going to be working on those too.) I also had a long talk with the girl in the mirror and admitted that my intentions for chasing agents were a bit skewed. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely hope that I’m blessed to find one, but there was a part of me that was hiding behind agent queries and avoiding editors out of fear. I’ve received those rejections too, and for me, they stung a bit more than the agents. I’ve shied away from editors because of the power they hold, an convinced myself that my only chance for success was if I had an agent in my corner. Shame on me. All of that might totally be true, I might have a greater chance for success with an agent, but I don’t deserve one if I decide that I’m incapable of chasing this dream alone. If one day I land the right agent at the right time, I’ll consider myself lucky. Until then, I’m going to put my big girl pants on and forge my own path. I’ve reset my expectations, outlined my intentions and came up with a game plan.
My mission, should I choose to accept it is to submit to well-researched publishing houses and have my 2016 Market will look worn by the summer. (Think Velveteen Rabbit caliber used and abused.) If I manage to do so, I get to buy the 2018 edition and continue down this path. I love goals! I love deadlines! I’ve already started! I have a spreadsheet with small-mid range publishing houses, listed in alphabetical order, with all the info I might need when its time to start hitting the ‘send’ button. If you don’t have a copy of a recent Market book, I definitely recommend investing in one. An internet search yields little results in comparison to the information within the pages of this book. No doubt more homework is required then just taking the information at face value (it is a 2016 book after all) but it gives a spectacular starting point as opposed to searching for some variation of “publishers looking for picture books”. (Another of my goals is to submit to Magazines, and the book has a whole section devoted to this; more on this another day.) So I’m off, wish me luck and I’ll send it right back to you.
Also, I’m excited to tell you that a few of my pre-published friends have agreed to guest post here over the coming months. They each have great things to say, most have their own blogs, some I’ve traded manuscripts with and all are going to be wonderfully successful authors one day. I asked them to ‘Be My Guest’ because I want you to meet them!
Now I need to figure out what to do with this white stuff on the ground… AGAIN. Snow falling twice in one winter is more than this Cajun girl can handle.
Thanks for reading, come back anytime!