in a spin – #WhatImWriting

leaves2This week seems to have flown by – I can hardly believe it’s time for another #WhatImWriting. Hooray! Chrissie is hosting this week so if you’re looking to link up, please head over to Muddled Manuscript.

I’m not certain what to write about for my post this week as my brain is flitting all over the place, but I guess the main thing to update you on is my picture book. I’ve been working on it a lot and have now shown it to two more close friends of mine, both of whom are primary school teachers (and mothers), and therefore have particularly useful perspectives. The feedback has been really good: both positive and useful. I’ve now reached the ninth draft and think I’m very close to something I’ll be happy to send off somewhere. But where?

Well, quite. So while working on the book I’ve also been looking around at publishers websites, checking out what they’re looking for and how to go about submitting. I found this blog post by Lou Treleaven a really useful resource: it lists children’s book publishers who are currently accepting unsolicited manuscripts.

I did have a bit of a crisis of confidence while researching though, as all the publishers said they get masses of submissions every week. Not that I expected anything different, but there’s nothing quite like seeing that fact in black and white! They all said it would take three to six months to get a response from them, if indeed you received any response at all. And of course, as all writers know, you’ve got to expect rejection. I suddenly felt very small, like a tiny Jelly Baby person clutching a flea-sized manuscript trying to get anyone to even notice I was there!

So I started wondering about the possibility of getting an agent. I know you don’t need to have one to submit work but I assume that it’s a huge help in securing a publisher. It’s means there’s someone else backing you up rather than your little manuscript just sitting in the middle of a huge pile of other unsolicited submissions. Like having somewhere more noticeable for Jelly Baby-me to sit perhaps? Or lighting to enhance my lovely juicy colour?

But trying to find an agent is a huge task in itself and I only have one little book – would an agent even be interested? I feel I need to research more here. Any advice?

There are lots of other things whirling through my mind as well at the moment: work-related issues, some family stuff and other questions to do with my writing too. I feel I’m in a bit of a spin trying to work out what to focus on. I’m in a bit of a spin in general actually. I don’t even know how to finish this blog post. Haven’t a clue.

Like this?

Muddled Manuscript

18 thoughts on “in a spin – #WhatImWriting

  1. Mummy Tries

    How exciting that you’re already almost happy with the words, amazing! Are you also illustrating it? I’d say just go for it agent wise, draw up a shortlist of agencies that specialise in children’s books and fire it off on email. What’s the worst that can happen? One piece of great advice I was give was to ensure that your cover letter is professional and concise. Mention your blog and your following, and be realistic about what you hope to achieve. My cover letter got the resounding thumbs up by the editor who critiqued my book which was nice. I can forward it to you on email if you like hon? xxx

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Oh I’d love to see your cover letter – thanks! I’m not illustrating it myself. I wish I could as I can see illustrations in my head as I read it, but I lack the ability sadly! thanks for the advice and support as always. xxx

      Reply
  2. Iona@redpeffer

    I’ve decided to try and find an agent first after lots of research and thinking it through. My advice would be to draft out other ideas whenever you have them and build your ‘portfolio’. And really hone that final draft of this picture book so that it’s the best it can be-I always leave mine for at least a few weeks and come back to them just to see how they read with ‘fresher eyes’. I also read them aloud the first time I return to after a break.
    Having said all of this, I still have yet to find even an agent so feel free to ignore me totally!

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Good advice, thanks Iona. I won’t be ignoring you at all! I’ve got another idea brewing at the moment so I might have a go at writing it soon. It would be nice to approach an agent with more than one book to talk about! Thanks for commenting and linking up. xx

      Reply
  3. Carol Cameleon

    Ah bless you! I could have written this a month or so ago while considering an agent for my ‘other’ children’s book (not NextBigThing) which has unfortunately fond itself on the back burner somewhat. It IS a minefield and I think you get a feel a for an agent, just like you do for a house… The book news is very exciting :) #whatimwriting

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      I’m sure that’s true Carol, I haven’t really looked into agents yet – just a quick google. There’s so much to consider. And I know what you mean about a back burner, I keep moving my projects onto that at the moment! Thanks for commenting and linking to #WhatImwriting xx

      Reply
  4. Sophie Lovett

    From what I understand an agent can be a really useful ally in trying to get your writing noticed – not just that, but also negotiating contracts and things that won’t end up screwing you over! Of course I’m at the ‘have an agent but not a publisher’ stage so it doesn’t necessarily make things foolproof… You might want to check out the Children’s Writers’ and Artists’ yearbook if you haven’t already – lots of useful tips especially focused on writing for kids (and getting published!) xx

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Funnily enough I got my hands on a copy of that book this very afternoon – I’m looking forward to reading it! It’s great that you have an agent and I’m sure it will lead to publication. It makes sense that it would help you be noticed and I’d barely considered all the contractual stuff! I need to dedicate some more time to research before I make any decisions I think.
      Thanks for the advice Sophie and for linking to #WhatImWriting

      Reply
  5. Chrissie Metcalf (Kristina)

    Sounds like you have a lot going on! (you know where I am if you need a chat.) AS for the manuscript, I reckon 99.9% of the people sending manuscripts feel that way before they submit. You have something worth reading there and it could be huge (Thing Gruffalo!). At the moment, you have a manuscript. If you send to an agent or publisher, you could end up with a manuscript and book deal. Worth it? Yes.
    The path is going to be lined wih gorse bushes and you’re going to fall in them occasionally, but gorse bushes don’t stop you from trying again. x

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Very true (about the gorse bushes) and thanks for the vote of confidence! I do believe in my little story it’s just trying to work out what to do and when that’s the issue. And also finding the time!

      Reply
  6. Nicola Young

    Yes definitely go for it with trying to get an agent. It would be helpful if you had a few ideas to present as well, so that you can show that you have more than one story in you. Also, have you checked the layout and number of words of the picture book? I would recommend Louise Jordon’s book about writing for children, as it gives you advice about layout of a picture book and recommended pages and words. It’s all very tight and exact.

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      That sounds like a good book recommendation, thanks! I know that picture books are almost always 32 pages and that there are various ways of laying out the text of my story that could make it fit that format perfectly. It also is within the usual word count of picture books which is useful. I’m about to start working on another book idea which is quite exciting! Thanks for commenting and linking up, Nicola x

      Reply
  7. Emily Organ

    What an exciting stage to reach! And it’s good you found some publishers who will accept unsolicited manuscripts. Personally I would find an agent first, which initially can be just as tricky. I think an agent can give you lots of good advice for approaching publishers. I may try and find an agent next year. Many agents are on Twitter – I found out this piece of advice the other day – look at the hashtag #mswl and that’s what agents / publishers use when looking for manuscripts (it stands for manuscript wish list). Check it now and again and you might find someone looking for the book you’re writing!

    Reply
    1. Maddy Post author

      Ooh that’s very interesting advice Emily, I’ll do just that! Thanks!

      Yes, I can imagine the process of finding an agent is very tricky. They’re not going to put you on their books unless they’re convinced by what you’ve written so it’s putting yourself up for a lot of potential rejection. But then if you can find one it puts you in a far stronger position so it’s worth it! Good luck with your search too! Thanks for commenting and linking to #WhatImwriting

      Reply
  8. sadie hanson

    Definitely try to get an agent – they know all the ins an outs on contract law and will support you and make sure you never get ripped off by a publisher. That’s part of their job. X

    Reply
  9. Morgan Prince

    Oh goodness! No wonder you’re in a spin. I think I would be too.
    Very exciting times for you though and it seems like finding an agent would be a good idea. I haven’t even begun to think about this stage yet. Good luck with it and I hope your spin slows soon… or maybe I shouldn’t?
    BTW – great end to the blog post. ;)

    Reply

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