More and more publishers are saying they no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts or writers can only submit to them through an agent. An agent is essential for the children’s fiction writer. Mainstream publishers will only look at agented work and as we all know, agents are becoming increasingly difficult to find. But don’t despair…
With the big publishers, what is on the shelves is what was accepted about eighteen months ago. The independent book publishers get things out a lot faster, so their turnaround can often be about six months. A good idea is to find out about these independent publishers. They are often more likely to take on new writers from the slushpile.
If you do decide to go it alone without an agent, it is important to identify the market place you think your book will fit into so you have an idea about who will be publishing your work even before it is finished. Don’t plough on with a book before you know where you are going to send it. Know where your story fits in the market. Take a look at the Children’s Writers and Artists Yearbook.
Evaluate who is publishing what. Not only by looking at the publisher of the types of books you like to read, which are the same genre as what you are writing, take a look at what else is out there too. You need to have your finger on the pulse, look at their catalogues and websites for things that are due to come out. Narrow your market down and check out the publishers’ websites for more information and their submission guidelines. Really get a feel for the market place and remember, as mentioned already, if the books are already in print they are two or three years out of date from what the publishers are looking for now.
Think about your elevator pitch too. If you have a problem defining your own book you need to be realistic and consider if it is working for the reader. If you do not have an agent to champion your work it is even more important for you to be able to sell your novel – else what is the point of writing it.