The funniest thing about agents is that (at least for picture book authors) it’s easier to find a publisher. The conventional wisdom is that you need an agent to get published, but in many cases you now need to get published to get an agent. For instance, I had an agent at the Ronnie Herman agency agree to represent one of my titles. She was very supportive and gave great advice for polishing my work. I was so excited to have somebody handle the business part of writing and represent me to the major houses that I immediately began work on my next title. Exactly two weeks later, this same agent emailed to inform me that because picture book sales were “tight” she wanted to devote more time to her existing clients and would no longer be able to represent me. (Not exactly funny, ha! ha! but certainly funny, peculiar!)
But because I’m determined, I kept submitting to agents. A few months later I received a promising email from an agent at Muse Literary. I had sent a blind query and this particular agent replied back saying that my book was “very appealing” and showed “great promise.” She had taken the time to make a few notes and said that she “looked forward to working with me.” Again, I was so excited I sat down and began revising immediately. I made about 70% of her requested revisions and kept the other 30% as it was with notes explaining my reasons (pacing, plot, character development, etc.) I was looking forward to a wonderful creative partnership. A week later I received an email from this agent saying “children wouldn’t be interested” in my book and that she would not represent me. Really? My book went from “very appealing” to not interesting in one week? Apparently when an agent suggests changes, you should make ALL the changes without question. But what if that changes the tone of your book?
As I pondered this whole agent business, I received an email from a publisher (I had been submitting to publishers and agents at the same time.) Tiger Tales wanted to publish one of my picture books! Over the course of several weeks, I corresponded with my editor (who is wonderful by the way.) She suggested changes. I made most of them (what can I say, I’m a slow learner.) She listened to my defense on changes I did not want to make, and we worked TOGETHER to polish my manuscript till it shined! I’m so excited (for real this time!) and can’t wait for the release of my book next fall. So while you’re knocking yourself out trying to get the attention of that career changing agent, don’t forget to submit to publishers!